Interpretations of To the Shore

This song, To the Shore, has been on my list of songs to interpret for awhile but I have not wanted to tackle it.  I’m not sure why.  Perhaps, it is because I have never had a real strong connection to the song.  I blame that on becoming a fan in 1984.  I only knew the first album to include Is There Something I Should Know and didn’t discover this song until much later.  Maybe, it is because I don’t have a strong opinion about what the heck this song is about.  It hasn’t hit me, in some way, the way other songs have.  Before we begin, I would love to include a clip of the song.  As we all know, there is not a video that corresponds with this song and I couldn’t even find a clip of it.  I’m sure that part of the reason for that is because it is not something played live and it is a track that is a bit more rare from even the others off that first album.  Here are the lyrics, though.

Oh when your nine day feed is up and you’ve drained your loving cup
Come stands reeling to the shore oh when the brave are coming out
The dry fight and the dusty shout see you crawling on the floor
And diamond stars shining glitter bright gorging your sanhedralites
Words are falling to the floor glad stand pouring fruit trees
And now they glisten on the waterline sing home you are at the shore
I’m moving crissie pretty flowers in the shutter maze
Haul up all your petty desires leave them lying down they fall
Wash away the rusty disease of your brown town days in our silver sea
Leave it dying at the door feather yellow your time to leave
Open out your arms and breathe
Oh oh oh oh oh oh oh oh oh oh oh oh oh to the shore now
Oh oh oh oh oh oh oh oh oh oh oh oh to the shore now come on

Every time I look at those lyrics, my reaction is always the same.  I’m a little stunned, a little overwhelmed as I know that the meaning isn’t super obvious or super clear.  Where to start thinking about this?  I checked Duran Duran’s wiki, which you could find here.  According to this website, Simon said the following about this song:  “Whenever I listen to ‘To The Shore’ I am completely nonplussed as to what it is really about.  I think I was going through an experimental/impressionistic phase with my lyrics.  I didn’t really care what the words actually meant; rather, what people read into them was the important factor, like a sort of Rorschach test.  I do recall one of the tutors at Birmingham University, where I studied drama, was called Chrissie and I remember being quite fascinated with her, but quite why she figures in the song I have long since forgotten.”  Hmm…if we assume that this quote
is correct, this would mean that there really isn’t a meaning.  While that very well might be the case, it still is fun to see if some meaning could be pulled out.  So what theories are out there?  Well, shockingly enough or not so shocking, but there are very few theories out there.  One theory I did see thought that it was about masterbation.  Truly, that doesn’t seem to make any sense to me.  I don’t get it.  Maybe, that is just the assumption this person makes about any lyrics that aren’t so easy to understand.

Let’s look at it line by line.

Oh when your nine day feed is up and you’ve drained your loving cup- Perhaps, this is a reference to work.  You drained your loving cup meaning that you worked until you couldn’t work anymore.  Maybe, you worked nine days in a row.  Just a guess.
Come stands reeling to the shore oh when the brave are coming out- Hmm…this reminds me of the Battle at Normandy during World War II when the Allied landed on the beaches of Normandy, France.  Certainly, those soldiers definitely met the definition of brave.  Likewise, they could have worked very hard and “drained your loving cup,” too.
The dry fight and the dusty shout see you crawling on the floor- Fight could be another reference to war.  Yet, this fight is dry and dusty.  This could reference how World War II was fought in many places around the world, including places like Africa.
And diamond stars shining glitter bright gorging your sanhedralites- Star shining bright could be obviously referring to the stars in the sky.  Gorging your sanhedralites, on the the other hand, is a bit tough.  Sanhedralities has some connection with a translation of a writing in Judaism.  Again, this could be a connection to World War II.
Words are falling to the floor glad stand pouring fruit trees- I always took the line about words falling to the floor to mean as these words are said they aren’t hanging in the air.  Instead, it could be that they get buried and eventually lead to growth of something–in this case, fruit.  What I mean by this is that words are said and can lead to something positive or negative and here it was positive and “fruitful”.
And now they glisten on the waterline sing home you are at the shore- Could this be that the soldier has arrived home or is about to return home?  The memories, the words remain at the “waterline”, or at the battle.
I’m moving crissie pretty flowers in the shutter maze- There is the reference to the girl that Simon’s quote talked about.  Maybe, this guy is moving forward by going back home to his girlfriend.  He will bring her flowers and will take pictures (shutter maze reference).
Haul up all your petty desires leave them lying down they fall- Now that this guy has experienced war, he realizes that he can’t be worried about the little things and petty things in life.  He has to let them go.
Wash away the rusty disease of your brown town days in our silver sea- Rusty disease implies that the disease is old-fashioned.  Could it just be the hatred that brought the war on?
Leave it dying at the door feather yellow your time to leave- Maybe, the hatred is something he has from the war and that he has to let it go (“leave it dying”) before he really returns home (“at the door”). It is time to leave the battlefield, physically and emotionally, and go home.
Open out your arms and breathe- Now, it is time to live, to breathe. 


My interpretation is a rather simple one.  I took it to be about a soldier during World War II who experienced battle and hatred, but also bravery.  Now, the war is over and his return home is coming.  He has to let go of the hatred in order to move forward with his life and his girlfriend.  Of course, the song really could be about nothing and just lines that sounded like good poetry when written.  I will also admit that I am not someone with any talent in interpreting literature, poetry, etc.  Nope, I am a social scientist by nature.  I can read, write and analysis the world and the world’s people, but fall short with literature.  Nonetheless, it was fun to try to figure it out.  So, what do the rest of you think?  What is this song all about?

-A







5 thoughts on “Interpretations of To the Shore”

  1. I thought the To the shore lyric was actually about nature, as I heard the guys in the early days had in mind some kind of “going green” philosophy.
    I thought it was written to encourage people to give respect to the environment. I considered that Planet Earth, Sound of Thunder are other nature-related song titles in the track listing and that reinforced my reasoning.

  2. Hmm…there are references to nature in this song but I don't really think Planet Earth or Sound of Thunder are about nature. Can you explain where you see nature in those songs?

    -A

  3. nightfall with the rain, for example off Planet Earth.
    lying on the grass, the air -Sound of Thunder

    too little references probably. Not enough to sustain my argument.

  4. It’s about Ascension. He channeled it, which is why when questioned as to its meaning, he was “nonplussed.” Seek and Ye Shall Find. 😉 Blessings !

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