Interpretations:I Left My Body

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Scientist experimenting with death[edit]

I currently think this is about a scientist experimenting with what is on the other side as such. The title of the song "I left my body" seems to indicate that the consciousness is leaving the body. The phrasing of it indicates that it was a decision made by the protagonist rather than a natural death. The first verse then indicates that the protagonist is no longer able to return to his body e.g. "I forgot where I left my body". This would mean that they are no longer able to return in a way that they had planned. The planning is indicated by the "I forgot" meaning that it was originally planned they would remember and so be able to return to the living. It is also indicated that it is planned from "I left a notebook" and "with the old landlady" hinting that they made preparations for this journey by preparing someone or something "landlady" to look after the body while they leave. I then believe the protagonist is encountering limbo with "Don't see anyone" and "waiting endlessly". I believe the protagonist to be a gentleman Victorian scientist as well from "landlady" and "waiting on a receptionist" however I don't strongly believe this to be true. The song then turns its focus to how the protagonist now regrets their decision and how their now empty body will be disposed of with "tungsten ring" and "plastic hip is going to be worth something". Possibly it was just a coma that they can't return from as that would explain how their body is still alive but empty of consciousness. Awesome song and obviously this is just an opinion but I hope I've raised an interesting point of view. Gush over. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Pivoit3 (talkcontribs) 14:00, October 23, 2017

The other half of "Lost My Mind"[edit]

I feel like this song is describing the same situation as Lost My Mind, but from the mind's point of view instead of the body's. Each part of the original person is worried about the other (what might be happening to the body, where the mind could be), but neither can find the other half (the mind is at least trying, the body claims it simply doesn't have time). The possible conflicts between what each song says is happening to the other part can be disregarded since neither half actually knows what's happening to the other. —Preceding unsigned comment added by, October 24, 2017 (talk)

Don't get too hung up on the word landlady[edit]

Just an observation: a lot of people on here don't recognize the word landlady and think it's literally a lady made of land or something. Landlord and landlady are gendered colloquialisms for the owner of a property (esp. a rental property) in a lot of english dialects. —Preceding unsigned comment added by WhatTheHeckLinnell (talkcontribs) 12:32, January 18, 2018‎


Sleeping/dreaming seems like a cop out to me but it does fit a number of points in the song. Sorry for the long explanation.

I left my body And I went on a journey And I forgot where I left my body - You're not confined to your physical body while dreaming.

They're gonna tow you If they think you're abandoned You got to act like you're not abandoned - Tow and abandoned indicate a car. Maybe that you can't sleep so deeply you look like you're dead and need to be hauled to the grave.

I left a notebook with all of my good ideas Keywords encoded cryptographically - This is interesting because it's not the notebook that's encoded, it's just the keywords. This makes me think of how books are hard to read in a dream. Usually text will shift and change moment to moment.

I'm waiting endlessly on a receptionist At the desk I'm searching high and low But I don't see anyone Don't see anyone Don't see anyone there - A fevered frustrating dream where you're looking for something that never shows up.

I left my body With the old landlady But I don't know if she read the directions - Wife doesn't know how to wake him up? He's a very sound sleeper.

There must be something You can use on the carpet - Sleeping so soundly he didn't even get up to use the bathroom.

Someone might want that electric blanket - Maybe the electric blanket also got wet? A blanket indicates sleep.

Unfinished manuscript and a tungsten ring - These are the things left on the side of the bed as he sleeps.

My plastic hip is going to be worth something - It was hard to sleep before his hip replacement. It's worth something in that he can sleep soundly again.

I took the folding knife And the bat repellent soap - These are the things that he took with him in his dream. Bat repellant soap makes no sense and so fits well in a dream.

I left my body And right away I knew I made A mistake I left without my senses And I can't see anything Can't see anything - You can't see while sleeping.

I'm waiting endlessly on a receptionist At the desk I'm searching high and low But I don't see anyone Don't see anyone Don't see anyone there - A repeated fevered dream that he keeps having. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 15:56, June 10, 2018

He's just depressed, body is a placeholder for the feeling in life[edit]

I left my body/ And I went on a journey/ And I forgot where I left my body

He lost his sense of life and can't get it back, as in, he's unable to find happiness. He has depression. My thoughts on the meaning can't be explained chronologically, but I can jump to the lyrics that I think bring meaning to the rest.

They're going to tow you/ If they think you're abandoned/ You got to act like you're not abandoned

This makes it clear that narrator can indeed control his body(he can pretend), thus hasn't literally left it. The first line highlights that he'd get towed in, not destroyed or buried like a dead man, but towed in. I believe this means he thinks that they would take him to a psych ward. The second line is what makes it obvious he's depressed. An abandoned building or car is simply empty. He's an empty person. Third line, he has to pretend as though he isn't empty, which means faking happiness and joy.

