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I'm from a country that dont have english as first language. I was hearing a song and I caught this expression: "I drive the hearse" (the lyrics is here). In the first verse the narrator says:

When this freedom stains my coat
With the winter in my throat
When I'm lost I dig the dirt
When I fall I drive the hearse

I can figure out the meaning of every line of text except the last one. "When I fall I drive the hearse"??? In translation to my native language the only meaning I have is referring "the hearse" as a car that carries dead people from funerals. Is that the real meaning of that phrase in this context? If not, could you explain to me what this phrase really means? PS: I'm asking it because that mental image (a hearse) sounds kind dissonant in that music to me.

PS²: feel free to suggest any correction related to english errors in my question (this will help me to learn more ^^).

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To begin with, this is a terribly tortured song. The songwriter is conveying his raw emotions in very veiled writing, using metaphor after metaphor to the point that it is an exercise in literary analysis much like what takes place in a literature class. Even an experienced native speaker would have a hard time figuring out exactly what the songwriter is saying (although the gloomy mood is quite clear).

Freedom cannot actually stain a coat, and you can be sure that the narrator doesn't go out in the garden and make holes in the ground ("I dig the dirt"), but this may be a reference to digging a grave. Since on a literal level, driving a hearse means transporting a dead body, clearly the narrator is conveying a negative message about his actions when he falls (although what that means isn't exactly clear, either).

Much of this song is metaphorical, and with so much metaphor, it's impossible to know what's really going on. We just know that the narrator is feeling hopeless.

Also note that at this website there is a discussion of this song.

Short answer: Driving a hearse is not a typical idiom. In this song, it means whatever the author is using it to mean.

  • Thank you very much for your answer, it was very helpful. And thanks for the link. – chr0x Sep 23 '15 at 3:44
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Steven Wilson is the master of the realm of the melancholy. I may be totally off base, but I take the title, and hence overall meaning to be when I get down and depressed, I (literally or metaphorically) drive a car holding a passenger who's condition is worse... (dead). And, in that glimmer of a thought, surrounded by all his additional metaphoric layers (which can likely only be described SW himself)... there is one shining moment of hope... of light in his soul... that no matter how bad things get, it could be worse. ;-)

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