Mary, carry your babe
Bound up tight like lips around a whimper
Your fingers over my face
Blind eyed Sampson driven to the temple
And night birds digging until dawn
Freedom hangs like heaven over everyone
Ain't nobody knows what the newborn holds
But his mama says he'll walk on water
And wander back home

Mary, carry your shame
Well past all those eyes across the avenue
Fish heads running from rain
You know I'll do anything you want me to
Lamp oil lovers may say
"Freedom hangs like heaven over everyone"
Ain't nobody knows what the newborn holds
But his papa's going to hide shaking gristle
And shaking like bone

Mary, carry my name
Hoof marks hacked up all I had to offer you
Looked all over this place
Lost your portrait lately when the winter blew
In like Herod and them
Freedom hangs like heaven over everyone
Anybody knows what the newborn holds
But a dollar says he'll lick that devil
And do it alone

Lyrics submitted by pumkinhed

Freedom Hangs Like Heaven Lyrics as written by Samuel Ervin Beam

Lyrics © Warner Chappell Music, Inc.

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Freedom Hangs Like Heaven song meanings
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  • +2
    General CommentAs for the rest of the song, I think I'm inclining towards it being Joseph singing about Mary, and how basically he's hoping like crazy that she's right about everything she believes about her son, because their lives have been turned upside down on account of him. In theme with the 'woman king' concept, I get the impression she's been the one taking the lead between them, because she's so sure about what God's said etc., and he's following her with a mixture of love, awe and terror.

    This is a really confusing state for him to find himself in. He's supposed to be the man; he thought he'd prepared a good life for himself and his bride, but then this baby happened, and suddenly here they are, political refugees, on the run from place to place, trying to protect this fragile little bundle from murderous soldiers ("hoof-marks hacked up all I had to offer you").

    On top of that, their friends and families probably all think she's a liar and is just trying to hide the fact that she's conceived out of wedlock ("carry your shame") - which also makes Joseph look a bit of a fool. If she *is* lying, then he really is a blind Samson to her Delilah, being led towards his doom, all for the sake of a woman.

    In short, he's staked all he has on this woman and her crazy assertions, and he has to admit he's terrified, but there's something about her that makes him trust her. If she's right about how important this child is going to prove to be, maybe freedom is just around the corner - for them, and maybe for others too. And for his part, he's betting his 'dollar' on it.
    meudwenon July 28, 2008   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI see the song as 3 different parts for 3 different Marys.

    The first and second paragraphs are obvious; Mary and Mary Magdalene.

    The third I see as a reference to Mary of Bethany. She, her sister Martha, and little bro Lazarus were visited by Jesus & co. many times, including shortly before the crucifixion.

    They were apparently well off financially as Mary anointed Jesus with expensive perfume. Judas, of all people, objected to her extravagence, but Jesus defended her actions. She took the scented oil and poured it over Jesus's feet, annointing them, the same way they do to royalty.

    This was a not-so-subtle hint she was kind of anointing him as a king, the messiah.

    "Freedom hangs like Heaven"... Heaven is out of reach in life. All three women's lives were shaped by this legendary figure. They could never really escape from important roles they played in Jesus's life.

    None of the Marys had normal lives. They couldn't go out and mingle like ordinary women. They all had parts to play. True freedom was out of reach for them.
    Mystic_Spiralon April 10, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General Comment"Freedom Hangs Like Heaven Over Everyone" is a very good line because, like Heaven Freedom always seems just out of your reach. At least untill you die.
    nubzon July 27, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General Commentthis song definitely has a biblical foundation, no matter what the true meaning is, it's about Mary, Jesus's mother, yes, the Virgin Mary. The verse that gives the fact that it's Jesus is "ain't nobody knows what the new born holds but his mama says he'll walk on water"

    i was very excited when i realized this was in reference to the Bible, because i'm a Christian, and obviously, Jesus is a major part in my life
    bohemianrocker16on August 05, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General CommentIn my eyes, it's Joseph delivering this song since it's addressed to Mary. He's saying "I'll do anything you want me to" and "carry my name", pointing out that "hoof marks hacked up all I had to offer you", perhaps pointing out that he lost all that he had in that manger. She won't just say that the child is his though.

    The refrain can apply to any child the way I hear it. Freedom is what allows for sin and shame, and any child, but especially Jesus, is born pure without sin.
    Haphazardjoyon September 25, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General CommentIt's about Mary, with no doubt at all. I also think it's partially a metaphor.
    queenofheartson October 22, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General CommentJoseph eventually became the father he was supposed to be even though Jesus was never Joseph's own flesh and blood. Of course, if you read deeply enough into the Gospels, you will notice that Jesus actually had brother's and sisters.
    OpinionHeadon November 07, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThe last verse talks about the winter blowing in like Herod, who was King when Jesus was born, and made several attempts on Jesus's Life. The next lines say the Baby will "lick" the Devil... or completely defeat him... all alone- and jesus feels thatgod has forsaken him when he is on the cross, and he goes on to defeat the Devil alone. No doubt this song is about Jesus.
    When the Second verse says "but his papa's going to hide shaking gristle and shaking like bone", I think it is a reference to the fact that Mary, Joseph and the Baby Jesus had to hide frequently to avoid persecution and death.
    gymnast3651on December 29, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General Commentjust because it has a christian theme doesn't mean it's positive. especially for iron and wine.

    i saw iw and calexico last december and they rocked this song so hard. just jammed out on it. so wonderful.
    inbetweenmoleculeson February 20, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentIts a song about Mary and Joseph, and their struggle after Jesus (the newborn) was born. They're both scared, but they keep confident in their beleif of the child's fate and because of these help keep each other resolute.

    etc etc.

    "But his papa's going to hide shaking gristle
    And shaking like bone" other than that line id think its Joseph talking to Mary. Though "his papa" could be in reference the big G.O.D., but i doubt it.
    SnwBorder52on August 26, 2006   Link

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