Interpretations:Hovering Sombrero

From This Might Be A Wiki

I heard this song for the first time two days ago, and it has quickly become one of my favourites. I'm sure everyone has covered something like this, but i interpret it kind of like "Every one is Special" or "Everybody is good at something". When your depressed and think that you are nothing, nothing but a human. There are billions of you. Its kind of like someone is telling us that we are not just another person, we are not JUST a hat, we are a FREAKING hovering sombrero. Kind of like telling a depressed friend that they are extremly important to you. This probably doesn't make sense, sorry. I find this song very uplifting and i think it's going to be my new "i need to cheer up song". user:jadeybeans

The best song on Mink Car. A song about not getting down when life soes not work out the way you want and everything changes around you.(Mr Tuck)

I've always thought that Hovering Sombrero was about a shy, timid sort of person. The singer is telling this person not to be shy, and is comparing him to a hat who hovers around everywhere and feels unwanted by everyone. The speaker tells him that when he feels bad and feels unwanted to always remember: He's never just a hat.

I think that this song can be interpreted in two very opposite ways... one of them can be seen as a very comforting message... you're never just what people see (for instance, a sombrero is often much more noticable than the person underneath it). Though people just think of the hat, the person underneath it is dependable (just keeps hovering on) and worthwhile.

On the other hand, you can interpret this song as actually being sung to the sombrero, and completely ignoring the person underneath it (hence the 'hovering'). In this way it's almost depressing: the singer is comforting the hat and letting the hat know that it is wanted and worthwhile, while the person, who ought to be far more significant, is entirely ignored, and his feelings of rejection made even worse as the singer lavishes attention and encouragement on his hat without even so much as awknowledging his existence. I see this song as either uplifting or demeaning to the person to whom it is directed, depending on the viewpoint you take, and I think that that is how it was intended to be. (Posted 01:55, 11 December 2007 by

I think there's a third way to interpret the song in that vein of thinking: The song is being sung to the sombrero for the sake of irony. The person wearing the hat may feel(or have said) that they are invisible underneath the hat -- unnoticed, and unimportant. The singer is then playing off of that thought by reassuring the hat. You can also take it a step further and say that the singer directs the song to the hat because of what the wearer said.(giving the wearer a relevance that he denies he has) Captain Red 05:58, 18 May 2008 (UTC)

To me the message of this song is more generally directed towards all people, not just the shy. It's pointing out the improbability, and therefore the specialness, of being alive-- as improbable as a hovering sombrero. The song refers to feelings of shyness, aloneness, rejection, failure, and regrets, and we all feel those things at times. "And time keeps flying like an arrow, And the clock hands go so fast they make the wind blow, And it makes the pages of the calendar go, Fying out the window one by one. 'Til a hundred years are on the front lawn, And the old familiar things are mostly all gone, But the old sombrero just keeps hovering on..." I've always thought these lines are beautiful, and they obviously refer to growing old, something all of us do as well. As we age, the world changes around us, friends and loved ones become distant or die, yet we continue to "hover" as improbably as before, not knowing the moment of our own demise. "...Hovering sombrero, hover on." -- Ironwolf

This might be a silly interp, but I always thought of it as someone who has never heard of a UFO seeing one outside his window. Instead of automatically thinking "Flying Saucer" he thinks it looks more like a "hovering sombrero" He wants to see the strange craft more, so tries to get it to come out of its shell and say hello. -Random Cowboy

I too thought that the song was about a UFO when I first heard it, and it's still a very likely possibility. However, I thought it was more along the lines of the fact that aliens and the like bring about crazy emotions of terror and whatnot. If you were an alien and knew that people hated you, you'd probably be shy as well. This person is some kind of UFO enthusiast, who probably represents every UFO enthusiast there is. These people are constantly trying to coax the aliens out of hiding, but even after 100 years, they've come to no avail.

The song could also have a message of accepting different cultures/races/people with different sexual preferences.

-Mushroom Pie 'n stuff

Seems to me like a song about a very close friend who the singer has known for many years. No matter how many years pass, the friend keeps "hovering on", or just kinda sticking around rain or shine. I don't think the actual lyrics have anything to do with aliens. I get how you might read that into the lyrics, but there's really nothing there.


