I learn my name
I write with a number two pencil
I work up to my potential
I earn my name
I come when called
I jump when you circle the cherry
I sing like a good canary
I come when called
I come, that's all

Send it up on fire
Death before dawn
Send it up on fire
Death before dawn

I clean the house
I put all your books in an order
I make up a colorful border
I clean my mouth
'Cause froth comes out

Send it up on fire
Death before dawn
Send it up on fire
Death before dawn


Lyrics submitted by ruben, edited by NeonFlow, Kyrakat, fish000000

"Canary" as written by Phair

Lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

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Canary song meanings
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16 Comments

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  • +2
    General Commenthate to break it to everyone. but a few of yall are missing some of the point. it is totally about "dry anger", bad relationships, frusteration etc. and other typically liz goodness,

    but its also about a man who doesn't know how to eat a girl out properly. seriously,

    "I jump when you circle the CHERRY,
    I SING like a good canary,
    I COME when called,
    I COME that's ALL."

    she's sick of faking it. of singing, when he does his pathetic thing on her.

    this dude needs to figure out how to get her off for real, among other things,

    loves it
    delete_this_fucking_accounton December 30, 2006   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI think it's about a woman who always tries to make her husband happy but everything she does is wrong so she has a breakdown and burns the house or something down. I can't listen to this song alone it's too creepy I always skip it. Oh and thanks Kei I had never noticed the voice in the background but I can't make out what it is saying.
    rapunzelEEDon January 08, 2005   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI've read and interview about Guyville and Liz said:

    "This song ['Canary'] is a perfect example. This isn't talking about a guy; it's talking about me and my home life with my family, having this stressful relationship with this quasi-abusive brother, and trying to be a good little girl for everyone while all this shit was going on inside me. And I had these contrary feelings and inappropriate thoughts, and my piano was where I would go. I was allowed to practice piano, so instead of practicing, I was making up these subversive songs. This is probably fucking the oldest one on Guyville, now that we come to it, because I can see myself in my parents' house, and what I'm saying is: 'Send it up on fire in the music, up to the heavens. I will be deaf and stop listening to you all before I will shut up. Deaf before dawn.' There is a line in there about sex, like: 'I come when you circle the cherry/I sing like a good canary'– but that's acknowledging that even later. I think that would've been a line added later... rewritten, in a sense, to describe... I'm still there. I'm still stuck in a context where I have no voice, but I'm inside here somewhere."
    NeonFlowon August 26, 2009   Link
  • +1
    General CommentThe thing I love about her song writing is that it is very rarely simple cut and dried.

    For. Example
    I write with a number 2 pencil This can either be talking about conformity or standardization.

    Or I learn my name
    Again
    A name is something anyone would know but in context it could mean identity or role.

    Almost every line of this song has at least two possible and although similar sounding (ie standardization or conformance) they give very very different meanings.

    So depending on the interpretation you could have a woman on the edge of a nervous breakdown that is furious and is plotting revenge

    Or a wan in a dead relationship with an inept hisnd and shes just tired and ready to give up but wants to provoke some type of shock to try to wake things up

    Also the voice in the background I registered on the remastered version and noticed that alot of the shit that sort of lived under the main tracks on the original release are way harder to hear or are gone. I could barely hear it but I'd guess its liz talking with a recording mic on about something unrelated to the actual song. This happens more than once on this album and it's only pizza talking.
    Dogma72on December 05, 2019   Link
  • 0
    General CommentTwisted reaction to unhappy marriage/relationship. Gorgeous but creepy; certainly not something I can listen to in the dark. Does anyone know what the man is saying very faintly in the background, starting at around the 30-second mark?
    Keion June 23, 2004   Link
  • 0
    General Commentisnt this song on the thirteen soundtrack?
    squee_4_meon October 17, 2004   Link
  • 0
    General CommentIt kind of makes me think of those murders where mothers with a dozen children and a controlling husband flip and murder their families. Perhaps a woman who sets her home on fire after going mad? Just a shot in the dark. It could mean anything.
    Vaingloryon January 06, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General Commentthis song isn't creepy! what're you talking about?

    anyway, it's about a relationship that is so boring and its making liz some kind of mindless freak.
    yo mamma!on May 09, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General Commentit's a creepy song. i always thought it was a murder ballad but further analysis and research says that the line actually goes "deaf before dumb", like it's not about female docility but actually about breaking through some ground. the verses are of this person being all docile and being caged like a canary and the chorus is saying "send it up on fire, deaf before dumb" like do it, just stop being a fucking canary, fly you freak, go crazy!!
    blair23on May 31, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General Commentyeah. i always knew it was about being all caged up but i thought it was death before dawn.
    but i heart it.
    yo mamma!on January 18, 2006   Link

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