Faceless fall from this life and ah
If you can't see the stars
You've probably gone too far
Like the voice that cried
On the lonesome tide
Like the wave was
the only love it ever saw

"What's this dying for"?
Asks the Stork that soars
With the Owl high above
Canyons mighty walls
Owl said "Death's a door
That love walks through
In and out, in and out
Back and forth, back and forth"

Turn from the fear
Of the storms that might be
Oh let it free
That caged on fire thing
Oh hold its hands
It'll feel like lightening
Oh in your arms safe
From the storms
Sky bends, the moon's dress's slung low,
slung low.
Dogstar taught a dance
It goes, it goes, it goes, it goes, it goes, it goes, it goes
Arms out knees bend
The motion flows
Like the soft open petals
Of a Jessica Rose

So Sirius.
So it falls apart
It just reveals the perfect nothing.
Of everything you are
Of everything we are

Candle of life
Lights the blights and bruises
Oh lay it down
In the night
Let it soothe this
Oh hold its hands
And we'll know what truth is
Oh in its arms safe from the storms

Lyrics submitted by fistfuloflove

Stork & Owl Lyrics as written by David Andrew Sitek Babatunde Omogora Adebimpe

Lyrics © BMG Rights Management

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Stork and Owl song meanings
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  • +2
    My Interpretation‘This might be about dying and not being afraid of it.’ – I agree. That pretty much succinctly and efficiently sums up what I think it means too. I’m still going to go on big repetitive essay length spiel though (I’m bored, and I like ranting )

    The symbolism of the stars is probably the most obviously interpreted thing in this song. Within stars the process of nuclear fusion perpetually recurs, producing energy in a fiery, gaseous and complex system (clearly I’m too lazy to relearn that physics lesson). To most people a star is nothing but light and energy, words synonymous with life. Stars represent life, as a star is what gives the earth energy, allowing us to live. However, a star, the sun, will ultimately die, and thus the theme of cycles is introduced.

    This theme is strengthened with line ‘on the lonesome tide’, as a tide is also a constant cycle. Tide is personified - in fact, everything in this song to do with cycles is given human characteristics. In doing this, the listener relates humans, ourselves, to both the majesty and splendour of the stars, the way they live and die with a kind of explosive dignity, and to the quiet and ever-present force of the tide. The idea that the cycle of human life is just as miraculous and incredible as these natural phenomenons is presented.

    It’s such a simple yet timeless message. ‘If you can’t see the stars, you’ve probably gone too far’. If you lose sight of what’s important, your lust for life, and begin to fear the darkness, then you’ll be lonely and your life will lack an essential essence - a light that keeps us all going, seeking love and passion and meaning.

    I love the imagery in the second verse, the juxtaposition of an owl, small and wise, and a stork, graceful and young. I think of youth when I think of storks because of the fables involving storks delivering children, whereas owls are just conventionally thought of as wise. The owl is educating the stork, passing on his worldly knowledge. Once again, this is a reference to cycles. He says that ‘death is a door that love walks through over and over again’. I love this line, but its meaning is kind of fuzzy in my mind. It could be read negatively, but the way I see it is that humans, at the very fundamental core, are love. We love and we are loved, and then we die, which is always tragic and inevitable, but at least there was always love. In the end, that’s really the only thing that matters in life – the people we love. (I can’t believe I just wrote that. How many times did i use the world love in the paragraph? It makes me want to vomit with shame. It really does.)

    Storms often imply peril, danger and strife. The chorus is stating that we need to not fear the risky and scary things in life, and instead we should eagerly embrace ardour, immerse ourselves in… well, everything the world has to offer. The caged fire references the star mentioned earlier, and represents the fervour, spirit or ‘fire’ many of us contain within ourselves. Let this free, then hold onto it tight, because it’s the only thing that protects us from the damage that fear can inflict. Fear is a cage, causing too many people to waste away the time they’ve been given. I can relate, as can probably every human being. If I could shake my simple fears – the common fear of failure, and of being judged, mainly - my life would probably be drastically different.

