Misfit Heart

POTF – Once Upon a Playground Rainy

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I usually don’t do this, mainly because it never happened before… but I am writing this post for one visitor, from USA or Belarus, who was (according to Misfit at Heart‘s statistics) looking for the meaning of Poets of the Fall‘s song Once Upon a Playground Rainy. I don’t know, however, if my input will help him/her, but I’ll surely try… Besides, that is a very cool song, it just took me a week to remember the title and saying it without stammering, and I wish I could ask the band: “Hi gents! Who on Earth is Tony?“, well… I guess I just did.

For the little story behind the question: a few years back, I interviewed Danny Bowes (from the band Thunder / Bowes & Morley) after the release of the duo Bowes & Morley‘s second album. The title: Mo’s Barbecue. My last question: “Did I forget to ask you a question?” To which Danny answered: “Yes, you have. You forgot to ask who the hell Mo was.” So, here you have it, thanks to Danny, I won’t make that mistake again.

Song’s theme

I am seeing this song through two angles and I am not really sure which one is right… maybe there isn’t one, I don’t know. My favorite angle is the dream one because it feels like this song is a look back on how (I’ll say Marko for illustration purposes) Marko and his friends used to dream wondering if the friends in question are still struggling to get to them, or if they gave up to settle in a parody like life. Right now, I am having one of these “ding-ding” moments that I am so fond of…

Are we all reaching for the stars? I mean, who’s given up on their dreams? Are you still going for them? Are you still believing that you’ll make it? I guess that the older we get and the more scared we become for we often – if not always – think we are “running out of time”… but that too is an illusion as long as we don’t give up. I look at Clearview, and the songs and I am seeing a vague point getting way clearer somehow… just brief aside, back on topic…

Being a poet myself, I know that getting to understand the meaning behind the words is usually a pain… mostly because it is difficult to guess what another mind was thinking as the words came out. But I’ll give it a shot as usual.

You like it, you buy it!
As simple as that…

The chorus’s imagery – Jackdaws and Seesaws

Why am I starting with the chorus? Well, I like the rhythm in it and mostly the imagery. Whether it was done consciously or not, I find the symbolism hiding behind the jackdaws and the seesaws to be rather intriguing. The jackdaw belong to the crow’s family and there are about 116 different species of crows – as far as I could find out. Crows are often believed to be the symbol of misfortune or even death, but also wisdom. In dreams, a crow flying by might mean that you are about to encounter difficulties which need to be overcome; and if you catch the crow, it might mean that no matter the difficulties, you will succeed in your endeavours. Then you have all sorts of symbolisms from the Native Americans who considered the crow to be the Spiritual Law and meant death to the enemies; or in Japanese Shintoism the crow was the messenger of the gods etc. (Sourcehttp://www.signology.org/bird-symbol/crow-symbol.htm) I don’t know if I believe all this, but if I put it in the context of Once Upon a Playground Rainy, the song gets a rather deep meaning.

If I assume that the song is about looking back on who we were and what our dreams used to be when we were children… The chorus is showing me a child wandering on a playground (why only with seesaws… we’ll come back to that in a moment) with sole company jackdaws with whom the child is arguing back and forth (already the figurative meaning of seesaw). It feels like this child is rather lonely though… and has troubles finding his/her way, hence the crying in hidding. The seesaw represents judgement or argument between two people… but if you’re alone, like I picture the child in the chorus, he/she is debating his/her own worth in front of the wise (the jackdaws). It somehow feels like a ceaseless argument that goes back and forth without finding closure. Being familiar with Marko‘s way of writing (from Poets of the Fall‘s previous albums) and his interest in psychology… what I just wrote might actually make sense. However, I might also totally over-analyze and be completely off track. That’s my vision, so you decide. Or maybe, without over-analyzing anything, it was just to make the rhymes work… nah!

