What does Tripping Billies mean?

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Dave Matthews Band: Tripping Billies Meaning


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Song Released: 1996

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We were above
You were standing underneath us
We were not yet lovers
Dragons were smoked
Bumblebees were stinging us
I was soon to be crazy
Eat, drink and be merry
For tomorrow we'll die
cause were tripping billies
Were wearing...


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    Apr 8th, 2017 4:31am report

    Can someone please reference any of their assumptions/ notes on this.. Eg "here is a quote and link with Dave in an interview saying.." Otherwise, we are all still mystified and uninformed. Thankyou. (some noble assumptions above, thou)


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    Jun 26th, 2014 6:56pm report

    It is also where the "Firedancer" was born...my yellow flame she dances.


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    Feb 12th, 2011 2:46pm report

    Some of you are close ,but not so much. In Africa the term "billies" is referred as the police. This is about the first time he took acid .. he was on a beach with friends and when he took the acid he decided he did not want to "trip" .. but the acid got him and he decided to just go with it. They had a blast sitting around a camp fire and the next thing he knows he is talking to the cops. This song is about all the fun he had and the fact he did not want it to end .. "EAT DRINK AND BE MERRY FOR TOMORROW WE"LL DIE"


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    Jan 29th, 2011 1:21pm report

    Interesting. I always remembered the "eat drink...." line from Kurt Vonnegut's book Cat's Cradle" about ice 9. Interesting to see where both artists may have gotten their inspiration.


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    Aug 4th, 2009 8:44am report

    It's probably about all that hedonistic/nihilistic stuff. And "Eat and Drink; for Tomorrow We Die" is from I Cor. 15:32 which was taken from Isa. 22:13 (where Locke got it from).


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    Jun 20th, 2009 6:50pm report

    He got the name back when he played the song for his girlfriend back in africa and she said that it sounded like Hillbillies tripping on acid and he got the name tripping billies. He just talked about this on his Road to Big Whiskey on the Fuse channel.


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    Jan 23rd, 2009 1:41pm report

    I believe, that even though everybody says this song is about Dave doing drugs in Africa, which probably is right, but I believe he got the motivation to do this song from John Locke's An Essay Concerning Human Understanding, which was written in 1689.

    In a sentence, John Locke wrote, "For if there be no Prospect beyond the Grave, the inference is certainly right, Let us eat and drink, les us enjoy what we delight in, for to morrow we shall die."

    In the song Tripping Billies, Dave goes, "Eat, drink, and be merry for tomorrow we'll die."

    Therefore, if you read the Human Understanding essay, you can notice and sense more of what Dave had been motivated by when he wrote that phrase.


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    Oct 28th, 2008 10:48pm report

    Pretty sure this is about when the band did peyote on a beach somewhere. "My yellow flame she dances" is about the flame from the lighter blowing in the wind".


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    Jun 8th, 2008 6:58am report

    This song is about an early review of the band that they sounded like hillbillies tripping on acid when they played.


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    Feb 15th, 2008 2:10pm report

    Yes the last interpretation is the correct one and a Billy is what a cop is called in England and in some places in Africa the countries were at one time under British Authority. If I remember right I read something about Dave saying they were tripping on the beach naked. this could be wrong but I am about 85% sure that this last part is right also.


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    Nov 7th, 2007 11:10pm report

    Only one of these interpretations was correct. It's about Dave doing acid back in Africa and then he was talking to cops."Dragons were smoked/Bumblebees were stinging us", "Out on the beaches we wore/Pineapple grass bracelets". That would make absolutely no sense at all unless you were on acid.


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    Apr 19th, 2007 4:37pm report

    This song is about the best time that Dave ever had. He was back in Africa and it was the first time he had ever dropped acid, and the colors and sounds were so vibrant and he said it was the best moment in his life....the Billies come in because the people he was tripping with were police officers and in Africa police are called billies


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    Dec 10th, 2006 12:52pm report

    Tripping Billies is slang for smoking marijuana

    This interpretation has been marked as poor. view anyway


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    Sep 4th, 2006 9:56pm report

    "Eat drink and be merry
    for tomorrow we die
    eat drink and be merry
    for tomorrow we die" is also what was commonly said by people during the black death.


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    Jul 3rd, 2006 7:29pm report

    I was told by someone that is song was about hillbillies tripping on acid, hence the name tripping billies.

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