What does Nine While Nine mean?

The Sisters of Mercy: Nine While Nine Meaning

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Album cover for Nine While Nine album cover

Nine While Nine Lyrics

And it's passing strange
And I'm waiting for the train
Caught up on this line again
And it's passing slowly
Killing time but it's
Better than living in what will come and I've
Still got some of your letters with me and I
Thought sometimes...

  1. anonymous
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    Sep 5th 2017 !⃝

    I understand The whole song it's all pretty straightforward there's just one thing - the name "nine while nine" what's he on about?

  2. crayolapunk
    click a star to vote
    Jun 26th 2011 !⃝

    Sisters of Mercy -Nine While Nine

    Some parts remain a mystery, but here's what I have so far:

    "And it's passing strange
    And I'm waiting for the train
    Caught up on this line again
    And it's passing slowly
    Killing time but it's
    Better than living in what will come"

    The lyric above seems to suggest the
    singer/narrator is ending one relationship
    yet already in another....

    "It's passing strange" a comment on
    the passing away of one relationship, by
    immediately throwing oneself into another.

    "waiting for the train" meaning:

    Waiting for a marked transition, a
    definite change or traveling from one
    perspective to shift...possibly even
    waiting for a new journey to begin
    with another....

    "Caught up on this line again"

    meaning that he is stuck in between
    one deep meaningful relationship that ended
    badly, and already in another relationship
    that is destined to end badly....

    "and it's passing slowly, killing time,
    but it's better than living in what's to

    means that although the current relationship isn't fulfilling, a product
    of rebound status and empty/lonely, he seems to be saying that it's better than waiting around for what might happen one day with another. So, he's saying he would rather be with who is available now, no matter how insubstantial, than live in some hypothetical future relationship that is in reality just as much, possibly destined to fail, because it's all based on promises made while he was unavailable...the lyric "killing time" suggests that the current prop or person filling the empty space of recent loss is not enhancing life so much as making the painful moments less alone. More bearable yet....the old relationship/damage, as well as this new person's impact on his life both equate to " passing slowly ". Frustratingly slow endings, and slow new preoccupations....nothing that feels fresh or alive or possessing a more active rapid flow or pace.

    Much like the tempo of being on the fence, one foot in one life, and the other foot in what once was...and the fantasy's of what's most wanted just a torment.

    "and I've Still got some of your letters with me and I Thought sometimes or I read too much"

    This last line about letters seems to say that the girl he's directing the song to has made some sort of promises or overtures, and then when he says he "thought sometimes, or read too much"
    It's implied that now that he's lost the other girl, he wonders if he was just projecting onto the person he's waiting for. And he fears having just made it all up in his mind, reading letters that were never confirmed in meaning in person, or made actual through action....and he fears that she didn't make empty promises, so much as never made any promises at all, and he just 'read too much' into them....

    But since he's waiting alone there's no way to confirm or not weather she intended the meanings he assumed...

    And now that he's left that other meaningful relationship, he's caught in between people who could touch him, or really evoke a genuine response emotionally. Not just ' killing time '
    as with rebound measures.

    The next line:

    "And I think you know"

    suggests that he's not going to let her responsibility for his feelings go entirely, as he's then saying he thinks she is aware the lengths he has gone to, and that he's sort of stranded now emotionally, in between loves. Yet getting no word from who the songs directed to.

    Drink to the dead lying under the water and the Cost of the blood on the driven snow and the"

    This last line suggests that he considers his potential lover a partner in crime in terms of having caused people pain all for something that has never been consummated, the term "driven snow" highlighting the sense of unfulfilled promise, the hope of a new untouched relationship, one not yet physical, or tainted by the daily indignities of an actual relationship.

    'blood on the driven snow' is the the blood of the old relationship wounded in a bloody traumatic way, already a harbinger of potential loss staining the untouched quality of the new hoped for union.
    In reality...." "drink to the dead lying under water" meaning celebrate the grim triumph of a recent break-up and the misery of the people left behind who's suffering is out of sight now.

    Lipstick on my cigarettes
    Frost upon the window pane
    Nine while nine and I'm waiting
    For the train.....

    This last line is bittersweet as the "lipstick on his cigarettes" cut's short
    the macabre party of drinking to the dead....by admitting that he's already
    been passing the time 'alone' with some other new lover kisses etc = "lipstick"

    He mentions there's "frost upon the window pane" which suggests a frozen broken heart, he's intimate with someone smoking his cigarettes and yet his eyes stray to the window and what's beyond him....and the line " nine by nine " in the UK means something like nine to five....in US, sort of the length of the work day there. So he's saying it's work waiting all day long
    passing time with another on the rebound, before his heart can heal and maybe, the person he's singing to will be there finally....or he will be available in some way, less wounded. Less desperate.

    "She said do you remember a time when angels
    Do you remember a time when fear
    In the days when I was stronger
    In the days when you were here she said
    When days had no beginning
    While days had no end when
    Shadows grew no longer I knew no other friend but you
    but you Were wild
    You were wild....."

    Here he's regretting hurting the girl he just left...remembering her begging him to stay. Where everything she starts to say gets cut off in the middle, trailing away like his love for her. Ending without warning.

    "you were wild" "you were wild" is her remembering just how free and alive he used to be with her before he felt trapped and forced to leave her.....and the tragic part of that is the girl just left by him, actually loved his wildness in the beginning, yet in the end could not tolerate or accommodate that aspect of him. He's remembering how she used to appreciate him in his most basic essence, unfiltered to please her specifically. Loving him just as he was.