    The third verse. I love how the moon and the Dog Star are personified. It paints a vivid image in my mind of dancing moons and stars, highlighting the magnificence and constant movement of space. Sirius, the brightest star, consists of Sirius A and B. B is a dwarf star which orbits A, and this is probably what the ‘dance’ alludes to. ‘It goes and it goes’ in a constant cycle, reinforcing the theme. The next line emphasizes the very basic beauty of this, fortifying the magical brilliance and definitive beauty of this phenomenon through the fairly obvious symbolism of a rose. Roses typically signify beauty, oh yeah, and also cycles (well, anything in nature represents cycles, really. I need not state the obvious. That’s probably a bit late. Grats if you read this far, btw.)... Hm, and now that I've read over it, the rose idea I have sounds extremely weak… ah well, what you gonna do.

    The final two verses kind of sum up the central meaning of this song. Yes, the bright star may die, but it doesn’t leave devastation or ruin in its wake - it leaves nothing. Perfect nothing.

    In the end we will inevitably be nothing, and nothing we did wrong or screwed up in our lifetime will make any difference.

    Therefore, life is all there is, and it is all that matters, so we should make the most of it, and fear nothing except fear itself (unashamed clichés abound… I’m sorry, but they apply here! Still, no excuse… I’m sorry.). The phrase ‘Candle of life’ evokes ideas of light and fire, and fire represents passion. If we’re passionate and zealous, the problems in our lives, ‘blights are bruises’, are not as significant, and are easily eclipsed by life’s beauty.

    To me this song just epitomizes everything music should be. That’s all I have to say about it.

    This is just my interpretation. And I wouldn’t be surprised or offended if this post is met with big fat TL;DR replies. Inb4: this is the most pretentious garbage I’ve ever read (i'll be the first to admit it is somewhat pretentious and rubbish.) :)

    AnonMcAnonymouson December 21, 2008   Link
  • +1
    My InterpretationThis song can be deeply analyzed with the images both iconic and mythological with the cases of Stork, Owl, and Sirius. It should be noted that these are all animals. Birds are commonly depicted as animals of wisdom or special knowledge, likely due to their ability soar "contemplatively" above our worldly strife if we are to anthropomorphize further.

    As it was pointed out by other posters, the Stork certainly represents birth. I dont think I need to go in any fine detail here, but what image holds the reigns of death? Is it the Owl? I think this complex tapestry of imagery actually points to Sirius being the keeper of death. Cherokee Native Americans pair Sirius (a dog) with Antares (a scorpion) as keepers of the end of the "Path of Souls." Sirius can be further extrapolated into Cerberus though it is a bit of a stretch.

    That leaves the Owl. If it is not the keeper of life or death, where does it fit in? I loved this verse so much I'm going to repost and discuss it:

    "What's this dying for"?
    Asks the Stork that soars.
    With the Owl. High above.
    Canyons mighty walls.
    Owl said "Death's a door,
    That love walks through.
    In and out. In and
    Back and forth. Back and forth".

    These are my favorite lyrics from TV on the Radio. There are several "cyclical" images in the song. Stars, Tides and Storms are all cyclical images of death and rebirth. Stars die--born into new types of stars. Tides subside, and storms bring strife, but not before stars heat galaxies, tides rise, and with storms, bring water. Each image is a contributing factor to our survival on Earth. The images and the lyrics in this verse strongly supports a cycle of death and rebirth that we find in the religions of Asia. It is my conclusion that the owl can be none other than Karma. Karma is a cosmic "score keeper" that keeps track of life as it transitions through life, death, and rebirth and determines the next life's status or standing. Having seen all and knowing all, Karma if it could be personified, would be absolute wisdom. Similar connections should be drawn between the parallels of Karma and the Owl.

    I was initially intrigued to research the lyrics of the song upon hearing the lyric "In and out. In and out. Back and forth. Back and forth." I knew TV on the Radio had some fairly intellectual views and song lyrics, so I wanted to see if they had faltered in this and had actually written a passionate/romantic verse. The reality of that line and the lyrics of the song are a highly contrasted with the crude meaning it seemed to have on the surface without examination. It is this line that solidifies for myself the cycle of death and rebirth outlined by Hindu and Buddhist views. "In and out"=="Death and Life"
    Isthanon January 04, 2010   Link
  • +1
    My InterpretationI like to think of the song as being about delusion, actually. Seems to be the opposite of what most of you see it as.

