Warm in the jailhouse when Brown fell asleep
A bootful of liquor he borrowed
Dreamed he was colored and waiting to meet
The rich man drawing tomorrow

Head full of cotton, the scent in his nose
White coat of paint on the steeple
Sharp pins and needles, he cursed as he woke
The smug, sleeping town and its people

Sheriff Brown bit through his tongue
When he shot at the black boy he thought was stealing
Churches burned on the hillside like cattle on Calvary
Frightened and thirsty

The river swelled up 'til the valley could feel
It's moving like metal and fury
Brown asked the creek why the Lord had to steal
His horse, house, and his babies

Grasping for branches while floating downstream
Scared, unfamiliar, and stranded
Jumped on a dog, broke its neck on a tree
His feet numb but once again planted

Sheriff Brown bit through his tongue
When he screamed like a soldier for justice and mercy
Churches burned on the hillside like cattle on Calvary
Frightened and thirsty

Brown left the jail for a bar across town
A street where the weight left his shoulder
Walked through the door, finding no one around
But Jesus, in a booth in the corner

Rubbed at his eyes, turned his radio off
Seeing, but far from believing
Jesus stood up, and with a thick southern drawl
Said, "Brown, I'm the nigger you're seeking"

Sheriff Brown bit through his tongue
When he strung up the savior from a hook on the ceiling
Churches burned on the hillside like cattle on Calvary
Dumb of their freedom


Lyrics submitted by Sussex, edited by sebastianbo, Pufer

Cattle on Calvary song meanings
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2 Comments

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  • 0
    General CommentThis is quite straightforward. It is about racial relations in the South.
    ApplesandOctopion August 05, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThis seems to mean more than just racial discrimination.
    The character in the song, "Brown," apparently has lost nearly everything in his life:

    "Brown asked the creek why the Lord had to steal
    his horse, his house, and his baby."

    He's hurt, and so he takes that hurt and turns it into hurting others and blaming Christ for his losses in life - probably effects from his own mistakes. This song obviously has many religious connotations as well, Brown blaming Christ and killing him, perhaps to make himself feel better, in hopes that all his problems will go away.

    The mention of "biting through his tongue" could perhaps mean that he innately knows that what he's going is wrong, and he feels guilt about it, although in the end he does it anyway.

    Overall, it seems to stand for the hurt he's gone through, and trying to find ways to put the blame on someone else, and in the end being consumed by his grief and guilt.
    ohadelaideon December 22, 2008   Link

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