The Penguin Lyric Interpretations


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Written by Christine McVie.

Contributors to this interpretation included: Stewy, Mariah, Leigh, Janet, Lisa Anne, Mary Alice, and Nicole.

Seldom can any song invoke the pure emotion that Songbird can.  The call for lyric interpretations also invoked quite a varied response as to Songbird’s origins and  meaning.

Songbird is most often believed to be about the members of the band, and how the turmoil they were going through was affecting her life. There were hard times between all of them, and the "songbirds" she sings about are all the  members of the band. The song shows how much these people meant to her and how big a role they played in her life, and the need for the members of  the band to get along with each other and keep on singing. 

Others believe Songbird to be about lovers and friends in general. She could have been listening to the birds chirping in the morning and she looked down at the man she was with and thought how wonderful it was and wonderful it was going to be -- and as she hears the birds singing they sing the feelings and confirm them--its about love and how great it is.  It could also be a song made up of the kind of promises you pledge when lying in the arms of a lover, late in the night. But these promises seem sad, as though coming after a disagreement, with the songbirds as the only witnesses. They are the kind of promises that come thoughtlessly easy in love that is still new and shiny, but take a much deeper and more sacred meaning after the love has been tested in the fire. It's tarnished but in some way, never before.  It also openly affirms one lover's sense of  responsibility for the power they now feel they have over the other's life. When you truly love someone you don't want them to ever feel a moment of pain...especially pain that you have caused, "but most of all I wish it from myself". This song gets it's tinge of sadness from the fact that, despite your best intentions, you never really have that much control over love at all.

Also, there is a bittersweet tone in the line "and the songbirds keep singing, like they know the score." It just makes you realize that even though there is happiness in a relationship, there will be sadness too. And the lovers or friends don't know the "score", such as when the sadness or tough times will come, what the trying and unhappy situations will be, and what toll they will take on the relationship really are.. Maybe she was also remembering some tough times that they have already been through. "For you there’ll be no more crying, for you the sun will be shining" could be her remembering comforting her lover during those times. The song may not  relate to one specific relationship,  but to ALL relationships.

Most agree it is song of wishes,  much like a lullaby  that a mother would sing to her young child. She wants the child to have all kinds of opportunities that she never had, or didn't take advantage of. The mother knows the child will grow up someday, but with this lullaby the child will always know how much their mother loves them. Here, the songbirds are like the watchers and the prophets.

It’s also felt that Songbird acts as a counterpoint to the anger  of some of  the other  Rumours songs such as  'Go Your Own Way'.   It’s  nice and soothing to hear "It's alright, you know it's right," and " I love you like never before". She may have meant it to have that soothing effect, and maybe she knew that there would be tension on the record and that it needed a song like Songbird to be a relief from that tension.

In Christine McVie’s own words, Songbird is "about nobody and everybody…in retrospect, it’s like an anthem…a little prayer of sorts."   What words could more aptly describe  this incredible song. 

Transcribed to HTML by Marty Adelson.

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