"Grey Seal" as written by Elton John and Bernie Taupin....
Why's it never light on my lawn
Why does it rain
And never say good-day to the new-born
On the big screen they showed us the sun
But not as bright in life as the real one
It's never quite the same as the real one

And tell me grey seal
How does it feel
To be so wise
To see through eyes
That only see what's real
Tell me grey seal

I never learned why meteors were formed
I only farmed in schools
That were so warn and torn
If anyone can cry then so can I
I read books and draw life from the eye
All my life is drawings from the eye

And tell me grey seal
How does it feel
To be so wise
To see through eyes
That only see what's real
Tell me grey seal

Your mission bells were wrought by ancient men
The roots were formed by twisted roots
Your roots were twisted then
I was re-born before all life could die
The Phoenix bird will leave this world to fly
If the Phoenix bird can fly then so can I

And tell me grey seal
How does it feel
To be so wise
To see through eyes
That only see what's real
Tell me grey seal


Lyrics submitted by toadtws

"Grey Seal" as written by Elton John, Bernie Taupin

Lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

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Grey Seal song meanings
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18 Comments

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  • +3
    General CommentBernie (writer) says:
    "I haven't a clue what I was writing about. It was just images."

    The lyrics seem to recall his poor education as a child:
    ("I never learned why meteors were formed/I only farmed in schools that were so worn and torn)

    The speaker concludes that education is obtained without schooling.

    The grey seal is representing of an animal who is an expert on the world.
    Lord Choc Iceon June 21, 2004   Link
  • +1
    General CommentWow, this is not going to be easy, especially because (as someone else here noted) Bernie himself said he wasn't sure what it was about, and that it was just a bunch of images.

    In my opinion, this is a declaration of independance, whether he knew it or not.

    The thought JUST HIT ME NOW that the Grey Seal is Elton. How does he do it (making the music match the words, and making it so right, making it JUST right!?!) to be so wise in the ways of songwriting. To be able to see what the song will be like when its done (to see through eyes that only see what is real). Repeating the line adds insistence and emphasis, but even more, seems to indicate that this would be the only place the writer can find the answers to his questions. TEH_ELL MEE GREY SEALL!!!

    Okay so a declaration of independance from formal education, why write about things you learn in books or from reading books or going to school.. .. ... After all, real experience (if anyone can cry then so can i) is the only thing worth writing about. In through the eyes you can read and see and draw experience. And you can't write without them (the eyes). All his life is drawings from the eye! Its what he has on his side. Elton spends a lot of time on music, well Bernie WRITES!! (Like the terminator, its what he does -- its ALL HE DOES!) and so its his life so its his strength. And now he is not just asking grey seal, but setting his course to learn from anyone he can. Learning to ~see~ and ~write~, and be wise and talented depend on seeing what's real, having eyes that only see what's real, picturing the end product right from the beginning, carving away what does not belong and being a wordsmith.

    He rejects organized religion (Your mission bells were wrought by ancient man.... formed from twisted roots; your roots were twisted then), and "reborn before all life could die" means he has discovered his role, his purpose and meaning before the world killed his desire to grow. And if -- after thinking that he could go nowhere, and thinking that the words were not as important as the music -- now IF he can rise from the ashes .... no, WHEN he rises from the ashes, then he will fly. It is now inevitable.

    So the chorus again this time, but not so far away, maybe over a cup of tea. Maybe even looking ahead to someday when someone else asks him how to grow and be wise and talented. He is that good and needs to accept it and realize it and believe in himself.

    Good song!
    txnuke1201on February 15, 2014   Link
  • 0
    General CommentWhere does the Phoenix come in?
    Thunderbolton October 06, 2004   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI think Bernie said he didnt even like the lyrics to this one anyway
    lizard_kingon November 03, 2004   Link
  • 0
    General Commentsure, but why a seal? assuming the seal is an actual "ark-ark-ark" seal.
    pumkinhedon December 11, 2004   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI don't get it why a seal would be a partivularly wise animal, but OK, neither did Bernie. :-)
    tinderboxon March 08, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General CommentGrey Seal is not an animal. It is a seal -- as in a symbol--like the seal of the United States.

    "On the big screen they showed us the sun
    But not as bright in life as the real one
    It's never quite the same as the real one."

    This sounds like Plato's Cave.....
    digitaliceon February 03, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentHmmm...this song is good, but totally mind boggling....if its really talking about a seal, as in a symbol and not an animal, then what does the phoenix bird have to do with anything? I seriously wonder what Bernie was thinking when he wrote this.....hmmmm....
    NataliesADDICTIONon March 04, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentTied down by your roots, and can only flee when the roots are burned? Me-thinks we think too much!! Just love the mix of guitar & keyboards, makes a glorious sound.
    nagromnaion May 06, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI think Bernie is expressing the wonder of a child at the peak of curious innocence, and his frustration at not being able to tell lies from truth. He envies the grey seal, (possibly at the zoo, or some such outing) because the animal sees only truth, because he comprehends only truth. The innocent child sees this as wisdom. I think.The pheonix has to do with the child learning. He doesn't understand how the pheonix can fly but he can't, ect.
    Necsison May 22, 2008   Link

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