And those that would judge would say you're aloof
But you know the truth is a seed
You know what you need is a conflagration
'Cause when I see the blood
And the bits of your broken tooth
It gives me the proof that I need
It's the proof that you bleed
It's a revelation
Yeah it's a revelation, it's a revelation

I thought you were a life-sized paper doll
Propped up in the hardware store
Propped up on the front lawn watching the parade
Of those legionnaires with two-by-four's
As they're marching off to war
Yeah they're marching off to war

I didn't know what you were made of
The color of your blood, what you're afraid of
Are you made of calcium, or are you carbon-based?
And if you're made of calcium, I'll have to take a taste
'Cause, listen, calcium is deadly, tender to the tooth
And it's one sure-fire way to know if you're
MX-missile-proof, oh no, or if you're just aloof

You were in the ground in late November
When the leaves and earth were damp
Did you, did you think they would remember
How you almost made state champ?
'Cause when you're running for the game against Alfonso
And you fell upon the ground and chipped a tooth
Oh no, listen, it didn't really half surprise us
To learn that you weren't really MX-missile-proof

Oh, I thought you were a life-sized paper doll
And you're propped up in the hardware store
You were propped up on the front lawn watching the parade
Of those legionnaires with two-by-four's
As they're marching off to war
Yeah, they're marching off to war
Oh, they're marching


Lyrics submitted by progosk, edited by mattjcline, felineelliott

MX Missiles song meanings
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22 Comments

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  • +5
    General CommentI think "MX missiles" are the things and events that life throws at you. This song seems to be about people who appear to be unfazed, unaffected or totally fine no matter what happens to them in their lives. They just keep on going, without being slowed down by life. It's like they're immune to life, or "mx missile proof," like a paper doll and not a person at all. They're just watching the rest of the world march by without being affected at all.

    The proof that you bleed is the proof that you aren't actually unaffected by life. I think the tooth/calcium thing is a somewhat elaborate analogy. Someone who really is MX missile-proof and can deal with life without being hurt is "made of calcium." Calcium is "tender to the tooth," and makes them stronger, so someone made of calcium would have really strong teeth. If the subject of the song broke their tooth, it can be inferred that they don't really have a lot of calcium. I think that means that those who SEEM like they are so strong and unfazed by life are really the ones who are affected the worst, but they just hold it inside. One day they're going to break down- fall and break their tooth.

    Also, I thought the last line in the 4th verse was "to learn that you _weren't_ really MX-missile-proof."
    When the subject breaks their tooth, it's clear that they weren't actually MX-missile proof and just as vulnerable, insecure and fallible as the rest of us.

    This song is brilliant.

    Oh, and I love how he says "revelation" too. In fact I just love Bird's voice in general. :)
    bobwronskion June 07, 2005   Link
  • +3
    General CommentIn an interview, Mr Bird himself says: "The song MX Missiles is about how, when I was 19 or 20, my hometown was filled with bizarre, almost ritualistic suicides. I remember every week my mom would have another story, like "Remember so-and-so? He poured gasoline on himself and went up in flames.' It's kind of about how people seem very two-dimensional till they kill themselves and
    then suicide makes them really seem alive."

    Isn't it great how people can sense that through such beautiful obstrucity?

    (Certainly clears up the inspiration for "conflagration.")
    Quisquillosoon May 04, 2007   Link
  • +2
    General CommentI've always thought this song was actually about a particular person. Someone who died very young perhaps, maybe from a drug overdose. Everything seems to fit with someone young, popular, well-liked who appears invulnerable. Then something tragic happening, like a drug overdose and finding out they were just human after all. Also these lyrics are kind of off.

    And those that would judge, would say you're aloof
    but you know the truth is a seed
    you know what you need is a conflagration
    cause when i see the blood
    and the bits of your broken tooth
    it gives me the proof that i need
    it's the proof that you bleed
    it's a revelation
    yeah it's a revelation, it's a revelation

    I thought you were a life-sized paper doll
    propped up in the hardware store
    propped up on the front lawn watching the parade
    of those legionnaires with two-by-four's
    as they're marching off to war
    yeah they're marching off to war

    I didn't know what you were made of
    the colour of your blood, what you're afraid of
    are you made of calcium or are you carbon-based
    and if you're made of calcium i'll have to take a taste
    cause, listen, calcium is deadly and tender to the tooth
    and it's one sure-fire way to know if you're
    MX-missile-proof, oh no, or if you're just aloof

    You were in the ground in late november
    when the leaves in earth are down
    did you, did you think they would remember
    how you almost made state champ
    cause when you're running for the game against alfonso
    and you fell upon the ground and chipped a tooth
    oh no, listen, it didn't really half surprise us
    to learn that you aren't really MX-missile-proof

    Oh, i thought you were a life-sized paper doll
    and you're propped up in the hardware store
    you were propped up on the front lawn watching the parade of those legionnaires with two-by-four's
    as they're marching off to war
    yeah they're marching off to war
    oh they're marching
    Relapseron July 19, 2006   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI have to agree with Relapser about how MX Missles is about someone who died very young. I agree with how the song could be about how the main character and the author realized just how vulnerable and mortal the main character was. I'm guessing from the lines
    "did you, did you think they would remember
    how you almost made state champ"
    that the main character was an young athlete that thought he/she was invincible, or at least that since he/she was once a "great champ" that nothing could stand in his/her way. In this sense, he/she seemed "aloof" or acted as if he/she was above basic human frailty. "Alphonson" may be a school or the name of a sports team or rival that the athlete played against in a sport game. Perhaps the lines "oh no, listen, it didn't really half surprise us
    to learn that you aren't really MX-missile-proof" may suggest that the athlete died in the accident in the game, but before he/she died, he/she realized at the last moment of his/her life just how mortal he/she was.