    So even she mourns the loss of his wild self. And he as well is mourning the loss of himself throughout the song. With the old girl, the new transitory girl he's using, and also in that hoped for girl, who might just never show up and abandon him just when he feels most alone.

    "Frost upon these cigarettes
    Lipstick on the window pane"

    This line suggests his new lover has already stopped giving him that temporary warmth and comfort....and passing time with her, killing time with her, has cooled off and lipstick on the windowpane, means that even his freshly kissed lips, still with remnants of the new girl's lipstick, is stuck to the window, not just
    looking away from the new girl, but desperately seeking escape already. The crutch and comfort has become the cross to bear.

    "and I've Lost all sense of the world outside but I Can't forget so I call your name"

    This last line could mean a few things, but one thing it says is his objectivity is shot, and his pain has made everything so subjective that he can't figure out what's really going on in the world outside his grief and longing, and isolation, and pattern of jumping into whatever will kill the time.."but I can't forget so I call your name" suggesting that he's really counting on this person he's singing to, to not abandon him like he feels he has just abandoned this other person...

    "and I'm Looking for a life for me and I'm
    Looking for a life for you"

    That line implies he is so wrapped up in hypothetical and potentials that he he has already imagined his future with the person he's singing to, without any sign she's even going to show up, and he wants to make everything better so badly, he wants to rescue her, rescue himself, whatever it takes...it's almost begging her to materialize with evidence that he is at least thinking about doing the right things by her...not hurting her like the other hurt him, or he hurt the other. Who hurt whom first, and worst is one of the mysteries of the song.

    "and I'm Talking to myself again and it's
    So damn cold it's just not true"

    That last line is where he thinks he's just going crazy, or admitting that she's not there listening to his song, and it's so excruciating to admit that, that he immediately contradicts himself, saying: " It's just not true" Since the possible truth is "so damn cold" either a cold reality, or the coldness of a person....

    "and I'm Walking through the rain
    Trying to hold on waiting for the train

    'walking through the rain' means taking the long hard trip through tears and the elements...the tangible here and now reality that is so lacking and incomplete in the right now, he is alone, and it's rough, and maybe there isn't that great love just waiting for him, or maybe he can't be that great love he's promised to be...and it's all stormy uncomfortable considerations...and by walking in the rain, he's choosing to suffer more, in the hope that he will be rewarded by this great new love, that might just be a fantasy, an escape, a new heart break.

    Trying to hold on - meaning both hold onto the ability to wait as well as hold onto his sense of himself while subjecting himself to an indeterminate and questionable ' wait '

    I'm Only looking for what you want but it's Lonely here and I think you knew and

    By saying he's only looking for what she wants he's falling into the same pattern of caging and limiting his true self in order to please another, which is the the beginning of the end every time for him. which is extremely premature and does not bode well, because he is so desperate to be with someone, even this person he's not sure of, and may be standing him up, and yet he's already giving up who he is in pursuit, which could be even worse than changing to try to hold onto someone

    And in his desperation he might even be compromising something valid and real - if she does show up, if they make that untouched pure as ' driven snow ' connection worth the blood spilled upon it via past relationships gone bad and sacrificed for the hope of something less compromised and with more integrity.

    In that line he's trying to beg her to appear there in the midst of his suffering and realize she loves him,and that he loves her and wants the best for her, but still reminding her she's not yet arrived as promised...and "it's lonely here, and I think you knew" means
    he's also doubting her already a little, wondering if she knew all along he would be lost for awhile in the transition, and wondering what kind of person she is to
    'know' and yet still do whatever she's done to entice him into this new stranded sense of isolation...and this indefinite arrangement. Before she's even stood him up for certain, or even met him on that train hes awaiting, he's already expecting her betrayal.

    I'm And I'm waiting
    And I wait in vain
    Nine while nine and I'm waiting
    For the train..... [repeat last verse x2]

    In this last line, he truly surrenders to doubts and fear and self-recrimination, deciding that all his troubles have been for nothing, that no matter what he does, he is abandoned or abandoning, or always waiting for the transition to unity from isolation, and he gives up hope of being met as he is, where he is, with acceptance and integrity, and love.

    He has given up hope in who he left, who he hoped for, and who is with to pass the time, and in essence himself as well....not believing anyone can love him as he is....yet he accepts that he is "waiting" still.

    So although hopes of whatever change, love, transition
    or person ever showing up for him is plummeting, the
    narrator hasn't yet given up on ' waiting ' for something
    better than what is in the here and now, depending on
    your perspective that's either some form of purgatory like emotional jail-sentence, or else that points to a inner resilience and blind faith that will get him through this time of unknowns.

    That he might have nothing that will reward or redeem his waiting, yet he is still holding on to his own determination and resolve...

    It's unclear weather his "holding on" is some punishing co-dependency, wishful belligerently addictive thinking - or the self-saving faith in love's potentials even despite no evidence to the contrary....
    and therefore an almost spiritual or visionary evolving,
    despite his present suffering and lack of clear direction.

    The most poignant irony of the song is that while he is so desperate to catch that train and end his waiting, and ' travel ' to new and less painful places with this awaited person, he is the absolute epitome of ' stuck ' and motionless....never going anywhere....just killing time, stuck in the rain, or pressed up against a window the only available source of shelter being the rebound girl's kisses, leaving lipstick on his cigarettes and the interior of his emotional winter - looking for his latitude and longitude always through the lens of disassociation from his present enmeshment, always looking elsewhere for his sense of ' connection '

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