"Lovesong of the Buzzard" as written by and Samuel Ervin Beam....
In the failing light of the afternoon
Lucy in the shade of the dogwood blooms
Yesterday the solace of a poison fish
Tomorrow I'll be kissing on her blood red lips

No one is the savior they would like to be
The love song of the buzzard in the dogwood tree
With a train of horses laughing through the traffic line
And the cradle's unimaginative sense of time

Springtime and the promise of an open fist
A tattoo of a flower on a broken wrist
Lucy tells me jokingly to wipe her brow
With a pocket map to heaven and the sun goes down

Lyrics submitted by sethbrown

"Lovesong of the Buzzard" as written by Samuel Ervin Beam

Lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc.

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Lovesong of the Buzzard song meanings
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  • +3
    Song MeaningI don’t think this song has any specific meaning or purpose, other than to express a sense of religious skepticism, and very poetically, I might add. It draws on several Christian stories, maxims, and beliefs, but adds sinister twists to them. There is a stark juxtaposition of idealistic religious dogma against secular realism. For instance:

    “Lucy in the shade of the dogwood blooms
    Yesterday the solace of a poison fish”

    The dogwood fable, as explained above by Beam92, specifically alludes to Christ. Sitting under the dogwood blooms could be listening/understanding his teaching, it could be mourning his crucifixion. I prefer the former because during the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus fed the masses with one fish–but the fish in this song is poisoned, a twist to traditional dogma, a hint of skepticism. The fish, perhaps an image for the sermon itself, feigns solace. People listen to Jesus and are comforted, but there is something not quite right about what they are hearing, something beneath the surface is not quite healthy–while they are taking in the idealism, they are dying. The body is in pain while the “spirit” soars towards something hopeful and chimerical.

    “No one is the saviour they would like to be
    The lovesong of the buzzard in the dogwood tree”

    Despite all Christ’s good intentions, the world is still full of shit. Terrible stuff still happens. Things die, other things eat the dead things (like the buzzard). The buzzard could also be Christ, which I think is a pretty shocking image. He preaches about life after death, an eternity of happiness, all wishes fulfilled. Almost like a buzzard feeding on carrion, his message gains strength on his “afterlife” assertions. People want hope, they want something greater, better than reality; they are more likely to abide by his teachings if they are promised a cushy seat in heaven. Jesus gains strength and followers by feeding on their fears and notions of death. The horses and the “cradle’s unimaginative sense of time” also juxtapose worldly and heavenly life. Horse laughing: “Yes this world sucks; sucker them in by offering better.” The cradle plays the obvious, “unimaginative” eternity card to sway a mass of mortal followers.

    “Springtime and the promise of an open fist
    A tattoo of a flower on a broken wrist”

    Jesus rises on Easter, opens his fist to show where the stakes hung him to the cross, but in this instance he is very worldly and contemporary, having a tattoo instead of a hole, and despite having risen from death as the son of God, he still has a broken wrist, a very mortal thing to sport when associated with God. The "flower tattoo" also substantially links Christ to the dogwood image. Anyway, all of this puts his "godhood" into serious doubt: what diving being has a tattoo and broken wrist?

    These descriptions are framed by the scene of two people, man and woman, sitting on a hill beneath a tree in the late afternoon. The song's religious skepticism is superbly amplified by the last two lines:

    “Lucy tells me jokingly to pe her brow
    With a pocket map to heaven and the sun goes down”

    To wipe your brow with a map to heaven doesn’t put much faith or importance in the map. It’s like she’s saying, “Yes, Christ’s promises about eternity are nice, but right now my brow is sweaty and I’d like to clean it. I’ll deal with that other stuff later--if ever. Right now, the sun’s setting and I’d like to watch.”
    mellowon December 22, 2009   Link
  • +2
    General CommentI think the reference to the 'solace of a poison fish' is saying that there is comfort in faith in Christianity, but it is corrupt (or maybe corrupting). Sam Beam seems to be one of those who believes in the teachings of Christianity, but not the dogma. I heard James Taylor say on TV the other night that he writes 'gospel music for agnostics'. I thought that was sort of applicable to Sam Beam, too. He uses intense religious symbolism, but always infuses his songs with doubt/skepticism. A tender-hearted heretic.
    This song is really complex and simple at the same time. Like Beam92, I still am absorbing it. Whatever all Beam's symbolism means, it is truly beautiful.
    songyoneon November 19, 2007   Link
  • +2
    General CommentI read an interview where Sam Beam said that sometimes he just writes and he doesn't even have an inkling as to what it's about. His response to the question of, "What's Lovesong of the Buzzard about?" was no.

