SOTW #24 – A Thousand Bars

March 8, 2009 | Song of the Week

The Panther by Rainer Maria Rilke


Its hard to believe we’re up to week #24!  We’ve had songs all over the map so far, and this one is definitely a contender for being one of the most “out there.”  Some weeks the finished song isn’t very different than the original rough track.  This song however has been very evolutionary.  It started with some simple loops that I sent to Patrick.  Then he added some really cool ambient vocals.  We still didn’t have any lyrics at that point and Patrick had the idea of incorporating a poem.  Due to my (non)extensive knowledge of poetry I suggested “The Panther” by Rainer Maria Rilke.  And then there was more back and forth until we ended up with whatever it is we ended up with.  It was definitely an interesting process.  Enjoy!

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Read more for the full poem and additional info.

“The Panther” by Rainer Maria Rilke

His vision, from the constantly passing bars,
has grown so weary that it cannot hold
anything else. It seems to him there are
a thousand bars, and behind the bars, no world.

As he paces in cramped circles, over and over,
the movement of his powerful soft strides
is like a ritual dance around a center
in which a mighty will stands paralyzed.

Only at times, the curtain of the pupils
lifts, quietly. An image enters in,
rushes down through the tense, arrested muscles,
plunges into the heart and is gone.

— translated by Steven Mitchell

additional lyrics by Tim Seley

He’s trying to get it all out of his head
The things that he’s done and the things that he’s said
He’s pacing in circles, he’s pacing in circles
Heart racing in circles in circles in circles
He’s tired of waiting for something to change
For something to save him from his tiny cage
Let him go

“Lock it up” photo by used under Creative Commons

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Comments (10)


  1. Lindsey says:

    I really, really love this. It’s so different, and there is something about it that I resonate with. It’s passionate…sad…longing…and it says something about what goes on in me: the feeling of being caged at times…like I’m meant for so much more…but not sure what.

  2. Kyle Gach says:

    It took reading the poem as I listened for me to realize it, but this song is ridiculously creative. You guys do all kinds of cool things with tempo, layering, dynamics, and probably lots of other techniques I’m not even noticing. I really like it.

    I’m anxious to see this level of creativity and experimentation play out in your future songs (not that it hasn’t been the case in your previous work… this one just raises the bar a bit).

  3. Carolyn says:

    Wow, the additional lyrics that match perfectly to where I’m at right now. Makes me feel not so crazy.

  4. randy says:

    This may be my favorite so far. I really dig this. Awesome work, guys.

  5. randy says:

    …and stop watching me on woopra.

  6. Jeremy says:

    very cool…

  7. Sarah Myers says:

    I can hear it now….The lull in a movie, where the worried girlfriend is walking down the street…thoughts in her head…. LOVE IT!!!!!!

  8. joe healey says:

    Amazing poem, interesting take on it. Love it when Tim sings. Keep getting weirder guys!

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