"Feed the Tree" as written by and Tanya Donelly....
This old man I've talked about
Broke his own heart,
Poured it in the ground
Big red tree grew up and out,
Throws up its leaves,
Spins round and round.

I know all this and more
So take your hat off
When you're talking to me
And be there when I feed the tree

This little squirrel I used to be
Slammed her bike down the stairs
They put silver where her teeth had been
Baby silvertooth, she grins and grins

I know all this and more
So take your hat off boy
When you're talking to me
And be there when I feed the tree

Take your hat off boy
When you're talking to me
And be there when I feed the tree

This old man I used to be
Spins around, around, around the tree
Silver baby come to me
I'll only hurt you in my dreams

I know all this and
I know all this and
I know all this and more

So take your hat off boy
When you're talking to me
And be there when I feed the tree

Take your hat off
When you're talking to me
And be there when I feed the tree


Lyrics submitted by spliphstar

"Feed the Tree" as written by Tanya Donelly

Lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

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Feed the Tree song meanings
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24 Comments

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  • +2
    General Comment[Quote from SongFacts]
    Tanya Donnely was quoted in The Illinois Entertainer as saying this song was about commitment and respect. The metaphor is the tree that would be planted on large farms as a point of reference to getting around (the only tree sometimes). Because nothing would grow under the large tree, the family would be buried under it. Hence: "Take your hat off, boy when you're talking to me and be there when I feed the tree."
    [End Quote]
    oggy07on April 07, 2008   Link
  • +1
    General Commentfeed the tree = death
    incubus421on March 11, 2003   Link
  • +1
    General CommentThe lyrics _are_ quite surreal and there's an almost dark and sinister sound to the music, in my opinion, until the chorus kicks in. I think there's a supernatural hint -- the repeated lines of "the old man I used to be," "the little squirrel I used to be" makes me think of reincarnation. I think the song's from the point of view of a very old soul, demanding the respect for everything they've learned and know from their years on the planet. "Be there when I feed the tree," so that the knowledge can be passed along.
    Daisukeon May 10, 2007   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI always thought "feed the tree" was a reference to the Larry Niven novel "The Integral Trees" where "feeding the tree" was a reference to death (among other things).

    Oggy's more definitive answer gives the same basic meaning, but from a different source.
    corichon August 08, 2008   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI love this song - I love the energy I feel from the music and the imagery I get from the lyrics. I always wondered what it was about - my husband thought about death from 'feed the tree.' I thought respect and commitment - 'take your hat off...and be there....." I thought too about personal growth or reincarnation - with 'this old man I used to be... For me the song is magical - I think genius too - there are so many ways to interpret it -
    shelsanon September 07, 2010   Link
  • +1
    General CommentNo one deals with the "silver baby come to me (if it is the narrator, she would be talking to herself), I'll only hurt you in my dreams.". Death hurts, jack. If you've not seen it up close and personal, your time is coming. I like the singer's voice and the music, but there is something evil about that line. I thought it is about a child molester...."old man", "broken heart" (badly functioning conscience?), wants to hurt a child in his dreams? There is more to the real meaning than the performer is letting on.

    Further, the old man is not the little girl."This old man I've talked about.....". Later it says "old man I used to be....". It is inconsistent without some over-arching theme, such as there was an old man, you were like him and now are not. The old man is calling the little girl and says "I'll only hurt you in MY dreams", not "your dreams". So it is NOT about a kid being afraid of death. Clearly the old man is saying he thinks about hurting her in his dreams.

    In general, I find that song lyrics often do not fit what the authors claim they mean. Often, they attribute some amazing meaning behind pathetically weak lyrics. There is something dark about this song, she may not feel comfortable relating.
    kenfo00on October 28, 2011   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI agree, incubus421. This song, to me, is about self-destructive tendencies (flirting with death). This is one of my favorite songs ever. I love the surreality of the lyrics.
    cuddledumplinon November 15, 2004   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThis song is really great
    i love the imagery
    "broke his own heart, poured it in the ground"
    Genius
    whiskeyclonehotelon September 05, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General CommentIts not so much about death as it is about devotion and respect. Old fashioned values. Take your hat off(have some manners) Will you be there when I feed the tree= Will you be there when I die.
    DecemberGuyon April 01, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General Commenti looooove this song. i don't even care what it's about.
    [RighteousBabe.]on March 12, 2007   Link

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