It was a slow day
And the sun was beating
On the soldiers by the side of the road
There was a bright light
A shattering of shop windows
The bomb in the baby carriage
Was wired to the radio

These are the days of miracle and wonder
This is the long distance call
The way the camera follows us in slo-mo
The way we look to us all

The way we look to a distant constellation
That's dying in a corner of the sky
These are the days of miracle and wonder
And don't cry baby, don't cry
Don't cry

It was a dry wind
And it swept across the desert
And it curled into the circle of birth
And the dead sand
Falling on the children
The mothers and the fathers
And the automatic earth

These are the days of miracle and wonder
This is the long distance call
The way the camera follows us in slo-mo
The way we look to us all, oh yeah

The way we look to a distant constellation
That's dying in a corner of the sky
These are the days of miracle and wonder
And don't cry baby, don't cry
Don't cry

It's a turn-around jump shot
It's everybody jump start
It's every generation throws a hero up the pop charts
Medicine is magical and magical is art
The boy in the bubble
And the baby with the baboon heart

And I believe
These are the days of lasers in the jungle
Lasers in the jungle somewhere
Staccato signals of constant information
A loose affiliation of millionaires
And billionaires and baby

These are the days of miracle and wonder
This is the long distance call
The way the camera follows us in slo-mo
The way we look to us all, oh yeah

The way we look to a distant constellation
That's dying in a corner of the sky
These are the days of miracle and wonder
And don't cry baby, don't cry
Don't cry, don't cry


Lyrics submitted by dank, edited by mkevinf

"The Boy in the Bubble" as written by Paul Simon Forere Motlhoheloa

Lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

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The Boy in the Bubble song meanings
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27 Comments

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  • +3
    Song MeaningThink most people here are a bit off the mark.

    I take the lyrics pretty straightforwardly within the context of the recording of the album. Simon was recording with artists in apartheid era South Africa.

    The opening verse is highly reminiscent of the political violence that was pervasive in 1980s South Africa. The South African (ie, white) military machine couldn't be confronted directly by the liberation fighters but the ANC set about to make the country ungovernable, and embarked on a campaign of sabotage and bombings - hence "the soldiers on the side of the road" and "the bomb in the baby carriage."

    I also think "the lasers in the jungle" and the "loose affiliation of millionaires and billionaires" must be viewed through the lens of the struggle against apartheid. The conflict in SA spilled over to Namibia and Angola and involved fierce and brutal violence throughout Southern Africa - not to mention the civil wars in Mozambique and Zimbabwe.

    South Africa was, and is, a nation defined by resource extraction. Gold, diamonds, platinum. There were millionaires and billionaires there fueling untold misery for the sake of holding onto their economic privilege on the continent.

    Paul Simon had his reasons for being oblique with his political commentary regarding apartheid South Africa on this record - but I think it'd be a mistake to think it was absent from a song like this one.
    dankauppion November 09, 2010   Link
  • +3
    General CommentEach verse also kinda reminds me of reading a news story in a newspaper. A bomb explodes and kills people. A drought kills thousands in Africa. Pop science. Sports. What miracles, what things that civilization and now the technological revolution have brought us.

    "The way we look to a distant constellation that's dying in the corner of the sky." -- ever wished upon a star? or looked at the heavens and prayed, or wondered if there's a god out there, if suffering has meaning, or the reason for your pain in the world? I think that's what's meant, but we're out praying on a star that long ago died out, even though we don't know it yet...

    "the way the camera follows us in slo-mo, the way we look to us all" -- for some reason this reminds me of those save the children ads, showing children with bloated bellies running, turning slowly. i think it means there's a certain humanity to be recognized if we really look at any other person.

    There's definitely a juxtaposition in this song between the developed, civilized world and those that still have to deal with rampant poverty, wars, /drought/disease, and so forth.... perhaps while many of us still sit in relative comfort and luxury, only giving the passing thought to the problems of the world, a passing prayer, but not realizing how our lives and lifestyles are intertwined with their suffering... I feel I see those that are horribly affected by these tragedies are out there praying as well, but perhaps in the song it mostly focuses on the passing thoughts of privileged western peoples... I can't help seeing it from the POV of those who experienced these things though.

    Sorry if this is piecemeal, but to me this song is still vignettes. This is what I see so far in this song.
    Riobardon May 26, 2012   Link
  • +2
    General CommentThe boy in the bubble refers to those children with Severe Combined Immune Deficiency (SCID) who have to live in sterile environments because they lack the ability to fight off disease. The original "boy in the bubble" was referred to only as "David" and died in 1984 following an unsusccesful bone marrow transplant.

    The baby with the baboon heart refers to a case in 1984 when a baby (Fae) who was born with hypoplastic left-heart syndrome, which is a lethal underdevelopment of the left side of the heart. In an effort to save her life, surgeons transplanted a heart from a baboon into her. It initially looked like it had worked, but baby Fae ultimately died.

    I'd say these are invoked in the song as instances where technological advances keep alive people who would have died at birth without modern medicine - hence "These are the days of miracle and wonder".
    oballon June 05, 2005   Link
  • +2
    General CommentHe seems to be exploring the dual nature of the advances in technology. We're doing amazing things with medicine but we're producing increasingly sophisticated weapons at the same time. It's almost impossible to make sense of it all; "these are the days of miracle and wonder".
    While the song is beautiful, I don't find it very uplifting. I find it kind of cynical.
    b-rad1796on March 06, 2006   Link
  • +2
    General CommentI think the boy in the bubble is a reference to Americans and their lack of interest of the issues going on in Africa. Since a bubble is protective and leaves you secluded from the world, it is possible that the American government provides that bubble around us and leaves us excluded from the real issues that Paul Simon experienced in Africa.
    msulli05on March 16, 2007   Link
  • +1
    General Commentthis is an excellent song
    emma.leeon March 12, 2003   Link
  • +1
    General Commentoball, good research. creepy that both those things happened in 1984 of all years.
    findsomepeaceon August 05, 2005   Link
  • +1
    General CommentThis is such an uplifting song if you don't listen to most of the damn lyrics!
    Reynard Muldrakeon January 14, 2006   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI think its basically asking "In a time of such technology, where we can perform such medical feats as those listed, why is there still war, poverty and famine?" And "Why are we using this technology to make the rich richer and fight our wars?"
    Thesmellyoneon September 14, 2006   Link
  • +1
    My InterpretationThe second verse might refer to nuclear contamination.

    Maybe due to the nuclear tests in Nevada or even due to the core melt in Chernobyl (April 1986; Graceland album was released in August 1986; recorded till June).

    It was a dry wind
    And it swept across the desert

    it curled into the circle of birth: damage of DNA caused by nuclear radiation

    And the DEAD SAND FALLING on the children the mothers and the fathers: nuclear fallout

    And the automatic earth: the damage of electronic devices caused by the Electromagnetic Pulse of a nuclear explosion
    lilliwhitelillithon February 25, 2010   Link

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