Never Quite Free
All Eternals Deck


All Eternals Deck




the Mountain Goats



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Never Quite Free is the 12th song on the album All Eternals Deck. This song also appears as a demo on All Survivors Pack as the 10th track.


​It's so good to learn
 that right outside your window
There's only friendly fields
 and open roads
And you'll sleep better when you think
 you've stepped back from the brink
And found some peace inside yourself;
 lay down your heavy load

It gets alright
to dream at night
Believe in solid skies
 and slate blue earth below
But when you see him, you'll know

It's okay to find
 the faith to saunter forward
There's no fear of shadows
 spreading where you stand
And you'll breathe easier just knowing
 that the worst is all behind you
And the waves that tossed the raft
 all night have set you on dry land

It gets okay
to praise the day
Believe in sheltering skies
 and stable earth beneath
But hear his breath come
 through his teeth

Walk by faith
Tell no one what you've seen

It's so good to learn
 that from right here
 the view goes on forever
And you'll never want for comfort,
 and you'll never be alone
See the sunset turning red,
 let all be quiet in your head
And look about, 
 all the stars are coming out

They shine like steel swords
Wish me well where I go
But when you see me, you'll know

Comments by John Darnielle About this SongEdit

  • "This is a song about the nagging feeling that your demons will pursue you to the grave, um, I mean I don't know that they will, but I can't assure you that they don't." -- 2011-03-30 - Bowery Ballroom - New York, NY
  • "I always feel a little guilty when I demystify this song because people find it kind of upbeat and cheery and, like, comforting. And, like, that's a great honor, and I'm so proud that people can use the song for that purpose. But this song is about having one thing in your life that you can never quite get free from no matter how hard you try. It's called 'Never Quite Free.'" -- 2012-01-31 - Visulite Theatre - Charlotte, NC
  • "I always feel like saying what it's about is cheating people out of a more comforting misinterpretation... What the song is about is what its title says. It's about not being able to ever fully entirely feel loosed from something that bound you, no matter how you see the evidence of your bondage growing old and desiccated underneath you and no longer actually has its grip on you. But there's still the marks where the ropes were." -- 2015-04-11 - City Winery - New York, NY
    • In this show, the line before "walk by faith" was "hear his breath come, whistling oddly, through his teeth" and the last line was "But when you see me changed, you'll know."
  • "It is a song about a sort of cautious optimism." -- 2015-04-16 - Bogart's - Cincinnati, OH
  • "This is a song about, uh, a sort of - you tread lightly around a word like 'liberated,' but - this is a song about, um, wanting to liberate yourself from things that genuinely bind you, and feeling as though the last little bits of those cords will never quite be off your skin. It's called 'Never Quite Free.'" -- 2015-06-03 - The Mayan - Los Angeles, CA
  • "This is a song about going through trauma." -- 2016-04-16 - Strand-Capitol Performing Arts Center - York, PA

Things Referenced in this SongEdit

  • The line "walk by faith" references 2 Corinthians 5:7.[1]
  • The line "stars…shine like steel swords" references the story of the Sword of Damocles

Live Shows this Song Was Played atEdit

Videos of this SongEdit