This song is about not being too introverted or self-counscious. If you don't put yourself out there, you won't be seen. The sombrero is being worn by an 'invisible' person, so it looks like it's hovering. So techically the song is being sung to the person, though the sombrero is the only sign that they're there. The line "you're never just a hat" is both saying that he knows there's a real person there, and also that every person is unique, not just an item. The verse ending with "...The old familiar things are mostly all gone/ But the old sombrero just keeps hovering on" refers to that the sombrero never did anything with itself, so it's still hovering a hundred years later. I think the last verse should be pretty self-explainatory. -Jimmy Pigeon


When I first heard the song I didn't think it was about a person at all, but rather an interesting personification (if you can call it that) of the Sun. The song gives the impression that the Sun can sometimes be shy when peaking over the horizon in the morning and can have its feelings hurt when it is either blocked by the clouds or cursed at for making hot weather. In spite of the changes in the world, the Sun is timeless and, at the same time, marks the passing of time.

To me, this song is a parody of self-help/chicken-soup-for-the-soul/don't-worry-be-happy-esque songs. It's a bunch of messages of hope and reassurance, but the joke is, they're all directed to a floating hat. Tutt 14:48, 7 Oct 2005 (EDT)MasterChivo

This song is about a classic case of transference. The singer is trying to reassure the sombrero, but actually he's the one with the problems, the one that needs reassurance. I mean it's a hat, it doesn't have feelings!

I've always taken this song to be about being yourself, even if being yourself is something that most people don't think is correct or normal. (Hover on!) It's about doing what you love regardless of your environment or shape. Like runners who obviously weren't designed for running, but they love it so they do it anyway, even if they're not that great.

this song is about someone travelling around trying to find somewhere to fit in. And time is running out because it's flying by.


I personally think it's about an old man (from Mexico, perhaps) who ges through his life, going on many adventures and through all of life's great twists and turns, with his sombrero b him at all times. People tell him he should get rid of it bu he tells them how it's not JUST a hat. When he dies in his chair one day, the wind blows the hat off his head. Hence, "Hovering Sombrero".

The "hovering sombrero" is consciousness itself. Saying "never only just a hat" is saying there is more to the thing on your head (brain) and that there is something hovering above it all. Getting wrapped up in your failures and miseries is a waste of the amount of time that sombrero will hover -- time is moving quickly and it will all be over, so keep floating instead of getting bogged down.

I think the same as jdc, It is talking about someone that doesn't fit in but keeps on trying to find a place. -Cameron Porcaro

I think it's about change. Things keep changing ("The old familiar things are mostly all gone"), but a few things stay the same. Things we take for granted, but we need them anyway. ~Anna Ng hears your words.

Remember you are not just a "hat" or a "job" or a parent. You are not the various stable "definitions" in your description to those around you. And best of all you are not any any of those things to yourself unless you choose at the moment to act them out. You are who you are and it is an essence we cannot define. We just know and feel what it is when we are in integrity with that essence and that can be integrity "in the moment" or long-term. JayFo

Sometimes things must be re-experienced with the body and the spirit, not always the mind. Can you think of a memory and don't use words to describe it. Not even thoughts. Use what it felt like in your body. In your spirit. All of a sudden time does not exist. Re-experience the animation in your physical body and in your eyes, the feeling of a special place. This song talks about things and places gone or maybe you have moved on. But only in your mind is it lost. You are not just the conscious experiences of your mind trapped in time. You are a soul a body that don't always get a chance to experience life in a non-verbal timeless language. This can be scary for the conscious mind BUT guess what? Even if the hat (consciousness) is watching from the windows of the house of regrets. When you are ready you will come out. You know that is not just a hat out there. That is your essence, your soul thanking you for living within the constraints of time and keeping things flowing but it will always be there inviting you at any point you want as many times as you want to join that which you already are. -JayFo

I think this song is about staying true to what you believe or what you think is right, regardless of what other people think is right or what is popular. I figured Linnell used the hovering sombrero as a metaphor for a person. "Don't be shy," means exactly what it says; don't be afraid to talk to people, even if they may think you're strange. It also says that "when you take yourself for granted, feel rejected and unwanted," something everyone feels at some point, "know you're never just a hat." This means that you are an individual, one-of-a-kind and irreplaceable. As time goes on, the story says, people change, but if you stay true to yourself, there's no need to change. "Don't be burdened by regrets or make/ Your failures an obsession/ Or become embittered or possessed/ By ruined hopes." Bad things do happen to people, but the song continues with reaffirming that you are an irreplaceable individual. -FlinnsyFan

There's an ongoing joke between the Johns about how their fans tend to overanalyze their lyrics- i think this song isnt about much anything. TMBG probably thought "lets write a song about being true to yourself, but lets throw it in a context so obscure no one can decode it." hence, hovering sombrero. i dunno, listen to the lyrics and the moral makes sense, but everything is broken up into random rentence fragments. I think they were trying to see how far they could take the text before their fans could barely understand the subtext.

