'When?' said the moon to the stars in the sky
'Soon' said the wind that followed them all

'Who?' said the cloud that started to cry
'Me' said the rider as dry as a bone

'How?' said the sun that melted the ground
and 'Why?' said the river that refused to run

and 'Where?' said the thunder without a sound
'Here' said the rider and took up his gun

'No' said the stars to the moon in the sky
'No' said the trees that started to moan

'No' said the dust that blunted its eyes
'Yes' said the rider as white as a bone

'No' said the moon that rose from his sleep
'No' said the cry of the dying sun

'No' said the planet as it started to weep
'Yes' said the rider and laid down his gun


Lyrics submitted by ecorchee1

The Rider Song song meanings
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6 Comments

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  • +1
    My InterpretationMy take is that a man rides to the wilderness to kill himself. While he's gathering strength, the nature itself begs him not to do it (or at least he imagines so). But I'm not sure about the ending: if he decides not to do it after all (laid down his gun), why does he still say "yes"?
    infinityontrialon December 11, 2011   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI can't help seeing the connection with the film. The nature itself knows there is something to happen. Something bad. The wind, that followed them all knows it's going to be soon. Who? wonders the cloud. And the Rider responds: ,,me'' for he knows the upcoming fratricide is inevitable. The violence must end. The rider is not at all eager to do it, but he just has to. The river stops running, the thunder keeps silent. Everyone waits for the moment. And even when IT's finally done, noone can believe it. Neither the trees that started to moan nor the planet as it started to weep, because everything is just so fucked up. A man forced to kill his own brother who saved his life before. Twice. The Rider is white as a bone. Everything fucked up. He lays down his gun.
    Incorron January 04, 2015   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI don't get it. :-(
    bibopon December 04, 2010   Link
  • 0
    My InterpretationAnother idea based on infinityontrialon's interpretation is, that he is not about to kill himself, but other people. Moon, wind, clouds, etc. are aliases for hostages he has taken which he kills. In the end everyone is dead but him and so he lays down his gun after that.
    bibopon September 12, 2012   Link
  • 0
    My InterpretationI think the song is about nature being elemental and violent, and waiting for an act of violence to erupt. The Rider is the vessel for this violence. In the end he lays down his gun and resists nature, which I think think Cave thinks is elementally hostile (certainly The Proposition, which this song is from, suggests that). So in the end, the moon, the sun, the trees, etc. all howl "No" because he is resisting. It's a very beautiful song.
    her2etrntyon December 02, 2012   Link
  • 0
    General CommentYou could play this song 50 times in a row, and I will bawl my eyes out each and every time. To my ears, this is one of those most beautiful songs ever written. Nick Cave is simply the most amazing songwriter of the 20th century. Dylan, Gilmour, Joplin... All great without a doubt but none can come close to Cave. He reaches into the depths of the human soul without compromise or "prettying" up his lyrics for the masses. You either feel it down to your marrow, or you just don't comprehend. Unabashed beauty.
    N9inchnails9on July 24, 2014   Link

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