"The Night Descending" as written by and Samuel Ervin Beam....
Black hair, the night descending
Baby never puts her trust in
Tight black tie too quick to laughter
Ain't no telling what he's after

Found a friend without religion
Riding on a stolen engine
Far too fast to pacify you
Ain't no telling what he's up to

In time, the night may soften
Trust that I'm still hoping, darling
Wooden coin, he called my daughter
No good knowing what came after

Met a man with missing fingers
Shaking hands with shaded strangers
Far too strong to pacify you
Ain't no telling what they're up to

Late night, the cock crows shortly
Morning through the open doorway
All us servants beg the master
Ain't no knowing what he's after

In a year of fallen angels
Broken hands and boys in danger
Pray the lord might pacify you
Ain't no telling what he's up to




Lyrics submitted by mrs-mojo-risin

"The Night Descending" as written by Samuel Ervin Beam

Lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc.

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The Night Descending song meanings
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  • +1
    General CommentI can rarely understand him, but by god Sam Beam is an amazing lyricist.

    Notice stanzas one, three, and five all start with a line referring to the night.
    And stanzas two, four, and six have something about pacifying in the third line.
    The even stanzas also start with missing things. (religion, fingers, angels)

    I get a very cowboy theme, from the music and the lyrics. Shady deals, stealing trains, wooden coins (which I agree means worthless), roosters, sun rises..

    From here it could just be.. that.. or maybe specific things only he would know. But it means certain stuff to me because they are so open ended and the images are BRILLIANT.
    EmporerEzekeilon October 28, 2010   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThis may be saying that nothing good happens after the sun goes down.
    Mirror Named Fearon April 29, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentIt's got a good rythm.though I don't know what it's about....it's aparent to me that wooden coin means that it has no value...but other than that......
    manuelturcioson December 24, 2007   Link
  • 0
    My InterpretationThis is a story about young people, sex, and love, told in an oblique way. The narrative point of view shifts at times, giving the impression of an account told by multiple different sources. The upbeat, almost jaunty music parallels the action of the song, with the driving rhythm mirroring the way the characters are swept along by the events of the story. The lyrics use a parallel structure, a common feature of Beam's writing, which lends unity to the song and also induces comparisons between the verses as the song progresses.

    Black hair, the night descending
    Baby never puts her trust in
    Tight black tie, too quick to laughter
    Ain't no telling what he's after

    This first verse sets the scene in a very compact way. The young woman is going out with a young man whom she doesn't fully trust. The young man is nicely dressed but "too quick to laughter", suggesting artificiality and hidden motives. The phrase "the night descending" can be interpreted in a double sense, both indicating the literal time of day, evening, but also suggesting the approach of oblivion and reckless abandon.

    Found a friend without religion
    Riding on a stolen engine
    Far too fast to pacify you
    Ain't no telling what he's up to

    This verse continues the story. The friend "without religion" is someone unbound by social rules and morals. This could refer to the young man from the first verse, but I think in this case it is another man who gives them a ride in his car (the "stolen engine"). He drives "far too fast to pacify you" (the young woman?), suggesting a headlong rush into the events that follow.

    In time, the night may soften
    Trust that I'm still hoping, darling
    Wooden coin, he called my daughter
    No good knowing what came after

    The first line, "In time, the night may soften" seems to refer to the young woman becoming more relaxed and letting her guard down as the evening goes on (recall that in the first verse, she doesn't fully trust the young man). The young man is "still hoping" for this to happen. The next line refers to a "wooden coin", a fake or substitute for something of value. I'm a little unclear as to exactly what significance the coin has — did the young man use the coin to call the daughter from a pay phone? Perhaps this is emphasizing that the date is founded on deception from the very beginning. The use of the phrase "my daughter" suggests that this part is from the perspective of the young woman's father.

    Met a man with missing fingers
    Shaking hands with shaded strangers
    Far too strong to pacify you
    Ain't no telling what they're up to

    At this point the plot becomes a bit hard to follow. There are some menacing characters being introduced — missing fingers suggests past violence or perhaps a connection to organized crime, and the "shaded strangers" are obviously ominous figures. But there is no explicit connection made between these figures and the other characters. My theory is that the man with missing fingers is a sketchy private investigator hired by the young woman's father to follow the couple. His overly tight handshake fails to reassure the father, who is still agitated about what the young people may be "up to".

    Late night, the cock crows shortly
    Morning through the open doorway
    All us servants beg the master
    Ain't no knowing what he's after

    By this point, is very late, almost morning, and the young people still have not returned. Perhaps they have run away together. The father is now nearly out of his head with concern for his daughter and fury directed at the young man, as the servants try to calm him down.

    In a year of fallen angels
    Broken hands and boys in danger
    Pray the lord might pacify you
    Ain't no telling what he's up to

    "Fallen angels" refers to sin and loss of holiness, alluding to the daughter's loss of virginity. But it may also refer to a loss of faith or a change in one's perceptions -- perhaps the father's angelic conception of his daughter has become detached from reality, and now that image has fallen away. "Broken hands and boys in danger" may refer to the man from the fourth verse, along with the young suitor who is now in danger of the father's wrath. Hands are symbolic of power and agency so the "broken hands" may also symbolize the father's loss of control over his daughter. The song admonishes the father to "Pray the Lord might pacify you" because there "Ain't no telling what he's up to". This puts an interesting twist on the song, suggesting that perhaps the chaotic events leading up to this point are all part of God's plan and that there may be some greater good in what the father perceives as catastrophe. There's an interesting progression in the last lines of the even verses -- initially the father distrusts the young man, then both members of the couple, but finally must resign himself to the hope that perhaps things will turn out for the best. The song ends on this ambiguous note.
    treanton September 12, 2016   Link

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