"Fish & Bird" as written by and Tom Waits Kathleen Brennan....
They bought a round for the sailor
And they heard his tale
Of a world that was so far away
And a song that we'd never heard
A song of a little bird
That fell in love with a whale

He said, 'You cannot live in the ocean'
And she said to him
'You never can live in the sky'
But the ocean is filled with tears
And the sea turns into a mirror
There's a whale in the moon when it's clear
And a bird on the tide

Please don't cry
Let me dry your eyes

So tell me that you will wait for me
Hold me in your arms
I promise we never will part
I'll never sail back to the time
But I'll always pretend you're mine
Though I know that we both must part
You can live in my heart

Please don't cry
Let me dry your eyes

And tell me that you will wait for me
Hold me in your arms
I promise we never will part
I'll never sail back to the time
But I'll always pretend that you're mine
I know that we both must part
You can live in my heart


Lyrics submitted by merchantpierce

"Fish & Bird" as written by Thomas Alan Waits Kathleen Brennan

Lyrics © AUDIAM, INC

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Fish & Bird song meanings
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15 Comments

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  • +2
    General CommentWhat a beautiful fable about a love affair that can never happen.
    the whole stanza about the ocean turning into a mirror and the whale in the moon and the bird on the tide shows that they can make belive that they are together and its pure poetry. so tragic

    there is also the possibility that the sailor is reminiscining about a romance that happened in the "world that was so far away" so it could be about a long distance relationship.

    the final verses are definitely a lover talking to someone that they are leaving but dearly love.
    "I'll always pretend that you're mine" shows the love and the line "promise that you will wait for me" could be distance but also could be that they'll love each other until they die and meet in heaven.

    over all this is a experimentally beautiful portrayal of love that can never be
    so-far-awayon June 19, 2009   Link
  • +1
    General CommentStill a lovely song?

    ...

    Yes,it is.
    luminolon August 11, 2006   Link
  • +1
    General Commentthank you people for seeing through the ridiculous veil of "ooh, man fancies little girl". even if the song was written from the view of a pedophile (which, by the way, charles wasn't-or at least, not in my heart) tom wrote it for everyone who's been in that situation: forbidden (hum..wrong word) love x
    !jay!on April 19, 2007   Link
  • +1
    General CommentThis is a beautiful song but the poster who said it was about the love between Dodgson (Carrol) and Alice is spot on and shouldn't be ridiculed for it. It's really obvious in the play. I mean, as a song about forbidden love it is fantastic in its own right and it being about paedophilia doesn't diminish how good of a song it is.

    Fish & Bird is sung by The White Knight as he rescues Alice, then Alice joins in in a duet. Alice sings the third verse ('Tell me that you will wait for me') to the White Knight first, then the White Knight sings the last verse to Alice. Also of note is that this takes place in a picture frame. Carrol regularly took photos of Alice and it's a recurring theme in the play and it expressly says in the playscript that Carrol's lens 'extends slowly and menacingly at her' which is a clear metaphor. The play mentions 'stopping time ' a lot, as in a photograph. I also thought it was tide at first but it is, in fact, time which is a theme that also crops up a lot in the play. Dodgson's desire for Alice and him fighting that desire is metaphotically shown when Alice discusses the photograph with the Cheshire Cat.

    "That's wonderful, don't you think, Kitty? How close he wanted me, and how far away he kept me."

    So, the White Knight IS Dodgson/Carroll. The White Knight also sings Poor Edward later which is about how torturous his love for Alice is.

    The really obvious part is afterwards when Alice is being accused by the Black Queen, "Going off like that, with a man (The White Knight/Carroll) old enough to be your father!"

    The evidence she presents are letters written by Dodgson/Caroll to Alice expressing his love. Then, The White Knight comes and says "The little girl is innocent. I am the guilty one here" and then "I am the White Knight. I wrote the letters." Since the White Knight is Caroll, this is Caroll admitting his guilt in loving Alice.

    TL:DR version - saying it's about paedophilia isn't 'a ridiculous veil of "ooh, man fancies little girl"', it's the literal interpretation and meaning of the entire play and Waits wrote it expressly for that purpose. It's doubtful Carrol was a paedophile in real life but that doesn't matter in the context of the story told by the play.
    CitizenBellon March 04, 2014   Link
  • 0
    General Commentsometimes people cant be together, sometimes things dont work out, this song helps me see that...
    Princess |\/.\/|on June 10, 2002   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThis songs about long distance relationship and the problems you get into. you have to be pretty weird and amazing to use a fish and a bird as a metaphore for that.
    craiguson May 11, 2003   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI understand why this song makes people weep.
    MardyAsson February 05, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General CommentIt feels like a fable more than anything. A story about animals that reveals something about human emotions. It's lovely.
    Yaggaion April 15, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentSong about pedophilia. No kidding; the album was written as music for a play about Lewis Carrol and his supposed feelings for a little girl, whom he based his protagonist in Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking glass on. Rumour has it that Lewis was in love with Alice. The song is a metaphor for an impossible relationship that ultimately fails, but Lewis forever pretends Alice is his. Still a lovely song?:P
    eineidloffon May 13, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentYeh, I read about that too. But I choose theme for this song, the 'impossible love because of other things than pedophilia' one. *pling*
    MardyAsson January 17, 2007   Link

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