94 Meanings
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Boy with a Coin Lyrics

A boy with a coin he found in the weeds
With bullets and pages of trade magazines
Close to a car that flipped on the turn
When God left the ground to circle the world

A girl with a bird she found in the snow
Then flew up her gown and thats how she knows
That God made her eyes for crying at birth
Then left the ground to circle the Earth

A boy with a coin he crammed in his jeans
Then making a wish he tossed in the sea
Walked to a town that all of us burn
When God left the ground to circle the world
Song Info
Lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc.
Submitted by
Submitted on
Jun 13, 2007
94 Meanings
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to me, this song goes to show a lot of things. firstly, the boy finding something valuable (a coin) at the site of a carcrash. the first thing that came to my mind was that he'd acquired something innocently at the expense of someone else, the people involved in the carcrash. it goes to show the frugal nature of living; something of worth at the expense of another. it also brought to my mind how humans, as a collective, have desensitized, and can't be brought to feel the pain and suffering of others. the reference to bullets and trade magazines shows two heavy mainstays in our world; the bullets representing violence, and the trade magazines, commercialism and the dependence on/obsession with money. i think "God left the ground to circle the world" is an expression on behalf of God, painting him in a human light, stating how he loses his faith in people when they become obsessed with their selfish needs and wants. the car flipping is a consequence of God no longer watching over the people due to their selfishness. the coin may also be symbolic of something that makes him forget all the violence and economic strife in the world.

the second verse presents a much harsher image, though it is put with eloquence and subtlety.i think Hag has hit the hammer clean on it's head with the reference to the girl and the "bird" she found signifying rape, which is pretty much the most severe loss of innocence a girl can face. in this stanza, the reference to the eyes being made for crying and God's absence is to show the girl's resentment to God, who she feels deserted him right when she was born, leaving her to suffer through the trials and tribulations of life with no one to look out for her.

the last stanza refers to the same boy who found the coin in the first verse, and shows a bitterness so profound that even that something precious he found in this life (the coin) is no longer the same valuable it was to him. hence the rough treatment when sam says the coin was "crammed in his jeans". disappointed that nothing the boy wanted came of the coin, he threw it away into the sea at the cost of a wish. this is symbolic of him giving it up in a show of repentance, hoping that his giving up the coin will make the situation better. i think the last couplet shows that the boy is ready to accept whatever is to come, hence his walking back to the town that all of "us" are burning, again symbolic of the fact that humans, as a collective, are laying the world to waste. keeping in tune with the previous verses, the absence of God is again mentioned, the link again established that it is because of a lack of that something good (even though God is absent, his presence to me is shown in a benevolent light. that he is absent is how his lack of affection manifests itself) that people live their lives with reckless abandon.

the underlying theme of this song is ultimately the loss of innocence and the absence of Godliness, interwoven with a social commentary that deals with the two concepts intermittently. Brilliantly done. I'm addicted to this song, and i don't know when it'll be over.

@manikay I think This is pretty damn profound. great work thinking out the symbols!

@manikay This comment really made me understand the lyrics much better. After reading this, I came up with an alternative interpretation of the third stanza. After picking through the weeds of violence and materialism for capital gains at the expense of others in the first stanza, the boy later on discovers that money did not get him what he wanted (the coin was still "crammed in his jeans" because he couldn't buy what he needed to be happy). All of this is pretty much the same as what manikay summarized so far, but this is where my interpretation differs:...

@manikay this is such a beautiful pathos Leiden song the song is laden with

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i think it's about life and death. the car that flipped on the turn - death. bird in the snow - death. crying at birth - obviously birth. the boy with the coin represents the frailty of life, like a heads or tails, live or die type of thing. god circling the earth just shows that life and death is all a part of the scheme of things, and he's watching over us, particularly in the times when cars flip on turns and so on.

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I think it's about how no matter the circumstances, the outcome will always be the same (In this instance, negative).

The boy found a coin from the outcome of a car crash, the girl was raped (the bird was a symbol of it being taken, "and thats how she knows")

Even after the boy found the coin and made a wish, he went back to the town that we all burn, a place of sadness, anger, resentment; another negative outcome.

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It was helpful to know that this was part of a work inspired by anger at the goings on of the last decade. Through that lens, it's pretty simple, actually.

The boy is us as people, indifferent in our day-to-day behavior to the fact that civilization is has already spun out of control, driven by war and greed. The coin is the shiny distractions and meager comforts that keep us complacent in the fsce of its destruction. War and greed have already won and God has left the Earth.

The girl is indeed the loss of innocence, whether by rape or just life, born to tears and betrayed by a God who has left her to suffer alone.

The boy doesn't even appreciate the coin, and throws away what little he has of value on an empty wish for something more. And so he walks to the town that all of us have burned, that idyllic hometown that no longer exists if it ever did, long ago emptied of its soul by strip malls and chain stores. It is ourselves we have betrayed.

God has left the Earth, and we no longer care for anyone but ourselves, and that will be the end of us.

My Interpretation

I don't know how to react to this interpretation, because I completely agree with it, but at the same time it makes me so sad to think that we're tearing our own world apart. Not just the physical world, but also ourselves. How far we have fallen, we lost children of the world. It's a picture that is both sadly beautiful and horrifying in its utter truth, and there is little that can be done to stop it if the world continues as it is now.

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The coin is a token of the bitterness created by the senseless pain we experience. When a child witnesses violence or is abused sexually, they may feel that God has become a distant and meaningless thing.

In the end, the boy tosses the token of pain into the sea, he wishes to put the bitterness behind him. He walks to the town- his innocence, his past.

