"Paris Is Burning" as written by and Anne Erin Clark....
I write to give word the war is over
Send my cinders home to mother
They gave me a medal for my valor
Leaden trumpets spit the soot of power

They say, "I'm on your side
"When nobody is, 'cause nobody is
"Come sit right here and sleep
"While I slip poison in your ear"

We are waiting on a telegram
To give us news of the fall
I am sorry to report
Dear Paris is burning after all

We have taken to the streets
In open rejoice revolting
We are dancing a black waltz
Fair Paris is burning after all

Enclosed in this letter there's a picture
Black and white for your refrigerator
Sticks and stones have made me smarter
It's words that cut me under my armor

They say, "I'm on your side
"When nobody is, 'cause nobody is
"Come sit right here and sleep
"While I slip poison in your ear"

We are waiting on a telegram
To give us news of the fall
I am sorry to report
Dear Paris is burning after all

We have taken to the streets
In open rejoice revolting
We are dancing a black waltz
Fair Paris is burning after all

Dance poor people, dance and drown
Dance fair Paris to the ground
Dance poor people, dance and drown
Dance fair Paris, ashes now

Dance poor people, dance and drown
Dance fair Paris to the ground
Dance poor people, dance and drown
Dance fair Paris, ashes now

Dance poor people, dance and drown
Dance fair Paris to the ground
Dance poor people, dance and drown
Dance fair Paris, ashes now


Lyrics submitted by mistercrinkles

"Paris Is Burning" as written by Anne Erin Clark

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Paris Is Burning song meanings
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27 Comments

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  • +4
    General CommentI've heard the phrase "Paris is Burning" so many times, it's a reference to something. There's a film about the African American and Latino gay and transgendered community in NYC...maybe that is the origin of the term.
    FairyBlueMoonon December 27, 2009   Link
  • +2
    General CommentPersonally, I see the "war" as a metaphorical war. The "poison in the ear" bit does seem like a reference to Hamlet to me, so I thought, perhaps, a close relationship that has gone wrong? Friends or lovers fighting with each other until they basically just end the friendship. Hence the "war" is "over".
    crystal_dreamson February 02, 2008   Link
  • +2
    General Commentcould the line about slipping poison in someone's ear while they sleep be an allusion to hamlet or am i just making that up? love this song
    horrorfreak94on November 28, 2010   Link
  • +2
    General CommentThis song is based on the "Paris is Burning", a gay documentary that shows the life of NY drag queens in the 80's (or 70's). There are balls to determine which house is the best. And drag mothers, the medals are seen in the documentary. Yep def about "Paris is Burning"
    AccurateSketchon April 18, 2011   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI agree that St. Vincent's lyrics tend to work on multiple levels, and there were a couple bits that jumped out at me:
    "poison in your ear" is likely an allusion to Hamlet (Act I, scene 5) where the ghost of Hamlet's father tells him he was murdered by the current king. Possibly also to Act I, scene 5, where words are equated to a poison in the ear.

    Paris was certainly bombed to pieces in WWII, but the multiple uses of "black" and the "open rejoice revolting" made me think of the riots, mainly by black Africans in Paris in the summer of 2005,
    bugmenot123on October 17, 2007   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI thought of WWII as well. Paris was burned in WWII. I know a lot of her songs have that sort of "old" feel (the old style of music from that time), but I think it is even more pronounced in this song and it sort of sounds like it is over a radio in the part where it is like "give us news of the fall/Paris is burning after all/open rejoice revolting/is burning after all"--radio, as you may know, was the most important communication technology. The trumpets at the beginning also give it that feel of the WWII era. There were revolts and a lot of secrets. The secrets would be by telegram occasionally--the French Resistance. And no one really knew who was on who's side with all of the secret agents, and people turned against each other--poison. That could be the WWII take on it. But I definitly think there is probably much more to it than that, and I am not even too sure that this is the meaning. It is objective, but since it was brought up I thought I would give some support to it. I agree that everything that has been posted is valid though. Beautiful song, St. Vincent sure does have her ways.
    miriamleamanon April 07, 2008   Link
  • +1
    General CommentOne other thing.. the poison could be false information that would lead someone to their death.
    miriamleamanon April 08, 2008   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI'm pretty sure this song is actually referencing to the French Revolution in the late 1700s, when the working class revolted against the monarchy. Phrases like "we have taken to the streets in open rejoice revolting" and such gives me that sense. There was lots of chaos, so I'm sure there were fires. There was also a lot of gunfire and many revolutionaries died, but were praised as martyrs for the revolution. Also, things like "telegram" and things would indicate a time prior to WWII.
    guiltfreepleasureson July 18, 2008   Link
  • +1
    General CommentOh, in addition to my previous comment, the last lyrics make me feel even more like it has to do with the revolution because after the revolution, France fell apart. There were many executions and the time after is known as the "reign of terror."
    guiltfreepleasureson July 18, 2008   Link
  • +1
    General CommentOh and one more thing - revolutionaries were described as dancing in the streets during/after the revolution
    guiltfreepleasureson July 18, 2008   Link

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