What does Rain King mean?

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Counting Crows: Rain King Meaning


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Song Released: 1995

Rain King Lyrics

When I think of heaven (Deliver me in a black-winged bird)
I think of flying down into a sea of pens and feathers
and all other instruments of faith and sex and God
In the belly of a black-winged bird
Don't try to feed me
I've been here...

  1. anonymous
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    Aug 25th 2020 report

    I first heard this song back in January 1994 when my twenty-three year old son was missing for two months. We left Oregon and went to look everywhere for him near Vail, Colorado where he'd been living at the time. He had been at a bar and left to walk home when he disappeared. I had psychics tell me he was alive but couldn't reach me. The words "Mama, mama, mama why am I so alone, 'cause I can't go outside I'm scared I might not make it home" felt like he was calling out to me for help. Then the lines "Well I'm alive, I'm alive but I'm sinking in" were when he was dying in the snow and couldn't get up from where he fell off the side of a highway embankment and "I belong anywhere but in between" made me think he was gone but not settled into it yet. His body was found by a fisherman in the Spring, frozen to death, and the words "When I think of heaven, deliver me in a black winged bird, I think of dying, lay me down in a field of flame and heather" brought back the words of the psychics who told me he'd be found when the flowers bloomed. This is only my personal interpretation and probably nothing to do with the real meaning. The song still makes me cry every time I hear it twenty-six+ years later.

  2. anonymous
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    Jul 26th 2020 report

    Not sure what the book was about, but sounds like he was in a relationship with someone who deceived him and he was hurt and laid his problems on his mother who cried "Rain" (she cried because of the hurt and the worry she was burdened with and probably warned him about) because she was aging and wanted him to be safe. Leaving the family and taking a risk with a women who are evil or deceptive "she's lying". So, he slept with evil and had to sneak into heaven in the "belly of a blacked winged bird" and hope he makes it. So, his mother took the burden as well as he for making a bad decision that lasted a lifetime because he cared, but evil does not.

  3. anonymous
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    Jan 28th 2018 report

    The entire song is a reference to the 1959 novel written by Saul Bellow entitled "Henderson the Rain King". The primary character, Eugene Henderson, leaves his affluent American life to explore Africa. The lyrics of song, service of the Queen, Rainking, etc. all directly relate to this book.

  4. anonymous
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    Jul 22nd 2017 report

    "Don't try to bleed me" must be a reference to the treatment of bloodletting, which was used to try to cure people of illnesses in the 18th century. Doctors used leeches and other ways to get people to "bleed out" the evil humours that were supposedly making them sick. But at some point, doctors realized that bloodletting was killing their patients rather than curing them. I believe that (president) George Washington's death may have been hastened by this odd practice.

  5. anonymous
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    Nov 13th 2014 report

    I always read it as trying to do justice to the creative thoughts inside you. 'I belong in the service of the Queen (my creativity)', 'I am the Rain King' raining my art down on everyone.

  6. anonymous
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    Jul 14th 2012 report

    The meaning doesn't matter. How it makes you feel and the emotions that it stirs in your sole are the only things that bring the song true meaning. Listen to the version that includes "Thunder Road". Badass!

  7. anonymous
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    Sep 10th 2011 report

    I am the only one who has posted so far...guess I shoulda done my homework lol there is a piece of literature called Henderson the Rain King from 1959...so I think that would shed a lot of light on the subject!

  8. anonymous
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    Sep 10th 2011 report

    maybe I am simple minded, but I suppose it means that the concept of God is open to interpretation. And defies fear of death to the point it interfears with the enjoyment of life. Personally, it has a lot of meanings to me...

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