    The entire first verse works well with that, anyway. Escaping from reality and finding inner love with the illusion, but still remembering that you actually exist here, with "If you can't see the stars, you've probably gone too far", because it's dangerous to completely get lost from 'this' reality.
    The whole deal with the Stork and Owl is that only one of them is 'real'. There's one exploring this nonexistent world, and the other is their fictional love to bond and learn with. To complete each-other.
    The third verse could be about them mutually embracing this lie and loving each-other.
    The fourth verse doesn't seem that it could really mean anything in this particular way of seeing it, but it's the fifth one that made me really start liking it.
    "So Sirius, so it falls apart". It relates to science, which denies things not of this world. The world "serious" also works in that same sense, because if you think too much into it, you know it's not real and the fun is ruined. The facts of this world have to bring you back to reality and you see that your companion isn't real. Then you realize that even if this is where you are, this 'reality' is no less real or meaningful than the 'reality' where your companion waits.
    So you become more comfortable with loving this thing and knowing it loves you, too. You can't leave this reality, really, but you can know that that being is there with you, even if they really aren't, and it's a love true as any other.
    ChiliBizon December 16, 2014   Link
  • 0
    General CommentFantastic! Best song off the new album. Constant repeat for the next few months, I'm sure.

    It goes, it goes, it goes, it goes, it goes......
    saison September 25, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThis song is very Bowie-esque.

    Good song
    Majnunon September 28, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThis might be about dying and not being afraid of it.

    It could also be about discovering something inside yourself ("that caged fire thing") and something about a candle of life soothing bruises. The message isn't too clear.
    muteoffon October 05, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThe title, dialogue and magic imagery cause the lyrics to read like a fable. Even the subject, rendered so matter-of-factly reminds me of a lesson related through a children's story. Kyp has a kid, maybe that influenced his writing for this one.

    The stuff about Dogstar/Sirius reiterates the cyclic theme in the song. Cycles of, well, everything. Embrace it wholly, it's worth it. Good advice for us kids.
    kundaceon October 06, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General CommentStork=associated with birth, delivering babies.
    Owl=death omen.

    Beautiful song about birth and death, life and love.
    MrNovember33on April 30, 2009   Link
  • 0
    General CommentFucking.

    This song is about fucking. Everything about this song is a metaphor for sex. I think people are getting hung up on the "death" aspects of this song but I see death being used here in a "la petite mort" way where the brief weakening of consciousness during an orgasm is considered to be similar to dying. As for why a Stork and Owl my best guess would be because an Owl is symbolic of seeking knowledge while a Stork is symbolic of fertility and life which again, could be relating this song to a fascination with exploring sexuality.

    Some of the lines are just really obvious about it all:

    In and out, in and out
    Back and forth, back and forth

    Yeah, not exactly subtle. Love this song btw.
    Balialon February 12, 2016   Link
  • 0
    General CommentIt's a song about the duality of life and death from the perspective of a buddist or hindu."Whats this dying for?" The stork or life asks death the owl and death says "Death is a door that love walks through in and out in and out."Buddist and hindus say you can't put god into words but if you were you could say it's estatic bliss and uncondtional love(Even though it's not love but somthing like it sort of) and that god is everyone and everything experiencing it's self."Life is about overcoming parales like the songs by Jessica Rose. So serious. Then it all falls apart revealing the perfect nothing of everything you are of everything we are." The perfect nothing and love part are dead give aways along with the candle of light because they are all messages almost word for word what buddist and hindus talk about.Bob Marley "We are all one love" or "It all starts now" these are also buddist messages.I also hear christians and others speak as if they have had an awakaning experience.Sorry for the bad spelling.I suck at it and i don't have spell check on Xbox.A lot of hippies claim to have had these experiences on LSD or Mushrooms so a lot of music from the 60s and 70s has a lot to do with this kind of thing.I could go on and on about other things in the song but my spelling sucks and im to lazy.
    Flahon August 22, 2014   Link

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