Sadie, white coat, you carry me home
And bury this bone and take this pine cone

Bury this bone to gnaw on it later
Gnawing on the telephone
Until then, we pray and suspend
The notion that these lives do never end

And all day long we talk about mercy
Lead me to water, Lord, I sure am thirsty
Down in the ditch where I nearly served you
Up in the clouds where he almost heard you

And all that we built and all that we breathed
And all that we spilt, or pulled up like weeds
Is piled up in back and it burns irrevocably
And we spoke up in turns 'til the silence crept over me

And bless you, and I deeply do
No longer resolute, oh and I call to you
But the water go so cold
And you do lose what you don't hold

This is an old song, these are old blues
And this is not my tune, but it's mine to use
And the seabirds where the fear once grew
Will flock with a fury and they will bury what'd come for you

And down where I darn with the milk-eyed mender
You and I, and a love so tender
Stretched on a hoop where I stitched this adage:
"Bless our house and its heart so savage"

And all that I want, and all that I need
And all that I've got is scattered like seed
And all that I knew is moving away from me
And all that I know is blowing like tumbleweed

And the mealy worms in the brine will burn
In a salty pyre among the fauns and ferns
And the love we hold, and the love we spurn
Will never grow cold, only taciturn
And I'll tell you tomorrow
Sadie, go on home now
And bless those who've sickened below
And bless us who have chosen so

And all that I've got and all that I need
I tie in a knot and I lay at your feet
And I have not forgot, but a silence crept over me
So dig up your bone, exhume your pine cone, my Sadie


Lyrics submitted by Mopnugget

Sadie song meanings
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29 Comments

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  • +5
    General CommentFrom Joanna Newsom's interview with Tinymixtapes.com:

    "There are actually three stories; as with almost all of my songs,
    there's this recurring triumvirate structure that imposes itself without my even
    realizing it at first. The three subjects are always connected, but often in
    merely intuitive or symbolic ways. In this particular song, the most
    straightforward subject is my then-dog, Sadie, who passed on recently. She was a lovely white Labrador who liked nothing more in the whole world than to play fetch. And I've always been impatient about that; I'd look at the soggy pinecone dropped at my feet while I was trying to get into my car, and I'd say, "I'll play with you later."

    The second subject of the song is a friend, my age, who was diagnosed with
    cancer. I remember marveling at the reaction of people around me, the way they sprung to action, finally articulated to her their love and appreciation,
    finally made those lunch dates they'd always talked about...and I sheepishly
    include myself in this phenomenon. It wasn't disingenuous; it was just that our
    collective illusion, that we have forever to let someone know how loved she is,
    had been shattered.

    The third subject is one of my most beloved friends, whom I've grown apart from. We had this sort of running argument, or a running series of disagreements founded on the same fundamental points of divergence, and if we had been close at that point, talking every day or whatnot, then those disagreements would have seemed like nothing. But because our correspondence had fallen behind, and we'd developed insecurities and bitterness, these disagreements became all-consuming; we fixated on them, let resentments build around them, let a silence build between us. And I remember just having my breath taken from me in one sickening
    moment when I paused one day to imagine what I'd do if this friend fell ill with
    cancer, like my other friend. I knew that I would fly to be with her, stay by
    her side forever if I had to, and revel in her extraordinary rarity, intelligence, kindness, forget all the shitty stupid petty small points of contention between us, because they were so insignificant in light of our own inevitable mortality.

    So. Those are the basic subjects of the song. It's about all sorts of things,
    but I guess the main story is about death, love, putting things off..."
    heartiston September 08, 2012   Link
  • +4
    General CommentThis song has made me cry countless times.
    Joanna Newsom is amazing.
    deartomeon January 23, 2008   Link
  • +2
    General CommentThis song is about the mortality that we don't recognize (untill it is too late). Like a dog, who saves a bone for later, but then suddenly dies. Love what you have while you have it.
    colossal_youthon June 30, 2005   Link
  • +2
    General Commentthis song breaks my heart
    mlincolnon April 09, 2007   Link
  • +1
    General Commentbeautiful song. I saw Joanna at The Rescue rooms in Nottingham last night, and i was amazed at how this pretty little lady could mesmerize so many people and bring them to tears.
    drunkenbutterflyon November 21, 2004   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI'm not entirely sure what this song means, but it's one of the most beautiful songs I've heard in a long time. The lyrics are beautiful, and her voice is almost other-worldly. "This is an old song / these are old blues / and this is not my tune / but it's mine to use"....wow.
    epochblueon January 19, 2005   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI could be totally wrong, but I think this song is about a dog of hers that has since passed on. "White coat" could be referring to the color of the dog, "bury this bone" "dig up your bone" seem self explanatory.
    SRDirtyon February 13, 2005   Link
  • +1
    General Commenti think this is about her dog, possibly.

    it's an amazing song, i wish i had the chance to see her live, because i think the songs would come off totally different.

    the closest i've came is seeing her live on jimmy kimmel.
    pinkpandaloveon April 06, 2005   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI've thought of this song as being about death and loss - inspired initially by watching a dog.

    The narrator is watching sadie bury a bone, the act of which speaks of three things:
    1) the dog's intrinsic faith it will be able to come back later to retreive the bone when perhaps it will never return
    2) the fact that after we die the same thing will happen to us - our bones will be buried
    3)the telephone is referred to as the 'dog-and-bone'

    this brings her on to a conversation (on the 'dog-and-bone') that she's constantly having about eternity and mortality - and this conversation is referred to throughout the song -"gnawing on the telephone", "all day long we talk about mercy", "we spoke up in turns til the silence crept over me", "i'll tell you tomorrow".

    during this conversation that we hear snippets of/references to throughout the song, it seems she is silenced - silenced in the face of her mortality.

    the images of everything she's worked for burning like weeds, of losing what we don't hold on to, of all that we've got being scattered or blowing in the wind - these are very biblical images of the shortness of our time and the ephemeral nature of mere 'things' as opposed to love and hope which last forever ("the love we hold will never grow cold only taciturn")

    the very last verse appears to be her accepting the fact she will die and handing over all the things she holds dear that she knows will not last ("all that i've got i tie in a knot that i lay at your feet" - the knot being a reference to never forgetting/eternally remembering). in the end, the conversation went silent but this didn't mean it was over - it meant she was reverently accepting it.

    and at the very end she exhorts sadie to exhume the bone - dig it back up again - because the dog doesn't know that it will be able to return later so it should probably just enjoy the bone now - as the biblical reference goes "store up not your riches where moth and rust can destroy". she's telling us not to rely on the future but to live in the now, to accept and respect our mortality by letting go of the things we hold onto too tightly and to put our faith only in the things that last forever, even if silently.
    jocollon January 02, 2007   Link
  • +1
    General Commentanonymous entry: i was privileged enough so see joanna at the el rey gig in la - after a stunning rendition of 'sadie' she commented: "that last song, incidentally, is not about my dog... believe it or not. umm... its kinda about loving somebody - a lot - and not talking to them, and forgetting that we die someday!? ...just for the record"
    bugoffon January 03, 2007   Link

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