What does Birdhouse in Your Soul mean?

They Might Be Giants: Birdhouse in Your Soul Meaning

Album cover for Birdhouse in Your Soul album cover

Song Released: 1990

Birdhouse in Your Soul Lyrics

I'm your only friend
I'm not your only friend
But I'm a little glowing friend
But really I'm not actually your friend
But I am

Blue canary in the outlet by the light switch
Who watches over you
Make a little birdhouse in your soul...


    #1 top rated interpretation:
    click a star to vote
    Dec 8th 2006 !⃝

    OK, Look at the lyrics and, yes it may have other metaphoric interperetations, but literally the song is sung by a nightlight in the shape of a blue bird.

    The first part "I'm your only friend..." just establishes that the nightlight is the only other thing in the room besides someone (probably a child) who is sleeping. He calls himself a friend...but he's not like a real actual person friend.

    "Blue Canary in the outlet by the light switch" the speaker is literally describing himself. "Who watches over you" is not a question...he's telling the listener what he does. as in "I'm the blue canary who watches over you."

    "Not to put too fine a point...make a little birdhouse" he's just asking the listener to keep a special place in his heart for him, because he is after all, his nighttime guardian.

    "I have a secret to tell from my electrical well..." Light. light is the only thing he can "say". "One note" meaning it's just one, long steady beam of light. The "Longines Symphonette" is a very long symphony that goes on and on.

    This part is the most obvious evidence that the speaker is a nightlight: "Theres a picture opposite me of my primitive ancestry...which stood on rocky shores..." There is a picture of a lighthouse on the wall across from the nightlight. He says that if he had to keep ships from crashing he would be fired because he's so small...Jason was a sailor in Greek mythology, his ship was the Argos, and his crew were the Argonaughts.
    "Bluebird of friendliness
    Like guardian angels its always near" again, describing himself.

    So, this is really just a cute song about the nightlight that kept you safe at night when you were little and afraid of the dark. Again, this can be taken metaphorically, but the literal meaning of the lyrics are clearly that of a Blue Canary shaped nightlight asking us not to forget about what he did for us when we were little, and to "make a little birdhouse in our soul" for him.


    #2 top rated interpretation:
    click a star to vote
    Jun 9th 2006 !⃝

    While the song can be interpreted as meaning the conscience, the second verse gives it a direct, as opposed to metaphorical, tie to a nightlight --

    "There's a picture opposite me
    Of my primitive ancestry
    Which stood on rocky shores and kept the beaches shipwreck-free"

    Clearly, this refers to a lighthouse. A nightlight could call a lighthouse its primitive ancestry, whereas the soul could not. So while the conscience interpretation has valid points, there's no denying that the song is primarily written about a nightlight.


    #3 top rated interpretation:
    click a star to vote
    Jun 18th 2006 !⃝

    This is not about a nightlight, it's about light in general made by fire or electricity which provides light.
    The electricity is the blue canary in the outlet by the lightswitch since electrical sparks are notably white or blue in colour, especially when it arks at you.
    Now electricity can be fickle and can remain small like a spark when you get static or it can be huge like lightning (So the room must listen to me filibuster vigilantly) that is demanding attention. So can fire, it can be itty bitty or it can destroy a forest.
    When the lyrics reference the lighthouse it can mean a real old style lighthouse that had light by fire rather than electricity. It also alludes to fire by referring to the myth of Jason and the Argonauts who died by being consumed by fire when they put on this cape. The fire is representing the old ways of obtaining light while the electricity is the more modern form of light. It shows that the light was always there, even before the modern era.
    It says that its "always near" which would imply that it is within, thusly the birdhouse in your soul. You build a nice little house for it so that it will stay and comfort you.
    The light is also hope. It's saying to keep hope by "keeping the nightlight on inside the birdhouse in your soul". This can also be easily be explained by another song, There's a Light from Rocky Horror which says "There's a light in the darkness of everybody's life" which basically means the same thing as the birdhouse in your soul. There is that little hope inside of everyone that will keep them company through the dark like a metaphorical nightlight.

  4. anonymous
    click a star to vote
    Dec 28th 2022 !⃝

    The best evidence that this is about (actually sung from the POV of) a nightlight is that John Linnell matter-of-factly stated that it was in a podcast on Consequence Podcasts.

    I don't know if links are allowed but, here at 27:05: https://youtu.be/tId0llof1uw

  5. anonymous
    click a star to vote
    Jun 17th 2019 !⃝

    The blue canary in the outlet by the light switch is your TV. Canaries are known to be noisy and repetitive. People very much make TV a big part of their life; therefore the canary has made a home in their soul.

  6. anonymous
    click a star to vote
    May 11th 2018 !⃝

    It could be as simple as...being a parent. You will always be their light, never a friend in the general sense, because you love them way more than that.

  7. anonymous
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    May 31st 2012 !⃝

    The song is about growing up and maturity. A nitelight is an object a child needs to sleep in the dark. The child of the song has one of a canary. The birdhouse is the place in your heart where the courage your nightlight takes hold and becomes your own, you carry your own metaphorical nightlight so you can brave the darkness on your own.

