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<  'Ellipse' Discussion  ~  Little Bird Interpretation

DavidB
Posted: Tue Nov 03, 2009 2:58 pm Reply with quote
Joined: 02 Jul 2009 Posts: 1203 Location: London
I found this web page with various interpretations of 'Little Bird'. There is a very interesting interpretation by 'SimonGui'. I find the general drift of this quite convincing, though some of his detailed points are a bit too specific to be really provable from the lyrics. One point I would add is that the nature of the music itself should be taken into account as well as the lyrics. Superficially it is a simple child-like melody, but under the surface it is quite complicated and dislocated - it is actually quite difficult to say at any given time what key it is in. The arrangement also starts very simple but builds up in complexity and develops (for me, anyway) a growing sense of unease and foreboding. The most brilliant moment, I think, is when a very sweet close harmony is used for the words 'we smell rats in the kitchen'. Overall, I think it is one of Immi's very best songs to date.

Anyway, here's the link:

http://www.songmeanings.net/songs/view/3530822107858792888/
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AvantGuy
Posted: Tue Nov 03, 2009 5:55 pm Reply with quote
Joined: 12 Feb 2009 Posts: 117 Location: New York
DavidB wrote:
... Overall, I think it is one of Immi's very best songs to date.

It is stunningly beautiful - one of my all time faves. As you point out, it's also quite deceptively simple.
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RBerman
Posted: Wed Nov 04, 2009 6:44 pm Reply with quote
Joined: 19 Mar 2008 Posts: 114
It's some sort of suburban family scene in which outwardly all is tranquil and well-maintained, but inwardly things are not so good. Immi would have to comment how much it was informed by her own experiences growing up, and how much is just a fictional vignette.
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emkappel
Posted: Sat Jan 23, 2010 11:19 pm Reply with quote
Joined: 20 Apr 2009 Posts: 226 Location: Wyoming
I was reading Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows on my trip last week and there was this line in chapter three:
Quote:
There could be no chance of them being separated... Harry glanced at the carriage clock on the mantlepiece.

I thought it was interesting, as that whole section of verse very well explains the mood of this chapter.

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-emkap-
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EmmaRose
Posted: Wed Jan 27, 2010 12:46 am Reply with quote
Joined: 11 Dec 2008 Posts: 76 Location: Canada
I always presumed the four-letter word was L-O-V-E
(& that it had become a dirty word in the household)

Hmmm. . .
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Wild Child
Posted: Wed Jan 27, 2010 1:24 am Reply with quote
Guest
You mean AlexGui? lol. Did the lyrics make you type "Simon"?
Ken's_Odyssey
Posted: Thu Jan 28, 2010 11:37 am Reply with quote
Joined: 06 Nov 2009 Posts: 29 Location: Toronto, Ontario
Here is my interpretation.

My guess is that the narrator, who may or may not be Imogen, is asking a series of questions because there is a shortage of information. Some essential information is missing that would complete a picture.

We know birds in the wild can fly over private property and observe humans from a safe distance. They are perfect spies in a sense. Who better to ask than a perfect spy? This bird observes a household.

Some questions are asked. What do you hear? What do you see? Where are they now? How are you feeling? What can we do? The language is clear enough. Some things are disturbing, “we smell rats in the kitchen”. The kitchen is often thought of as the heart of the home -- the nurturing centre, if you like. The rats are symbolic spoilers because something is wrong and the heart of the home is threatened. It could be a breakup.

I think the third last question is also very important. “How are you feeling?” This is more direct. It would be interesting to ask Imogen if there is a more subtle meaning for the word bird. I’ve posed an idea above. But maybe there is another possibility that becomes clear as the song progresses. A “bird” is a slang English expression for girl. So little bird could be little girl. Substitute girl for bird. Then it becomes little ‘girl’ how are you feeling? The feelings and thoughts are expressed. Help is out of reach because little bird is a little child.

That leads to the last question. “Where have you gone?” There is still an empty space, some part of the narrator is missing or unfulfilled. This could tie into the last section of my interpretation if you substitute girl for the word bird. Notice the last question posed is an open and unanswered question.

So a little bird told me. Most of us have used that phrase at one time or another to protect someone’s identity when you have received some withheld or secret info. This little bird tells us the story.

Criticism welcomed.

You can easily guess that I think this is an excellent song imho.


Last edited by Ken's_Odyssey on Sat Jan 30, 2010 9:17 pm; edited 1 time in total
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RBerman
Posted: Thu Jan 28, 2010 6:57 pm Reply with quote
Joined: 19 Mar 2008 Posts: 114
Hmm... "Little bird" meaning "little girl".... that makes a lot of sense, actually. The answers in the fourth verse ("How are you feeling?") show that the "bird" is a participant in the household, not just an outside observer as I had assumed. And the fifth verse ("What can we do?") has references to children's amusements (Simon Says, Etch-a-Sketch).

"Bird=female" is the same metaphor used in the Beatles songs "And Your Bird Can Sing" (about Mick Jagger's singer girlfriend Marianne Faithfull) and "Blackbird" (about the American civil rights movement).

Good catch!
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Ken's_Odyssey
Posted: Sat Jan 30, 2010 7:02 pm Reply with quote
Joined: 06 Nov 2009 Posts: 29 Location: Toronto, Ontario
Hello RBerman:
Thanks for your comments. Yes the bird /girl theory definitely came from memories of those songs of the 60s. We’re a diversified age group here I think.

PS I see (on another thread) that we like some of the same female singers e.g. Emmylou. & Patty Griffin etc. I would add Nanci Griffith and Joni Mitchell.
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alex9494
Posted: Sun Apr 04, 2010 6:47 pm Reply with quote
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Hello. I'm Alexgui...it's really rather fantastic to find that other people are as intrigued by "Little Bird" as I! The theory posted by Ken is really boggling my mind, in a superb way; I'd never heard of that slang usage, but I'm an odd ball.

But, right, I just wanted to say that I'm going to revise my post regarding Little Bird on that website. As I evolve as a writer, and as a person, I really love visiting old work and infusing it with what's become of me.

All the best,
Alex
mariarules11
Posted: Fri Apr 09, 2010 7:50 pm Reply with quote
Joined: 08 Apr 2010 Posts: 253 Location: Idaho
Wow. Wow, thats a great interpretation.
Now i need to find the meaning of 2-1!

_________________
PROUD IMMI FAN SINCE MAY 09

"If i was your dog, i would $h*t on you."

----------------------------------------

I just like wearing my kind of clothes, which attracts some strange looks. Today I’m wearing a bright pink petticoat with loads of layers, a black-and-white patterned skirt over that, my white boots and fluffy legwarmers. My hair is hugely backcombed. I look like a bush. Then I’ve got a Victorian jacket on. People have been looking at me like ‘what is that?'.
-Immi
-------------------------------------------------
~~~I saw Immi in Portland, Oregon!~~~
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