"Tiger Mountain Peasant Song" as written by and Robin Pecknold....
Wanderers this morning came by
Where did they go
Graceful in the morning light
To banner fair
To follow you softly
In the cold mountain air

Through the forest
Down to your grave
Where the birds wait
And the tall grasses wave
They do not
Know you anymore

More, more, more

Dear shadow alive and well
How can the body die
You tell me everything
Anything true

In the town one morning I went
Staggering through premonitions of my death
I don't see anybody that dear to me

Dear shadow alive and well
How can the body die
You tell me everything
Anything true

Jesse
I don't know what I have done
I'm turning myself to a demon
I don't know what I have done
I'm turning myself to a demon


Lyrics submitted by wonderfulmetropolis

"Tiger Mountain Peasant Song" as written by Robin Pecknold

Lyrics © Kobalt Music Publishing Ltd.

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Tiger Mountain Peasant Song song meanings
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34 Comments

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  • +4
    General Comment^^ agreed... :)
    I think this song describes the experience of grief. He sees the wanderers and the birds and the grass, but none of them knows his lost loved one anymore. He stills knows her and feels her with him. He is scared of his own death, but there is really no one close enough to him to bind him to life anymore. Even at the end when he says he is turning himself into a demon. I think it refers to letting himself go mad with grief.
    songyoneon July 09, 2008   Link
  • +4
    General CommentThis song is about murder. The protagonist observes a search party making their way along the mountain ridge and back into town in the early morning hours, seeking the dearly departed. They do not find the body, but the killer/protagonist regrets his terrible act, and considers the victim's relationship to the landscape and culture of the region. Jesse is a particularly ambiguous and asexual name; it can refer either to a friend or lover. The killer is haunted by the spirit of the victim, and finds it increasingly difficult to ignore what they have done. They have taken the life of a kindred spirit and mentor, and are lost without their guidance.
    clemohon November 14, 2008   Link
  • +2
    General CommentI think the narrator, at least in the first verse, is talking about someone dear to him who diead, maybe "Jesse":
    Through the forest
    Down to your grave
    Where the birds wait
    And the tall grasses wave
    They do not
    know you anymore

    I feel like this paints a scene where a dear friend's burial site is forgotten, as grass grew back in and birds land there, "They don't know you anymore"

    The rest of the lyrics seem to suggest that the narrator thinks he will follow in the same fate as his friend, or, that somehow he is responsible for his friend's death "I don't know what I have done/ I'm turning myself into a demon" and that he is awaiting his punishment/death
    deadwing89on August 26, 2008   Link
  • +2
    General CommentBeautiful. I think it's interesting if you throw some question marks after a few of the lyrics:

    "Dear shadow alive and well?
    How can the body die?
    You tell me everything?
    Anything true?"
    Neonnoodleon August 30, 2008   Link
  • +2
    General CommentI find myself humming this song all the time! It is so lovely and very haunting. I agree with a lot of the comments posted here and i think this song can mean so many different things because it has so much emotion and feeling. Its a great song from a great singer. This is the type of music our generation needs to be listening to.
    lala_zeuson February 16, 2009   Link
  • +2
    General Commentlove this song
    the first version I heard was actually a cover by 'first aid kit' (an awesome swedish sister duo, you should check out) i fell in love with their unique voices and harmonies so hearing the fleet foxes version caught me a little off guard
    still a beautiful song
    i do suggest youtubeing the 'first aid kit' cover though
    vivamusikon March 03, 2009   Link
  • +1
    My InterpretationI see it more as the pervading feeling of alienation from God. "They do not know you (God) anymore." There is nothing to hold on to, no faith in the face of the realization that we must die. Jesse I believe is a biblical reference to Jesse,the father of David in the old testement. The Tree of Jesse, depicted in medieval Christian art, depicts the lineage of Jesus coming from Jesse. I believe the name is invoked here as a plea for the revival of a promise of a coming messiah, but right away there is the awareness again of separation from god, (demonic)sin, and hopelessness.
    onequestionon February 06, 2009   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI hiked tiger mountain yesterday! twas fun, but sore now..

    Anyways, I don't think the first word is "wonderous" because "wanderers" would make the lyric make sense. essentially, "wanderers came by this morning."
    waymundoon June 28, 2009   Link
  • +1
    General Commenti really enjoy this song....his voice is amazing...
    found this little post on a thread on youtube...thought it was pretty interesting.

    "The Fleet Foxes chief songwriter Robin Pecknold told Mojo magazine January 2009 about this reflection on mortality and loss. He explained: "My grandpa had just died and I was thinking about him. He was such a sweet guy. And the underlying influence in all this is the old English folk songs that I heard in the Lake District because they're not obvious and the melodies are weird and sophisticated."
    scouchieon July 10, 2009   Link
  • +1
    My InterpretationI grew up at the foot of Tiger Mountain. It's a dark and mysterious mountain where very few people go. Only brave wanderers would ever explore it, seeing that the forest blocks out most of the light on the established trails. The mountain is also in a VERY rural area.

    Wanderers this morning came by
    Where did they go
    Graceful in the morning light
    To banner fair
    (The verb form of banner is to display prominently. The archaic noun form of fair is a woman or a beloved woman. In this case I would interpret the verse as "To honor a beloved woman who died)
    To follow you softly
    (To follow the beloved woman could mean two things in this context. He could either be on the mountain to feel her presence, or to kill himself and follow her in death)
    In the cold mountain air
    (The cold mountain air of Tiger Mountain is not something that people willingly expose themselves to. In this context, the artist is on the mountain for a selfless reason.)

    Through the forest
    Down to your grave
    Where the birds wait
    And the tall grasses wave
    They do not
    know you anymore

    Dear shadow alive and well
    (Shadow is the poetic symbol of mystery and death. He knows that it is alive and well)
    How can the body die
    You tell me everything
    Anything true
    (The artist begs the shadow for the answers to life and death. This poetic act of exasperation leaves him feeling like he cannot move on with his life without the answers.)

    In the town one morning I went
    Staggering through premonitions of my death
    I don't see anybody that dear to me
    (Premonitions: a feeling of anticipation of or anxiety over a future event; The artist walks back down the mountain and sees no reason to continue living. He is deeply distraught and contemplating suicide. He tells no one because he sees no one worth telling.)

    Jesse
    (The artist addresses the beloved woman by name)
    I don't know what I have done
    I'm turning myself to a demon
    I don't know what I have done
    I'm turning myself to a demon
    (Realizing how distraught he is, the artist decides not to commit suicide. He tells Jesse that he doesn't know what he has done. Jesse most likely died in a car accident near Tiger Mountain; the artist may have been the driver. His self-hatred after the event is turning him into "a demon")
    Evergreen94on December 06, 2013   Link

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