Profoundly Horrifying Song Lyrics: “Night Vision Binoculars” by Passenger

Music Features

It’s Thursday, and that means it’s time for the first 2014 edition of “Profoundly Horrifying Song Lyrics,” the only online feature standing between you and trauma-inducing lyrical content. We survived 2013! Hooray! Today’s entry comes from Paste’s own Eric Gossett, who writes:

“Heard this song “Night Vision Binoculars” by Passenger the other day and thought the lyrics sounded a bit off. Went and looked them up and can now confirm that this song is super creepy. It’s deceivingly upbeat and cheery, but if you listen, this dude is creeping on this girl hard.”

Thanks, Eric. If YOU know a profoundly disturbing song that requires immediate analysis, send it in to [email protected]. And please check out previous installments at the bottom of this post.

On to “Night Vision Binoculars,” a title that, let’s be honest, promises a super high creep factor. As always, I won’t be looking up any back story or explanation until I’m finished. I want to come to this song fresh and unbiased. Lyrics in bold, my commentary after.

I see you nearly everyday

One of my favorite things to do in these posts is to see how many lines each song can go before they reveal themselves as creepy. So far, so good. The narrator could be referring to a co-worker, a family member, or a friend. The streak stands at one line.

I see you, but you don’t see me.

Anndddddd we’re done here. One line it is!

I wish I had something clever to say.
And I wish I had something better I could be.

A suggestion: You could be Winston Churchill, and the clever thing you say could be, “Nothing in life is so exhilarating as to be shot at without result.” That’s just an idea, though. Not sure how cool Winston Churchill is anymore. By the way, you ever notice that if you separate his last name, it becomes “church” and “ill”? I feel like he needs another “h” in there to make it “church” and “hill.” Unless the family name is trying to convey the idea of a sick church, but honestly, how likely is that? Wait, why are we talking about this? Dammit, I’ve been led astray!

We touched hands by the coffee machine the other day.
I know you’ve forgotten already

I bet she hasn’t totally forgotten it, because the person singing sounds like the kind of guy who has really sweaty hands. And a clammy hand touch sticks in the mind for a while. A real shudder-y moment. I bet Churchill was sweaty as a mule.

But I’m gonna take that moment to the grave.
To the grave.

God, at the gates of heaven: What was your greatest moment?
Dude: That one time I touched hands with the girl I’m obsessed with at work.
God: I hope that’s a joke. I have given the miracle of life on a thriving, beautiful planet.
Dude: Nope. Definitely the coffee machine moment. So awesome.
God: Hey, look over there.
Dude: Okay.
(God kicks him down to Hell while his back is turned.)

Cos I just wanna walk you home.
I just wanna walk you home.
Oh, yeah

I hate to play semantics here, narrator, but based on the rest of the song, walking her home doesn’t seem like all you want to do. It seems like you might also want to worship-murder her. But that’s just one man’s opinion.

(By the way, worship-murder is a term I just invented for when people want to murder other people because they’re too beautiful for this earth. It’s a theme that comes up a lot in PHSL, and I thought we needed a word. If anyone has a better idea, let me know pronto.)

I see you nearly every night.
I see you when you’re down in your house.
With my night vision binoculars
I creep quiet as a mouse.

“I see you nearly every night” = Bingo night is on Tuesdays, and I miss Bingo Night for no woman.

I might be wrong about this, but wouldn’t it actually be a bad idea to wear night vision goggles for looking into a lit-up house? Wouldn’t that just give you weird bright images when simply looking into the window would be better? In any case, I like the idea of a bad stalker. In fact, Bad Stalker probably should have been a terrible Adam Sandler movie from 1998.

And I get jealous when I see you stroking his hair.

That guy’s dead.

But it’s okay, I tell myself ’cause I know
It’s only I’m not there.
I’m not there.

To be fair, she did touch his hand at the coffee machine, so maybe he has a point. Here’s an odd question- do you think there’s ever been a relationship where a guy stalked a girl, but then they ended up dating and getting married, and the whole time he had to hide the fact that he’d been a creepy stalker? (This question is also the plot of Adam Sandler’s Bad Stalker 2.)

Cos I just wanna walk you home.
I just wanna walk you home.
Well I just need some time alone.
I just need some time alone.

I bet he has a whole speech planned for that one moment when he finally gets her alone. And I bet when that day comes, he’ll just hyperventilate and dry heave onto the sidewalk before running away.

I’m the boy who watches the phone.
I’m the boy who eats lunch on his own.
I’m the boy with the monotone.
I’m the boy who still lives at home.

For a psychotic stalker, he’s refreshingly self-deprecating.

I’m the boy with the ironed shirt.
I’m the boy who watches you work.
I know where you keep your skirts.
I know where your secrets lurk.

Well, we know he’s been insider her house. This is getting into some legitimately horrifying territory now. I am curious was to where her secrets lurk. I imagine it’s a totally different place from where she keeps her skirts, because you don’t want to mix secrets and skirts. At least I don’t. Also, does she keep her skirts somewhere really eccentric, like a revolving skirt rack in the kitchen? Because otherwise that’s a pretty lame piece of info. “I know that you keep your skirts…in a drawer!” (Thanks to Adam Sandler and the makers of Bad Stalker 3 for permission to use that line of dialogue.)

I’m the boy that’s calling your house.
I’m the boy that’s freaking you out.
With my thermal flask of tea.
Up there in your neighbor’s tree.

Woman: Hey, um…are you okay up there? I notice you have a Thermos, like you plan to stay awhile?
Man: Oh, uh, wow…this is your house? What an odd coincidence.
Woman: Is that Eric from work?
Man: No….yup. Yeah, it’s me. I’m just tree-exploring. Treesploring. Silly little hobby.
Woman: At 3 am?
Man: Best time, otherwise the birds ruin it. Hey, remember when we touched hands at the coffee machine?
Woman: What?
Man: Yeah, that was great, huh?

I’m the boy that’s crossing borders.
I’m the boy with social disorders.
I’m the boy with restraining orders.
I’m the boy, yeah.

Wooooo it’s gettin’ weird! This may sound a little odd, but I kinda wish I had stalked somebody at some point in my life. If only so I could feel what that kind of obsession is like. It sort of makes all my real-life romances feel pretty dim by comparison, because I never sneaked around someone’s house at night or spied on them from a tree. I am a passionless dullard.

Cos I just wanna walk you home.
I just wanna walk you home.
And I know that’s it not right to creep.
But I just wanna watch you sleep alone.

Great last line. Watching somebody sleep is the ultimate stalker move, because nothing could be more disturbing than the image of a strange person in your bedroom just standing there staring until you wake up. It’s the very reason I keep four guns under my pillow.


And that’s it! There’s not really any extra context to this song—it is what it is. But because it’s fun and jangly to listen to, the contrast gives it a few extra disturbance points. Well done, Passenger!

Official Horror Rating: 9.3

Check out our previous installments:

Don’t You Want Me – The Human League
Fake Palindromes – Andrew Bird
Young Girl – Gary Puckett and The Union Gap
Dance Hall Days — Wang Chung
Art Lover – The Kinks
Possum Kingdom — Toadies
Excitable Boy — Warren Zevon
In the Colosseum — Tom Waits
Silhouettes — The Rays
Jack Killed Mom — Jenny Lewis

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