"M. Shepard" as written by and Geoffrey/keeley Rickly....
The stage is set to rip the wings from a butterfly
(The stage is set)
The stage is set don't forget to breathe
(Between the lines)

If the whole world dies, then it's safe to take the stage
These graves will stretch like landing strips
Hospitals, all dead museums

We won't have to be afraid anymore
The crowd is growing silent with the gathering storm

When the curtain falls and you're caught on the other side
Just trying to keep up the act
We'll lie in the back of black cars with the windows rolled up
Joining the procession of emptiness

If we say these words it will be too late to take them back
So we hold our breath and fold our hands
Like paper airplanes
(And we're going to crash)

We don't have to be alone
(We don't have to be alone)
Ever again
There's a riot in the theater, someone's standing in the aisles

(Yelling that the nurderers)
Are everywhere and they're lining up
(Carving the 'm' in your side)
Stand alone
(This time)

When the curtain falls and you're caught on the other side
Just trying to keep up the act
We'll lie in the back of black cars with the windows rolled up
Joining the procession of emptiness
The stage is set to rip the wings from the butterfly

Pull the curtain back
Kill all the houselights
Pin the dress of lotus flowers
The silk is spinning round and around with the ceiling fan
I'm disappearing into the spotlight
I'm on display with the butterfly with smiles

With smiles like picket fences you tie us all up and leave us outside
"That voice is silent now, the boat has sunk"
We're on our own but we're not going to run


Lyrics submitted by prayingmantis84

"M. Shepard" as written by Robert Keeley Geoffrey Rickly

Lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

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M. Shepard song meanings
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  • 0
    General CommentI take no credit for this interpretation, I found it on a website.



