What does One Headlight mean?

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The Wallflowers: One Headlight Meaning

One Headlight Lyrics

So long ago, I don't remember when
That's when they say I lost my only friend
Well they said she died easy of a broken heart disease
As I listened through the cemetery trees

I seen the sun comin' up at the funeral at dawn
The long broken...

  1. 1TOP RATED

    anonymous
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    Jul 14th, 2008 7:28pm report


    Theres A Video Behind The Song As Well. Not Many Songs Have Videos With Meanings Behind Them. you'll notice the American flag in the background of the music video. leads up to a controversy with his lyrics.

    My interpretation is. That its not a girl that has died, but rather lady liberty. If you look at the lyrics or rather listen to them you can understand why I see whats behind them.

    (So long ago, I don't remember when
    That's when they say I lost my only friend)
    -Its been so long since liberty has truely been seen-

    (The long broken arm of human law
    Now it always seemed such a waste
    She always had a pretty face
    So I wondered how she hung around this place)
    -The judicial system has long been corrupt
    and it seems points... whos really getting judged for their true crimes, when they have power behind them.
    -bring it back down to how liberation from tyranny was a beautiful thing, but in this country its a joke, why is it even a word in this country?-

    (There's got to be something better than
    In the middle)

    -But just when it seems like he's questioning the methods of this country he points out that there's hope towards finding something that works-

    -hence the chorus and song name-
    (We can drive it home
    With one headlight)

    The Second verse runs deeper into explaining his thoughts on out society.

    (It feels like Independence Day
    And I can't break away from this parade)

    -on independence day, its the day all Americans come together, and you're not an American if you don't celebrate it, meaning your forced into others believes in freedom, so you won't be judged by "patriots," you can't break away from it.

    The most influential lyric I've read from the song that brings out my beliefs on it is...

    (Through this maze of ugliness and greed)

    -Our country is based on being the best,at everything, but in a materialistic way,buy the best car, best house on the block, best Fireworks, best clothing, best education... and when it comes to your hard work in life, you get paid off, no longer with acknowledgment or pride in your achievements. but with cold hard cash, that you refuse to give away to those who suffer. ugliness and greed.

    (Well this place is old
    It feels just like a beat up truck)

    -Is self explanatory... :D

    (Man, I ain't changed, but I know I ain't the same
    But somewhere here in between the city walls of dyin' dreams
    I think her death it must be killin' me)

    -an old motto in America has always been 'good old fashion American,' ... your truck is classic American made... American made steel... I feel he changes course and turns his story to a first person point... America is not the same since its first days, but they claim it hasn't changed.

    Dying dreams is an American dream if you look at it.... or it can be a dream of liberty... cause either or in the end..... They're both dead..and it's killing those with opened eyes-

    In closure.... This is a very political song



  2. 2TOP RATED

    anonymous
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    Feb 2nd, 2006 2:02pm report


    Some time ago, my husband went to a Wallflowers concert. Between songs, a woman from the audience yelled "One Headlight!"

    Jakob Dylan said from the stage calmly, "That song is about living the past. Are you living in the past?"

    Because of this story, it's clear the meaning is about living in the past. "And I can't break away from this parade/But there's got to be an opening/Somewhere here in front of me". He can't get the parade of thoughts out of his mind. He can't forget the past. He can't move on, even though he knows he should be able to.

    My interpretation of the song has expanded to believe that the headlights represents two people who care for each other very much (family members, platonic or romantic). Only one is now alive... one headlight. The one living will carry the memory of what they both had together alive, and drive it home with one headlight until his time comes, too.



  3. 3TOP RATED

    anonymous
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    Aug 8th, 2006 8:39am report


    Vh1: do you hear a lot of weird interpretations of your songs?

    Dylan: I used to always have to hear about who people thought died in “one headlight.” there was never anybody who died in “one headlight.” but I actually encourage that. Countless times you hear an artist explain what their songs are about and you’re disappointed. I prefer people to listen. If they like the drumbeat, i’m okay with that. Whatever moves people.



  4.  

    anonymous
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    Apr 20th, 2012 4:40pm report


    to me, the story is about past regrets; notice how, except for the last verse, everything is in past tense? like he was reliving past events, and then he looked at his present life, and to him, even that felt old and broken ("like a beat up truck"). to me, it sounds like he was trapped in a circle of regretting the past and disliking the present because he can't change the past; in short, he can't get over losing her...



