All I had hoped for
I kept inside your car
The rabbit in the barn
Most of all I wait
I wait beside the door
I wait beside the door

Oh, I was wrong
Trembling in the cage
I was diamonds in the rage
In seven hours
I consider death
And your father called to yell at me
You little boy, you little boy

Found out you cheated me
I ran behind the barn and cut my hand somehow
Blood in the meadow lark
I punched your ears instead
I punched you in the head
You only laughed and laughed and laughed
How I was wrong, tingling from the kill
You tickle me until
You devil bird, you evil still
I slept on my arms, sleeping on the sill
I was sleeping in the room with you
You little boy, you little boy

How could you run from me now
The loneliest chime in the house
The loneliest chime in the house
You let it out, you let it out
Come to your Calvary still
I'm bleeding and breaking until
I'm bleeding in spite of my warmth for you
It bruised and bruised my will

Come to me now with your pains
The breathing inside of the rage
You touched me inside of my cage
Beneath my shirt your hands embraced me

Come to me feathered and frayed
For I am the ugliest prey
For I am the ugliest prey
Beyond the reckless, reckless raise

You said you'd wait for me
Down by the tannery creek
Far out by the clothesline
Where we used to kiss behind the sheets
Wrapped in a blanket of red
The owl and the tanager sat
The owl and the tanager said
One waits until the hour is death

Lyrics submitted by yeahoksufjan

Barn Owl, Night Killer song meanings
Add Your Thoughts


sort form View by:
  • +1
    General CommentIt seems like sufjan is simultaneously speaking from the perspective of an animal (the owl, perhaps) and a boy who found the animal (probably injured). Ultimately, the boy abuses the animal (Wrapped in a blanket of red, the owl and the tanager sat, the owl and the tanager said
    one waits until the hour is death.). I think this song explores the notion of abuse in an eerie and beautiful way.
    solitary walkeron April 19, 2008   Link
  • +1
    General CommentA predator/prey metaphor for an asymmetrical relationship. Sufjan is the tanager, the prey. His sheltered inexperience burdens him with a needy intensity. An easy victim for the more worldly owl.

    It comes to a head when the owl cheats, stands him up. The tanager rages, ponders suicide, makes a half-hearted attempt. Opts instead for physical confrontation when the owl appears. Is disgusted by his own helplessness. The owl toys with him, laughs off his anger, they wrestle…into sex, but not reconciliation. Not until the owl acknowledges his reciprocal need does the tanager relent, this time on his own terms. He is still prey, still needy, but has asserted himself, acknowledged his own worth.

    Sounds like a crappy but necessary experience.

    I give my humble interpretations of many Sufjan Stevens songs here:
    TheLightIsMineon June 08, 2010   Link
  • 0
    General CommentWhat album is this on?
    And is it even real?
    Sorry, but I've become kind of skeptical about "unreleased" Sufjan tracks ever since the Oregon fiasco.
    Invader Z?on March 13, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI'd say it's really him singing it, since there are youtubes of him performing it.
    yeahoksufjanon March 16, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General Commentit is diamonds in the rage, you can hear it in some recordings
    Morpheus02812on April 21, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General Commentthe song is amazing live and in person.
    _CARAon October 19, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General Commentyes this song is real and its wonderfully written and performed!

    This is a great version of it...…

    this recording is like a mini concert or something. Check it out!
    accernaon December 25, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General CommentWow, this song is hauntingly beautiful, and very enigmatic. I'm a long way from figuring out the meaning but I think I can make a few small corrections to the lyrics:

    "cut my hand somehow" not "hand"
    "The breathing inside of the rage" not "range"
    "The owl away has spread his praise" not "Beyond the reckless, reckless raise"

    That last one is tough to nail down 100%, especially the 'away has' syllables.
    sufyeahon February 19, 2009   Link
  • 0
    General Commentthis song is hauntingly beautiful. sufjan is a genius. this makes me cry and get chills every time i hear it.
    lizzayyyyxon January 15, 2010   Link

Add your thoughts

Log in now to tell us what you think this song means.

Don’t have an account? Create an account with SongMeanings to post comments, submit lyrics, and more. It’s super easy, we promise!

Back to top