I was a quick wit boy
Diving too deep for coins
All of your street light eyes
Wide on my plastic toys
And when the cops closed the fair
I cut my long baby hair
Stole me a dog-eared map
And called for you everywhere

Have I found you?
Flightless bird, jealous, weeping
Or lost you?
American mouth
Big pill looming

Now I'm a fat house cat
Nursing my sore blunt tongue
Watching the warm poison rats
Curl through the wide fence cracks
Pissing on magazine photos
Those fishing lures thrown in the cold and clean
Blood of Christ mountain stream

Have I found you?
Flightless bird, grounded, bleeding
Or lost you?
American mouth
Big pill stuck going down


Lyrics submitted by campfirestring, edited by studaman, bjhudson, quickwitboy

Flightless Bird, American Mouth song meanings
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  • +11
    General CommentIMO, there are dual, yet similar, themes running through this song: (1) an individual's loss of innocence/idealism; and (2) the degradation/dissolution of the mythical "American" dream.

    The first verse sets our protagonist as an innocent child (quick, wet, diving too deep) - newly born, baptized, full of energy/enthusiasm, carefree. We get a glimpse of what's to come through the "blind" eyes of the adult world whom the child can already see seem focused on material things ("plastic toys"). The "cops" (his own adulthood) crash the party and he's forced to grow up and give up his pure youthful enjoyment of life (cut his baby hair). Thus, he begins his quest to find his meaning/life in this adult American landscape. For me, it also brings to mind the end of the idealism of the peace/protest movement of the late 60's...the system crushes the uprising...the hippies cut their hair...and wander off...going on to what?

    Well, the second verse tells us exactly where our protagonist's journey has landed him...a big fat safe spot with the adults of his youth. He's achieved the "American Dream", or has he? Now all talk and no action. He curses himself and the wrong/injustice he sees around him, yet he idly sits and watches these "poison rats" (the establishment, big business, corrupt government) slither by and destroy his ideal world. He bides his time in his magazines, finding pleasure in viewing some advertisement of folks fishing in some idyllic river. He is not out there himself, but even if he was, he would be merely pillaging/ruining/sacrificing a place of nature ("blood of christ mountain stream").

    It's a really depressing song, but it's certainly beautiful.
    nachosgrandeon May 02, 2008   Link
  • +8
    My InterpretationMy take*

    I was an innocent child who believed he had all the answers.
    I was superficial, searching for all the wrong things that I thought would bring happiness.
    Everyone wanted a piece of what I believed was really me.
    All they really wanted was to benefit from the person I blindly thought myself to be.

    When I realized my own delusion of myself, and who I am,
    I began to change into the person I truly am, the person I want to be, the person I've always been, but couldn't see through the eyes of my own unawareness.
    Confused, I sought a way to make sense of my confusion, my pain.
    Desperately, I clung to anything to help confirm who I am. I wanted all this pain to be just in my mind, not real.

    Am I the me I think I am?
    I don't have that internal strength I need. I'm jealous of blissful ignorance. It is better to not have to deal with my demons. And this is so hard to come to terms with - who I thought I was versus who I really am.
    Did I lose myself?
    I can lose myself so easily.
    All it takes is a crutch to ease this pain.

    This pain is endless, my safety exists only when I'm alone in my safe place.
    I enable my self-pity.
    But can't ignore it forever. I know that I can't forever hide, but the temptation is so inviting to forget the pain away.
    The pain always creeps back in.
    It ruins everything I know isn't, but want to believe, is true.
    I try to forget, so many ways, any way to make me believe
    I am masking my hurt away, using a pleasant veil so maybe they will believe. Then maybe I can, too.

    Am I the me I think I am?
    I don't have the strength to fight it anymore. I'm aware, but the awareness is so painful.
    But maybe I can just lose myself, one more temporarily gratifying time.
    All it takes is a crutch to ease this pain.

    *Admittedly, I haven't yet read all the comments. That said, fair or not since I didn't read all the comments, this is how I "get" this song.
    eeewalkableon July 29, 2012   Link
  • +7
    General CommentI just picked up the album, and the lyrics are in the CD. He might sing it differently live, but assuming it was just hard to hear, corrections are needed:
    It is officially "Street light eyes."
    2nd verse: "*wide* fence cracks" is correct.
    Last Chorus: "Flightless Bird, *grounded*, bleeding"
    The last line is "Big *pill*, stuck going down"

    My thoughts: This is surely a lament of lost America, in my opinion. It starts with childhood memories, toys, the County Fair: Leave it to Beaver America. Then the "cops" shut it down, he grows up "cut my long baby hair" and he is searching... "called for you everywhere", with an "American mouth"

    The second verse gets into this loss of voice thing that is really cool: the house cat, too fat to do anything about the rats in the yard, his tongue sore from talking. This is a powerful analogy IMO about feeling alienated and voiceless in America, unable to help the broken/flightless/bleeding bird....er....bald eagle?? Is it lost or found? too late or are we to save it??