I'm waiting endlessly/ On the receptionist at the desk/ I'm searching high and low/ But I don't see anyone

The receptionist(google the definition) is a suicide hotline worker. My guess is that he's waiting for someone to reach out to him opposed to calling for help. He's waiting for the receptionist, but they take calls 24/7, so the wait could only be because he himself doesn't intend on calling. He wants the worker to call him, but sees that it isn't happening as no one is reaching out for him.

A thought I'm less certain of is the reasoning of why he's depressed, but here's my understanding anyhow:

I left my body/ With the old landlady/ But I don't know if she read the directions

Whatever caused his depression happened in his home, and his landlady is the only one who can end it. It soon becomes clear that the narrator isn't interested in her specifically, but that the landlady has reason to reach out a hand. I can't explain myself clearly, but the idea is that the landlady should have reason to suspect that the narrator is depressed, thus his depression began with some action at her property(the narrator's old home). Her being his "old" landlady means he was evicted or moved out since then.

There must be something/ you can use on the carpet

The conflict that triggered his depression involves stains on the carpet. I believe it is blood and the next few interpretations will back it.

Unfinished Manuscript and tungsten ring/ My plastic hip is going to be worth something

The ring hints that marriage is involved, and the manuscript feeds off that idea of marriage. I think the manuscript is divorce papers. The plastic hip bit isn't as easy, though I think the conflict resulted in him gaining some sort of fame for his plastic hip to have such worth. Ignoring that, the fact that he has a plastic hip suggests he was injured. It didn't have to necessarily happen in the conflict that made him depressed, but it's a possibility.

I took the folding knife and my bat repellent soap/ I left my body/ And right away I knew I'd made a mistake

Line one, the conflict involved him using a knife(remember the blood?) and his opponent using a bat, which probably broke his hip. My guess is he killed his wife in anger over the divorce papers. Line two and three serve to clarify that this is where he lost his senses.

I left a notebook with all of my good ideas/ Keywords encoded cryptographically

Obviously not literally encoded, but the point is that the narrator can't understand what he had wanted in those good ideas. He can no longer see the joy in those ideas. I think the rest isn't interesting enough to focus on.

Hello? Anyone there?[edit]

No receptionist (St. Peter). Searching everywhere but not seeing anyone (the big guy) there. An afterlife of absences. --Nehushtan (talk) 01:07, 17 December 2019 (EST)

An Out Of Body Experience Gone Wrong[edit]

"I Left My Body" sounds like an out of body experience gone wrong. According to some reports of people who have experienced astral projection, an individual will literally leave their body and are able to view it and the world around them from a third person perspective as well as travel away from their body. The character in this song states that they left their body and went on a journey adding credibility to this theory.

People have also reported that your body becomes an empty vessel during this state. Likewise, the further you travel from your body, the more dangerous the risk becomes that other beings nearby in the astral plane can slip into the vessel that is your physical form.

The character in the song laments that they have traveled too far away and forgot where they left their body during their OBE. They are aware of the danger at hand when stating "they're going to tow you if they think you're abandoned."

The character refers to their material world possessions in the past tense through out the song signaling that they are trapped in the astral plane. It is possible that their physical form is no longer their own because of this.

Faking life[edit]

I think this song is about a guy who dies but despite being dead, he tries to convince people he’s still alive. The receptionist at the desk is obviously a symbol for purogatory, the landlady I assume is someone he tried to get to convince other people he’s still alive but she screws up.

Suicide Attempt?[edit]

After giving this song another listen( easily one of my favorites on the album btw) and looking closely at the lyrics, I'm seeing this song as a suicide note or at least about a near death experience. Let's take a look at the first stanza:

I left my body

And I went on a journey

And I forgot where I left my body

Here, our narrator tells us plainly what has happened. He has left this mortal coil or at least his body behind. The journey mentioned is much like those stories of people journeying to the underworld or afterlife in mythology. The really interesting part is the last line. He specified that he forgot, implying leaving his body was either intentional and meant to be temporary, or he is just now realizing the permanence of his situation. Forgetting something as important as your body isn't something you can just fix, hinting at the theme of regret that becomes much more clear as the song goes on. The next stanza develops this idea in TMBG's typical dryly comedic fashion:

They're gonna tow you

If they think you're abandoned

You've got to act like you're not abandoned

Being towed in this case means his body being found and buried, or perhaps the soul being taken away to the afterlife. Either way, our main character clearly does not want this to happen and struggles against it. The paradox of someone having to act like they aren't abandoned i.e. hollow and devoid of life, is a funny little paradox, though it's quite poignant in this context. The line leading up to the chorus is very interesting:

I left a notebook with all of my good ideas

Keywords encoded cryptographically

Here he tells us he's left something behind, specifically a text containing his eyes that has been encrypted in code and therefore meaningless to anyone without the cypher. In his passing, he realizes he has caused his work to become meaningless. This is the moment where he starts to truly regret leaving his body, the moment he knew he made a mistake.

