The magpie comes a-calling
drops a marble from the sky
tin roof sounds alarming
wake up child
let this be a warning says the magpie to the morning
don't let this fading summer pass you by
don't let this fading summer pass you by

Black hands held so high
the vulture wheels and dives
something on the thermals yanked his chain
he smelled your boring apex
rotting on the train tracks
he laughed under his breath because you thought you could outrun sorrow

take your own advice
cause thunder and lightning gets you rain
run an airtight mission, a Cousteau expedition
find a diamond at the bottom of the drain
a diamond at the bottom of the drain

here I go

mockingbirds sing in the middle of the night
all his songs are stolen so he hides
stolen from the mouth of the whiporwill, screaming car alarms
he sings 'em for you special
he knows you're afraid of the dark
come on sorrow, take your own advice
hide under the bed, turn out the light

the stars this night in the sky are ringing out
you can almost hear them saying
close your eyes now kid
close your eyes now kid
morning's teeth are lit
they are waiting
they are waiting

Lyrics submitted by crowdedsky

Magpie To The Morning song meanings
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  • +5
    General CommentWhat I hear in this one is someone emerging from depression at the end of a significant romantic relationship, with nature having emerged as the catalyst to whatever healing is going on. But not necessarily in a kind way . . .

    The death of something is alluded to throughout with the birds mentioned: magpies and vultures notoriously eat roadkill/carrion, whip-poor-wills, by popular legend, sing when a soul leaves someone's body, etc. "An airtight mission / A Cousteau exhibition to find a diamond at the bottom of the drain" seems to suggest the kind of constant & prolonged mental gymnastics that people often engage in following the end of a marriage/partnership, if one assumes that the "diamond" is meant to suggest A) the symbol of romantic commitment, and B) that it's "down the drain," literally.

    The magpie's admonition to wake up to the beauty of the present indicates that the person being addressed is absorbed in the past. The thieving mockingbird sings a death song and the cacophony of car alarms "for [the depressed individual] special" as signifiers of chaos and loss.

    But it's the end of the song that I find most interesting - the idea that "morning's teeth are lit," and that they "are waiting," that is. The idea of the coming day having teeth is not exactly reassuring, after all, yet the thrust of the song seems to be a kind of carpe diem call to release one's self from navel-gazing.

    So, overall what I'm getting out of "MttM" is more of the terrible beauty of nature that Neko seems to focus on so often, and in this case, it serves as a reminder that actual death is coming, so stop wasting days wishing to revive a romance that is gone.

    mcbearon March 16, 2009   Link
  • +2
    General CommentI'm really passionate about this song, and I'm glad you all are, too. However, I think the reference to "morning's teeth [being] lit" is not only a metaphor for something looming dreadfully on the horizon, but maybe symbolizes the horizon itself.

    I live in New York City, and get up early enough to watch the sunrise. Sometimes it makes the silhouette of the buildings look a little like teeth. It reminds me of a Death Cab for Cutie song called Crooked Teeth: "'Cause at night, the sun in retreat made the skyline look like crooked teeth, in the mouth of a man who was devouring us both." (Here, he is talking about the sunset, but it's the same idea.)

    I like the idea that it could be literal and metaphorical, but after all, we don't get a lot of magpies here in New York. All these references to birds sort of make me think of a more rural setting. Any opinions?
    trustme2012on September 02, 2010   Link
  • +1
    General CommentYeah, this one is my favorite, with Fever coming in a close second.

    I too love the Mockingbird reference, as well as the Cousteau expedition.

    Think it could be based on that lullaby "Mockingbird" as in "Daddy's gonna buy you a Mockingbird"?
    Emma318on March 12, 2009   Link
  • 0
    General Commentsomething on the thermos yanked his chain = something on the thermals yanked his chain?


    he sings I'm four years special = He sings 'em for you special?
    Emma318on March 10, 2009   Link
  • 0
    General CommentYes to both of those corrections. I love the line about the mockingbird singing his song for someone who's afraid of the dark. In general, I think this song is gorgeous, becoming one of my favorites from the new album.
    persimmonon March 12, 2009   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI like mcbear's interpretation a lot. I just wanted to add that I thought the most significant line is "don't let this fading summer pass you by." At first I thought the "fading summer" was a reference to her aging and she shouldn't let what's left of her youth pass her by while she's wallowing in whatever she's wallowing in (depression, unrequited love?). I just can't figure out why the magpie would be saying that to the morning or how that fits in with the morning's teeth being lit. Anyone?
    norasdadon May 11, 2009   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI love the reference to the mockingbird singing to comfort the person who is afraid of the dark. That really strikes me hard for some reason. I guess it's just something comforting in a world where everything is so unpredictable.

    The fading summer line seems most significant to me as well. Spring and Summer are my favorite times of the year, so that line probably just reminds me of the happiness and carefree feelings associated with those seasons. Could morning's teeth have something to do with the sun? The sky is what gets lit up in the morning (obviously), by the sun of course, so it makes sense to me.

    I don't know. This song is really intense for me to listen to...brings out a lot of emotions.
    tasseomancyon January 07, 2010   Link
  • 0
    General Commentthe lines that really spoke to me were:
    "come on sorrow, take your own advice
    hide under the bed, turn out the light."
    it seems as though she's realized the magpie's warning about not letting the summer (or her life) pass her by and she's throwing Sorrow's advice back in its face. sorrow made her feel like hiding under the bed, but she is ready to move on and instead wishes the sorrow would "hide under the bed" or go away.
    dumbledore222on March 13, 2010   Link
  • 0
    Song MeaningI get a feeling that, in general, this is about the challenge of writing songs. The lines 'run an airtight mission / a Cousteau expedition / find a diamond at the bottom of the drain' are wonderful and I just get this picture of someone psyching themselves up for a tough job knowing that there is if they are disciplined they'll be rewarded. So many of her songs are personal that it's hard to know what they really mean. She does have a way with words though.
    ginintonicon August 27, 2011   Link
  • 0
    General CommentGreat song and lyrics. It is about middle age and becoming aware of Mortality and unfulfilled dreams

    Black hands held so high
    the vulture wheels and dives
    something on the thermals yanked his chain
    he smelled your boring apex

    Faded summer is the portion of your life where it is all in front of you, fall is the impending darkness. The diamond in the drain is about last ditch hope ( as you are circling the drain) Neko Case is middled aged.
    QuimbyJoneon August 15, 2012   Link

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