Look out, Mama, there's a white boat coming up the river,
with a big red beacon and a flag and a man on the rail
I think you'd better call John
'cause it don't look like they're here to deliver the mail
And it's less than a mile away
I hope they didn't come to stay
It's got numbers on the side and a gun,
and it's making big waves

Daddy's gone, my brother's out hunting in the mountains
Big John's been drinking since the river took Emmy Lou
So the powers that be left me here to do all the thinking
And I just turned twenty-two
I was wondering what to do
And the closer they got,
The more those feelings grew

Daddy's rifle in my hand felt reassuring
He told me, 'Red means run, Son, numbers add up to nothing'
But when that first shot hit the dock, I saw it coming
Raised the rifle to my eye
Never stopped to wonder why
Then I saw black and my face flash in the sky

Shelter me from the powder and the finger
Cover me with the thought that pulled the trigger
Just think of me as one you never figured,
to fade away so young
with so much left undone
Remember me to my love
I know I'll miss her


Lyrics submitted by Neon_Like

Powderfinger song meanings
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4 Comments

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  • +2
    General CommentI am intrigued by Larry's theory (and I love this song): by leefroy on 08-17-2005 @ 04:08:48 AM

    I have always thought that this song was about the Metis Rebellion which took place in westen Canada in the last quarter of the 19th Century. Neil Young is Canadian, of course, and has always had strong ties to the native peoples. The wars between the soldiers of the United States and the Native American tribes are well known by most Americans. However, the situation in Canada was even more complicated. When the French colonized eastern Canada in the 1600s, they sent many soldiers and trappers, and very few women. For this reason, many of the early settlers took native wives. A separate culture emerged known as the Metis. These people knew the ways of both the French and the native people. When the English conquered the French in the French and Indian War, they placed oppressive controls over the French, even deporting thousands of Acadian French to Louisiana to make room for English settlerrs. Young French settlers escaped the cities and found themselves in the wilderness known as Madawaska, where they were accepted and assimillated by their Metis half-brothers. Many of the Metis lived a nomadic life, traveling hundreds of miles to the area north and west of Lake Superior, where they could live in peace away from the influence of the English. However, conflict eventually followed, as the railroads opened the west and immigrants flooded into the rich grasslands occupied by the Metis. The Canadian government sent troops to seize control of the region. Canadian soldiers and Royal Canadian Mounted Police, and Metis "troops" were killed in the battles. Eventually the "rebellion" was ended, and at least on Metis leader, Louis Riel was executed for his part in the rebellion. It was a sad time in Canadian history.
    In what is known as the Battle of Batoche, the Canadian soldiers converted a steamboat into a gunboat and sailed up the South Saskatchawan River, where a gun battle ensued between the settlere and the troops.
    I believe this song is a fictional account of the death of one of the Metis settlers during the Battle of Batoche
    SLYcraftson March 30, 2006   Link
  • +1
    General CommentThis song ROCKS!!!
    SLYcraftson October 11, 2006   Link
  • +1
    General CommentUmm I did ... did you not read the posts? Surely you have proved you have posted in haste...

    Neil Young did in fact write this song, that fact is wrote about in the first post... I brought Larry's theory of this song over from Niel Young's page.


    "To be blind is bad but to have eyes & not see is worst".


    Sly
    SLYcraftson July 27, 2007   Link
  • -1
    General CommentNeil Young made it. Please give credit where credit is due. Thanks
    ImNeilYoungon December 12, 2006   Link

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