"I Am A Child" as written by and Neil Young....
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I Am A Child song meanings
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  • +1
    General Comment"What is the color, when black is burned?"

    Possibly one of Neil's most enigmatic riddles. Surprised there's not more posts.

    Anyway, when you burn black (like ashes) they turn white. I dont know if this is the answer, only Neil does, but I think it fits both literally and figuratlively into the song.
    phisherofsoulson November 22, 2007   Link
  • +1
    My Interpretation"What is the color when black is burned?" It's an example of a kid's odd and innocent questions, probably not to be taken literally. It represents things children ask that are difficult to answer, or that require a complicated explanation.

    Coming with that is a realization that parenting isn't just about having fun with your kid, but that they need your insight and guidance. And along the way, your own worldview might be shaken up. When they ask you an innocent question, you might have to think carefully to give an informed answer.

    But then: "I gave to you, now you give to me. I'd like to know what you've learned." Perhaps it's not a question TO the adult from the child, but FROM the adult to the child, who sees the world through fresh eyes. To relearn innocence, perhaps.
    Rainbirdon October 22, 2012   Link
  • 0
    General CommentLike Harry Chapin's "Cat in the Cradle", this song makes one reflect on fatherhood. Interesting to hear from the child's point of view.
    norderon September 15, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General Commentby phisherofsouls on 11-22-2007 @ 05:30:00 AM
    "What is the color, when black is burned?"

    My "educated guess: The child that is in Neil Young, as well as, to some extent, every child, when they first experience a form of destruction, is frightened. Here, the child is exploring the scary landscape of that aspect of life and is looking to a caring adult to assure him or her that everything is alright. Perhaps, as phisherofsouls also suggests, it has to do with the breakthrough of ashes being lighter than the black material they began as... nice thought...
    Common.wealthon February 14, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General CommentOk, I have an 8-year-old son and just read the lyrics for first time.

    "I'd like to know what you learned" = child wondering in amazement of father's knowledge.

    "What is the color, when black is burned?" = the kind of question an innocent child asks.

    "It's lots of fun to have you there" My favourite line. The idea that my child has fun when I'm around.
    KingJPWon September 19, 2008   Link
  • 0
    My InterpretationMany years ago I read that during one of their many spats Steven Stills wrote a song about Neil called "A Childs Claim To Fame" and, having heard it, Neil responde with "I Am A Child"
    winterlongon February 28, 2011   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI really like the chord changes in this song. It puzzles me that the song just fades out after two minutes, almost like Young didn't know what to do with the melody (odd since it's such a beautiful little ditty). Anyway, the lyrics strike me the same manner. They are simple and literal and do not build to any grand conclusion, or have any grand symbolism. They describe the world from a child's point of view, a child who is looking to his father (or mother, I guess) for answers about the world. The lyrics end in a similar manner as the melody, with an unsatisfying, "It's lots of fun to have you there." Maybe a lighthearted song was all that Young was trying to write here.
    dairyking887on February 15, 2012   Link
  • 0
    General Commentit is like a prayer, to God, he is like a father, like a mother, like a friend. We have to become like kids (again). :)
    otherwise I know another version, he is singing : " ..the sky is blue and my soul used to see .."
    Very deep lyrics in my opinion, maybe even Neil didn't knew how deep when he was writing this song.
    highflyingon July 09, 2013   Link
  • -1
    General CommentIt could just be me but I think Neil Young wrote the lyrics sarcastically, whether he was trying to represent the angst between most any human and their parent(s), or more personally between himself and his own father, or perhaps as previously mentioned by winterlong, in retaliation to the song A Child's Claim to Fame.
    Susion October 17, 2017   Link

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