You win a prize for that, for telling lies like that so
well that I believed it.
I never felt cheated.
You were the chosen one, the pure eyes of Noah's
dove.
Choir boys and angels stole your lips and your halo.

In your reckless mind, you act as if you've got more
lives.
In your reckless eyes, you only have time and your
love of danger--to it your no stranger.

In that August breeze of those forgotten trees, your
time was set for leaving, come a colder season.
In your reckless eyes, it's never too late for a
chance to seize some final breath of freedom.
Very, so very wise.
Don't reveal it.
I'm tired, tired of knowing where it is you're going.

In your reckless mind, you act as if you've got more
lives.
In your reckless eyes, you only have time and your
love of danger--to it you're no stranger.
In your reckless mind, you act as if you've got more
lives.
In your reckless eyes, it's never too late for a
chance to seize some final breath of freedom


Lyrics submitted by killjoy966, edited by richardbajor

Noah's Dove song meanings
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7 Comments

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  • +2
    My InterpretationShe saw him as perfect yet she was in self denial over his cheating. She got tired of it.
    He just saw opportunities that he took no matter how it might hurt her with his coming and going.
    NoSacredCowon September 16, 2012   Link
  • 0
    General CommentOne of their best songs, simply beautiful. MTV Unplugged verion is very good as well as Our Time In Eden's version. 10,000 Maniacs also released a great version on Campfire Songs in 2004. The song itself is about a reckless individual who comes and goes with time who has caused pain for a loved one.
    magoosh008on November 05, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General CommentBeautiful piano at the beginning--it sets the tone for the whole song. Rare is it that I hear so few notes impart such emotion.
    ricksacuraon September 07, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General CommentBeautiful piano at the beginning--it sets the tone for the whole song. Rare is it that I hear so few notes impart such emotion.
    ricksacuraon September 07, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI agree about the piano. It's so deft and reserved, yet conveys an emotion I cannot articulate.
    ricksacuraon July 04, 2010   Link
  • 0
    Lyric Correction"Choir boys and angles"
    should be:
    "Choir boys and angels"
    JohnEightThirtyTwoon July 26, 2011   Link
  • 0
    My InterpretationI don’t think this song has anything to do with a romantic relationship – which Natalie Merchant rarely wrote about while with 10,000 Maniacs (even Trouble Me is about her father). I once read an interview with Merchant where she stated that she was singing to herself in Noah's Dove. After Merchant left 10,000 Maniacs she promoted their MTV Unplugged album. During a call-in radio interview she did in New York, a caller asked her what she was mumbling at the beginning of the song (on Our Time In Eden). Merchant had no answer. Then the caller asked if the words Merchant mumbled were, "mmmmm yes, I'm leaving". Merchant laughed it off, neither confirming nor denying those are the true words. If she wrote the song to herself and these are the first words she sings on the band's final studio album with Merchant, it's likely the song is about her leaving the band at the height of their success.

    Just some ideas about what some of the lines might mean…

    You win a prize for that, for telling lies like that so
    well that I believed it.
    I never felt cheated.

    …She was in denial that she was unhappy working with the band which was easy to do with their success and she never felt cheated because nobody was to blame for her unhappiness…

    You were the chosen one, the pure eyes of Noah's
    dove.

    …Merchant joined 10,000 Maniacs when she was just 17 years old – young and innocent, pure. She had no resources other than what she earned while touring with the band. In the Book of Genesis, Noah sends a dove from the ark every several weeks after the great flood. If the bird returned, he'd know there is no dry land. Eventually the dove does not return because it found dry land, and therefore, no longer needed Noah and his ark. Merchant was in her late twenties when she left the Maniacs. She no longer needed to be with the band – she found success as well as confidence to go solo. She was chosen to write all song lyrics and to front the band. She lead them to success…

    Choir boys and angels stole your lips and your halo.
    …Merchant had stated that representing the band made songwriting difficult because she felt the need to edit her own writing for her all male bandmates, aka the choir boys. By holding back what she really wanted to write/express (perhaps even songs about romantic relationships), her lips were stolen. The guys were also practically boys when she joined the band and she doesn’t blame them for how she feels, they’re still good like stereotypical choir boys. However, she also lost her innocence (her halo) during her time with the band…

    In your reckless mind, you act as if you've got more
    lives.
    In your reckless eyes, you only have time and your
    love of danger--to it you’re no stranger.
    …She knows she’s taking a risk by parting with the band, possibly being reckless. (In interviews, Merchant had stated that she always knew she wanted to be out of the band before she was 30 years old. Her final performance with the Maniacs was only a couple months before her 30th birthday.) She must tell herself she needs to move on before she’s too old to continue her success as a solo artist. She also reminds herself that she’s used to taking risks...



    In that August breeze of those forgotten trees, your
    time was set for leaving, come a colder season.
    …Our Time In Eden recorded July 1991 through May 1992. Merchant announced to her bandmates that she would be leaving while they were working on this record, it was likely in August 1991, just before the fall…

    In your reckless eyes, it's never too late for a
    chance to seize some final breath of freedom.
    …Again, it might be a mistake to leave, but at least she’ll be free from collaborating with and representing a band…

    Very, so very wise.
    …It’s a smart decision…

    Don't reveal it.
    ...She gave her bandmates notice, but her decision to quit the band was not publicly revealed until they were done promoting the record…

    I'm tired, tired of knowing where it is you're going.
    …Still singing to herself, she’s getting bored with the band while everything becomes repetitive and predictable…

    In your reckless mind, you act as if you've got more
    lives.
    In your reckless eyes, you only have time and your
    love of danger--to it you're no stranger.
    In your reckless mind, you act as if you've got more
    lives.
    In your reckless eyes, it's never too late for a
    chance to seize some final breath of freedom
    …Again, reminding herself of the risks of leaving, but in the end she’ll at least have her freedom…

    During the band's final tour, Noah's Dove was one of the very few songs that Merchant always performed solo at the piano. It is also the final track of the final album that 10,000 Maniacs recorded with Merchant. Many years later, during a performance, Merchant played several songs at the piano for an encore. An audience member shouted out Noah’s Dove as a song request. Surprisingly, Merchant began to play it, but after a couple lines she was grasping for the correct lyrics. Ultimately she gave up on attempting to perform this song that she clearly had forgotten.
    pmc80on October 04, 2019   Link

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