"Wolves (Song of the Shepherd's Dog)" as written by and Samuel Ervin Beam....
Wolves by the road
And a bike wheel spinning on a pawn shop wall
She leaned on her colored hair
Like a butterfly wing in a summer rainfall

And the roll on the kitchen floor
Some fucker with a pocketful of foreign change
Song of the shepherd?s dog
A pitch in the dark in the ear of the lamb who was going to try to run away
Whoever got that brave?

Wolves in the middle of town
And the chapel bell ringing through the wind-blown trees
To wave to the butcher?s boy with the parking lot music everybody believes
And then dive like a dying bird and then they do with the daughter at the penny arcade

Song of the shepherd?s dog
Waiting around the jack caught the rooster
On a rooftop waiting for day
And you know what he's gonna say

Wolves at the end of the bed
And a postcard hidden in her winter clothes
She beat in the back of a truck
To the trailers when we trying to find the bullet hole

And then run down the canopy rows
Some mother and a baby with a cross to bear
Song of the shepherd?s dog
Little brown flea in the bottle of oil for your woolly wild hair
You'll never get him out of there


Lyrics submitted by Mellow_Harsher, edited by Toolesi

"Wolves (Song of the Shepard's Dog)" as written by Samuel Ervin Beam

Lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc.

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Wolves (Song of the Shepherd's Dog) song meanings
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21 Comments

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  • +3
    General CommentWell, I would correct the mistakes in the lyrics above, but there are so many (sory) that I'll just give the right ones:

    Wolves by the road
    And a bike wheel spinning on a pawn shop wall
    She'll wring out her colored hair
    Like a butterfly beaten in a summer rainfall
    And then roll on the kitchen floor
    With some fucker with a pocketful of foreign change
    Song of the shepherd’s dog
    A pitch in the dark in the ear of the lamb
    Who's going to try to run away
    Whoever got that brave?

    Wolves in the middle of town
    And the chapel bell ringing through the wind-blown trees
    She'll wave to the butcher’s boy
    With the parking lot music everybody believes
    And then dive like a dying bird
    To any dude with a dollar in the penny arcade
    Song of the shepherd’s dog
    Waiter and the check or a rooster on the rooftop waiting for day
    And you know what he's gonna say

    Wolves at the end of the bed
    And a postcard hidden in her winter clothes
    She weep in the back of a truck
    To the traitors only trying to find her bullet hole
    And then run down the canopy road
    To some mother with a baby and a cross to bear
    Song of the shepherd’s dog
    Little brown flea in the bottle of oil
    For your wool and wild hair*
    You'll never get him out of there

    *seriously, this really does sound like "woolly, wild hair." If I didn't have the lyric sheet I'd have no idea

    Okay, so I think megabyte is on the right track in saying that this is a song about escaping, for various definitions of the word "escape." The first stanza, I think, is just brilliant. It starts off with wolves (danger) on the road (the way out), and then we get the bike wheel. I feel like I could go on for days about that bike wheel. It's a FANTASTIC image. For one thing, a bike is the poor man's (or, in this case, woman's) car, so that - along with the fact that it's spinning - represent motion, escape. But it's stuck on the wall - there isn't even a rest of the bike to go with it - and, moreover, it's in a pawn shop, which means you have to have money to get out, so in more ways than one this means of escape, too, is being blocked off. The two men the heroine goes after in this song both bear signs of espcape: money, in both cases; foreign-ness in the first; and the experiential escape of playing a video game in the second. So we know that she's willing to give up her body for that feeling of getting away. We also know, because this is specifically the song of the *shepherd's* dog, that running away would not be a good idea (hence the incredulous, "Whoever got that brave?"), which is reinforced hardcore in the last stanza: even though she's really opening up to these guys with a truck, they're "traitors" who are only after "her bullet hole" (three guesses as to what that symbolizes). Then she's visited by a vision of her future: a single mother "with a cross to bear" (which, actually, I don't think is being a single mother - I think it's being stuck in the same place she'd always been trying to escape). The waiter, the rooster, and the flea I think are all supposed to be instances of things that will generate that frustrated sense of predictability or inevitability that happens when you've been somewhere you don't want to be for a long time.

    I'm not really sure what to make of that "parking lot music" thing, though - is that just a shot at pop music and how idealized it can be sometimes? I dunno.
    larrynivenon November 06, 2007   Link
  • +1
    General CommentGreat interp, larryniven. And thanks for the lyrics update. This finally makes some sense to me.

    I think there is another element about the nature of religious faith in this song. I don't know how it all fits, but I'll throw out my random thoughts - maybe somebody can elaborate and/or shoot them down.