  5.  

    anonymous
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    Sep 12th, 2011 9:06am report


    Jacob is right when he says it's about metaphores and images. This song says more about oneself than an actual story.
    For me it's a song about the past, and about somebody else.
    Then it's about your own decisions and coming to terms with them. And also about someone else's decisions about about one's effort to cope with them.
    It also plays with the idea of the actual values and bonds that make a relationship matter, hence one headlight actually means, "the stuff that matters".
    Finally i read about over complexity and over simplicity.
    If i listen to it 100 times i get 100 different, somewhat similar though, meanings.
    My favorite song



  6.  

    anonymous
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    Jun 23rd, 2011 6:50am report


    I think that this song is about a guy who realized he loves a girl who is over him.

    "That's when they say I lost my only friend
    Well they said she died easy of a broken heart disease
    As I listened through the cemetery trees"

    He lost her she is done, she is just over waiting for him to come around. She was the only one that ever truly loved him, which is why she was his only friend, and listening through the cemetery trees is him hearing the things he doesn't want to, because no one wants to here conversation at a funeral.

    "She said it's cold
    It feels like Independence Day
    And I can't break away from this parade
    But there's got to be an opening
    Somewhere here in front of me
    Through this maze of ugliness and greed
    And I seen the sun up ahead
    At the county line bridge
    Sayin' all there's good and nothingness is dead
    We'll run until she's out of breath
    She ran until there's nothin' left
    She hit the end-it's just her window ledge"

    This whole verse is what makes me believe my interpretation is right. He was greedy took her love for granted. He expected her to stick around, he put her through a maze he hoped she would never find her way out of.

    We've all been there. None of us want to go back.



  7.  

    anonymous
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    Jun 9th, 2011 6:58am report


    I think there is really a lot going on in this song. The first words of the song are:
    So long ago, I don't remember when
    That's when they say I lost my only friend
    Well they said she died easy of a broken heart disease
    As I listened through the cemetery trees
    Meaning: A long time ago the singer and the girl in the song were involved in a relationship, they broke up and a part of the girl doed in the relationship.
    the next verse goes:
    I seen the sun comin' up at the funeral at dawn
    The long broken arm of human law
    Now it always seemed such a waste
    She always had a pretty face
    So I wondered how she hung around this place
    Meaning:Time has passed and the singer is now at the girl's funeral The long broken arm of human law refers to how the girl was maybe involved in an abusive relationship but because maybe she married or had children with the abuser she was compelled to remain in the abusive relationship. She always had a pretty face so I wondered why she hung around this place means He always found the the girl to be an attractive person but the girl lacked self-confidence and felt she could not do better, and it was the singers way of saying the girl could have done better.
    The chorus says: Hey, come on try a little
    Nothing is forever
    There's got to be something better than
    In the middle
    But me & Cinderella
    We put it all together
    We can drive it home
    With one headlight
    Meaning: The singer tried many times (which is why the chorus is repeated numerous times) to convince the girl to go move on with her life,(possibly with the singer) they could piece her life back togather even though it would not be perfect it would work (hence the "drive it home with one headlight" reference.
    The next verse says: She said it's cold
    It feels like Independence Day
    And I can't break away from this parade
    But there's got to be an opening
    Somewhere here in front of me
    Through this maze of ugliness and greed
    And I seen the sun up ahead
    At the county line bridge
    Sayin' all there's good and nothingness is dead
    We'll run until she's out of breath
    She ran until there's nothin' left
    She hit the end-it's just her window ledge
    Meaning: Finally the girl decides to get out of the abusive relationship, she takes off with the singer (this is the reference to "the opening ahead of me" and the county line bridge symbolizes they keep running but the abuser always finds her."
    The last verse says: Well this place is old
    It feels just like a beat up truck
    I turn the engine, but the engine doesn't turn
    Well it smells of cheap wine & cigarettes
    This place is always such a mess
    Sometimes I think I'd like to watch it burn
    I'm so alone, and I feel just like somebody else
    Man, I ain't changed, but I know I ain't the same
    But somewhere here in between the city walls of dyin' dreams
    I think her death it must be killin' me
    Meaning: The girl and the singer are tired of running from the abuser,(reference to the "beat up truck" and how they "turn the engine, but the engine doesnt turn" Finally the abuser kills the girl, the singer stays around but his depression has led him to alcohol("this place smells of cheap wine and cigarettes" reference. The singer wants to forget about the girl referring to "this place is such a mess, sometimes I'd think I'd like to watch it burn" is his way of saying he wants to forget and move on but he cannot. The singer then talks about being "alone" and how he is not the same but hasn't changed meaning a part of him died with her and nothing will ever be the same at the same time nothing can be done to change the situation either. The reference to "her death it must be killing me" is the singers way of saying his intentions are to commit suicide.
    All in all this song is extremely powerful and has more of a deeper meaning, possibly referring to a similar event in Jakob Dylan's life.