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theopenlife: It's not overtly filthy or sinful, nor does it promote godlessness, so I'm not "against it". It's just sad to hear, you know, just like watching the news I guess. But we can't hide from the reality around us. It made me want to die with Christ each day, and tell another person of His grace to forgive and rebirth us.

It's funny how that works isn't it? The less agreeable reality becomes, the easier it is to focus on fantasy/religion. Judging by this paragraph, I'd say you missed the whole point of the song.

hehe 1 - 0 to the good guys

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From what little bit I know of Sam, as far as his beliefs and political views are concerned, I personally have the impression that this song reflects his empathy and sadness towards apparently innocent people caught up in a terrible world. I believe Sam is asking the ageless question, "why do such bad things happen to good people?"

The boy represents the young people of this generation. They have come upon a "car that flipped on the turn." I take this to represent Sam's view of global society, something that has lost control and wrecked itself. This is demonstrated by his description of what surrounds the car: both bullets and trade (stock market) magazines.

It is the perfect image of a speeding machine full of violence, selfishness, and commercial greed, carrying reckless passengers until it meets an unforeseen turn and flips into destruction. This is what the boy discovers when he ventures out of his home, out of the safety of adolescence. To the boy it seems that God was not here, God must have been somewhere else in order for something so bad to happen. Sam writes, "A car... flipped on the turn / when God left the ground to circle the world."

In the next verse Sam mentions a girl, typical again of youth, especially young women. I - and many others - believe that Sam very delicately describes rape, symbolized by a bird that "flew up her gown, and that's how she knows." In other words, she found out what sex was through something so terrible, and it seems to her as if God made her whole life for misery, from the moment she was born. "God made her eyes for crying at birth, Then left the ground to circle the earth."

There is much disagreement about what the coin symbolizes. I think it may represent first impressions of the world, something we found when we first discovered the wreck of things, a hopeful outlook maybe.

The boy is described as "cramming" it into his jeans. Perhaps with time he no longer cares so much for his original token. Finally, as a grown man he throws his youthful ideas into the sea and wishes things were better than they are. He walks right back into the place from which the car came, "a town that all of us burn When God left the ground to circle the world."

In my opinion, it is unlikely that Sam is attacking God. He may not even be convinced any God exists. It is more likely that his idea of God leaving is more like, "we ruined this world ourselves, and I'm not surprised that God left." Sam has written recently about this album being fueled by his grief over not just the war in Iraq, but the whole social situation. I can understand. Only ten years have passed, but things are way different than when I was a kid. Greater threats of enormous wars, impending economic collapse, more and more hollow media trying to convince us that life is fulfilled in watching programs and buying albums.

I wouldn't want to listen to this song on repeat all the time, but it is sometimes necessary for to get shaken up by the honest, empty confession of a person without solid hopes. I started crying when I heard this song, and almost even when I wrote this, because Sam's song describes so many people who think that God has abandoned them; that He is out "circling the world" while everything falls to pieces. They have not yet seen that they are utterly sinful, and yet God took the form of a man, Jesus Christ, and willingly bore the wrath for sin, and died for sinners. I cried because I love people and I don't want them to walk back into the "burning town".

Anyways, the song is excellently written. It's not overtly filthy or sinful, nor does it promote godlessness, so I'm not "against it". It's just sad to hear, you know, just like watching the news I guess. But we can't hide from the reality around us. It made me want to die with Christ each day, and tell another person of His grace to forgive and rebirth us.

Mike:. theopenlife.com

I guess the somewhat stark ambiguity of the lyrics is what makes this song so touching and interesting for everyone. Honestly, I don't know Sam Beam, or too much about him. I do know he was a film professor and because of that he is very visual. And most certainly, I don't know why EVERYONE seems to equate the bird in verse two with rape.

Did you see the video??? Perhaps it's about SEX, becoming a woman.

Does anyone remember the story titled "The Scarlet Ibis"?

I think based on your analysis, the coin would obviously symbolize the young generation's inheritance from the past society. I agree that the flipped car represents this past society--I think it's fair to describe our society as reckless. The trade magazine obviously represents the crazy financial situation we have created...stocks bought with money that doesn't exist in a fake system, a flawed banking system, private federal reserve, etc. The bullets obviously represents war--whenever there is war it is less than ideal. It is really an exceptional picture of our society: a car carelessly speeding around a turn.

I'm wondering if in the second verse, the line "IF God made her eyes .." is supposed to be "THAT God made her eyes.."

It may not seem to be a big deal but I believe that such a simple change/correction, definitely reinforces the idea that the little girl has been raped.

She feels God has forsaken her, since (as she probably views it) God allowed her to be raped, to her this must mean THAT God made her eyes for crying.

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the boy found the coin next to a flipped car and bullets, and then it goes into the idea that god was not there

the same goes for the girl, finding the bird and thinking of how shes always crying, again goes into the idea that god was not there

the boy made a wish, but wishing is not the same thing as having hope. its helpless, and the only thing he can do is wish, because there can be no hope

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To me, this song represents that amidst personal disaster and hopeless abandon is the idea that the world is terribly off-kilter and unjust, that god has been the one who abandoned us all. At the time that our innocence is taken, around the ages of the children in the song (which I assume to be between eight and eleven), god/hope has abandoned us because people can't be saved after they are ruined.

It's depressing, but I adore the meaning behind this song. Maybe it'll make people appreciate the good in their lives.

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for me this song is like not giving up.. from a religious perspective there could be moments where you think god doesn't care about you and thats why bad things happen, and the boy's clinging on to one thing that could be salvaged from the wreckage.. and then at the end he realises he has to move on so he throws it away, and goes back to 'the town that all of us burn' --> could be reference to giving up on religion once bad things happen but he doesn't. and i havent deciphered the girl's bit yet.

[Edit: xjkS]

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