    Not every song has to have a deep powerful meaning, guys. Haven't you ever written anything that was aesthetically pleasing and nothing more?
    ambivalenton June 30, 2009   Link
  • +1
    General CommentHoly shit Sam Beam is a genius. Learning about this song gave me the chills and made my eyes water. This song is definitely optimistic...to me atleast.
    This is from wikipedia: There is a Christian fable that proclaims that the cross used to crucify Jesus was constructed of dogwood.[3] As the fable goes, during the time of Jesus, the dogwood was larger and stronger than it is today. After his crucifixion, Jesus changed the plant to its current form: he shortened it and twisted its branches as to assure an end to the use of the plant for the construction of crosses, and he transformed its inflorescence into the form of the crucifixion itself. The four white bracts are cross-shaped, which are said to represent the four corners of the cross, each bearing a rusty indentation as of a nail; the red stamens of the flower, represents Jesus' crown of thorns; and the clustered red fruit represent his blood.
    The first stanza seems to represent that there were bad times in the past, "yesterday the solace of a poison fish." and good times in the future: "tomorrow I'll be kissing on her blood red lips."
    There's so much more meaning in this song...I'll have to think about it and come back to it later.
    Beam92on November 10, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General Commentthis song is glorious...
    mattmattmattmatton August 05, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General CommentC'mon people - where's the love? This song is AMAZING. This is the kind of song that you live a life too.

    I don't know about this Sam Beam guy. I've always thought he was a hero of sorts, but after listening to his new album, I'm thinking he's probably more of a god.
    ArrestedDevelopmenton October 03, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General Commenthe definitely is a god. an absolute genius.
    bestwombat11on October 12, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General Commenti absolutely adore this song.

    anyone else feel like his new 'sound' is a bit jeremy enigk? not that thats a bad thing, or that he's ripping him off, just has that feel to it.
    blanktomon October 13, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General CommentFrom hearing his songs... I don't really believe That Sam really is agnostic, I refuse to believe that evev if he said it... like SONGYONE said he's a "tender hearted heretic" and I thinks he does believe in Christianity but a bit resentful with it... it might have something to do with something that happened in his life... what? I completely ignore it
    manuelturcioson February 02, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General CommentOverall I think this song is about a recovering heroine addict. Seriously. The dogwood is obviously a reference to the cross, and the buzzard is Jesus. I have two interpretations though, and I'm not sure which is more correct. One displays a hope in Christianity… the other displays major skepticism. Here is the hopeful version:

    Two people are sitting together in a beautiful spring setting, watching the sun go down together. Lucy is currently "blooming" or coming to life in the shade of the dogwood, or under the "protection" of the cross of Jesus. I've read that poisons derived from fish are used to help heroine addicts recover from their addictions; this means that "yesterday," with the solace of the poison fish, she was undergoing treatment. Because she is currently sitting beneath the dogwood, it seems that faith helped her through recovery. As a result, the singer is looking toward a hopeful tomorrow, when he knows she will continue to thrive and live, as evidenced by the healthy coloring of her lips.

    In the second stanza, I think he is saying that Jesus does not get the response from people that he wants to, that he isn't able to save everybody. As he hangs on the cross (the dogwood) in an act of love (his lovesong) people only hear a message that annoys them – hence the singer comparing his message to the song of a buzzard, one of the birds that the Bible says are unclean, one that no one pays attention to. In other words, his message of love falls on deaf ears when heroine (aka the train of "horses"--another word for heroine) races through people's veins (the traffic line). I'm not quite sure what the "cradle's unimaginative sense of time" is, but I think it symbolizes the steady, unchanging tempo of ordinary life. Basically, the drugs laugh at this ordinary cadence and call regular days (such as the one that the singer and Lucy are sharing) boring. (This may have more significance than I'm giving it... I'm open to suggestions.)

    The third stanza goes back to the hopeful scene with the singer and Lucy. She is in contrast with the second stanza, because she is no longer under the influence of drugs. It is springtime (signifying a renewal) and the promise of an open fist is a sign for her promise to no longer use drugs, or to squeeze her fist while injecting. Also, Lucy herself is springtime. The flower tattoo on her wrist is something beautiful covering something broken, or the springtime (her sobriety) that blooms on top of a bleak winter (her addiction).

    Lucy says her brow needs to be wiped, due (I think) to the sweating that occurs during detox. She jokes that it should be wiped with the Bible, or what he calls the pocket map to heaven. Maybe she's saying, "Phew! Saved just in time!" the way cartoon characters do when they narrowly escape, and she's suggesting that the Bible is what saved her.

    ……But this is also where my interpretation breaks down. She says it jokingly. This could mean it's just a figure of speech suggesting that she's relieved (not actually sweating)... but it could almost mean that the singer's whole theme of Christianity was skeptical to begin with. She might be joking about the Bible playing a role in her recovery. This raises the following issues with my above interpretation:

    - He might be suggesting that the "shade" of the dogwood is like a cloud instead of protective covering.

    - He might be BLAMING Jesus for not saving everyone, saying that he's not the savior he claims to be. Is he suggesting that he thinks Jesus IS like a buzzard, using the word "lovesong" ironically? He might be saying that Jesus merely chirps in a tree while people are suffering.

    - Is Lucy saying to wipe her brow with the Bible because it's just a rag, that it didn't help her through recovery?

    Anyone have thoughts on this?
    emilykateon May 09, 2008   Link

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