  8.  

    anonymous
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    May 7th, 2011 5:30pm report


    Jakob Dylan: "I tend to write with a lot of metaphors and images, so people take them literally. The song's meaning is all in the first verse. It's about the death of ideas. The first verse says, 'The death of the long broken arm of human law.' At times, it seems like there should be a code among human beings that is about respect and appreciation. I wasn't feeling like there was much support outside the group putting together the record. In the chorus, it says, 'C'mon try a little.' I didn't need everything to get through, I could still get through - meaning 'one headlight." (thanks, Shirl - Bay Area, CA)



  9.  

    anonymous
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    Apr 10th, 2011 4:59pm report


    Someone in my family said that the song is about the guy's best friend who got her heart broken and she killed herself. Then he found out he loved her and was saying they could have been together and made it work.



  10.  

    anonymous
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    Mar 13th, 2011 3:53pm report


    This song reminds me of my grandmother, she dies when i was 18 months but from what i heard she was me first best friend and she actually did die from a broken heart.



  11.  

    anonymous
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    Mar 2nd, 2011 3:48pm report


    English is not my first language but, whatsoever,in the video is seem a U.S flag, there are some parts about the lyrics that talk about hanging in the middle, like when someone dies, the part about that she doesn´t like to hang in that way in the garveyard or a gloomy place or whatever make me thing about the personification of a flag as a "She" maybe it's a political reference, don´t no. What do you thing?



  12.  

    anonymous
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    Feb 14th, 2011 2:47am report


    I think it is about the death of the American dream. A lot of the music video alludes to it- the she is the anthropomorphizing of America. It's very somber, giving a feeling of a lost era and a slow, sad death.



  13.  

    anonymous
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    Feb 9th, 2011 2:09pm report


    #1 you have to think about the influence Bob Dylan had on his music and writing , I think that this was a very deep song but one that cant be understood by taking the songs lyrics by their grammatical meaning. It is more metaphorical and kinda has a collective meaning. Dying of a broken heart disease to me speaks of watching someone battle deppression and not being able to let go of things that happend in the past. The long broken arm of human law not being laws, but the basic human law of treating people as you want to be treated. Something humanity has lost as a whole. I love this song



  14.  

    anonymous
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    Feb 2nd, 2011 2:41am report


    The "One Headlight" means that while method of transportation, be it life or a car, is imperfect, and not totally clear, It still works well enough to finish the journey.



  15.  

    cwarrior86
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    Nov 26th, 2010 11:55pm report


    I interpret the song as a couple that found themselves stuck spinning there tires at a certain point in their lives that their not happy with anymore and refuse to accept that its the end of the road. So they made a plan and put it in motion to get to a higher place using faith will imagination and their love for each other as fuel. Before their fairytale takes off something happens to cinderella. So they guy abandons their plans and stays stuck and depressed until he realizes that their separation dosent have to stop him from fulfilling the dreams they shared and their separation isnt forever. So he finally decides to fulfill them because thats what she would of wanted. And he does even tho one of the lights that light the road might be out, He knew they could make it off of the same love for each other.



  16.  

    m320753
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    Jun 23rd, 2010 6:42pm report


    a very interesting comment that jakob said that one headlight was in the past. my previous comments said it was a song about dad leaving and mom is the one headlight which led to my saying that dad didn't have to worry, because jakob sang "we can make it home with one headlight. i said that was an in your face moment for bob and jakob and sara and the rest of the kids would be ok with only 1 parent. now this is not to say bob was cut off from his children but the opposite was true. he saw to it that his children were sent to the finest schools on the best vacations probably after talking it over with sara. i don't know the date of the concert that jakob saying that's in the past, you like to live in the past? it had to be fairly recent because father and son have long conversations and daddy gives his son input for songs etc. so if fences are mended one headlightis clearly was before they made up. jakob said in a recent interview that his father talks with him on a regular basis now. the interviewer asked if his father gave him advice about his songs? jakob answered yeah he gives me advice and i take it, i mean who wouldn't he's bob dylan



  17.  

    anonymous
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    Jun 22nd, 2010 6:57pm report


    This song is a very political song. However, the lyrics are so absolutely brilliant that they are capable of being interpreted in more than just one way. My belief is that it is about Lady Liberty just for the fact that the official music video of the song has an American Flag in the background. It also talks about Independence Day and how people feel they must celebrate it otherwise they will be an outcast to all other Americans. It also has very many other references to the life of America and its people. and it is a very true, great song. and the lyrics are some of the very best ever written.



  18.  

    anonymous
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    Jan 11th, 2010 1:34pm report


    I think that the song sort of talks about a friend who's close friend/crush/love dies, most likely through suicide, because "She died so easy of a broken heart disease" seems to me like saying depression (broken heart disease) and the she died so easy seems to point to a suicide to me, but I might be wrong



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