"No Other Name" as written by and Noel Paul Stookey....
Know me by the light of a fire shinin' bright,
Know me by your bed where I've lain
Know me, and you might, if just for a night
You'll know me by no other name.

Some girls will bring you silver
Some will bring you fine Spanish lace
Some will say "I love you"
Some will have my face.

Some will bring you gold, babies to hold,
I'll bring you only pain.
You can know me, if you will, by the wind on the hill
You'll know me by no other name.

Some girls will die for money,
Some will die as they're born,
Some will swear they'd die for love,
Some die ev'ry morn.

I'll die alone, away from my home
Nobody knows where I came.
The stone at my head will say I am dead,
It knows me by no other name.
It knows me by no other name.


Lyrics submitted by pieligero

No Other Name song meanings
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  • +1
    General CommentCurious, rather depressing lyrics -- I've always wondered just exactly what they mean.
    Bluewaveson August 30, 2015   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI wish I could understand this song better. My best interpretation is the “voice” of the song is a woman who seems to view herself as someone who has no place— someone who is always fleeting. Hence, knowing her by firelight (impermanent), [his] bed where she’s lain (past tense), the wind on the hill (untraceable), and this is why she only brings pain, and none of the other “fine” things she referenced— gold, silver, spanish lace. Now, the death aspect of the song is what throws me—is she speaking of metaphorical death, or literal death? I get the metaphorical vibe in the first verse on death, but a literal vibe in the last verse about her death. And the last line, where the stone knows her by no other name besides “dead,” is that supposed to make us think the “no other name” of the entire song is supposed to be the “name” dead? As in, she is dead to everyone? It would make sense literally and metaphorically then I guess, considering she sees herself as this completely impermanent entity. If so, the song is a little more morbid than I originally thought, but either way I have to agree with the other comment— curious and rather depressing lyrics. “I’ll die alone, away from my home. Nobody knows where I came” — an extreme sentiment of detachment. I’m interested in the mind of whoever wrote this song— I think it was Paul.
    lanawave11on November 17, 2017   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThere are two main characters in this song, the narrator "me" and the listener "you". The first verse establishes a relationship between the two. The lyrics play on the word "know", which has a double meaning of interpersonal knowledge and "carnal knowledge", i.e. sex. The verse suggests that the listener can spend the night with the narrator, but she is unwilling or unable to form a more permanent connection.

    The next two verses are somewhat ambiguous but seem to be contrasting the narrator with other women. Other women may bring riches, loving words, family -- the narrator will only bring pain. This almost seems like the narrator is warning the listener about herself. She will come into his life and then leave him with only the wind on the hill to remember her. He may find other women who look like her, but they won't be the same.

    The last two verses seem to concern the narrator's fate. Again, she places herself in context with other women: Some will die for money, some will die as rich or poor as they were born. Some will claim to be willing to die for love, although the implication seems to be that this may not be true when put to the test. Some women "die every morn", perhaps referring to the metaphorical death of lovers who must separate in the morning. The narrator feels that she'll die alone, among strangers, and buried in a nameless grave.

    Overall the narrator seems to be a woman who feels alienated or outcast from society. She offers the listener a chance of brief intimacy but warns him that she will ultimately bring him heartache, because she is fated to remain alone, unknown, and unnamed.
    treanton January 14, 2018   Link
  • 0
    My InterpretationSome further reflections on this song...

    The song seems to be playing with the connection between speech and truth, name and identity. The narrator seems to mistrust speech, which can easily lie -- for example, girls who say "I love you" or swear they'll die for love. Instead of a name, the narrator is known in other ways throughout the song: first by firelight, a bed, and a night together, then later by the wind on the hill after she leaves, and finally by a stone on her grave.

    Names are related to social identity, as a name connects someone to family, cultural heritage, past history, etc. The narrator's lack of a name thus symbolizes her disconnection from her past, her roots, and society in general. But through this disconnection the narrator gains freedom from traditional social and gender roles, as highlighted by the comparisons to more materialistic and domestic women in the second and fourth verses.

    It's clear the narrator feels disconnected from society but there is some ambivalence in her attitude about it. Although she seems to lament her fate in the last verse, she doesn't seem to envy the other women she mentions. Does she intentionally reject society, has this disconnection occurred inadvertently due to her innate character, or has she been unwillingly cut off from society by others? Perhaps some combination of all three.
    treanton January 14, 2018   Link

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