Interpretations:Birds Fly

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Interpretation 1[edit]

I had a thought that this song might be about TMBG themselves, and how people often see their songs as happy, cheerful, and funny, when there's actually a dark quality to a lot of them. The only problem is that I don't know whether people had that attitude toward TMBG back when the song was written. It definitely has a "turning good things into bad things" vibe, though. The birds are flying...but they end up on the guy's windshield. The good-luck charm turns out to be some kind of identification tag left by the police. And so on. --VoVat 18:21, February 4, 2005

I agree that the narrator is a criminal of some kind. The opening line of "Birds Fly" is quickly turned sour by the words "Into my windshield" in a clear indication that this isn't a pleasant individual. I also think that 'this good luck charm' is handcuffs and the line "A microscope reveals the scope of my very best intentions" shows that this is clearly not an innocent or wrongfully accused individual. But maybe it's just me. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talkcontribs) 01:37, October 2, 2008

Interpretation 2[edit]

I always thought that the "good luck charm hanging off of my arm" referred to handcuffs. The narrator therefore must be accused of some crime. Expression by way of words or poetry is definitely a central issue here. I believe the song is meant to be about someone who engages in irresponsible self-expression - protected (to an extent) by the first amendment, yet undeniably ill-natured (which would certainly describe the narrator's character if the "tiny light" of a "microscope" spans the entirety of the his goodness). Consider groups like NAMBLA, white supremicists, etc. These are people whose views may be odious, but they are likewise protected.

Yet there is the suggestion that others view the narrator as a well-natured person. Someone must be on the other end of that microscope. By chance, the microscope has happened upon the "only nice part" of the narrator, giving us the illusion that he's a noble character.

The question is, who's looking? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talkcontribs) 00:35, February 10, 2005

The public. They see him as a good guy, because he's RATHER FAMOUS! But they don't see his dark side. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talkcontribs) 09:00, July 6, 2005

Interpretation 3[edit]

This might be on the same lines a "Racist friend" someone who deludes themselves into thinking they're an ok person, when really they just aren't. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talkcontribs) 17:37, November 29, 2010

Artistic Fame, Shallowness, and Public Perception[edit]

I've always interpreted this similarly to Interpretation 1, but on a broader scale. I feel it's about how an audience doesn't really *know* a person. Frank Sinatra might be a good figure to envision here, since he was widely known to have quite a nasty side, despite having a smooth and charming public persona that fits well with this song.

Anyway: it starts with a cheerful sounding "spin" on what sounds like a bit of a rampage. As pointed out elsewhere,"birds fly into my windshield" is a pretty way to describe smashing into birds and killing them. And of course, there's the good luck charm/handcuffs. "Thoughts fall from my thoughts" sounds like people are wondering what the narrator's thinking, interested and likely biased toward forgiving him.

Next you have:

Words fall out from my pockets

And cats dance under my feet

This colorful spell under which I live

Protects me from all I write

This figure has something expressable to give out as they stand above a crowd. They toss out their words as cats (as in, hepcats, daddy-o) dance to it. Put another way, you say something with your music and that's your contribution to the world - people dance to it, and love you for it.

That's where the colorful spell comes from. The public's view of you. Are you a crooner? You must be a smooth ladies' man. And as a figure of entertainment, you're not very scrutinized for what you're writing. It's less true nowadays, but it seems unlikely anyone's seriously confronted Sinatra over problematic lyrics because, hey, it's a Sinatra song. You know how he is!

And the microscope reveals the scope Of my very best intentions Oh, yes, the tiny light shines twice as bright On the only nice part of me```

Your likable, charming qualities are magnified by fame. I mean, that's why stuff like talk shows are a thing. People want to hear from a figure whose work they enjoy and like them. Even a spotlight that would need to be extremely tiny to capture all of the nice parts of you is presented to the public.

I don't know about you, but I like to think the Johns are nice people. But we don't really know them personally, so we build up this idea in our heads based on how they act in public. 05:41, 28 August 2020 (EDT)