Most of us have heard crashing so loud.
We hear a constant wave that spins between our temples piercing content with its sound.
We lost the 20,000s several years ago.
Gradually we feel it washing blank the range in which we hold the things we know.
Put your ear to a hummingbird's wing.
Place the hum against the ring.
Listen to its still and violent motion making.
Treading water.
We are dense waves.
We don't float.
Our stories all just sink below the mess of wake the millions of paddled palms our cupped hands make.
Overhead the goose flies low, necks curve darted straight as compass needle, dislocated from his mate.
He found her body rafting toward the mouth of the river when she disappeared with the current underneath the tree trunk bridge.
Out toward the mouth.
Out with the spilling water.
We saw it coming like a spirit soars directed.
Gunshot smoke and a sinking thereafter.
He fell fast to the ocean while the red painted feathers floated down.
John Audubon thought about the wiring as he swam toward the twisted neck and the broken boat body bobbed.
Examining the belly for the bullet's tiny piercing, he cried, "Oh!"
When a secret fluttered, a migrant hummer detached its grip.
Overhead his heart sped spooked and we splashed as the gail swung cold and some fish folded in the crest slap.
It lapped at our heads, but we received it like a reprimand that we were too consumed by motion to perceive or understand.
John J. Audubon, his gifted replication.
Painted with precision, perfect vision like the shot stain.
And the whole world swam in deaf anticipation til the goose fell like a shed shell from which the humming secret sprang.

Lyrics submitted by notperfect88

John J. Audubon song meanings
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  • +1
    General CommentThe entire section before "Overhead the goose flies low..." is directly talking about loss of hearing in the upper register as we age.

    The story of John Audubon is a metaphor for this as well. The goose is the hair in your ear that dies and falls off when you hear something too loud at that frequency or you just get old and it falls away.

    The part I think John Audubon plays in it is perhaps, like whenshesmiles said, making record of those sounds so that younger generations can be exposed to them before they gone, like many species of birds will be.

    I believe it also puts John Audubon in the place of the musician, killing his own hearing (birds) by exposing himself to loud percussive sounds inherent in music making in order to produce sounds (Audubon's paintings) that others may enjoy.
    thatdamnedrhymeron April 28, 2010   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI agree with all these interpretations, but I would like to add another plausible interpretation that correlates to what's being said.

    Audubon was infamous for murdering thousands of birds of so many different species of bird. He even wiped out entire species from specific areas. I think, along with losing the sounds as we get older, we lose our sense of wonder and imagination. The more Audubon killed and examined, he killed his hearing with the gunshot sound representing killing his sense of wonder about the creatures he killed. It's like once you figure out how something works, it loses its beauty.
    gregginson October 16, 2010   Link
  • 0
    Memoryat a recent show matt talked about how by the time we're adults we lose alot of our ability to hear sounds in the higher ranges. he advised us to play music for our children so that they can enjoy those sounds that they won't be able to hear when they grow up.
    whenshesmileson March 15, 2009   Link
  • 0
    General Comment"We lost the 20,000s several years ago." refers to what whenshesmiles said about inaudible for adults frequencies.

    Small children tend to have better hearing than adults and can hear sounds as low as 20 Hz (a large pipe organ) or as high as 20,000 Hz (a special dog whistle that most humans cannot hear). When hearing loss begins, a person will, generally, first have trouble hearing high-pitched noises.
    boynamedmaxon September 22, 2009   Link
  • 0

    he was an artist, did anyone say that yet?
    speak92on March 20, 2011   Link
  • -1
    My InterpretationGreat song. Not sure if it's based on a specific story about John J. Audubon saving the life of a bird or something, but it seems to me like it's comparing humanity to a wounded bird. We receive healing (from God?), but we don't really understand it, or we minimize it, push it away. *Shrugs*
    curbyourentropyon March 15, 2009   Link

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