  8. anonymous
    click a star to vote
    Jun 13th 2010 !⃝

    Well, I think as well as it being about a nightlight,
    it tells of the piece of safety, from your childhood. and its telling you to keep that feeling inside yourself, so will always feel safe.

  9. anonymous
    click a star to vote
    Nov 17th 2008 !⃝

    Ok the song is about a night light...lets look closer:

    "Blue canary in the outlet by the light switch/ Who watches over you"

    Its a frikkin night light.

  10. anonymous
    click a star to vote
    Nov 11th 2008 !⃝

    The song IS about a night light, shaped like a blue canary. its small and cute and not-very-bright but bright-enough. I think John hints at some sort of self consciousness, because while he respects the lighthouse's job, he doesnt think he could do it. he thinks he isnt bright enough to keep the shores shipwreck free, thus jason and his argonauts (who used a boat to get around) could be killed if they crashed into the rocks.
    Another part of the song reinforces this. "say im the only bee in your bonnet", the little nightlight is insecure like a guy who thinks his wife is cheating on him.

  11. anonymous
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    Apr 30th 2008 !⃝

    To the two posters above me:

    Jason refers not to the Jason from 80s horror movies, but to Jason and the Argonauts, a figure from Greek mythology. You can read about it here:


  12. anonymous
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    Apr 26th 2008 !⃝

    This is to anonymous who thinks the whole Jason and argonauts thing has nothing to do with anything. That is there because the NIGHT LIGHT fights off Jason and everything that is in the child's nightmares. Jason is the nightmare and night lights are supposed to make kids feel better

    This interpretation has been marked as poor. view anyway
  13. anonymous
    click a star to vote
    Apr 25th 2008 !⃝

    This song is about a blue canary night light. (blue canary in the outlet by the light switch, who watches over you) It says that it would be fired if it were a light house like its ancestors because he needs to fight off Jason. (there's a picture opposite me, of my primitive ancestry, who stood on rocky shores and kept the beaches ship-wreck free. Though I respect that a lot, I'd be fired if that were my job. After killing off Jason and countless screaming argonauts.)

  14. anonymous
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    Sep 28th 2007 !⃝

    Honestly I don't think it's about a nightlight or your conscience at all. They might be giants are awesome random nutcases and are using really awesome whacky metaphors. I think its really dedicated to a particular person that he cares about or something like that. I could be wrong but how does the verse...
    "Though I respect that a lot
    I'd be fired if that were my job
    After killing jason off and
    Countless screaming argonauts"
    ...Have anything to do with anything?
    I admit the part about the light house is definitely a metaphor for a nightlight but a nightlight probably a metaphor about your conscience which is probably also a metaphor.

  15. anonymous
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    Jun 13th 2007 !⃝

    It is about a night light but it also a metaphor for you're conscience DAMN the guy who wrote this is complex (song not review)

  16. anonymous
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    Jan 9th 2007 !⃝

    Ok, it's about a night light! guy who wrote the one above me yes just what I got from it. later

  17. anonymous
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    Oct 4th 2006 !⃝

    Hey, I just thought everyone should know: the "dial-a-song" version of this song was completely different. Here are the lyrics to that:

    blue canary in the outlet by the light switch,
    who watches over you?
    Make a little birdhouse in your soul.
    Not to put too fine a point on it,
    say I'm the only bee in your bonnet.
    Make a little birdhouse in your soul.

    I have a secret to tell,
    out when you're all by yourself.
    There's a time when even you get up and leave your nothing to dwell.
    I don't want to talk about that,
    and no one listens to that.
    But for the one who does, and she's the one you worry about.
    Don't you say anything,
    if you have anything to do with it.

    (chorus) - same as the regular version.

    I'd like to cover the earth
    with a fresh-baked yummy dessert.
    People couldn't live in it, but I think it's worth the money and hurt,
    'cos I couldn't tolerate
    all the empty places in the world.


    make a little birdhouse in your soul.
    I don't feel thirty.
    Give me something to write on.
    I don't feel three hundred.
    Give me something to write on.

    That's it. That's the "dial-a-song" version from long ago, when you could just call a phone number and listen to a tmbg song.... Ah, the good old days. But hey. Have fun with that!

  18. anonymous
    click a star to vote
    Jul 30th 2006 !⃝

    It is about a nightlight, even the band confirmed that. A nightlight in the shape of a blue canary - just cute. It's fun for people to put their own twist on a song, it makes it personal to them. To me the song represents just being comfortable with yourself. We all have a reason for being here, and serve a good purpose. We may not be able to do what others can (hence the nightlight saying he would miserably fail at doing a lighthouse's job), but we're still important. I think it's just saying make room for everyone - they may just be a nightlight, but that's ok. Make a little birdhouse in your soul - make room for that nightlight. Watch over others also. I personally don't see an religious reference, but if others do - that's their call. But, most importantly it is about a nightlight, whatever you may think of a nightlight. :-)

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