    On October 7, 1998, Matthew Shepard was murdered by two men. He was tied to a fence post, then was continuously beaten, tortured, and left to die in the near-freezing temperatures. Eighteen hours later, a man rode by on his bicycle. He first mistook Matthew for a scarecrow, but on further investigation discovered that it was in fact a human being. Matthew's face was covered in blood, except for where his tears had washed it away. He was murdered because he was gay. Geoff Rickly is outraged, frightened, and disgusted by the murder of Matthew Shepard. He is so moved by this death that he cannot even disguise his feelings. This death, to him, shows the dehumanization by society that is becoming more and more popular, frequent, and life-threatening. He believes that eventually, no one will be unique or have identity - the world will be filled with robots. In this song, he gives a cry for unification and for revolution. The song starts off on the night Matthew was murdered. "The stage is set to rip the wings from the butterfly" refers to Matthew, a unique and delicate butterfly, tied to the fencepost, about to be ripped apart, both mentally and physically. This sets a serious tone for the rest of the song and causes everything that is said to relate to Matthew. Next, Rickly gives his thoughts on the subject. He feels that it will never be safe to express ourselves or to "take the stage" unless "the whole world dies," or society learns how to accept and cope with differences. He says that these kinds of crime will continue, and graveyards will grow to enormous sizes, near that of a "landing strip." He explains that when the whole world dies, "we won't have to be afraid anymore. But this is not the case, not yet at least, and in the meantime, people are scared. There is a "gathering storm" of hatred, and when it nears, everyone must "grow silent." The "curtain" separates those hated by members of society, like Matthew Shepard, from those faceless robots that are accepted by everyone else, loathed by no one. When this curtain falls, it becomes a game of survival. You must try to be caught on "the other side," the inhumane side, and "keep up the act" in order to survive. However, Rickly feels that it is worthless to live as a dehumanized soul, and refuses to put on an act for anybody. Instead, he chooses the other side of the curtain, and feels that he will soon find himself "in the back of black cars," of hearses, adding to the success of these fierce souls and joining their "procession of emptiness." Rickly points out that in today's society, many people are scared to voice their personal opinions. If they work up the courage to do this, they are immediately regretful and terrified. They hold their breath in anticipation, even though they know that eventually their planes "are going to crash" and they will become another martyred soul. To help stop this, Rickly cries out for a revolution. He suggests to the listeners that they "don't have to be alone ever again." He calls for them to unite against the faceless and start a riot in the theatre. He imagines a brawl between those who are unique and have opinions and the "murderers," who are waiting to do to them exactly what they did to Matthew and carve the same "M" in their sides. Rickly yells out that even if it comes to standing alone against the dehumanized, you must fight. If not, the world will become dull, monotonous, and full of robots. Rickly then goes back to the night that Matthew was murdered. Once again, "the stage is set to rip the wings from the butterfly." Then, there is a silence. Breathing. The helplessness of Matthew, the dullness of the world that will become of us, our inability to express ourselves, perhaps even Rickly's perception of the sound of death. Next, there is no singing, but talking. Singing would make the death of Matthew too unique. But it is not unique, not in today's world, because crimes like these have become almost as routine as talking. Rickly talks, describing Matthew's death. The mention of a "curtain" brings the listener back to the image of the brawl. Matthew, as Rickly instructed, is standing alone, defenseless against these two murderers. With the mention of lotus flowers and silk, we are reminded of a Chinese culture, of Buddhism, of reincarnation. Rickly hopes and prays that Matthew is reincarnated. He hopes someone else will come along to swim upstream and fight the worsening society. In the last lines, Rickly worries about himself and takes a stand. Suddenly, he finds himself "under the spotlight." He is the next target. He is "on display with the butterfly and the scarecrow," two images of Matthew Shepard. He then yells at the murderers, viciously accusing them of their crime. He says to them, "With smiles like picket fences you tie us all up and leave us outside." They then reply, speaking of Matthew, "That voice is silent now, the boat has sunk." Rickly then screams his final line, a final plea for help, for unification, for the betterment of today's society. He yells to anyone that is left from the brawl in the theatre, anyone willing to fight the murderers, anyone wanting to retain their opinions and their individuality. He tries to give these people confidence with his last line, while he also tries to make the murderers frightened. He yells, "We're on our own, but we're not going to run."
    poetictragedy5on April 09, 2004   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThis is obviously, as the above comment says, about the death of Matthew Shepard. I recently saw Thursday live (on april 17th) and before they played this song, Geoff was saying how everybody deserves to be loved, no matter what your sexual preference is. & I couldn't agree with him more.
    Thursdayloveon April 21, 2004   Link
  • 0
    General CommentActually, the song isn't directly about Matthew... Geoff has never even talked to the Shepards'. Mostly, it is about his friend who is afraid to come out of the closet.
    punkrockntunaon April 22, 2004   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI was at the show the day after thursdaylove and geoff said that he got the inspiration from the death of matt shepard and that everyone should be accepted and loved for who they are and that killing someone for being different is wrong.
    ThreatenedByShadowson May 12, 2004   Link
  • 0
    General Commentthe section near the end of the song where the music dies down then it crescendos into the guitar... its fantastic.
    vtmatton June 14, 2004   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThat's so amazing, I just recently saw 'The Laramie Project' (It's about the killing of Matthew Shepard) and I never put two and two together, but now it all makes sense.

    "when the curtain falls
    and you're caught on the other side
    just trying to keep up the act.." can be seen as homosexuality, and in the end, you're caught on the other side, because people think you're different.
    AdamsTheSCENEon June 29, 2004   Link
  • 0
    General Commentif you see the movie m. butterfly, you will realize where he is alluding to in this song actually. just some information.
    theBRANDONon October 03, 2004   Link
  • 0
    General Comment"the croud is growing silent with the gathering storm" could also refer to the fueneral where it was raining
    SidsAwsomeon October 16, 2004   Link
  • 0
    General Commentm. shepard is actually about a friend of geoff's who is too afraid to come out the closet, it's not really a tribute to matthew sheppard althought the many referances. "that voice is silent now, the boat has sunk..." is actually matthew sheppard's dad, denis sheppard's, last words on his murder case.
    redroseson November 23, 2004   Link
  • 0
    General Commentwhen Thursday played Reading this year Geoff said "This song is for my friend who can't be here today".
    So although the song obviously draws inspiration from the tragic death of Matthew, it could also be about this friend.
    Also, Paris In Flames was about the same type of thing...so i think these two songs are very heavily connected because they both seem to be about injustice and standing up for what you believe in.
    alionsheadon November 24, 2004   Link

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