"Fourth of July" as written by and Sufjan Stevens....
The evil it spread like a fever ahead
It was night when you died, my firefly
What could I have said to raise you from the dead?
Oh could I be the sky on the Fourth of July?

Well you do enough talk
My little hawk, why do you cry?
Tell me what did you learn from the Tillamook burn?
Or the Fourth of July?
We’re all gonna die

Sitting at the bed with the halo at your head
Was it all a disguise, like Junior High
Where everything was fiction, future, and prediction
Now, where am I?
My fading supply

Did you get enough love, my little dove
Why do you cry?
And I’m sorry I left, but it was for the best
Though it never felt right
My little Versailles

The hospital asked should the body be cast
Before I say goodbye, my star in the sky
Such a funny thought to wrap you up in cloth
Do you find it all right, my dragonfly?

Shall we look at the moon, my little loon
Why do you cry?
Make the most of your life, while it is rife
While it is light

Well you do enough talk
My little hawk, why do you cry?
Tell me what did you learn from the Tillamook burn?
Or the Fourth of July?
We’re all gonna die

We’re all gonna die
We’re all gonna die
We’re all gonna die
We’re all gonna die
We’re all gonna die
We’re all gonna die
We’re all gonna die


Lyrics submitted by Mellow_Harsher

"Fourth of July" as written by Sufjan Stevens

Lyrics © BMG RIGHTS MANAGEMENT US, LLC

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Fourth of July song meanings
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9 Comments

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  • +3
    Song MeaningCarrie is the name of his mother, who left the family when Sufjan was young, and later died of cancer in 2012. This song is a (presumably imagined) conversation between Sufjan and her.

    This review elaborates more: consequenceofsound.net/2015/03/album-review-sufjan-stevens-carrie-lowell/
    Browns0286on March 26, 2015   Link
  • +3
    General CommentWould go along with the imagined conversation. One of the most important songs from the album
    Pauperon April 08, 2015   Link
  • +3
    Song Meaningthis is very mind-opening song. it is about a conversation between sufjan and his mother and the main point is to tell how short life really is. in they talk about light as a metaphor to life "Make the most of your life, while it is rife
    While it is light" but the events where light is involved are so short for example in 4th of july the light lasts only seconds and then it is darkness again. In the song Sufjan says to his mother "Oh could I be the sky on the Fourth of July?". By this he wants to tell her that Even though life is so short flash of light in the darkness I wanted to spend this moment with you.
    maakojiion January 02, 2017   Link
  • +2
    General CommentThat ending feels so dry... like death I guess.
    Atomsk.Haxon March 28, 2015   Link
  • +2
    General CommentWhen uses the flying bugs and birds to refer to his mother, I think he is creating the image of her "flying" into the sky, like going up to heaven after she passed. Or she is still flying around like an angel after her death.
    patinthehaton April 19, 2015   Link
  • +1
    Song FactUse of "Hawk" and "Dove" reminds of Thirsty by The National:

    I don't have a hawk in my heart / no dumbass dove in my dumbass brain
    seyedanon April 07, 2015   Link
  • +1
    My InterpretationThis is definitely a poetic "conversation" between Sufjan and his mother. I listened to this song recently, and honestly this song seemed morbid. But, being a Christian (as Sufjan is, too) I think this song is actually pretty hopeful. Bare with me...

    The joy of Christ is that his power prevails through every circumstance, even the really devastating ones. He conquered death, so that his followers will have "abundant life" on earth and after death. So then, death becomes hopeful, not hopeless. With that in mind:

    When Sufjan's mother says,
    "Well you do enough talk, my little hawk
    Tell me why do you cry?
    Tell me what did you learn from the Tillamook burn, or the Fourth of July?
    We're all gonna die."

    ... It's his mother comforting him. I'll be frank- I love my mom, and she has comforted me through all kinds of pain. Sufjan's mother was dying, so it makes sense that the most comforting thing to say would be "someday you will die, too." Death is a reality, but I find that with Christ, I'm really alright with dying. And even though it hurts, I can have hope in the midst of watching someone I love die.

    Anyway, the main poetic point of the song is a mother trying to provide comfort for her son, even as she didn't do the best job when her son was a child. And of course there is emotional pain from a loved one dying, because this is a broken world. It's just interesting to me that the mother is talking to Sufjan as if he were a child, but this song was written when he was a fully grown man. I can relate to that. Even as I get older and become and adult, I am still my mother's child.
    bluecassetteon January 17, 2017   Link
  • 0
    General CommentA devastatingly brilliant song.
    Noamchomskyon June 13, 2015   Link
  • 0
    My InterpretationI think he is comparing the spread of the Tillamook burn (a historically destructive wildfire in Oregon, where his mother lived) to the spread of her cancer (the spread of evil).
    Waimeaon April 16, 2018   Link

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