    I'm think that the lines "You were in the ground in late november
    when the leaves in earth are down" proves that the main character died and was buried and the author (Andrew Bird or the narrator) is reminiscing on the young athlete's death. Because of how personal the song sounds, the athlete may be a relative or offspring of the singer or narrator.

    This song definitely deals with mortality. The athlete watched the legionnaires march off to war. The legionnaire's lives are a parallel symbol for the athlete's life. Before soldiers enter combat, they are often filled with mixed emotions--sometimes excitement, sometimes fear, but no matter what they're feeling they often don't realize the full extent of just mortal and breakable their bodies are. They live and act as if they're immortal.
    Athletes often act the same. The adrenaline and rush that an athlete gets from action gives them the feeling of power--of might. However, often they get haughty, especially when they are at a young age, and they don't realize just how fragile their lives are.
    The line "
    I thought you were a life-sized paper doll" shows how the narrator thinks he/she was at fault because he/she didn't think of the athlete (maybe his son or daughter) as a human being. Rather the narrator viewed the athlete as a doll, frail as paper, but still not as a mortal human being.

    I love this song. I can really relate to it because being at the age of where the whole world seems in your hands and that you're invincible, I often forget how mortal I really am.
    theo444on December 24, 2006   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI love how a lot of people think that the "MX Missle" part of this song is in reference to specific drugs. I don't think Bird is into drugs or hanging with people that do them. Bird graduated from high school long ago (back when many of his new fans were probably still in diapers) and people back then were not hanging out doing mushrooms and ecstasy together in combination. Druggies tend to think everything in the world is about drugs; that is a side effect of being a user. :P I know all about it from experience; I was an addict for years and have been sober for over 11 years now and it amazes me how drugs make you see everything in screwed-up ways.

    Anyway, this song is simply about someone falling off of a pedestal that they were put on and the observer realizing the person is human after all. theo444 has a very accurate idea of what Bird has said about this song in the past. This song is pretty old, a staple of live shows long before TMPOE came out.

    For more accurate Andrew Bird lyrics and community commentary, etc. go check out:
    AndrewBird.org
    JasonBuntingon April 20, 2007   Link
  • +1
    General Commenti always thought he says "state champ" and not "stage-out", although i could be wrong.
    unic0rnyon December 06, 2007   Link
  • +1
    General CommentA note about conflgrations:

    From wikipedia

    "Some seeds will only germinate when temperatures reach hundreds of degrees, as during a forest fire. Without fire, they are unable to crack their seed coats; this is a type of physical dormancy."
    Danipeaon July 23, 2009   Link
  • +1
    General CommentThe song is obviously about how some poeple almost seem fake or untouchable untill they have fallen at some point.

    I didn't know what you were made of
    the colour of your blood, what you're afraid of
    are you made of calcium or are you carbon-based
    and if you're made of calcium i'll have to take a taste
    cause, listen, calcium is deadly tender to the tooth
    and it's one sure-fire way to know if you're
    MX-missile-proof, oh no, or if you're just aloof

    Organic, or living beings are carbon based where on the other hand minnerals are calcium based. So if you are made of carbon, then you are a living creatur. If you are made of calcium, you would actually be some kind of statue "proped up in the hardware store".
    twanicusson December 22, 2011   Link
  • +1
    Song MeaningThe line about calcium being deadly tender to the tooth may refer to the "Baby Tooth Survey" undertaken in St. Louis in the early 1960's which measured the levels of radioactive isotropes found in the baby teeth of children - it found levels of Strontium-90, a radioactive isotrope chemically similar to calcium, that was five times higher than levels measured before large-scale atomic testing began. This study led to the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty with the UK and USSR, which ultimately led to the SALT treaties and détente.

    So...in short, I didn't really see you as a real person but I was wrong, I didn't know you were just as human as I am.

    He is just too freaking cool. I analyze this stuff too much but it's just too much fun not to.

    There is a very flirtatious version of this song on the Fingerlings 2 album, which sounds like it is addressed to a woman he is attracted to (changes to the lyrics are just to the first verse, but the music is much more light in tone):

    "Now tell me again what it is that you do?
    I'm hard pressed to tell just by looking at you
    And Im looking at you
    I want to know what you're doing

    And those that would judge or would say you're aloof
    It's because you know that the truth is a seed
    You know what you need is a conflagration..."

    (& etc...)
    abirataon January 15, 2013   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI love this song.

    And I love how he says "Revelation".
    stevenlelandon May 31, 2005   Link

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