"Light-Rail Coyote" as written by and Corin Lisa Tucker Carrie Rachel Brownstein....
Let's meet in the city where
The rivers cross, bridges there
Let's go float down into the stream
Of rich and poor pioneers
A kid from a western town
Wants to be seen, and go out
Let's borrow my parents car
Let's stay out all night up there
And Burnside will be our street
Where the kids and the hookers meet
Diners and strip club junk
Bookstores and punk rock clubs

I'm as green as this blade
In the grass that bends
In the wind that blows
On the long weekends
Where I cross the bridge
To the water fountains
And drink in the hope
That the city brings
(Water, building and sin
Big Oregon city draws you in
A promise fulfilled or not
Just hang on until the summer, it's hot)

We'll make our home water-tight
Work all day, play all night
And hope we're not washed away
By deceit or tragedy
And Joan of Arc rules northeast
Where the poor and the hipsters meet
The grid that divides us all
The river makes final call
Out at the edge of town
Where airfield runs water down
Coyote crosses old tracks
And hops on the Light-Rail Max

And if you wanna be a friend of mine
Cross the river to the east side
Find me on the eve of suicide
Tell me the city is no place to hide
Take me out into a sunny day
Through the grotto or the promenade
You came to me in the nick of time
Thankful for the things I left behind

Oh dirty river, come let me in

Lyrics submitted by light_rail_coyote

"Light Rail Coyote" as written by Corin Lisa Tucker Carrie Rachel Brownstein

Lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc., BMG RIGHTS MANAGEMENT US, LLC

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Light-Rail Coyote song meanings
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  • +3
    My Interpretationthis is the single closest SK song to an autobiography, or at least the biography of a fictionalized version of two people a lot like the band members. they are in a city (portland) just about to leave home as adults--borrowing parents' car, wanting to be seen, but in fact "green as this blade of grass"--no idea of the true nature of the adult world. They take jobs (work all day/play all night) -- the first thrill of being on your own, & the adult city world seems mysterious and fascinating, "bookstores and punk rock clubs," etc.

    coyote refers to the real story, which is def. an inspiration for the song, but also ties into Coyote trickster myths esp. of northwestern Indian tribes. the coyote leads you on a journey but its nature is ambiguous--and in this song they discover the ambivalence of adulthood, "where the poor and the hipsters" (both dressed in cheap clothes, but only one because they need to)--"the grid that divides us all." this song is all about crossing--& in the title the moving vehicle that is tehcnologically modern (the light rail) is attached to something that crosses over from the natural and/or mythical world (coyote).

    by the end it is the darkness of the city, what they did not expect to discover, or maybe the actual nature of the mystery they were looking for in the first place, in fact is so challenging to the individual that they are on the "eve of suicide." it is only the friend--real or imagined ("if you want to be a friend of mine") who has to cross the tracks again.

    to be speculative, the tremendous chorus of "oh dirty river, come let me in," which even has melodic overtones of a spiritual (the line is about the same length as "old man river keeps on rolling" with caesura in the same place) suggests something like the ambivalence of life, being able to accept the bad (dirty) with the good (river), being able to pass from youth into adulthood.

    "wilderness" may be no less biographical, but this song seems really to capture something intensely personal for the band.
    xoqqiyon August 16, 2009   Link
  • 0
    General Commentthis is such a good song. i think it could be about their record company because it's located in Oregon or Washington. But it would make sense if you read the first part.
    i like fuckingon June 30, 2003   Link
  • 0
    General Commentthis is such a good song. i think it could be about their record company because it's located in Oregon or Washington. But it would make sense if you read the first part.
    i like fuckingon June 30, 2003   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThis song is most defiantly about Portland. Trust me. I'd also say that it's about just the general desperation that follows you around in life.
    I have to say, growing up in Portland, this song is the best description or Portland I have EVER heard. It's so simple but it still makes you say wow.
    my favorite line "And Joan of Arc rules northeast
    Where the poor and the hipsters meet"

    just spend a week even in Portland and the song becomes that much better.
    dothefrugon February 02, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThis song is about an actual event that happened. A coyote boarded and got trapped on a Portland light rail streetcar. If you look in the lyric booklet from One Beat there's a clipping from the newspaper that shows a picture of the coyote on MAX.
    angstagangstaon June 13, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General Commentmaybe they got the inspiration from that story, but i don't think it's literally about a coyote.

    and dothefrug, i spent a week in Portland and the song did become that much better.
    ()on March 11, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentIt's funny, I remember seeing the pic in the Oregonian paper of the coyote on the MAX before this album came out.
    That image may not be exactly what the song is about, but it is a great synopsis of Portland, rugged wilderness meets progressive urban mass transit, it's all right there in microcosim. A wonderful tribute from the ladies in Sleater-Kinney.
    tomautoon March 22, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentBrilliant. I've wanted to move to Portland ever since I heard this song.
    youmakemenervouson October 13, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThe coyote on the light rail in question (from Portland's Oregonian newspaper):

    awkwardboyon May 26, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General CommentWhy have I not realized the greatness of Sleater-Kinney until now? :(

    And about the meaning: sure, it's about Portland, whatever. I don't live there so I have no special connection to it. But when I first heard the song, it reminded me of my small town. That's what's great about Sleater-Kinney, and every other great band. The lyrics translate well for each listener whether or not it's the "true meaning" that the writer intended.

    "And Joan of Arc rules northeast." I live in a town called North East, which makes this line especially rad :) This whole song makes me feel like going downtown and finding someone to hang with.
    Aquarius121on June 01, 2011   Link

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