"Alone With The Owl" as written by and Jason Molina....
Alone with the owls howling "pain, pain, pain"
Alone with the owls howling "pain"
Alone with the owls howling "pain, pain, pain"
You don’t have to live this way

While I lived was I a stray black dog
While I lived was I a stray black dog
While I lived was I anything at all

Did I have to live this way
I stood beside the ocean not a single wave

Beside the ocean not a single wave
Beside the ocean not a single wave
Not a single thing left to say

With the owl howling “pain, pain, pain”
With the ocean howling the same
With my life howling the same
Did I have to live this way


Lyrics submitted by Checkerpig, edited by alleyflowers22, Dante Sint

Alone With The Owl song meanings
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3 Comments

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  • +1
    My InterpretationLike many of Jason's songs, this song is about depression. Owls have always been a symbol of higher knowledge and the connection between the physical and spirit world and he uses them this way here. The noise that owls make can sometimes sound mournful and the way that it usually comes from the darkness of the woods makes them seem even more alone with their intelligence and pain- a single point of light in a world filled with darkness. Owls are nocturnal creatures (as are many depressed people for various reasons), they inhabit the world between life and death, light and dark, and for them life will always be filled with loneliness because they occupy a threshold, a space between two places.

    A stray black dog is one with no master, and in many cultures dogs, especially black ones, are associated with death, the underworld, and/or bad luck. In some areas of Europe it was thought that the first man to be buried in a new churchyard was eternally responsible for guarding it from the devil, so in order to protect the souls of the people buried there a black dog would be buried alive in new church yards. Man is a peculiar animal, one that is neurologically wired for a god, so he needs a master and without one he wanders alone.

    The ocean is a symbol of birth and the primordial origin of life, it's usually considered to be feminine in nature and waves in particular are one of the most common metaphorical elements because of their dual nature to give and take life. As Jason stood beside the ocean with not a single wave, this creates a surreal image of a motionless ocean, a life stuck between two places, without meaning.

    The song ends with the line “Did I have to live this way?” and this reminds me of the quote by Soren Kierkegaard, “I see it all perfectly; there are two possible situations — one can either do this or that. My honest opinion and my friendly advice is this: do it or do not do it — you will regret both.” Jason lived as he felt, alone, and this song is perhaps a eulogy to the decision which he made without making, because it was already made for him. Standing at the crossroads between here and there, one can get a good look at each but never really know them.
    Dante Sinton July 16, 2015   Link
  • 0
    General Commentpain, pain. :'(
    iphigenieon August 15, 2008   Link
  • -1
    General CommentHaving spotted many words like "program" in his lyrics, also the album cover of "Protection Spells" showing a bird in a cage, this "owl" could be interpreted as the Illuminati and their programming of certain gifted children. Makes all his desperation seem even more dire.
    yumayumaon August 03, 2014   Link

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