"Family Tree" as written by and Kyp Malone David Sitek....
Under my love
Wake up to your window
The day calls in billows
It's echoing moonlight on to the blue nightmare of your heart
In cosy red rainbow
It's shaking off halos
And the memory of our sacred so and so's

Oh take my hand sweet
Complete your release and bury your feet
And married we'll be
Alone in receiving ours is a feeling not that they would see
They don't know that we could be
That way your cradle escaped the sea
?

Were laying in the shadow of your family tree
Your haunted heart and me
Brought down by an old idea whose time has come
And in the shadow of the gallows of your family tree
There's a hundred hearts soar free
Pumping blood to the roots of evil to keep it young

I'll be your mind
Is it safe to say that we've waited patiently
Call me on time
And well go over to nanas place disgracefully
Fall into line
There's the garden grave and a place they've saved for you
I'll fall by your side
?

Were laying in the shadow of your family tree
Your haunted heart and me
Brought down by an old idea whose time has come
And in the shadow of the gallows of your family tree
There's a hundred hearts soar free
Pumping blood to the roots of evil to keep it young

And now we'll gather in the shadow of your family tree
In haunted harmony
Brought down by an old idea whose time has come
And in the shadow of the valley of your family tree
There's a hundred hearts soar free
Pumping blood to the roots of evil to keep us young


Lyrics submitted by Crab Botherer

"Family Tree" as written by David Andrew Sitek Babatunde Omoroga Adebimpe

Lyrics © BMG RIGHTS MANAGEMENT US, LLC

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Family Tree song meanings
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  • +3
    Song MeaningIt's about an interracial relationship during the period between the end of Reconstruction and WWI, often referred to as "the nadir of American race relations", probably in the South. It's an inversion of the standard lynching trope, which usually would involve a black man and a white woman. Here, it's a white man (the narrator) who falls genuinely in love with a young black woman, and marries her despite the warnings of the black woman's family (the "silver-haired mama"). The relationship is not approved of by the community, and ultimately the woman is hanged on a tree, possibly on a tree where several blacks have been previously hanged ("in the shadow of the gallows of your family tree, a hundred hearts soar free"). When he refers to the tree pumping blood to "keep us young", he is referring to his family and the white community by extension, whose position is empowered and strengthened by the practice of lynching and racial oppression in general.
    JoeEon September 15, 2011   Link
  • +3
    Lyric CorrectionWow, years later and these lyrics are still not corrected. Anyway, I was listening to this tune and thought it'd be easier to just look up the lyrics rather than open up the gatefold and wade through how densely they're presented on the record art. Anyway, I wanted to check the missing lines here and found quite a few mistakes.

    Here are the lyrics as printed on the record's gatefold cover

    Anda, My love
    Wake up to your window.
    The day calls in billows.
    It's echoing moonlight onto the blue night.
    Mare of your heart.
    In cozy red rainbows
    It's sharking off hallows
    And the memory of our sacred so and so.

    Oh take my hand sweet.
    Complete your release.
    Unbury your feet.
    And married we'll be.
    Alone in receiving. Ours is a feeling.
    Not that they would see.
    They don't know that we could be.
    Down where your cradle escaped the sea
    And your raven haired mama. Caught told you-so's.

    We're hanging in the shadow of your family tree.
    Your haunted heart and me.
    Brought down by an old idea whose time has come.
    And in the shadow of the gallows of your family tree.
    There's a hundred hearts or three.
    Pumping blood to the roots of evil to keep them young.

    Ah me all mine.
    Is it safe to say that we've waited patiently?
    Call me on time.
    And recall the tune that has placed us gracefully
    all into line.
    There's a garden grave and a place there saved for me.
    I fall by your side
    though your silver haired mama throws told you-so's.

    We're hanging in the shadow of your family tree.
    Your haunted heart and me.
    Brought down by an old idea whose time has come.
    And in the shadow of the valley of your family tree.
    There's a hundred hearts or three.
    Pumping blood to the roots of Eden to keep us young.
    negatyveon January 27, 2012   Link
  • +2
    General CommentI love this song but after paying attention to the lyrics its kind of a bummer.

    This song is about a forbidden love due to some sort of belief of one of the families. I can't figure out exactly what it is but the word sacred means referring to religion, as well as shaking off halos, so they are defiantly ignoring some religious belief of one of their families. So verse 1, their love is beating out religious ideas.

    I suppose a gay relationship is the first thing to come to mind due to the religion part, but i'm not sure thats right. The family tree part makes it seem like something passed down over generations, which feels like racism, but i really can't say for sure.

    Verse 2, is about getting away from the family and moving away on their own and getting married. Also, at time of writing there aren't official lyrics up, and i can't make out the last line of the song, but the part about the cradle escaping the sea and the mother could refer to a similar relationship by the mother the resulted in an unwanted child, the person being sung about in this song. The words raven haired can be made out though, and this is used later to show the passage of time.

