"The Flag" as written by and Steven Page....
The phone rings, it's early, it's seven o'clock
He says sorry I woke you, but I just had to talk
You know last night, remember when I tried to choke you?
I didn't mean it, I was drunk, it was only a joke
You should know that by now
When the checkered flag comes down
No one, no one, no one has won the race

The next night he's over and over and under
And after he's finished she lies there and wonders
Just why does she need him and why does she stay here
And then in the darkness she'll quietly say dear
You've never really known that when the white flag is flown
No one, no one, no one has won the war

They're complicated people
Leading complicated lives
And he complicates their problems
Telling complicated lies
He tells her he's sorry, she tells him it's over
He tells her he's sorry, she says over and over
You've never really known that when the white flag is flown
No one, no one, no one has won the war

There goes a forest and there goes a bluebird
There goes a partridge and there goes a Go Train
There goes an angel and there goes a steeple
There goes a cop car and there goes an eagle
There goes a raven and there go the ribbons
There goes a raven and there go the ribbons
There goes a raven and there go

The ribbons, the ribbons, the ribbons
The ribbons of the flag
Of the flag
Of the flag
Of the flag (of the flag)
Of the flag (of the flag)
Of the flag (of the flag)
Of the flag

Lyrics submitted by ojms

"The Flag" as written by Steven Page

Lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc.

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The Flag song meanings
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  • +1
    General CommentJust a little clarification: it should be "GO Train" which stands for Government of Ontario Train which are the trains that go between cities in Southern Ontario (I live there). I think duckadooz is probably on the right track with the whole watching life go by idea; the GO Train part is probably just a reference to something Steven saw often growing up or something... they're pretty common in Ontario...
    thejameson September 26, 2004   Link
  • 0
    General Commentgreat song! i dont really understand the "there goes a _" part but its about a couple who is going through rough times. the man is not treating the women right. she knows she shouldnt be with him, but she cant leave him. he doesnt understand the situation.
    abchak1on June 22, 2002   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI don't quite get that either. This might be picking too deeply, but at that part there is a key change. Constantly, constantly in the song they refer to the flag, how meaningless it is, and at the end, there is an appreciation for its beauty, and perhaps the ideals that the woman could get out of it, could change.

    A go train, though?
    ck_phoenixon August 19, 2002   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThe meaning of this song is simple. The flag represents the womans surrendering to the abusive spouse. There is no beauty in the image of the flag. This is a great song but very sad and depressing.
    Skeezmoon May 13, 2004   Link
  • 0
    General Commenti agree with you guys, you can tell that its about a couple and skeezmo is soo right. i think this is a really beautiful song that makes me cry, but i still dont get the "there goes a..." part.
    MuSiCfReAk728on June 06, 2004   Link
  • 0
    General Commenti think that the "there goes a - " part was the girl singing about how she's watching her life go by, but she's not a part of it, and she wishes she could do something about it, but again she's bound by this abusive relationship. i'm not sure, but i'd like to think that she's getting out of the relationship at the end. i tend to make up lots of stuff in a song that isn't really there, but if the "go train" is the right lyric that goes there, then maybe she's watching all this stuff go by on a train and that's her life and she's trying to see where she can jump back on?
    duckadoozon June 27, 2004   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI think the "there goes a-" part is a metaphor for the relationship described in the rest of the song. It's a contrast between freedom and security..

    Forest = Dark, scary / Blue Bird = Free
    Partridge = Beauty, freedom / GO Train Confining, controlling
    Angel = Devine / Steeple = Human
    Cop Car = Enforcement / Eagle = Soars Free
    and so forth.

    .. So pretty much it's a metaphor for the girl's decision whether to leave him.

    If you listen to the drums at the end, it sounds like a millitary march. This could represent her victory or something like that- its open to interpretation.
    eggeron February 03, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI feel that the forest, bluebird, patridge and GO train to be of her running away or escaping from the relationship or of her wishing to escape. The steeple and angel for me represents that she stayed one day too long and he finally murdered her in his rage. The cop car also supports the theory he murdered her and the eagle represents that she's finally free. The ribbons for me represent the support she has all along for her to get out of the situation, like the red ribbon for AIDS and pink for Breast cancer. The flag for me represents many thing, red flags indicates a warning, white indicates surrender, checkered means its all over.
    joankon July 15, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI really love this song, the music is beautiful. I've always taken it as a woman breaking free from an abusive relationship. At the beginning the man is apologizing for beating her, but using an excuse that he was drunk, which is not an excuse at all.

    The line "You've never really known,
    That when the white flag is flown,
    No one, no one, no one has won the war."
    Is a motto she lives by. Saying that forgiving him after he ‘flies the white flag’ for peace is not anyone winning, cause the abuse will just happen again.
    *the correct line is “she'll quietly say" not "he'll quietly say"*

    At the beginning when he says: "When the chequered flag comes down,
    No one, no one, no one has won the race. "
    is him getting her motto wrong, showing that he's arrogant and doesn't understand forgiving is not enough for what he has done.

    I imagine that at the end, when everything is passing by, is her breaking free, driving away, looking out the window and seeing it all fly by. Freedom at last.
    taninhawkon October 21, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI agree with Joank....
    The steeple may represent a church (her funeral), the cop car respresent the police arriving at her house in response to a 911 call, or maybe to arrest the boyfriend who killed her.
    I think maybe she ended up surrendering to him ("The white flag") gave in, thought he'd change and in the end, things didn't change, and his abuse ended in death.

    I think the comment about "they're complicated people" means that those who are not in a situation like that may say "Why doesn't she leave?? Why does she think he'll change" or "telling complicated lies" may be her covering up for his abuse. and as Joank stated, the chequered flag signifies the end of the battle....
    flower771on January 05, 2006   Link

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