Album: Elephants…Teeth Sinking Into Heart (2008)


  • Rachael Yamagata was working out some relationship issues when she wrote this song, which deals with our animal instincts. The first animal she sings about is the mighty elephant, which always remembers. This triggers a tough memory for Yamagata, who wants to forget her ex.

    Next is the tiger, which represents her ferocious side, then finally the hawk, a scavenger that will feast on the dead. Love is a dangerous game indeed.
  • Yamagata came up with the lyric in a flash of inspiration while running down a mountain in Woodstock, New York, where she does most of her writing.

    "It was one of those real gifts from above, channeled," she said in a Songfacts interview. "You know when artists say something was written in five minutes? That was that song for me. It probably comes the closest to poetry that I'll ever get with the lyric, without much intellectual intention behind it.

    It was one of those things where the lyrics were just flooding to me as I was running down a mountain, and I had to keep repeating it to myself until I got back up the mountain where I had a pen and paper and I could write them all down. There are a lot of layers in that song that I think if I had been conscious of sitting down and trying to write that song, it just wouldn't have happened. That one has a special place for me."
  • Yamagata had the lyrics for about six months before she put music to the song. When she finally did, she decided to use it as the title and opening track for her album, which ended up being split into two parts. The 10 tracks on the first part, Elephants, are introspective, while the five on the next part, Teeth Sinking Into Heart, are more defiant.
  • This was used in episodes of Gravity ("Damn Skippy" - 2010) and The Vampire Diaries ("I'm Thinking of You All the While" - 2015).


Be the first to comment...

Editor's Picks

N.W.A vs. the World

N.W.A vs. the WorldSong Writing

How the American gangsta rappers made history by getting banned in the UK.

Songs in Famous Movie Scenes: '80s Edition

Songs in Famous Movie Scenes: '80s EditionMusic Quiz

You know the scenes - Tom Cruise in his own pants-off dance off, Molly Ringwald celebrating her birthday - but do you remember what song is playing?

Country Song Titles

Country Song TitlesFact or Fiction

Country songs with titles so bizarre they can't possibly be real... or can they?

Timothy B. Schmit of the Eagles

Timothy B. Schmit of the EaglesSongwriter Interviews

Did this Eagle come up with the term "Parrothead"? And what is it like playing "Hotel California" for the gazillionth time?

Alan Merrill of The Arrows

Alan Merrill of The ArrowsSongwriter Interviews

In her days with The Runaways, Joan Jett saw The Arrows perform "I Love Rock And Roll," which Alan Merrill co-wrote - that story and much more from this glam rock pioneer.

How The Beatles Crafted Killer Choruses

How The Beatles Crafted Killer ChorusesSong Writing

The author of Help! 100 Songwriting, Recording And Career Tips Used By The Beatles, explains how the group crafted their choruses so effectively.