There's a rainbow of babies
Draped over the graveyard
Where all the dead sailors
Wait for their brides
And the cold bitter snow
Has strangled each grassblade
Where the salt from their tears
Washed out with the tide

And I smiled on the Wabash
The last time I passed it
Yes I gave her a wink
From the passenger side
And my foot fell asleep
As I swallowed my candy
Knowing he was in heaven
Before he died

Now the harbor's on fire
With the dreams and desires
Of a thousand young poets
Who failed 'cause they tried
For a rhyme without reason
Floats down to the bottom
Where the scavengers eat 'em
And wash in with the tide

Repeat Chorus:

The sun can play tricks
With your eyes on the highway
The moon can lay sideways
Till the ocean stands still
But a person can't tell
His best friend he loves him
Till time has stopped breathing
You're alone on the hill

Repeat Chorus:

Lyrics submitted by Bobo192

He Was In Heaven Before He Died song meanings
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  • +1
    General CommentThis song speaks to the closet redneck in me. I went hunting with my dad and some of his buddies when I was in 5th grade (my dad was no hunter). We were all on our stomachs in a duck blind at 5 am wearing camo and he decided it would be fun to give me some Red Man tobacco and after a few minutes I puked all over the place. He and his friends love to remind me of that.

    John Prine has a place in my heart.
    CatHadMyTongueon March 09, 2010   Link
  • -1
    General CommentThere's a rainbow of babies,Draped over the graveyard, Where all the dead sailors,Wait for their brides

    This refers to the gathering of kids and grandkids at the funeral of his grandfather. He is being buried in a cemetary with other sailors (from one of the big wars). Men tend to die at a younger age so they are 'waiting for their brides'.

    Chorus: John, a boy, is daydreaming, staring out the window at the Wabash River flowing along the highway, as they drive from IL to Kentucky for the funeral. He finds some consolation in knowing that his grandfather was in heaven (lived a good life?) before he died.

    2nd verse: It's better to try and fail than to never try

    3 verse: With all the wondrous things in the world, it's still difficult to tell someone you love them until they are gone.

    dieenteon February 07, 2011   Link

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