Elbow: Scattered Black And Whites Meaning
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Scattered Black And Whites Lyrics
Been climbing trees I've skinned my knees
My hands are black the sun is going down
She scruffs my hair in the kitchen steam
She's listening to the dream I weaved today
Crosswords through the bathroom door
While someone sings the theme-tune...
1TOP RATED#1 top rated interpretation:
I agree that the song deals with childhood memories. The child comes home to a 'typical' family scene, his mum in the kitchen, his sister "buzzing" about the house. I believe his Grandfather is the person who sits in a "high back chair" and whistles, and tells stories that "flit between short trousers and a full dress uniform" (i.e. between his school days and his days in the army, possibly in the war).
It's his grandfather's hand which is "massive" and the child has to "speak up" when he talks to him, presumably because he is slightly deaf. His Grandfather speaks about "people ten years gone" - his now long dead friends, as if the child knows them. "Scattered black and whites" could refer to black and white photographs of his grandfather's life, or the ashes of the people who are now dead.
I agree with Kergen, that the song feels very sad - but I don't think the child is sad, I think the writer is sad now he is looking back on these memories. I think its about missing home and family life now everyone is older and perhaps his grandfather is now dead. Its about cherishing the memories and using them to comfort you ("I shelter here some days"), and I think the sadness perhaps comes from a sense of loss.
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