"Fiddler's Green" as written by Robert Baker, Gordon Downie, Johnny Fay, Paul Langlois and Gordon Sinclair....
One, two, three, four, one, two

September seventeen
For a girl I know it's Mother's Day
Her son has gone alee
And that's where he will stay
Wind on the weathervane
Tearing blue eyes sailor-mean
As Falstaff sings a sorrowful refrain
For a boy in Fiddler's Green

His tiny knotted heart
Well, I guess it never worked too good
The timber tore apart
And the water gorged the wood
You can hear her whispered prayer
For men at masts that always lean
The same wind that moves her hair
Moves a boy through Fiddler's Green

Oh nothing's changed anyway
Oh nothing's changed anyway
Oh anytime today

He doesn't know a soul
There's nowhere that he's really been
But he won't travel long alone
No, not in Fiddler's Green
Balloons all filled with rain
As children's eyes turn sleepy-mean
And Falstaff sings a sorrowful refrain
For a boy in Fiddler's Green


Lyrics submitted by black_cow_of_death

"Fiddler's Green" as written by Gordon Sinclair Gordon Downie

Lyrics © Peermusic Publishing

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Fiddler's Green song meanings
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27 Comments

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  • +7
    General CommentThis song is an elegy for a dead child.

    Fiddler's Green is a kind of "sailor's heaven," where sailors go when they die. Downie sticks with the nautical metaphor by suggesting that the child has "gone alee" (downwind) and comparing his heart failure with the sinking of a wooden ship.

    There's not much else to say about what this "means."

    Folk singer John connolly did a song called "Fiddler's Green" in 1970, which includes these lines:
    Now Fiddler's Green is a place I've heard tell
    Where fishermen go when they don't go to Hell
    Where the weather is fair and the dolphins do play
    And the cold coast of Greenland is far, far away

    Then there's "Final Trawl" by folk singer Archie Fisher:
    And when I die, you can stow me down
    In her rusty hold, where the breakers sound
    Then I'll make the haven and the Fiddler's Green
    Where the grub is good and the bunks are clean

    But the traditional idea of Fiddler's Green is much older than that. It was coopted by landlubbers and appears in an old post-Civil-War U.S. Cavalry song:
    Halfway down the trail to hell
    In a shady meadow green,
    Are the souls of all dead troopers camped
    Near a good old-time canteen
    And this eternal resting place
    Is known as Fiddler's Green.
    wonderdogon January 31, 2005   Link
  • +4
    General CommentI was at the show in Saskatoon as well. Someone held up a sign requesting that they play Fiddler's Green. Gord acknowledged the sign and stated that they until recently they never ever played this one live as it carried so much pain, and then introduced the song. It was as awesome as you would expect. It is very touching to know how personal this song is for the band... the performance was amazing.
    corykon August 06, 2009   Link
  • +3
    General CommentVeteran of 200+ shows here and I've not heard it live once (DANG!). They didn't play it for years, then it popped up in the mid 2000's (at a benefit show of some sort, which I missed). Since then it's been performed a only few times. It's my guess that Gord Sinclair (who has traditionally generalled setlist duties each night) would not scribble "Fiddler's" down without first asking Mr D if he was up for it. The song is about GD's sister and her young son. It seems to me that the song is inserted only for a very specific reason which is meaningful to the band and all fans, as a tribute, maybe when a famous life is cut short in the days leading up to the show (the Hip's way of flying their "freak flag" at half mast in a display of respect). Next time I play hockey with GD, I'll ask him about it.
    theymademesignuptosaythison May 08, 2010   Link
  • +2
    General CommentMaybe people will notice this song. I heard a Cover of this song on the radio by the stereophonics. But they don't sing it nearly as good as Gord Downie does.
    The tragically Hip is the greatest band ever, and they don't get any credit.
    Fully__Completelyon March 07, 2003   Link
  • +2
    General CommentI can't add much more to wonderdog's comment, except to mention that a personification of Fiddler's Green appears as a character in the Sandman comics by Neil Gaiman, and, coincidentally enough, becomes a dead child's heaven at the end of one story arc.
    Blue_Manon February 23, 2005   Link
  • +2
    General CommentThe child is Downie's sister's boy. It has never been sung live. I guess because of the deep meaning to Gord. One of the lines is "ballons filled with rain" which I believe are referring to intravenous bottles.
    heartbeats_xxxon September 08, 2006   Link
  • +2
    General CommentCorrection: this song had never been sung live until 2006.
    ProudesterMonkeyon January 18, 2007   Link
  • +2
    General CommentHeartbeats is correct, this is about his nephew who was stricken down by cancer. He wrote this song for him as a tribute. I was under the impression that he would never perform it live but I could be wrong.
    cedartieon February 07, 2007   Link
  • +2
    General CommentProbably the most moving song the Hip have ever done.
    justholdstillon October 01, 2008   Link
  • +2
    General CommentMany Years ago at this point, MadScooter said:

    You're right, the Hip don't get enough credit, its cuz the huge world of consumers live in America.

    I just want to say as an American that grew up on the Canadian border, and one who has spent a fair amount of time in Kingston, Ottawa, Cornwall, Toronto an Ontario, Not all Americans are complete jack off's. The hip has a (Relatively speaking) huge following along the boarder towns near to Kingston and all along the St. Lawrence River. I remember as a young teenager when The Hip first came on the scene. We grew up with their music, the Quintessential bar music, bonfire party music and all around good timin music. It's the kind of music that makes every young boy want to learn how to play guitar and drums if only just to jam your heart out along with the prolific number of tracks this band has put out. And although my fascination with their music began to fade with Phantom Power, I still count them among my favorite bands and know all the words to the majority of their songs by heart from having listen to them all many hundreds of times over the years. I've seen them play at the Corel Center, at a small bar in Ottawa and at the Sugar Bush. Of all the concerts I have been to, I count each of these experiences among my most treasured. And although It makes me sad that this amazing group of performers never caught on in the greater United States, over all I'm actually happy this should be the case. The hip did not succumb to the degradations of commercialization that so many bands get tied up in. The Hip always felt natural, true to their art, passionate about their music. And in my estimation, both the band and their fans (that border on fanatical) profited greatly for it. Had the American Commercial Machine taken up The Hip, I am afraid that they would have been corrupted and made into something PoPish, fake and dismal. If "Credit" is a matter of Global recognition, then it is fair to say that The Hip has not had enough of it. But for me, Credit is the way in which they touch their fans, and the response that their music invokes from them. The love between Hip Fans and the band is altogether different then that of a more recognizable Justin Beaber type. I'll take The hip with their smaller global recognition over ANY of today’s modern PoP artists. Let The Hip keep their Integrity, and let the rest of the world have the boy bands.
    Singaloon March 12, 2012   Link

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