    In the first verse, she makes a pitch in the ear of the lamb. A prayer , or a song, or trying to sell an idea to Jesus? And in the last verse, I think she running toward a vision of Mary and Jesus. (a woman and a baby with a cross to bear). But there is a flea in the oil (like a fly in the ointment?) and you can never change that.

    Is Beam saying that her wild nature is in conflict with her faith? That she won't find her means of escape via faith? Or that neither sensual pleasure or religious experience is going to really provide any escape? Dunno... Whew.. Beam is hard sometimes. :)
    songyoneon November 19, 2007   Link
  • +1
    General CommentThe Shepherd's Dog is the central and conflicted metaphor for the entire song. The Shepherd's dog is only one step away from being a wolf, but it is meant to keep the lambs "safe" or at least inline with the Shepherd's guidance. It is the Shepherd's enforcer, even as it is the sheep's main line of defense against the wolves.

    Is this the Good Shepherd who loves cares and saves the sheep, or is this just a hired hand protecting his investment until the final slaughter.

    This song is probably about prostitution, but it is also about addiction, dependent relationships, religion gone bad, and any other system that locks people into a world without grace.
    HeideLeighon November 08, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General CommentOut there song, really defies the lyrical conventions I am used to. The way Sam Beam strings such ideas together is unreal, like Michael Stipe and Neil Fallon can do within their respective ways. I can't decipher this beautiful piece of sonic lyricism, but I love how it flows together and maybe that's Beam's intentions overall. Don't decipher, don't infer, just listen, just internalize, and just be floored at this man's artistry. Need more be said.
    OpinionHeadon October 01, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General CommentWhy aren't there more comments on this song?
    This is possibly my favorite song on the newest album.
    He doesn't as much about sing about something in this as much as he does paint a dusty town image for us.
    his songs are so very easy to visualize.
    and for that, these songs are precious to me.
    MinionVarchildon October 02, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThis song is obviously very thamtically important, thus the album being named after it... and what of the dogs?!?!? so many dogs.
    coolcroweon October 26, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI agree with minion that this song paints a vivid picture of some small town, but I also think it has something to do with trying to escape. From a town, from a past, from yourself. The wolves feel to me like fear of the unknown.
    megabyte800on October 30, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General CommentRead it like a church Hymn. (Line 1 Verse 1, Line 1 Verse 2, etc.) It translates to:

    Wolves by the road
    Wolves in the middle of town
    Wolves at the end of the bed
    And a bike wheel spinning on a pawn shop wall
    And the chapel bell ringing through the wind-blown trees
    And a postcard hidden in her winter clothes
    She leaned on her colored hair
    To wave to the butcher’s boy
    She beat in the back of a truck
    Like a butterfly wing in a summer rainfall
    With the parking lot music everybody believes
    To the trailers when we trying to find the bullet hole
    And the roll on the kitchen floor
    And then out like a dying bird
    And then run down the canopy rows
    Some fucker with a pocketful of foreign change
    In the corner of the penny arcade
    Some mother and a baby with a cross to nail
    Song of the shepherd’s dog (x 3)
    A pitch in the dark in the ear of the lamb
    Waiting around the jack call of the rooster
    Little brown flea in the bottle of oil
    Who was going to try to run away
    On the rooftop waiting for day
    For your woolly wild hair
    Whoever got that brave?
    And ain’t nobody’s going to say
    You'll never get him out of there

    Some of it goes together.. Strange.
    InnocentBoneson November 05, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General CommentSam Beam's linguistic talent is ridiculous, its probably just me, but sometimes I just have no idea what he's talking about. Maybe it's my lack of experience with religion and perhaps the South. Call this an ant-comment, but I think the his music is very enjoyable on a lower level, without delving into any deeper meaning(not that there isn't a ton of that)

    Like previous comments, I find that each verse conjures a vivid image, storyboard, or event going off in my mind. This whole album completely removes me from reality, just ridiculous
    Luckysevenson January 26, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General CommentTo InnocentBones, I think this is just commonplace for Sam Beam's lyrical style -- so many of his songs use three verses that are similar in structure but tell different stories -- White Tooth Man, Dead Man's Will, Boy With A Coin, etc. I love it.

    I see this song as in image of the inability to escape (whether it be a small town, "Southern" ideals, religion, etc.).

    Everyone's just stuck, because they fear the wolves on the road (getting out of town), in the middle of town (at church), and at the end of the bed (sexuality).

    And the song of the shepherd's dog seems to always say "you'll never leave". -- "whoever got that brave?" / a bill, an impending day with its responsibilities / getting that flea out of you hair (symbolic or...sorry if I'm wrong...could have to do with an STD, considering the third verse seems to deal with sexuality)... who knows...
    colonieson February 18, 2008   Link

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