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Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Where’s Bernie Taupin When You Need Him?

posted by on August 7 at 13:20 PM

I love “Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters”—it’s such a beautiful song. It’s one of my favorite Elton songs in fact (my house was very pro-Elton growing up, “Your Song” was my parents wedding song). But just like Love Spit Love’s “Am I Wrong?” (which I also adore), I really have no clue what some of the lyrics mean.

Now I know, “Spanish Harlem” are not just pretty words to say.
I thought I knew, but now I know that rose trees never grow, in New York City.

Until you’ve seen this trash can dream come true,
You stand at the edge, while people run you through.
And I thank the Lord, there’s people out there like you,
I thank the Lord there’s people out there like you.

While Mona Lisas and mad hatters,
sons of bankers, sons of lawyers,
turn around and say, “good morning” to the night.
For unless they see the sky, but they can’t and that is why,
they know not if it’s dark out side or light.

Huh? Then there’s that bit about rich men riding and hobo’s drowning… I think I have a vague understanding, but I can’t seem to piece it together.

I tried to ask what the song meant, but it just wanted to tell me why Mona Lisa smiles, and where the painting hangs. That’s not helpful at all.

The line “I thank the Lord for people out there like you,” always made me assume it’s a love song. And while it very well could be, the line “I thought I knew, but I know that rose trees never grow in New York City,” almost sounds like a sad or bittersweet lesson learned.

If we interpret the Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters as being all the characters in the city, ie: the masks people wear, and the sons of bankers and sons of lawyers as being people who are completely disregarding the romanticism of the city that spawns this love by busying themselves with meaningless work from dawn to dusk, maybe it’s a love song within the context of a world that seems to be completely blind to the idea of love?

I have no idea. I’m grasping at straws here. Where’s Bernie Taupin when you need him?

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If you've never visited this website, it's worth bookmarking as a great place to read other listeners thoughts on the meanings of song lyrics. Lots of weak opinions, for sure, but also frequently very insightful and informed ones as well.

Posted by randy | August 8, 2007 10:01 PM

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