Oh I've been knocking on that door in my sleep
Fight my fireplace glow
I've been knocking on that door in my sleep
Fight my fireplace glow to keep me away,
To keep me away from home

Papa get the rifle from its place above the french doors
They're coming from the woods
Oh they're coming from the woods
And mama you're running too
Oh my mama your running too
Mama you're running too
Oh my mama your running too

Brother I'm so sorry that you watched the paintings burn
And I've been holding onto the gold
When lettin' go would free my hands
And I've been tying your tongue in a knot
Oh I've been tying your tongue in a knot
To wrap this death, to wrap this death in a sheet

And Papa get the rifle from its place above the french doors
They're coming from the woods
Oh they're coming from the woods
And mama you're running too
Oh, my mama you're running too
Mama you're running too
Oh, my mama you're running too

Brother I'm so sorry that you watched the paintings burn
I can't hide the dirty pads down there carpet anymore
No, no I can't hide the dirty pads down there carpet anymore
There were too many heavy boots
There were too many heavy boots
There were too many heavy boots
And there were too many big black boots
And there were too many little brown shoes marching though

So I'm countin' it to the sky
Oh I'm countin' it to the sky
I'm countin' it to the sky
Oh I'm countin' it to the sky
And moving back
Oh I'm moving back to
Face the lack of home


Lyrics submitted by holbytla

The Rifle song meanings
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3 Comments

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  • 0
    General Commenti think that this song is about the cruelty to native americans. especially:
    "There were too many heavy boots
    There were too many heavy boots
    And there were too many big black boots
    And there were too many little brown shoes marching though"
    i think this refers to the trail of tears and the native americans being forced to live on tiny reservations in the west.
    kallie0509on November 06, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General CommentBrother I'm so sorry that you watched the Patens burn
    And I've been holding onto the gold
    When lettin' go would free my hands
    And I've been tying your tongue in a knot
    Oh I've been tying your tongue in a knot
    To wrap this death, to wrap this death in a sheet

    I listened to this song a number of times and I always thought she was saying "paintings burn". If it is Patens, that completely changes the meaning, and it actually makes a lot more sense to me that way. kind of. She mentions "mama" also in this but I wonder if brother is not used in the religious sense. Alela obviously has very strong ties to Christianity (not necessarily that she is faithfully devoted but that it is somehow important to her). "And I've been holding onto the gold, When lettin' go would free my hands" refers literally to holding the cup or plate for communion (often gold). I get the sense that in this verse she is speaking from the perspective of a priest or someone who appears very pious to another member of the church (or maybe a monk (Brother), and when it says "And I've been tying your tongue in a knot" that the tradition and dogma associated makes it hard to speak up about anything that may appear critical of the church (even if the communion wafers are on fire!). "To wrap this death in a sheet" is clearly supposed to evoke again, in a literal sense that when the bread and wine sit on the alter they are covered with a white cloth. I think the idea of the rifle fits. Obviously it is supposed to elicit some feeling of being trapped in your home and there are bad people (or i suppose maybe wolves or something) coming to attack. The "it's us against the world, let's fight" mentality that some religious people have (not necessarily in the violent sense of the word fight) fits this rifle theme and to me also fits in with the verse that is obviously "about" communion.

    As for the rest of the song, i don't really understand how it all fits together. All i know is it's a beautiful song, and if i were to find it didn't have a real meaning at all, i wouldn't care.
    sparsedignityon January 15, 2009   Link
  • 0
    My InterpretationSpeaking objectively from history here, this song makes me imagine soldiers destroying large homes down south during the Civil War. (So Red the Rose, Year of Jubilo, Widow of the South were some stories mentioning it among many.) Many mansions and homes, plantations or not, and their belongings were burned down or ransacked to show the power of the Union government against Southern money towards the beginning, searching for high profile fugitives and just for looting from either side when the war dragged on, etc. Sometimes they were allowed a few minutes to grab what they could before the house was torched or they were forced to destroy their valuables themselves or face being killed. Some homes were commandeered for hospitals and bases which usually caused a lot of property damage by the time it was over.
    Heirlooms and family history were very important in that time period. Patens are metal so they probably wouldn't really "burn" (especially in a manner causing someone to be upset) so I see them piling valuable paintings and lighting them on fire in the yard therefore making the brother mad (perhaps a returned injured soldier or too young to enlist) and she's trying to shut him up so they don't beat or kill him all while she is trying to hide what money they do have left on her person. Trying to tie his tongue and wrap the death in a sheet makes me think a family member was already killed and the story teller has money hidden on her person and too much moving might cause her to drop it or reveal she has gold stashed. The Confederacy had it's own currency for a while which became worthless so gold was still very valuable if there was any to be had.
    French doors aren't something the average family would have had in a home back then like today, so I think of a large house. Soldiers often camped in the woods until nightfall before taking over a property because people are less alert and turned in for the night and if they went unseen they could show up without anyone warning the family. Mamma's running so she's terrified too and they've been taken by surprise.
    "Knocking on the door in my sleep" sounds like she woke up from a dream reliving it, especially with "fighting my fireplace glow to keep me away from home". A fireplace is thought of warm and relaxing and if she falls back to sleep she might dream it again so it may have been recent. It may have started by one officer knocking on the door then signaling for the rest when they wouldn't comply with orders. Her mother may have been the one killed when she ran for help (sheet over death, mamma you're running too) and now that it's over the house may still be standing but in shambles. "Too many big black boots" with the "dirty pads down the carpet" she is cleaning out of shock but it won't come clean.
    The only connection I can make with little brown shoes is slaves. I thought Native American at first too but the rest didn't add up but I could see what happened with the African Americans. Although they didn't have proper shoes, usually just rags, when the people were released in some areas they were sometimes forced to quickly clean out a main house of valuables/"contraband" which was turned in to the military or destroyed. In some cases they were brought to overfilled stockades for the remainder of the war to prevent them from returning to plantations out of desperation for never being allowed to learn how to survive on their own and the fear of being hunted by over the top 'Rangers' that followed their own guidelines. It was a very different time, and I visualize a lot of frantic, scared people running around a big house under a surprise military take over in the middle of the night and a young woman reliving it after seeing her family harmed and there is now a "lack of home".
    107191on February 26, 2016   Link

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