Little red bird under a chair
Waiting for the crumbs to fall
Daddy said "Get a job"
Well don't you see, Daddy, how good I am at catching crumbs?

Guns and gods and little red birds
Guns and gods and little red birds

General Custer, it's said
Overestimated his abilities to win
Sitting Bull turned the table on him
A comfort to count the battles won after the war is lost
Little red bird

Guns and gods and little red birds
Guns and gods and little red birds
A comfort to count the battles won after the war is lost

Comfort to count the battles won after the war is lost

Guns and gods and little red birds
Guns and gods and little red birds
Comfort to count the battles won after the war is lost

If there was a place hidden in the stars
Reflectin' on heaven's graces
If God had an honest face
A troubled expression would be watching the human race

Lyrics submitted by T_D_Phoenix, edited by iankuhn

Little Red Bird song meanings
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  • +1
    My InterpretationI think this song has a deep political meaning. It was written not too long after the 2008 Presidential Campaign, when President Obama was criticized by many for his comment that there are people in the country who cling to their bibles and their guns. I think Dave uses guns and gods as a reference to the bibles and guns from the President's comments and the little red birds that are struggling to pick up the crumbs under the table are the same ones who are being fooled by the leaders in certain political movements to cling to the bibles and guns... I think the closing phrase "If God had an honest face, A troubled expression would be watching the human race" describes the puzzled look that someone looking at the political system in America would have when they see Gods and Guns being used to keep the little red birds voting against their own best interests and while keeping them at the bottom chipping away at the crumbs left by the wealthy who are pulling the strings.
    dulberry1on April 25, 2012   Link
  • 0
    General Commentno comments? wow this is a great song, wish i knew what it meant...
    jack9440on February 16, 2010   Link
  • 0
    My InterpretationI love this song. Can't say for sure what Dave intended it all to mean, but for me it made me think a lot. What is considered "good" can differ drastically based on different perspectives.
    In the first verse I interpreted "catching crumbs" as doing the bare minimum to get by, while "get a job" is analogous to going out/working hard to improve one's situation. Thinking back to my own childhood I could relate. My father always pushed me to do more and do better, but all I ever wanted was for him to recognize and praise the minor accomplishments I had already made.
    Verse two touches on a common Dave theme, i.e. smypathy for the plight of native americans in this country (see: Don't Drink the Water). I feel like the story of Gen. Custard is a common story in white American history as omen for what can happen if you get too cocky and take your oppenent too lightly. A great lesson, yes; and likely a celebrated victory for Native American history ... but sadly a victory that ultimate did nothing to prevent the ultimate mistreatment of Native Americans in this country. As an interesting sidenote, I've always heard that British history books have a 100% different written history of the American Revolutionary war than we're generally taught in public schools in the US (British history being much more favorable to the British and less crediting to the American side of things). Just another example, using wars, as how different opinions can be on what is/isn't good.
    The third verse is my favorite. Just stepping back and thinking about human civilizatoin in generally I would assume most people would applaud all the amazing technological and infrastructural, ect. advances our kind has made since cavemen/Biblical times. However, given the level of immorality present in much of our culture today I would wonder if our Creator would share such a positive view.

    Again, this is all my personal opinion/interpretation. I'd be interested to hear what others think.
    Dave would call this a "tiny" little song, but to me it's a very powerful prose of peotry.
    pittsburgh1028on February 26, 2010   Link
  • 0
    General CommentGood interpretation, Pittsburgh1028. I was at the Dave and Tim Reynolds show in Vegas when they played it live for the first time. Dave said he was on vacation with his family and everyday they saw the same red bird. It only had one leg and would awkwardly hop around and sit and wait for crumbs. Obviously the song has a deeper meaning than just that, but that was what inspired the song.
    SoDamnLuckyon March 02, 2010   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI believe Dave was referencing the Cardinal.
    In Native American lore, the Cardinal (little red bird) is a monogamous, lifelong mate. It's believed that if you are single and a Cardinal crosses your path, you will find romance.
    In the 1st verse, Dave appears to be referencing an old fashioned father telling his daughter to find a husband (mother, wife, homemaker). She replies that she is happy with companionships that don't tie her down or interfere with her career.
    In verse 2, Dave does 2 things: 1, he ties the Little Red Bird to Native American Lore. 2, he makes the analogy that winning the battle can cost you the war. The NA's won the battle at Little Big Horn. But, they never won another battle as the Calvary showed no mercy from that time on.
    In verse 3, Dave appears to be reflecting on the state of today's torn families. (Single parents, divorce, same sex marriages).
    goggles4saxon January 02, 2016   Link

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