Bird Of Prey

Bird Of Prey (M.Steele/M.Hamilton)

Year: 1994
Band: Crash Wisdom
Album: Unreleased.
First Live Performance: 5/12/94
Last Live Performance: 6/2/94


Predator with an angel smile
I hear you call my name
I hear you speak when I’m alone
Promises you are whispering

Striking [Shining] one, now have you come for me?
Will I be free
Arise in your embrace
Strike like a bird of prey

Every hour of my days on earth
Help me find my way
I’ve made a prison of this earthly place
Help me I’m so afraid

Striking [Shining] one, now have you come for me
Will I be free
Take me into your embrace
Strike like a bird of prey

Somewhere sufferin’ so like
And if we can live in the
Soul, will we, we dieeee…

Striking one, now have you come for me
Will I be free
Arise in your embrace
Strike like a bird of prey
No fear, no pain
In a finer state of grace
A bird of prey


As with several other Crash Wisdom songs, no Michael-led recordings of Bird of Prey besides May and June 1994 concert versions have surfaced. Although she has never discussed the song in interviews, a good amount of detail is known about its composition. The song was a co-write with her long-time friend and occasional collaborator, Mike Hamilton (indeed, their first work together was as part of the Corona Del Mar high school band in the early 1970s.) According to Hamilton, it originated in his coming up with the verse to a song but no chorus, and Michael filling in with what he describes as a ‘very strong chorus’, and then making other lyrical alterations to fit the overall theme of the song.  It was written in late 1990 or early 1991, with Mike recording a studio version that would later surface on the album Anthology, with Michael backing vocals. Michael herself reportedly recorded a studio demo in 1992-1993, although this version has to date not surfaced. As such, the only versions we have with her lead vocals are the two recorded Crash Wisdom concerts.

Lyrically the song is unusual for it turning standard songwriting conventions into something rather different. This is most apparent in the song’s perspective, which is essentially a love song addressed towards death, or a representative thereof. Indeed, the opening verse’s reference to the title-figure calling out and speaking ‘when I’m alone’ suggest that the figure is an abstraction imagined by the protagonist, or to take this notion even further a sort of mental illness. Furthermore, the bridge is quite ambiguous in asking whether ‘we can live in the soul’, before the lyrics conclude that regardless of this question, the death-figure striking the protagonist would create ‘a finer state of grace’. In other words, where many songs concerning death discuss an afterlife for the dead, Bird of Prey leaves it open whether such a place even exists.

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