Have you ever gone to a place like Song Meanings to read what others think might be the meaning behind a song?
I just spent 10 minutes reading these entries for this song.
Let me tell you what they all missed. Well, all except one.
There's an old parable about two Buddhist monks, one senior and one junior, walking along a road.
They come upon a young princess in a sedan chair set down on the ground just this side of a stream crossing.
Next to the sedan chair are the princess's two porters, one of them standing and the other sitting on the ground, holding his ankle. The elder monk walks up to the porters and asks them if they need assistance. The standing porter describes what just happened: as they began walking toward the stream, the front porter slipped and injured his ankle, and is no longer able to walk on it. The porters do not know how they will get the princess across the stream or their journey continued any further.
The elder monk promptly volunteers himself and his junior as able and willing to carry the princess and her sedan chair across the stream.
"That way," says the senior monk to the uninjured porter, "you will be able to carry your injured brother across the stream. Perhaps once across the stream, the three of you will find your solution."
The elder monk walks back to the junior monk and tells him what he must do. The junior monk complains, but knows there must be some good reason for the task. He walks up and introduces himself to the princess. Then, when she is ready, he and the senior monk pick up the sedan chair and carefully carry it across the stream, being careful to not lose footing and dunk the princess.
The uninjured porter manages to get his hobbled brother across. The monks say farewell to the princess and her porters, and continue their journey.
Several hours pass without much said between the two monks, and then the junior monk begins complaining about how the princess was too precious to wade the stream herself, and griping about the porters' inability to solve the problem. "One of them could have carried the princess across first on his back, then crossed back again to the first side, and then carried the injured one. I don't understand why they were so stymied. I don't understand why it became our problem. Why were we helping with the privileges and expectations of royalty?"
The senior monk stops in his stride and turns to the junior.
"It seems to me that we crossed that stream hours ago. I set the princess down when we reached this side of the stream. Why are you still carrying her?"
Sure, "carry the zero" is a math pun and/or geek joke.
Someone in the comment thread mentioned the song is about Buddhism.
Maybe it is, maybe it isn't, but it reminds me of the Buddhist monk parable/fable stated above.
Listen to the senior monk.
Carry the zero.
Lug no baggage.
I think some of the other comments hold possibility.
"Zero = loser" said one comment, "it's about carrying around a loser in a relationship."
Well that much is pretty obvious as the brown skin of the onion, eh? What other layers are there?
One comment says it's Martsch talking to himself. The loser he carries around, as a burden, is himself.
People hear what they want to hear. There's all sorts of botched, mis-heard lyrics everywhere, sung faithfully in time with the real lyrics, by people who imagine they have the song dialed and tight.
One thing I wonder about is that I have always heard one section as:
Count your blemishes.
They're all gone.
I can see your
putting them back on.
The linked version says can't.
If the lyric is "can" then he's being snide. Predicting the pattern will hold true again.
If the lyric is "can't" then he's saying, "you already got over this, but now you're bringing it up again."
So it depends on whether this song is sarcastic or empathetic, I guess.