Hospice is pretty much an exercise in reducing people to tears, regarded as one of the most depressing albums of all time.
- "Prologue", with its hospital ambience and dark atmosphere, sets the stage for the album's concept.
- "Kettering" introduces both characters - the narrator and the cancer patient. The narrator reflects on meeting the patient for the first time, from the patient's controlling attitude and the narrator's insistence on staying with her. With lyrics such as "Because you'd been abused/By the bone that refused you", "And walking in that room when you had tubes in your arms/Those singing morphine alarms out of tune" and "They told me there was no saving you", it really shows that the relationship was doomed from the start.
- "Sylvia", "Get your head out of the oven". The patient screams, rambles and causes havoc, which the narrator lets her do if it makes her feel better, with the insistence of "Let me do my job" just before the outbursts. By the end, he's pleading with her to stop.
- "Atrophy", where the patient has gone completely paranoid and has the worker completely enthralled, while the worker wishes he were no longer a part of this.Little porcelain figurines, glass bullets you shoot at the wall
Threats of castration for crimes you imagine when I miss your call
With the bite of the teeth of that ring on my finger
I'm bound to your bedside, your eulogy singer
- "Bear", a song about abortion, with its childlike xylophones at the beginning and the lyrics concerning the abortions aftermath.When we get home we're bigger strangers than we've ever been before
You sit in front of snowy television, suitcase on the floor
- "Thirteen", sung solely by Sharon Van Etten, shows the patient's point of view, showing how scared she is and her asking the worker to save her from death.Pull me out
Pull me out
Can't you stop this all from happening?
Close the doors and keep them out
Dig me out
Oh, dig me out
Couldn't you have kept this all from happening?
Dig me out from under our house
- "Two", where the patient, closer to death, gets angrier while the worker tells us about her life before the hospital.You had a new dream, it was more like a nightmare
You were just a little kid, and they cut your hair
Then they stuck you in machines, you came so close to dying
They should have listened, they thought that you were lying
- "Shiva". The patient dies.Suddenly every machine stopped at once
And the monitors beeped the last time
Hundreds of thousands of hospital beds
And all of them empty but mine
- "Wake" surrounds the worker coping with her death months later. He wants to open up to his friend's help, but he's withdrawn and secluded. Of special note is the ending, with Silberman screaming "Don't ever let anyone tell you you deserve that" and horns blaring in the background. Many listeners consider this song to be the moment they really started crying.When your helicopter came and tried to lift me out
I put its rope around my neck
And after that you didn't bother with the airlift or the rescue
You knew just what to expect
- "Epilogue", the final track, shows the worker still having nightmares about the patient. Rather than all the dreamy synths of the other songs, it's just Silberman and his guitar. The worker can never truly get over the experience.You're screaming
And hurting me
And then smiling