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

Steve Morse of Deep Purple

Steve Morse of Deep PurpleSongwriter Interviews

Deep Purple's guitarist since 1994, Steve talks about writing songs with the band and how he puts his own spin on "Smoke On The Water."

Brandi Carlile

Brandi CarlileSongwriter Interviews

As a 5-year-old, Brandi was writing lyrics to instrumental versions lullabies. She still puts her heart into her songs, including the one Elton John sings on.

Donnie Iris (Ah! Leah!, The Rapper)

Donnie Iris (Ah! Leah!, The Rapper)Songwriter Interviews

Before "Rap" was a form of music, it was something guys did to pick up girls in nightclubs. Donnie talks about "The Rapper" and reveals the identity of Leah.

Jim McCarty of The Yardbirds

Jim McCarty of The YardbirdsSongwriter Interviews

The Yardbirds drummer explains how they created their sound and talks about working with their famous guitarists.

Facebook, Bromance and Email - The First Songs To Use New Words

Facebook, Bromance and Email - The First Songs To Use New WordsSong Writing

Do you remember the first time you heard "email" in a song? How about "hater" or "Facebook"? Here are the songs where they first showed up.

Phil Hurtt ("I'll Be Around")

Phil Hurtt ("I'll Be Around")Songwriter Interviews

Phil was a songwriter, producer and voice behind many Philadelphia soul classics. When disco hit, he got an interesting project: The Village People.