The birds are the keepers of our secret as they saw us where we lay
In the deepest grass of springtime in a reckless guilty haze
And they wove a sweet indifference and it settled on our skin
Till the eyes that I remembered for the last time drew me in

The birds
Though I wore you glacial patience to a smudge of bitter dust
On the last day you embraced me with a glistening sapling trust
Did they sing a million blessings as they watched us slowly part
Do they keep those final kisses in their tiny racing hearts

What are we gonna do with you
Same tale every time
What are we gonna do with you
Come on inside
Looking back is for the birds

Lyrics submitted by Iemanja75

"The Birds" as written by Craig Lee Potter Guy Edward John Garvey

Lyrics © Warner Chappell Music, Inc.

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The Birds song meanings
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  • +4
    General CommentGarvey expanded on the song; "My favourite songs pick on things I've not heard written about before," he said. "In that song the character, who I guess is me as an old man, is looking back on that love affair. The middle eight became the voices of his carers, quite doomy voices saying: 'What we going to do with you, come on inside, looking back is for the birds.' Patronising him almost: 'Come on, always the same with you', the way that old people are spoken to generally. I suppose I'm saying it's wrong to patronise old people and assume they haven't felt everything that you've felt and remember it very clearly."
    niteflite01on March 22, 2011   Link
  • +2
    Link(s)This song links in very closely to Newborn, from Elbow's first album. Newborn, for those who don't know, is about an old woman with Dimentia who is begging her husband to love her regardless of it and let him know that she wants him to be her's for the rest of her days. The title refers to that same vulnerability and neediness of a newborn child.

    This song is continuing the story in my opinion. Except, this time, it's from the perspective of the surviving partner who now lives in a care home. This man is in fact a lonely old man but is stuck in the memory of his beloved, now passed on.

    The lyrics highlight some very strong ties between the two songs. For example, the man says,
    "Though I wore you glacial patience to a smudge of bitter dust." This smudge of bitter dust could be the Dimentia and its effects on the relationship, result in death.

    "On the last day you embraced me with a glistening sapling trust." Perhaps referring to the kick at the end of Newborn which talks of their last embrace, "Holding me, shaking, awake in the dark."

    "Did they sing a million blessings as they watched us slowly part?" Are the birds wishing luck and blessings unto this man as they witness him lose his lover for the first and last time?

    "Do they keep those final kisses in their tiny racing hearts?" Those final kisses referring to, once again, the kick at the end of Newborn, "Press your lips to my eyes."

    This is an extraordinarily sad song despite its upbeat drive. The patronising of the carers. The loneliness of the man who has only 'the birds' as his keepsake and witnesses of their marriage. I hope this man is okay.
    georgeporteron June 13, 2013   Link
  • 0
    My OpinionSo far, i've heard 5 minutes of the new Elbow album and so far, I really like it!
    My guess is it's about looking back on a lover who has died?
    The last verse ... i don't know, it kinda throws me off.
    TKirbyon March 21, 2011   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI really wanted to not like this song. Starts the CD off very slow and low toned......but it picks up n when Garvey explodes into the chorus, it instantly reminds me why I love Elbow. Always a story...always pure emotion!!
    Weaslemulberryon May 16, 2011   Link

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