It's not hard to reach back to the day
Underneath an Iowa sun
Running to the tower of Waterloo
Looking for the Sullivan train to come
His five boys would run to the top
And salute him as he went by
First we'd wave hello
Then we'd wave goodbye

It's not hard to reach back to the days
After the attack on Pearl
Overnight my buddies turned into men
Running out of time for games and girls
The Sullivan boys were not overlooked
Uncle Sam calling each by name
The very next day they left on a mystery train

Say goodbye, bye, bye, Mrs. Sullivan
Don't you cry, cry, cry, cry, cry
We regret to inform you
The Navy is taking your sons away
All five, five, five, five
So put your blue star in the window

It's not hard to reach back to her smile
When she received their letters
The letters, they sounded generally the same
They said they couldn't come home
At least they were together
On a mighty fighting battleship
Somewhere in the South Pacific
The letters never got much more specific

Say goodbye, bye, bye, Mrs. Sullivan
And don't you cry, cry, cry, cry, cry
We regret to inform you
The Navy is keeping you sons away
All five, five, five, five
So keep your blue star in the window
In the window

It's not hard to reach back to the day
When the war finally came home
Uncle Sam, he'll send you a telegram
So he doesn't have to tell you over the phone
I heard she cracked up
When they found out what the war had cost
And all five of her boys were lost
They were
They were
They were

Oh, say goodbye, bye, bye, Mrs. Sullivan
Go ahead and cry, cry, cry, cry, cry
We regret to inform you
That all your sons have passed away
All five, five, five, five
So change your blue star to gold
Blue star to gold
Blue star to gold
Blue stars, change them to gold

Lyrics submitted by ShiverForMe

Sullivan song meanings
Add your thoughts


sort form View by:
  • 0
    General CommentI can't believe no one has commented on this yet. This is one of the most well written and meaningful songs I've ever heard. I mean, a lot of people could wirte a song about a mother's children dying... but this was a REAL story. Plus, Saving Private Ryan was based on the Sullivan story. They were all on the same ship and they all died at the same time. I don't know what could be sadder to a mother than losing all 5 of her sons at once. Plus, this song rocks.
    endisforever412on May 27, 2002   Link
  • 0
    General Commentawww this song made me cry the first time I heard it. I really hate war and fighting so it just angers me.
    tylenolon June 10, 2002   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI must say, this band deserves more recognition than it recieves. I grew up with these boys, they're a local band here and I enjoy their sounds very much. The band altogether has its unique way of writing and playing their material. This song here, is one of their most known songs throughout by anybody that knows who Caroline's Spine. This has to be one of my favorites overall and I believe the rest of their music needs to be heard. As with the above posts, I must agree. This song IS based off a true story, and one of the most emotional pieces I have ever heard. I'll be honest, it did bring tears to my eyes the first time I heard it.
    Malignanton June 15, 2002   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI first heard Caroline's Spine from a close friend of mine, and this was the first song he played. I heard this song and instantly fell in love with this band. Totally awesome song, totally awesome band. But I didn't tear up ;)
    h8redsoulon July 08, 2002   Link
  • 0
    General CommentLike many others, I cried when I first heard this song. I grew up in Tulsa, OK, where they came from, and 104.5 played the acoustic version and I was sobbing when it was over. It means so much to me, especially now, when I know several boys who are in the U.S. Marine Corps.
    magicwombaton August 25, 2002   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI have been a big fan of song meanings for a while now, and, this is my very first comment. Well, I just heard this song for the first time yesterday. This song really hit me hard. I just spent five years in the Marine Corp being home sick. Now I am home and glad to have gotten the chance to come back home.
    alcoholikoon October 10, 2002   Link
  • 0
    General CommentActually endisforever412 this song is NOT the basis for Saving Private Ryan. Saving Private Ryan was based on the Niland brothers in WWII. 2 of them lived through the war. The Sullivans were portrayed in the movie "The Fighting Sullivans".
    ahhhhh cobrason April 08, 2004   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI absolutely adore Carline's Spine. They are pretty big back home, in the State College, PA area. I saw 'em at CrowBar there and I've gotta say.. Amazing. I think it's great that they would take the time to write a song like this- when so many songs are pointless, meaningless drivel... It has serious meaning, and that earns them so much respect from me!
    slinkeepie087on May 08, 2004   Link
  • 0
    General Commentmagicwombat, you know one more person in the marine corps, but im a little bit more special, i grew up in waterloo, ia and i am currently stationed in okinawa japan. this song is too deep for me to listen to anymore. (there's actually a street in waterloo named after them, i live like 3 block's from it) kick ass song
    fumador311on February 07, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General CommentUmmm yeah you all are interpreting this wrong....its about the 5 Sullivan brothers who all died from Waterloo Iowa in the War then a law got passed about drafting and how if one son is drafted the other(s) cannot be because They all died.....with the saying down here we all float....they all died on a boat...Google 5 Sullivan Brothers......
    ykylm008on April 20, 2010   Link

Add your thoughts

Log in now to tell us what you think this song means.

Don’t have an account? Create an account with SongMeanings to post comments, submit lyrics, and more. It’s super easy, we promise!

Back to top