"No Shade in the Shadow of the Cross" as written by and Sufjan Stevens....
Now that I fell into your arms
My only lover, give out to give in
I search for the capsule I lost

Drag me to hell in the valley of the Dalles
Like my mother, give wings to a stone
It's only the shadow of a cross

I slept on my back in the shade of the meadowlark
Like a champion, get drunk to get laid
I take one more hit when you depart

I'll drive that stake through the center of my heart
Lonely vampire inhaling its fire
I'm chasing the dragon too far

There's blood on that blade, fuck me, I'm falling apart
My assassin like Casper the ghost
There's no shade in the shadow of the cross


Lyrics submitted by anointmyhead, edited by MCquoy, sufjyfever, andrew1021, Contaminator, greektragedy

"No Shade in the Shadow of the Cross" as written by Sufjan Stevens

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No Shade in the Shadow of the Cross song meanings
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  • +1
    General CommentI don't know why there aren't more comments on this one, it is by far my favorite piece from Carrie & Lowell. The lyris are pretty straightforward but heres my analysis. BTW whoever posted the lyrics needs to fix them asap because they are incorrect. Check Sufjam's tumblr, he posted the lyric sheets used at his listening parties.
    -----
    Now that I fell into your arms
    My only lover, give out to give in
    I search for the capsule I lost
    = This part is about his mother and how he has a capsule full of memories, short and sweet from before she left his family. He treasures these but now that he is in her arms again when she is in the hospital everything happy and memories of old are lost.

    Drag me to hell in the valley of the Dalles
    Like my mother, give wings to a stone
    It's only the shadow of the cross
    = The dalles is a valley in Oregon. Sufjan spent many summers there when Carrie was married to Lowell. This place could be a hell for him because it wasn't real. She had left them and going back in the summer and pretending everything was ok and normal must have been hard. But at the same time Carrie was her best during those summers. She was radiant and could even lift a heavy stone with her happiness.

    Ooh ooh

    I slept on my back in the shade of the meadowlark
    Like a champion, get drowned to get laid
    I take one more hit when you depart
    =I imagine this as Sufjan sitting under neath a meadowlark tree as a kid and feeling free and happy. This is juxtaposed with the following lines about how he got into drugs and alcohol after Carrie passed because he thought he was destined to become like her. He admits he slept around and made mistakes. He took one more hit is a triple entundre (SP?) because he took hits of drugs, it hit him hard when she died, but it also hit him hard when she abonded him as a kid. So her death was like losing something you had already lost. The death was just another hit for Sufjan who had lost his mother long before then which must have hurt even more.

    I'll drive that stake through the center of my heart
    Lonely vampire inhaling its fire
    I'm chasing the dragon too far

    =This part feels like its about suicide or maybe just giving up, like he is destined to be like her so he might as well die honorable. Kinda reminds me off people who fall on their sword in battle. Lonely vampire is like a vampire who has no one else who undestands their dark needs. Not blood thirst for Sufjan but a peculiar desire to self destruct. Chasing the dragon too far is definitely about Opium which was traded from China. I remember some story from school about people in battle using it and becoming complacent.

    Ooh ooh

    There's blood on that blade, fuck me, I'm falling apart
    My assassin like Casper the ghost
    There's no shade in the shadow of the cross
    =Blood on the blade as in he is finally doing it, self destruction. His own blood on the blade.His killer is like Casper because you can't see his pain from the outside, it is all internal affliction eating him up. Sufjan said in an interview that the grief would hit him at random times and places and for random reasons like a kid at the park or a floating balloon. It was like casper because it was everywhere and nowhere.
    There is no shade in the shadow of the cross because his cross to bear (Carries death) was too much and he can't hide behind it in shadows. It was on display for everyone to see.
    sufjyfeveron June 04, 2015   Link
  • 0
    General CommentTons of drug references in this song: capsule, stake in the heart, blood on the blade, take a hit, inhale fire, chasing the dragon, shade, Casper. I don't think that's the only message in the song, but there's a strong Eliot Smith vibe to the lyrics.
    thawhiteshadowon November 19, 2016   Link

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