the master:
I was dreaming in the steam room
everything was so clear for a minute
and I thought...
and the dripping tiles and...
and I said I'll confess everything
yes. I own this land
I own these forests surrounding my
...my estate
this is my tea coming
everything I can - I confess

the servant:
bend
now I have the bend
the best I ever
place the tea just so
then release and turn
oh no not yet
then release and turn
turn away then go
better try again
looking at me he's
wait 'til tomorrow
don't want him to know
next time he orders tea
release and turn
turn and limp away
turn and limp away

the maid:
I was walking through the forest
on my break today
I had this funny feeling
something was going to change

I was walking through the dry leaves
it was very strange
they hadn't changed their colour
all the leaves were green

I don't mind when it's over
I don't mind when it's all done
it's just the moments in between
just before it's gone

something's going to happen
something's going to change
I know I know I know...

the pantry:
and when autumn comes
well, there's lots of work to do
bill - that means you
time to clean the kettles
and the pots on the wall
pickling and preserving
all the vegetables
stop kicking the apples
are we pickling this year?
yes-you know we are

and when autumn comes
well, there's lots of work to do
bill - that means you
time to get the twigs up
you know, all those stick things
time to trim back the roses
so next year even more grow
does it hurt them to do that?
does it hurt them? no.

(Francesco the truck driver arrives)
and when autumn comes
well, deliveries start to go
here he is now
down into the valley
to the market he goes
down along the tiny roads
that wind along the vineyards
and people lean on their rakes
and they say hello
hello there Francesco !
Francesco there hello !

the bird:
(high sustain)

a boy coming home from lesson:

another boy:
and those are my swans
believe me...
there's no light.
and there isn't because...
it's so dark.
because it's so dark.
because it's so dark.

the maid:
I was walking through the dry leaves
it was very strange
the leaves fell without changing
no yellows and no reds

something's going to happen
something's going to change
and just then as I looked up
I remembered what you said

I'm crying because I love you
I know that things must change
I can't be there when you leave
what if you're afraid?

you said something about the leaving
the moments in between
the yawning when the world shifts
the clanging of the trains

and a dog sits up and growls
and a cow begins to bawl
and a nun nearby stops to listen
cross herself and then move on

I was laughing in the forest
I fell down in the leaves
and I watched the trees above me
crossing in the breeze

I love the bare branches
I love the healing bells
the bareness in the last sun
the greyness and the gold

and a flock of geese flew over
and I laughed harder still
I laughed 'til I was heaving
then everything was still

the servant:
bend
now I have the bend
place the tea just so
then release and turn
oh not yet
turn away then go
better try again
he's looking at me
wait until tomorrow
don't want him to know
next time...
time he orders tea
release and turn
turn and limp away...
limp away just go
turn away just go
just go... just go...
just go...


Lyrics submitted by iconnu

The Bird In The Gravel song meanings
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2 Comments

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  • 0
    General CommentThis song is about a variety of feelings and behaviors, but as to just one -- at the time it came out I got
    the sense that the part about the leaves falling without changing color (and perhaps the dead bird in
    the gravel, too) had to do with the phenomenon of acid rain & its effect on the trees & wildlife,
    which was a serious problem in the northern U.S. and Canada,
    and remains so though somewhat abated now by environmental protection measures taken in response. That's
    only part of what the song refers to but some of the rest of it is about the routines and patterns of
    people going about their business. If you a drawn in by the song, it's a great way to illustrate
    how environmental degradation -- in its relatively early stages -- does have noticeable effects,
    but people tend to go blithely on about their business, only a few even paying any attention.
    greendreameron December 04, 2009   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI have a lot to say about this song. It's probably my favorite song of all time. For the moment, though, I just want to mention that the song takes place at a wealthy gentleman's manor, as his "servant" brings his tea and pours it for him, the raucous staff in his kitchen prepares his meals, and his maid takes a walk through a forest while she's on break.

    And during this walk, she's thinking about her loved one, who is soon leaving. Not gone yet but the fact that their relationship is going to be over has put her in this "in-between" place of having a beloved, and of having lost a beloved.

    "I don't mind when it's over
    I don't mind when it's all done
    it's just the moments in between
    just before it's gone"

    She is clearly in love ("I am crying because I love you.") so much so that she "can't be there when" her lover leaves - it would be too much, but still she worries "what if you're afraid?"

    Then, in one of the most beautiful moments of music and lyrical poetry, the maid remembers something that her love said:

    "you said something about the leaving
    the moments in between
    the yawning when the world shifts
    the clanging of the trains"

    So beautiful. The in-between moments are the chasm between two different worlds - a "yawning when the world shifts." Then immediately from this insightful and abstract expression of a complex human emotional state, she lands squarely on the ground with the solid, real-world imagery of hearing "the clanging of the trains" - which also raises the question "is the lover leaving by train? is that where she can't be when her lover leaves?"

    And then the maid follows with four more lines of very solid visceral imagery from the present world surrounding her:

    "and a dog sits up and growls
    and a cow begins to bawl
    and a nun nearby stops to listen
    cross herself and then move on"

    All of this taking in the moment of reality after exposing the raw, sensitive nature of what's preoccupying her mind (the in-between moments) suddenly shifts her focus and the juxtaposition is funny to her and she begins to laugh.

    "I was laughing in the forest"

    She's laughing hard and loses her balance, which doesn't stop her process of soaking in the world around her:

    "I fell down in the leaves
    and I watched the trees above me
    crossing in the breeze"

    She's slowly remembering a deep joyful love based on the sensual world:

    "I love the bare branches
    I love the healing bells
    the bareness in the last sun
    the greyness and the gold"

    And then, an event of no significance, perhaps oddly timed, but perfectly commonplace, just happens to occur *right then*!

    "and a flock of geese flew over"

    And she is so taken by the sudden incongruity of the sight she succumbs to the ultimate euphoria of being alive and being one with the world she observes:

    "and I laughed harder still
    I laughed 'til I was heaving"

    So overcome she is, she laughs until she simply cannot laugh anymore! And then:

    "everything was still"

    The world around her, and her turbulent world of emotions, have found a calm moment of rest, a welcome respite.

    The music that accompanies the second part of the maid song repeats for every one of the eight verses, but each slowly builds in volume, complexity, instrumentation, and dynamics. Even the final lines of the servant are woven in and out of it to help support the effect of the maid's song building in importance.

    The first verse begins in almost complete silence; her first, high-pitched, warbly note barely breaking the silence, but beginning the most awe-inspiring musical ascent. By the eighth verse, a cacophonous orchestra from every inch of earth's symphony hall is blaring the music required to match the intensity of the maid's moment. The music builds quickly, but subtly, and by the climactic line "I laughed till I was heaving," it's hard to remember that the music started in silence only seven verses ago!

    However, the descent of this climactic musical moment is rapid and noticeable - by the end of the next line, "then everything was still," the music rushes away from under her voice, like a completely opaque fog obscuring a scene in a theater being blown off the stage as quickly as possible to reveal the action happening there.

    And though, if you follow the words, get into their meaning, and let your spirits ride the crest of this musical masterpiece to its climax, you will find the sudden drop doesn't leave you feeling empty, but, with racing heart, leaves you feeling full, but still.



    toxiccuteon May 19, 2011   Link

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