Grandfather Said by The Ethnographers

The Ethnographers- an Indie-Rock band- have written some of the most poetic songs I have ever had the pleasure to listen to, including ”Grandfather Said”. In this soothing and melodious mix of music and voice, the singers tell the story of life, and the natural cycle of death.
The intro of the song starts with a boy talking to a leaf he finds. He asks it what it thinks of dying, and when it doesn’t answer, he picks it up. After realizing what’s going on, the leaf immediately tells him that what he’s doing is wrong, and that she wants to die in the Forest, not in his song.

“I asked this leaf as she fell from a tree, I said
‘What do you think of dying?’ and she said nothing back to me
So I picked her up, and out of the dirt

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She said ‘no, no, no, no, this is all wrong’ she said
‘I belong in the forest, not as a line in one of your songs’
So I let go, and she fell to the earth

I belong in the forest”

In the next few lines, the vocalist tells us about his grandfather, who wonders if his grandson fears death.

Of course, after listening to the wise wisdom of the leaf, the young man says “…no, It’s as natural as the setting sun.”
In a turn of events, the grandfather walks into the setting sun, completing his journey. What a beautiful way to represent passing from one place to another, and a symbolic interpretation of sorrow; like the sun, everyone will die eventually, it’s a mournful cycle of light and dark, Life and Death.

“This old man said ‘do you fear death, son?’
I said, ‘no, no, no, its just as natural as the setting sun’
He walked away, into the sunset to die

I belong in the forest”

After the Grandfather dies, the boy feels like he has to go through so many tests, and trials, and questions. He gets tired, and lets his words fail him at times. He resents falling asleep, and he doesn’t want to forget the pain he clings so desperately to. It’s the only emotion he feels, and yet he asks to drift off after so much struggle.

“All these true and false fill in the blanks have been
Making my eyes heavy and making my voice faint
To spite my tired eyes, I’m staying up all night
Staying up all night, staying up all night

Sing, sing, sing, sing me a lullaby
Sing, sing, sing, sing me a lullaby
Sing, sing, sing, sing me a lullaby to sleep

A lullaby

I belong in the forest

Sing, sing, sing, sing me a lullaby
Sing, sing, sing, sing me a lullaby
Sing, sing, sing, sing me a lullaby to sleep”

I feel like we can all gain some solace from this song, and realize that, like the setting sun, and the death of a leaf, we are all a tragically wonderful piece of nature.

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