"Rain King" as written by Steve Bowman, David Bryson, Charles Gillingham, Matthew Malley and Adam Duritz....
When I think of heaven
Deliver me in a black-winged bird
I think of flying down into a sea of pens and feathers
And all other instruments of faith and sex and God
In the belly of a black-winged bird
Don't try to feed me
'Cause I've been here before and I deserve a little more

I belong in the service of the Queen
I belong anywhere but in between
She's been crying, I've been thinking
And I am the rain king

I said mama, mama, mama
Why am I so alone?
I can't go outside, I'm scared, I might not make it home
But I'm alive, but I'm sinking in
If there's anyone home at your place
Why don't you invite me in?
Don't try to bleed me
'Cause I've been there before and I deserve a little more

I belong in the service of the Queen
I belong anywhere but in between
She's been lying, I've been sinking
And I am the rain king

Hey, I only want the same as anyone
Henderson is waiting for the sun
Oh, it seems night endlessly begins and ends
After all the dreaming I come home again

When I think of heaven
Deliver me in a black-winged bird
I think of dying
Lay me down in a field of flame and heather
Render up my body into the burning heart of God
In the belly of a black-winged bird
Don't try to bleed me
'Cause I've been here before and I deserve a little more

I belong in the service of the Queen
I belong anywhere but in between
She's been dying
And I've been drinking and I am the rain king
'Cause I say I am the rain king
'Cause I say I am the rain king, yeah


Lyrics submitted by 3ssence

"Rain King" as written by David Lynn Bryson Steve Bowman

Lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

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Rain King song meanings
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40 Comments

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  • +4
    General CommentThis song means the person is afraid of taking chances. He wants to take chances but he can't seem to take the first step.

    I can't go outside
    I'm scared I might not make it home
    I'm alive, I'm alive but I'm sinking in"

    His ma is crying because he's afraid of taking a chance.
    "Why am I so alone?"

    He taken chances before and gotten burned ( "I've been here before and i deserve a little more"
    ada102on March 24, 2008   Link
  • +2
    General Commentyeah the rain king is just a kind of character that can never let himself just enjoy life... i think he sums it up best when he says "when i think of heaven, deliver me in a black winged bird". you would expect him to say that when he thinks of heaven, he would think of somehting pleasant and heavenly... but because he is just that kinda guy that he is, he thinks of dying. (heaven being what happens when you die.. or at least what he believes)
    sambo28on April 15, 2004   Link
  • +2
    General CommentThis is purely speculation, so please nobody go shooting me down...but the 'black-winged bird' might be a reference to the Morrigan, from Irish mythology--also, according to a site I just pulled up, her name translates as either "Great Queen" or "Phantom Queen." She often appears in the shape of a crow (raven, rook, whatever you want to call it. Big black bird.) The Morrigan is the goddess of battle, but also of fertility. She isn't the goddess of death, although she's closely related to it--she is, according to one source, the "keeper of death." I do think it's possible they were trying to make a link there. Thoughts, anyone?
    emilieheidelon January 03, 2006   Link
  • +2
    General CommentI get a feeling of a man struggling with salvation in this song. I can't say why exactly, nor can I decipher which particular parts I think represent either side of the line. So many references to him being in the middle of 2 warring factions. Him being the king but belonging "in the service of the queen", belonging "anywhere but inbetween".

    A possible Jesus perspective, being of the flesh but called to a higher service. Particularly in the line "I can't go outside, I'm scared I might not make it home". I imagine what it would feel like to think that you are the messiah. The one to save all others IF you can maintain your integrity. A human, subject to all the temptations and opportunities for peril we experience daily, but knowing that your personal integrity is the hingpin for all the rest. What a heavy burden or blessing. One I'm sure at times would make you long for just being 'normal or average'.

    A great song, however unsure I am of what it means exactly :) I also really like how he ended each chorus with those subtle differences: crying/thinking, lying/sinking, dying/drinking

    Yeaaahhhh!
    DailyBuzzon March 20, 2008   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI read Adam Say that Rain King is the title of a book. The main character Adam could relate to so this song is baisicly saying he is this character.
    McShineon April 23, 2003   Link
  • +1
    General Commentread "Henderson the Rain King" by Saul Bellow
    SkUBaStEVe02on May 05, 2003   Link
  • +1
    General CommentIt's about wanting to be something more than you are (in the service of the queen) and searching for something to fulfill you. And wanting to not be so lonely.
    TheSneakyWaffleon September 17, 2004   Link
  • +1
    General CommentThere are actually two songs entitled "Rain King" both based on "Henderson the Rain King"; this one and one by Sonic Youth on the album Daydream Nation. The connections are interesting. Any book that can basically link Urban Folk (counting crows) and punk rock has to be awesome, or just messed up.
    smcraigon August 13, 2007   Link
  • +1
    My InterpretationMy take on Rain King is that he has found out that his exlover has been carrying a fatal illness all along. And how he finds himself on her deathbed, reminiscing of how wrong everything turned out. Much like Spacemanbob previously said, when it comes to "...she's been crying...I've been thinking I am the Rain King." he realises how insensitive he has been, and regrets doing all the thing he did that made him loose her.

    In the next chorus when he sings "She's been lying, I've been sinking" I think it's him thinking of how she has been keeping him from knowing all along to save him grief. And how he was struggling to accept how they broke up. I believe this theory is strengened by the third chorus. She has been dying while he was out trying to drown his sorrows by drinking.

    If you re-read the second verse with this in mind, it seems as he is struggling to accept their breakup. No quotes needed, he appears lonely and depressed. He wants to get back together with her but she don't want him to find out she is dying so she refuses to let him in.

    Any references to Saul Bellows book and the Morrigan(as emilieheidel pointed out) is probably there to give further depth to his emotions, his depression.

    Parts concerning Morrigan could be he would do anything to make her okay away (Render up my body into the burning heart of God in the belly of a
    black-winged bird) but this is only a rough thought, something I've thought of while typing down my impressions of the song..
    kushxnlon April 02, 2011   Link
  • +1
    My InterpretationThe title and theme are related to the Saul Bellows' book "Henderson the Rain King". Sometimes in songs, the narrator is not a very sympathetic character. This is the case in both the song and the book.

    Here in the song we find man who is struggling in malaise and discontent. The source of the discontent is his earnest belief that he deserves much more from life than what he has. He sees himself as man of big ideas ("faith and sex and God"), as a man who "belongs in the service of a Queen". His ambition may or may not be admirable, but the reality is that he fluctuates between a life of fearful paralysis and loneliness (i.e. "I can't go outside, I might not make it home). Attempts he has made to create his believed destiny have resulted in failure (she's crying/he's thinking, she's lying/ he's sinking, she's dying/ he's drinking) . These may be romantic encounters or they may refer to the queen figure which is any ambitious endeavor that he believes he has entitlement to.

    In fact, entitlement is the key here. He is the (self-appointed) King. No one else would give him that title, and he likely will never deserve it.
    lance13712on November 01, 2013   Link

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