Let It Be

After listening to this song a few times the past few days, I decided that I must post the lyrics to add some more flesh to my last post entitled, “Grasping and Gasping”. Read that before this. Here are the lyrics to the Avett Brothers’ song, “Famous Flower of Manhattan”:


I found a flower in a field

A field of cars and people, Rows of concrete, paint, and steel

Manhattan is where it grew

And I thought, to cut it from its stem

And take it from the cracks

Between bricks that it lay in

And save it from city strife

Away from the city life


Then someone, they whispered in my ear

A county girl can’t be made out of anybody here

Don’t touch it, it loves you not

Don’t touch it, it loves you not


Cause blue birds, Don’t fly without their wings

And when we put them in a cage

The world can’t hear them sing

So selfish when greed sets in

Possession, the king of sin


And people don’t ever let you down

Forever find a way to kill whatever love they’ve found

A heart beat and I want it too

Manhattan is where she grew


So I left and I let the flower be

And yesterday saw the flower on cable TV

Much prettier than here with me

For all of the world to see

Much prettier than here with me


I love this imagery of ‘grasping’ for the flower (creation) in order to possess it for oneself. However, in this act of grabbing things for our own possessions and ownership, we diminish the thing’s beauty and freedom to act in itself. Thus, we hinder the natural development, growth, and unfolding of the thing. When we cage the blue birds, the world cannot hear them sing. When we grab the flower, it dies. This line, “So selfish when greed sets in, Possession, the king of sin” truly parallels the metaphor of Adam and Eve picking the fruit in the garden of Eden. The selfishness and want of solid certainty and possession (grasping) was the first sin (man’s downfall). For some reason, humans will “forever find a way to kill whatever love they’ve found”. We let our desires for control, certainty, and manipulation allow us to kill or pervert the objects of our desires. The last stanza points to the freedom of receiving life as it is, and appreciating the goodness of creation as we let the beauty wash over us. 

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