    Also, you might find it interesting that Sam uses the same chords/progression in this song as in the 50's classic "Earth Angel" (think "back to the future" and the Dance scene). Slowed down a bit, of course. (for you guitarists: capo on 5th, then C, Am, F, G)

    Great song!
    legsaregoingon December 11, 2007   Link
  • +7
    My InterpretationPersonally, I think this can go one of two ways. this could be about a boy in a race against time to save his lost loved one from a suicide inspired by his affair behind her back.

    I was a quick-wit boy (I was a smart boy)
    diving too deep for coins (hoping for too much when I had an affair behind your back)
    all of your street light eyes
    wide on my plastic toys (but you knew about the affair and your shiny eyes had already been eyeing the old plastic bottle of pills I owned)
    then when the cops closed the fair (After you disappeared and the cops gave up on looking for you)
    I cut my long baby hair
    stle me a dog-eared map
    and called for you everywhere (I grabbed a map and went searching for you)

    Have I found you? (Have I found you?)
    Flightless bird (the girl that refused to leave despite the pain I caused)
    Jealous, weeping (jealous over the girl I was with behind your back and crying)
    Or lost you? (Or have I already lost you?)
    American mouth
    Big pill looming (have you fallen prey to a pill-induced suicide?)

    Now I'm a fat house cat (Now I'm a lonely man trapped in this world)
    Nursing my sore blunt tongue (cursing everthing with my foul mouth)
    Watching the warm poison rats
    cut through the wide fence cracks
    Pissing on magazine photos
    Those fishing lures thrown in the cold and clean
    Blood of Christ, mountain stream (as I watch rats walk through the broken fence and pee on old magazine photos scattered on the floor where there lies a stream of blood)

    Have I found you? (Is this really you?)
    Flightless bird (the girl that never left me despite being able to?)
    Grounded, bleeding (Bleeding on the ground)
    Or lost you? (Or did I lose you?)
    American mouth (through that sweet mouth)
    Big pill, stuck going down (where that big pill got stuck going down.)

    OR,

    it could be about a boy's race against time to find his lost loved one who happened to be a troubled, broken girl he thought he could save from her self destructive path but the task ended up being to big. And so, she left without a word and took the guy's plastic bottle of pills and ran away. He reported her missing and when the cops gave up, he went out looking for her. Basically, the same interpretation as the first except that he didn't have an affair and she was just troubled, depressed, broken, and when it mentiones that she was "jealous and weeping", that jealousy might not have been due to another girl, but jealous of him because he's not going through what she is. He can live without that internal trauma she has to live with every day.

    Basically, the two different interpretations are the same except for those two. I can't really decide, so some days I go with the first, while most other days I go with the second. This song could very well be taken literally and be about fat cats and rats pissing on magazines and it could mean something entirely different than what I think. But personally, that is what I think it is. I stand quite firm with these interpretations because I identify with them and everytime I hear it, it brakes my heart in a healing way.
    crazyloveron September 15, 2012   Link
  • +6
    My InterpretationI think this song is about innocence lost and the idea/desire for the American dream shatter by how your veiw on the world changes as you age. In the first "stanza" the speaker is talking about having no fear, diving into life, pushing your limits. The second part he is forced to grow up, by the "cops", people with false power. The speaker takes the "map", moved away to look for his adventure, the American dream. Now the speaker has been jaded, the dream is 'grounded' "flightless bird". No loger is the speaker adventurous and brave, now just a "fat house cat", feeling they should be acting against the lost hope. The speaker sees the events in the unjust world around them the "warm poison rats" getting away with bad deeds. The pissing on magizines I think is the dissillusionment of corporate America. the speaker feels the dream is lost, crashing to the ground.
    Triskuton November 28, 2011   Link
  • +3
    General CommentI believe this song represents the loss of the true America and also the reality of gain and loss in love.

    Verse 1: It begins with a typical childhood “I was a quick wet boy, diving too deep for coins,” he was full of life, energetic, playful “All of your straight light eyes wide on my plastic toys,” light represents all that is good and eyes represent the sense of security he felt as a child. Then the cops (symbol of government) shut down the fair (fun/childhood), “cut my long baby hair” he had to grow up and leave his innocence and childhood behind and “called for you everywhere” he is left searching.

