I'm home again in my old narrow bed
Where I grew tall and my feet hung over the end
The low beam room with the window looking out
On the soft summer garden
Where the boys grew in the trees

Here I grew guilty
And no one was at fault
Frightened by the power in every innocent thought
And the silent understanding passing down
From daughter to daughter
Let the boys grow in the trees

Do you go to them or do you let them come to you
Do you stand in back afraid that you'll intrude
Deny yourself and hope someone will see
And live like a flower
While the boys grew in the trees

Last night I slept in sheets the colour of fire
Tonight I lie alone again and curse my own desires
Sentenced first to burn and then to freeze
And watch by the window
Where the boys grew in the trees


Lyrics submitted by shut

Boys in the Trees Lyrics as written by Carly E. Simon

Lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

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Boys In The Trees song meanings
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  • +4
    My Interpretation

    This is a woman's remembrance of the summer she reached the cusp of adolescence, and began to be attracted to boys.

    The singer has returned as an adult to the family home and to her childhood bedroom. This room, with its single bed and low ceiling beams, created problems for the singer as she grew taller (by implication, during the growth spurts of adolescence). But the most absorbing problem was that its window looked down over the garden where boys, who she had begun to be attracted to, would play in the trees.

    She found herself wanting to be with boys in ways she knew were frowned on by church and school. Her desires made her feel guilty, and were strong enough to frighten her. And all the while her mother looked on in silent sympathy, as her grandmother had done while her mother went through this stage in her turn. The singer was somehow given to understand that she must let time pass, and let the boys be boys until they developed the capacity to reciprocate her feelings.

    At that age, the singer had no experience with regard to romance and boys, and recounts the ways by which she sought to attract their interest ('go to them', 'let them come to you', 'hope someone will see'). Her bewilderment stands in clear contrast to the boys, who are still content with their simple play, not yet having reached their own adolescence. The line 'live like a flower' seems pivotal, and conveys an image of her standing looking quietly lovely in the garden, while above her the boys play on regardless. She must wait patiently for the fruit to ripen in the trees and fall at her feet.

    The last verse brings the singer back to the present. Though she's now fully grown and passionate ('sheets the colour of fire', 'curse my own desires', 'burn and... freeze'), she sleeps alone and frustrated. She has had both euphoria and disappointment with men, and even in adulthood, still feels all the discontent of having to wait for males to catch up to her.

    The reprised last line of each verse contains an undertone of 'boys don't grow on trees' (i.e. there isn't an endlessly available supply of them). In her case, that is just where the boys were growing, as they played that soft summer, tantalisingly out of reach, fruit that wasn't yet ready.

    This has long been my favourite Carly Simon song, so personal and wonderfully-realised a crystalisation of a girl's adolescent confusion, all sung to that lovely limpid acoustic guitar-based accompaniment.

    TrueThomason January 08, 2013   Link
  • +2
    My Interpretation

    I think this is a recognition of a girl/woman's own sexual power and a realization of its diminishing worth.

    Young women have the control and power of selection, 'passing down from daughter to daughter...' Their vast choice of men are literally like leaves on a tree, as females of all species tend to be the natural arbiters of sex and desire. 'Let them there', mothers suggest to their daughters.

    But as a woman ages, that power struggle between men and women reverses and it is often the boys who have become men that have a variety of choices.

    The first and last lyrics refer to present tense: 'where the boys grew in the trees'. In other words, they are no longer there. Did she miss her chance to be with one out of caution or did she simply hold out too long?

    ctlizyrdon February 10, 2021   Link

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