kevin: the closest thing i can find to a hat is an air hockey puck-hitting-thing
kevin: it looks like a miniature sombrero
j2 - just in time for moviestime: LMAO
j2 - just in time for moviestime: omg
kevin: so:  yes?
j2 - just in time for moviestime: kevin
j2 - just in time for moviestime: KEVIN
j2 - just in time for moviestime: THIS IS LIKE
j2 - just in time for moviestime: THE SECRET OF HOVERING SOMBRERO
j2 - just in time for moviestime: THE SOMBRERO IS AN AIR HOCKEY THING
kevin: omg
j2 - just in time for moviestime: AND IT HOVERS BECAUSE IT AIRS
kevin: quick
kevin: post an interpretation on tmbw

The above interp. makes me laugh. Nice job guys. ;) I always thought this was JL's little "note to self" thing. Not just to whoever the "hovering sombrero" is, but to himself. Or maybe he considers himself that... hmm...--Lemita 22:29, 12 December 2007 (UTC)

I hear this song, and I imagine a National Park, "Hovering Sombrero National Park". People come from all over the country to visit a vintage frontier-style home, and there just outside a second story bedroom is a sombrero hovering in the air. Day after day lines of curious onlookers stream through the room to see hat, but some of the visitors are rude little kids and haters who jeer or belittle the flying hat. Eventually the sombrero becomes sad and depressed. That's when the National Park Service call John & John to come cheer the hat. The park is closed for a day while TMBG sets up in the second story bedroom and eventually plays "Hovering Sombrero" to help the hat be happy again. Once the mini-concert is over, the hat is happy again for another season. Inevitably, the depression will return with time, but at least for now the hat is happy again all thanks to a quirky little song from TMBG.

The lyrics seem to be the kind of thing you would say to someone in an intervention. A very introverted person with a low sense of self-worth, his/her manner is causing the person to miss out on life ("Time is moving like an arrow / And the clock hands move so fast they make the wind blow"). The person used to be much more social and/or self-confident (the old sombrero being a metaphor for that), and the singer in the song is trying to convince the person that he/she does still matter.

If nothing else, it seems to be a depressingly cheery pick-me-up song. 0dd1 04:25, 28 March 2009 (UTC)


Perhaps the song is referring to the Sombrero Galaxy? After a hundred years have blown out the window it will still be there, a-hoverin' on. --Nehushtan 20:55, 6 August 2009 (UTC)

Confirmed: Linnell is an amateur astronomer. --Nehushtan (talk) 12:51, 27 August 2013 (EDT)
uh, i don't think linnell's interest in astronomy confirms this theory. that's a bit far-fetched. -Apollo (colloquia!) 13:49, 27 August 2013 (EDT)


This song was written to cheer someone up who was feeling down. Or for a more literal translation, the Hovering Sombrero was that unique kid that was so unique no one wanted to play with him. So the narrator sang this song to it. -- Jason DeLima - ! - 22:26, 4 April 2010 (UTC)

Hovering Chapot?[edit]

I'm surprised no one has mentioned the work of Rene Magritte in the discussion of this song: [1]

Hovering sombrero of sun[edit]

When I heard this song the first time, I thought of the following interpretation:

  • The song is about a cloudy day, the singer is trying to encourage the Sun to come out from behind the clouds.
  • The cloudy day is bringing the singer down and making him think about the failures of his life thus far.
  • The singer decides to put the past behind him and encourages the Sun to the the same thing as well.

As for the term 'Hovering Sombrero', here's my take:

  • Hovering is used due the the fact that the Sun is hovering in the sky all the time during the day.
  • Sombrero is a reference to the halo behind many pre-renaissance religious art figures, such as 'Giotto, couronnement,Santa Croce' - it appears they have a huge Sombrero on their heads.

So, a Hovering Sombrero of a Sun. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 07:30, May 5, 2015


I sometimes wonder if it’s about Linnell himself.

Sombrero Galaxy[edit]

The Sombrero Galaxy disc shaped galaxy that people think looks like the brim of a Sombrero. It is hovering alone in space and will exist long after we are gone. I think that was the inspiration for this song Gorlami? (talk) 07:03, 23 April 2021 (EDT)

Highway Icon[edit]

The Johns and company are on the road a lot, and I-95 is probably one of their regular routes along the east coast. In Dillon, South Carolina, stands a tourist trap known as “South of the Border.” Atop a tower, close to the highway is a giant sombrero. I wonder if that may have been an inspiration for the title, as the giant hat seems to hover above the land. 13:35, 7 February 2023 (EST)