Meaning of the song…

The title says all, I think. Once Upon a Playground Rainy… is it a song about childhood? about the remains of childhood? the child in us and whether he/she is still here? There is more to Clearview than meets the eye…

All in all, and without really going too much into details because it is better to give pointers than a very subjective answer, the song is to me yet another reminder. We should not forget what used to make us tick and what our dreams were. No matter the hardships and the obstacles, not giving up on any of this is how we’ll make it and give meaning to our lives.

I am, however, wondering to whom Marko is speaking to in the first verse.

Hello old lovers of mine, my little boy wishes
of fortune’s kisses

Does he mean his childhood’s sweethearts, when all he really wanted was a kiss? Maybe, but I sense that there is more to it though.

Now dreams cast aside (–> as I see you now for who you were)
In the fading light your crown of thorns (–> in the fading light you looked vulnerable)
Becomes a halo of branching horns (–> you don’t look as pure as you used to)
And yet so beautiful (–> but no matter, you are still beautiful in my eyes)

Or something like that… There are always such twisted meanings behind Poets of the Fall‘s lyrics, that I do not believe to be just one interpretation. This is the magic with such songs. Could this song be something like Rewind from Twilight Theater? It just occured to me that there are some regrets or some ideas that would suggest: what if we could do it all over again? This comes from the next verses… not sure it is so, but it is the feeling I get.

Then there is the bridge… the part where Marko is just speaking. This association of ideas with a battle… but what battle is he talking about? Is it with himself? Is it with a girl/woman he loved? Is it with a friend? Is it about a friend? It is as if something bad has happened to that person, whether he/she still lives (litteraly or figuratively speaking) or not… it is unclear until, some kind of answer comes at the end, that this person is still keeping it up and fighting for his/her dreams in this parody like life. I have other suggestions and questions, but I will leave it up to you to find your own and come to your own conclusions, knowing that anything we come up with a very suggestive… which is good.

No matter the way you want to look at it, there is always hope in Poets of the Fall‘s songs… you’ve gotta love that!

You’re still fighting, I see, like a modern day Bruce Lee
Standing proud in this parody

Short note about the album

I do not know if you have the same feeling as I do, but Clearview seems rather more serious and grave than the other albums. Of course similar themes are addressed on all of them from different viewpoints and I consider them serious too; but there is something with Clearview that kind of underlines the urgency of happiness in a world that has turned completely nuts. I don’t know, maybe it is just my imagination playing tricks on me again…

Anyway, I hope I managed to shed some light on that song with my twisted pointers.
Until the next post, take care!


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  • Susan Bartlett

    On behalf of Susan Bartlett: If I may, I love your interpretation of this song. I am thinking about it a bit the same way, with a few differences. I believe the singer is singing of himself as a child, but I see “hello old lovers of mine” line not as people, but things he dreamed of as a child and now they are of course cast aside for more grown up dreams. He had to cast them aside as he grew up, but he loved them as a child.
    He says hello old lovers as the memory pops into his head, and he can see himself, alone on the playground. It’s how he KNOWS he’ll be crying when no one sees, because he himself is crying, and talking with the birds because no one else is there. Because if “no one sees your tears”, then how does he know? Because it’s himself.
    He also refers to him as the one time me, so there again, a reference to the past child he was.
    I wonder if perhaps the seesaws are an analogy of him being pulled back and forth, time to grow up but he doesn’t want to.
    The crown of thorns could be his innocence but he’s growing up and losing that but he’s still good so it’s a halo of horns and not just horns.
    I also want to know who Tony is.
    Anyway, just a few of my thoughts on it, I hope you don’t mind. 🙂

  • Cleison de Oliveira Padilha

    oh my God, such a beautiful interpretation… I’ve met POTF about a year ago. I was just a listener of their songs, until Clearview came out. then I’ve started to analyze their lyrics (I’m brazillian, so English lyrics aren’t always clear at first sight), and I’ve been amazed by how beautiful is their poetry.

    • Clairepeek

      Thank you Cleison! I have seen the band once and I will meet them in Germany… Being just a listener, is being hooked in some ways; there is nothing as such as “just a”. Glad you like the music and this post

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