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When I take the prisoners swimming
They have the time of their lives
I love to watch them floating

On their backs
Unburdened and relaxed

I sit in the tall grass and look the other way
And when I haul them in they always say
Our sencences will not served

We are constantly on trial
It's a way to be free

Most nights I go for a drive
To the highest place I can find
Stand there on a cliff with gooseflesh
Watching the wind rip the leaves from the trees

Death defying
Every breath
Death defying

Soon we will all be back in the yard
Behind the wall
Living hard
Dreaming of cool rivers and tall grass

We are constantly on trial
It's a way to be free

We are constantly on trial
It's a way to be free


Lyrics submitted by ulven

River Guard song meanings
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2 Comments

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  • +2
    General CommentThis has to be one of the loveliest and saddest songs in Smog's catalogue (which says a great deal taking into account everything Bill Callahan has done). The narrator is the prison guard of the title, who believes that his life is every bit as narrow and circumscribed as the prisoners he is supposed to be guarding- hence the fact he can only "sit in the tall grass and look the other way" when they enjoy themselves in the river. He tries to feel the same sort of peace that the prisoners enjoy in the river by driving around late at night and standing on the edges of cliffs, things the prisoners obviously don't have the freedom to do. He can't escape this sense of imprisonment, however, which is why he includes himself with the prisoners when he says "soon we will all be back in the yard, behind the wall, living hard, dreaming of cool rivers and tall grass" and again repeats that "we are constantly on trial." Very haunting.
    Cepheus84on March 17, 2005   Link
  • +1
    General Commenti've always understood 'it's a weight to be free'.
    mopsklopson February 17, 2006   Link

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