    The chorus changes slightly each time they go back to it and it has important meaning. This time they are stuck in the family tree's shadow. All these people from the past are keeping the evil tradition going.

    The next verse is the end of their relationship. Its strange because i don't know why or what causes it, but years later they decide to go back home to this family. The family hasn't changed their beliefs and while they still have a spot there for their child the lover (the singer of the song) is killed.

    Also, again with no official lyrics, but if these are right, earlier the mother caught told you so's from a similar relationship, and now at the end of this verse she is throwing them. So the mother tried to escape the old beliefs of her family, only to go back to one of them. This is referenced at the same time the child of the mother is doing the same thing, going back to the family.

    The chorus repeats this time but changes the next, where the singer of the song has become one of the "hundred hearts" in the shadow of the family tree. And the cycle repeats.....
    liquidus4on September 24, 2008   Link
  • +1
    General CommentThis song almost makes me cry. For serious.

    It reminds me of some forbidden kind of civil war era love, or something that relates to that; trees were often used as a gallows I believe. That and the fact that 4/5 of the band are black leads me to believe it has to do with those times. Maybe between a black slave and a white woman, or maybe the "you" in the song has some sort of civil war history among their ancestry that prevents the two from being together... something along those lines.

    In any case, the song is terribly sad and beautiful.
    jonbashon September 25, 2008   Link
  • +1
    General CommentIt does sound like a civil war era interracial relationship that ended before the song's narration.

    'Were hanging in the shadow of your family tree
    Your haunted heart and me
    Brought down by an old idea whose time has come'

    They got hanged

    'Were laying in the shadow of your family tree
    Your haunted heart and me
    Brought down by an old idea whose time has come'

    Being prepared for burial

    'And now we’ll gather in the shadow of your family tree
    In haunted harmony
    Brought down by an old idea whose time has come'

    Then being buried.

    'And in the shadow of the valley of your family tree' is an allusion to Psalms 23, "though I may walk through the shadow of the valley of death," a line that is used as a symbol of God's protection from evil, but in this case alludes to the Family Tree as death.

    With that in mind this song becomes less about the couple and more about the Family Tree, which could be interpreted literally to mean that they were hanged from tree that the family has lived around for decades and then were buried at it's roots to become one of the hundred bodies buried under the tree that have become a fertilizer for the tree that will keep the Tree healthy and make sure it can still be used to hang couples from and "keep them young"
    tragicweekon September 28, 2008   Link
  • +1
    General CommentOh, forbidden love. I like tragicweek's idea that what's buried under the tree keeps it alive and well. If we tolerate the hate and violence of "old ideas whose time has come" we are only keeping those antiquated ideas alive and well to spur more hate and violence.
    muteoffon October 05, 2008   Link
  • +1
    General Commentfirstly, i think you people are over-analyzing this song. not to say it does not have some "deeper meaning" (or even that it does) or what-not, but for me it boils down to that "forbidden love". not the fucking romeo-and-juliet-shit, but the subtle aspects of it. "well youre this way and im that way; but its okay" buts its really not. and thusly friction is created, be-it familial or societal or personal. to be honest, the song feels/seems very ironic to me, fuck, its even in the title: if you dont pick up on it then dont bother asking, just enjoy the music, which is SO enjoyable.
    ben.jamminwhiteon October 09, 2008   Link
  • +1
    General Commentthis song has The National written all over it.
    abgcunited11on November 24, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General CommentFew slight amendments to the lyrics:

    ----------------------------------------------------------

    Under my love
    Wake up to your window
    The day calls in billows
    It’s echoing moonlight on to the blue nightmare of your heart
    In cosy red rainbow
    It’s shaking off halos
    And the memory of our sacred so and so’s

    Oh take my hand sweet
    Complete your release and bury your feet
    And married we'll be
    Alone in receiving ours is a feeling not that they would see
    They don’t know that we could be
    That way your cradle escaped the sea
    ?

    Were laying in the shadow of your family tree
    Your haunted heart and me
    Brought down by an old idea whose time has come
    And in the shadow of the gallows of your family tree
    There's a hundred hearts soar free
    Pumping blood to the roots of evil to keep it young

    I’ll be your mind
    Is it safe to say that we’ve waited patiently
    Call me on time
    And well go over to nanas place disgracefully
    Fall into line
    There's the garden grave and a place they've saved for you
    I'll fall by your side
    ?

    Were laying in the shadow of your family tree
    Your haunted heart and me
    Brought down by an old idea whose time has come
    And in the shadow of the gallows of your family tree
    There's a hundred hearts soar free
    Pumping blood to the roots of evil to keep it young

    And now we’ll gather in the shadow of your family tree
    In haunted harmony
    Brought down by an old idea whose time has come
    And in the shadow of the valley of your family tree
    There's a hundred hearts soar free
    Pumping blood to the roots of evil to keep us young

    ----------------------------------------------------------

    Can anyone help out on the missing lines?
    Crab Bothereron September 21, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThe build up on this song is incredible, just incredible.
    jodofoshoon September 23, 2008   Link

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