Liar – Dissecting the Undercurrents of Human Deception


You can view the lyrics, alternate interprations and sheet music for Built to Spill's Liar at Lyrics.org.
Article Contents:
  1. Music Video
  2. Lyrics
  3. Song Meaning
  4. A Study in Repetition: Echoing the Inevitability of Truth
  5. The Relentless March of Time and Decision’s Weight
  6. Nature’s Indifference and Accepting the Unchangeable
  7. The Hidden Meaning: Candid Reflections on Self-Deception
  8. Seeking Refuge in Melancholy: ‘A Piano’s Weeping too’

Lyrics

I would only be a liar
No, I would only be a liar if I told you that
I would only be a liar

When things are all you think of
And plans are all you make
And thoughts are all you dream of
And falls are all you take
Look out, the world’s destroyin’ ya
Relax, it isn’t fair
Mother Nature’s disposition
She don’t mind, she don’t care
She don’t mind, she don’t care

And I would only be a liar
No, I would only be a liar if I told you that
I would only be a liar

Passing over
Passions pour
Passing everything

I would only be a liar
No, I would only be a liar if I told you that

It takes up all of your life
These decisions you make
It takes up all of a day
Making them wrong

Well, outside on the patio
A piano’s weeping too
Forget about it all for a little while
She don’t mind, she don’t care
She don’t mind, she don’t care
She don’t mind, she don’t care

And I would only be a liar
No, I would only be a liar if I told you that
I would only be a liar

You see, it seems minor to me
You see, it seems minor to me
You see, it seems minor to me
You see, it seems minor

Full Lyrics

In the pantheon of indie rock anthems, Built to Spill’s ‘Liar’ occupies a niche that amalgamates earnest emotion with a sublime simplicity that belies its depth. The song, a track from their 2006 album ‘You in Reverse’, resonates with listeners not for its lyrical verbosity, but for the raw truth it delivers through its repetition and poignant melodies.

While at first glance ‘Liar’ may seem to tread on themes of personal dishonesty, a closer inspection reveals layers of human condition commentary: introspection, the inescapable nature of certain truths, and our complex relationship with the world at large. Let’s unravel the tightly-wound strings of ‘Liar’ to understand the true message Doug Martsch and company are conveying.

A Study in Repetition: Echoing the Inevitability of Truth

Built to Spill’s choice to hammer down the phrase ‘I would only be a liar’ serves as more than a catchy chorus; it represents the cyclical nature of facing hard truths. Each repetition becomes a stronger assertion, a louder acknowledgement of reality despite the desire to avoid or reshape it to fit one’s narrative.

The effect of this relentless repetition has a clinical effect, almost like a mantra or a confession. It speaks to the human experience – the ways we tell ourselves the same things over and over, whether to convince ourselves of a lie or to come to terms with a truth.

The Relentless March of Time and Decision’s Weight

Contemplating the overwhelming nature of life’s decisions, ‘Liar’ paints a picture of time-consuming deliberations and the toll they take. ‘It takes up all of your life’, Martsch sings, emphasizing that the process of choosing and its consequences can consume us, leaving little space for other aspects of our lives.

This line resonates with listeners, providing an emotional touchstone for those who have felt swamped by the waves of indecision or by the aftermath of a choice. It’s a universal battle between action and inertia, and Martsch’s delivery is an empathetic soundtrack to this internal struggle.

Nature’s Indifference and Accepting the Unchangeable

Mother Nature’s disposition is a recurring motif in ‘Liar’, representing an unfeeling, unstoppable force unconcerned with human whims. ‘She don’t mind, she don’t care’ might not just speak to nature, but also to the universe’s indifference to personal turmoil.

This stoicism serves as a counterpoint to human emotion, putting our struggles into cosmic perspective. It’s a sobering notion that while our lives are fraught with emotion and concern, the world around us continues in its uncaring way, and sometimes, all one can do is acknowledge and mirror that dispassion.

The Hidden Meaning: Candid Reflections on Self-Deception

At its core, ‘Liar’ delves into the heart of self-deception, and the lengths to which we go to preserve our self-image. ‘I would only be a liar if I told you that,’ Martsch insists, highlighting the paradox of denying one’s own falsehoods and yet fully aware of them.

These lines invite introspection about the masks worn and the honesties omitted from daily life. How often do we lie to maintain peace, to stave off conflict, or to protect our own fragile identities? ‘Liar’ forces us to consider where truth ends and where deception begins within ourselves.

Seeking Refuge in Melancholy: ‘A Piano’s Weeping too’

One of the song’s most evocative lines personifies a piano, imbuing it with the sorrow felt by those unable to escape the truth. The image of a piano weeping on a patio is a bittersweet testament to the shared experiences of grief, regret, and the urge to find an escape even if it’s temporary.

The melancholy this line elicits is a cathartic reminder that sometimes, like Mother Nature, detachment can be a survival mechanism. Even the inanimate can carry the weight of our emotions, serving as a vessel for the understanding and acceptance we’re sometimes unable to give ourselves.

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