I'm waiting endlessly on the receptionist

At the desk

I'm searching high and low

But I don't see anyone

Don't see anyone

Don't see anyone there

An interesting take on the afterlife as a celestial bureaucracy, this line can be interpreted either as him dying and realizing it didn't free him from the sense of isolation that drove him to leave, or him waiting to be guided to the afterlife only to realize the attempt failed. This song has a real feeling of loneliness to it, both in the concept of being separated from your body and waiting for an eternity for someone who isn't coming. In both cases he is alone and unable to progress or move on because of it.

I left my body

With the old landlady

But I don't know if she read the directions

There must be something

You can use on the carpet

Someone might want that electric blanket

Apparently our narrator had some sort of contingency but it too is thwarted. Here he is regretting his actions mostly because it didn't go as he had planned, and his mind turns again to what he left behind. Instead of a solution or a way out, leaving his body has only caused more problems. Most people who attempt suicide and live regret the decision, and it usually is not planned. Our narrator definitely planned his but the lyrics spell out what a poor job he did of it.

Unfinished manuscript and a tungsten ring

My plastic hip is going to be worth something

I took the folding knife

And the bat repellent soap

Again he mentions his unfinished business and the work he left behind. Tungsten is a popular material for wedding rings because of its durable nature, so he possible has a spouse left behind to pick up the pieces. The plastic hip line is him trying to reassure himself. If his encrypted manuscripts aren't worth anything then surely his fake hip is worth something, even if just to sell. Admittedly, the folding knife and soap line is hard to fit into this narrative; but I think it means that the things he did take with him are things that are comparatively cheap and useless compared to what he is leaving behind. sure, he has a pocketknife and bat repellent soap, but his good ideas and loved ones are gone.

I left my body

And right away I knew I'd made

A mistake

I left without my senses

And I can't see anything

Can't see anything

And here we have it. The narrator knew almost immediately he was making a mistake. 'I left without my senses' is him admitting he either wasn't thinking about the consequences of his actions, or he just wasn't in his right mind. The last two lines lead us back into the chorus, where he is still waiting for a receptionist who will never come to him. He is completely and utterly alone and all he can think about are the things he abandoned. Looking back, I realize this all doesn't necessarily mean he tried to commit suicide: He could be running away to start a new life, for one. Still, the themes of regret, loss, and being alone with the consequences of your actions are very clear.

Post-Suicide Purgatory[edit]

I believe this song is about someone who suffered from depression/mental health issues. They worried they would be "towed" (taken away to an institution) if anyone realised this. Eventually, this led them to suicide. There's kind of a tortured artist implication with the "notebook with all of my good ideas" and "unfinished manuscript" lines...perhaps this was a contributing factor to their death.

As the song proceeds, the speaker worries that their elderly landlady won't be able to follow the directions left on their suicide note, including advice on how to clean the carpet (implication of a bloody suicide) and a request to offer the deceased's belongings (like their electric blanket, tungsten ring and plastic hip) to their loved ones. Immediately we get a sense of regret here.

The speaker, perhaps due to their suicide, is revealed to be trapped in a sort of empty Heaven/Purgatory in the shape of an office, waiting endlessly for the receptionist who will potentially never arrive to check them in to the afterlife. Perhaps this is a grim take on the belief that, if someone takes their own life, they will be stuck in Purgatory rather than reaching Heaven.

The speaker then appears to recall their suicide method--a folding knife was involved, explaining the stained carpet. More enigmatically mentioned is a form of soap...I really don't know how to interpret that. Perhaps the speaker tried to make themselves clean and presentable before dying.

And thus, again we return to the confused, lost and seemingly panicked speaker trapped eternally in Purgatory. A tragic ending to a tragic tale...and certainly a uniquely twisted depiction of the afterlife. All the speaker wanted was death, but now they are condemned to live potentially forever, alone and waiting on something that may never come. -LapinPuff (talk) 14:05, 19 February 2024 (EST)

Reusing to accept death.[edit]

I think I Left My Body is about a man dying and refusing to accept so. He repeatedly claims that he could re enter his body, if he could only find it, which he can’t do because he died. It seems like he begins being a little more accepting towards the end of the song, specifically when he acknowledges that someone could want his electric blanket. I also think the “i left without my senses line” implies that he is dead. lastly i think the “receptionist” is someone who’s supposed to check him into the afterlife. Ruddy (talk) 20:26, 28 February 2024 (EST)