    Chorus: some say this song has nothing to do with Twilight. In the prom scene only the important lyrics stand out (i.e. “have I found you” and “flightless bird”) therefore it does relate to the story. Bella is the flightless bird and Edward has found her. It brings me back to the scene in the forest against the rock when Edward tells Bella “You don’t know how long I’ve waited for you.” This means that he was expecting this love and waiting for it. So, has he finally found it? But at the same time he can wonder “or lost you?” With Bella being human and a mortal he can lose her after her years are up. In Bella’s case, her childhood could refer to the childhood in this song. Then she had to grow up due to her parents splitting up and her mother’s new boyfriend/husband and all that tags along with “broken homes.” If you notice when she first moves to Forks, she is not the happiest person. It takes Edward to bring some joy to her life. Therefore “have I found you flightless bird.” Edward can indeed be a flightless bird. Anxious because the love of his life may not be by his side for eternity. “Or lost you,” Bella can lose Edward if he realizes that their life together as human and vampire can ultimately be a disaster.

    Verse 2: “Fat house cat” can symbolize the grown up version of the child spoken of in verse 1. A house cat is indoors “watching the warm poison rats…,” and can only watch what is going on in the world outside their four walls. In this sense the house cat (US citizens) is useless in what is going on in “America”. “Those fishing lures thrown in the cold and clean Blood of Christ mountain stream” this really confuses me. I am very sure that the writer acknowledges that the Blood of Christ is “clean” but where does this fit in? The only thing that comes to mind is that America was built on a Christian foundation. That may have been the bait to get away from the persecutions and present day America is “fishing” and benefitting from the journey of the pilgrims.

    Whatever the true meaning of the song, I unconditionally believe that it fit perfectly in Twilight.
    chai814on June 10, 2009   Link
  • +3
    My OpinionI saw how this is #2 on the top 5 lyric list and I immediately knew why. Its not because this song is a beautiful piece of art, no. Its because it was in a movie. A movie which by the way was completely revolting (the acting was horrible, the effects obviously were horrible, the makeup was horrendous. I'm embarrassed to even admit i saw it.)

    I hate how popular that sad excuse for a book is. Like really, can someone explain to me what makes it amazing? I read the books, and deducted that they were very poorly written & completely unoriginal. That type of work belongs on fanfiction.net not on the bestsellers list.

    I can't even listen to this song in public now, I'm too embarrassed to think people would think i only like Iron & Wine because of Twilight.
    britneon November 21, 2011   Link
  • +2
    General Commentlistening to the album leak, it sounds more like he's singing 'street light' or 'straight, light' not 'straight blind' to me...maybe i'm just deaf. haha
    caitlynnoelon June 14, 2007   Link
  • +2
    General CommentKristen Stewart did pick it for the Prom scene...and rightfully so in my opinion. This is a beautiful song. Iron & wine are a brilliant band.
    frontrowbabyon November 13, 2008   Link
  • +2
    General CommentIt wounds me that they used one of the most lush, deep, symbolism-laden songs of the year, a eulogy of aching, helpless nostalgia and growing disillusionment with American culture, for a movie extolling the shallowest, silliest parts of said culture.
    When I first discovered the song's placement on the soundtrack (during a prom scene, no less), it was just a bit too much bitter irony for me to handle. I had naively hoped that its inclusion would inspire young fans to look a little deeper into the song, but seeing a few of these replies...I guess if one can enjoy a book series about an obsessive, stalking, dangerously co-dependent relationship as a sweet love story, then Flightless Bird can be enjoyed as a simple ballad of Vampire and shallow, personality-void human love.
    Doesn't make it any less tragic.


    As for the song itself...

    "I was a quick wet boy
    Diving too deep for coins
    All of your straight blind eyes
    Wide on my plastic toys"

    This is us when we are young, and a young nation. Our life is in our hands, we live by what we can dive for, and if we go too deep it's nothing to be afraid of. By living with death right there, we are also right next to life. This feels a lot like what we see in Boy With A Coin, with all the life and death images right next to each other.

    With the chorus, I go two different ways. On one hand, the options are finding the flightless bird and realizing our own frailty, or losing the American mouth and silencing ourselves about it.
    On the other hand, it could be that we are unsure whether we have lost or found this one entity, the bird with the voice. Either way, the choice is heartbreaking.

    "Pissing on magazine photos
    Those fishing lures thrown in the cold and clean
    Blood of Christ mountain stream "

    This line is so, so dense it leaves me gasping for breath every time I hear it. I think it unravels as the Blood of Christ Stream... the living, passionate, life-saving water coupled with the soul-saving blood, reduced to a carbon-copy, mass-produced, glossy advertisement for /lures/, which is then thrown away and used as litter...Everything that we were as quick, wet children, living immersed in the water and with death at our heels, has been lost and flattened and is used as nothing more than advertisement and cast aside, and our basic humanity is lost in its pages. There is just too much to this song. God, I love it.
    ABookOnAShelfon January 02, 2009   Link

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