What does The Riddle mean?

Five For Fighting: The Riddle Meaning

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Album cover for The Riddle album cover

Song Released: 2006

The Riddle Lyrics

There was a man back in '95
Whose heart ran out of summers
But before he died, I asked him

Wait, what's the sense in life
Come over me, Come over me

He said,

Son why you got to sing that tune
Catch a Dylan song or some eclipse of the...


    #1 top rated interpretation:
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    Feb 21st 2012 !⃝

    id like to say beforehand I'm not good at writing yet as i am 15, i was watching the video and kinda had an epiphany so i wanted to share my ideas.

    my interpretation is that when the young adult asks the dying man what the meaning of life is and why god put us on this earth,

    "There was a man back in '95
    Whose heart ran out of summers
    But before he died, I asked him
    Wait, what's the sense in life
    Come over me, Come over me"

    the old man tells him that he shouldn't worry about why we are here but focus on being here. the old man says that he should go make memories and find a lover and that will show him what the meaning of life is

    "Son why you got to sing that tune
    Catch a Dylan song or some eclipse of the moon
    Let an angel swing and make you swoon
    Then you will see... You will see"

    then when he talks to his kid he again is worrying about the future and money for his child when he wants to make sure his kid is getting an education because you can't "live in a castle far away" and be protected and isolated from this dangerous world

    "Did you learn anything cause in the world today
    You can't live in a castle far away
    Now talk to me, come talk to me"

    however his child reassures him and says "dad I'm big" translating to his kid saying he can take care of himself but the child also says "but were smaller than small" meaning no matter how long we live the chances of people knowing our name a thousand years from now are very slim. however the child also says insignificant though we are, we are still something and we don't have to give up on life despite us being insignificant. and finally the child wants to go play with his father and enjoy life, as we all should

    "Dad I'm big but we're smaller than small
    In the scheme of things, well we're nothing at all
    Still every mother's child sings a lonely song
    So play with me, come play with me"

    in the next verse it is god telling the whole of humanity that he has taken care of us and helped us and when he says "The reason for the world... who am i" he is telling us that he is the meaning of life, he is love, and is asking us to love god

    "Son for all I've told you
    When you get right down to the
    Reason for the world...
    Who am I?"

    then the song tells us that humanity has much to learn, such as world peace and how to enjoy life and not to worry so much about money and power, and also that we are in constant sin yet god loves us all the same

    "There are secrets that we still have left to find
    There have been mysteries from the beginning of time
    There are answers we're not wise enough to see
    He said... You looking for a clue I Love You free..."

    then the "batter swings" and its talking about americas pass time, baseball. the absence of mention of his children implies that he has aged and has an empty nest, which is backed up by him saying that "and summer flies" meaning that years are going by, and that now in old age he has learned his lesson and is spending time with his aged wife going to a baseball game. it also talks about the man thinking about how life keeps going on and he's still making memories

    "The batter swings and the summer flies
    As I look into my angel's eyes
    A song plays on while the moon is hiding over me
    Something comes over me"

    in the final verse the song says "i guess were big and i guess were small" its refering and carries the same meaning as the mans child said earlier. but in the same verse it says that we are very fortunate, because we are alive today, and we can spend it with family and friends, then when it says "were all we got on this bouncing ball" it means that we should cherish loved ones on this world of ours that is bouncing up and down, hitting extreme highs and lows.

    "I guess we're big and I guess we're small
    If you think about it man you know we got it all
    Cause we're all we got on this bouncing ball
    And I love you free
    I love you freely"

    then if you watch the video it begins with john on the side of a road in the middle of nowhere and he starts singing his song and draws a piano with a piece of chalk he found on the ground. then drawn vultures fly around his head and then john colors in the sun causing a drawn storm to come through and flood the area with drawn water with fish and sharks in it, when the water recedes the fish flop in the mud. all the drawn fears, the vultures, the sharks, the flooding, are all representing our fears and distractions from real life, also there are drawn airplanes showing us that we should again make memories, go places, and live life to the fullest. however at the end his mustang is towed which tells us that although we should live and enjoy life, we must also combat real life problems, because they do happen, and ignore issues that we make up


    #2 top rated interpretation:
    click a star to vote
    Mar 22nd 2007 !⃝

    It's about a man who, when he was younger, questioned the reason for life. His questionings were soon answered by an older man, who was dying and had many experiences in his life. He tells him about how each person's life is meaningful because of all of the people they love and have relationships with. "There's a reason for the world, you and i." This is simply saying that each relationship you have contributes another reason for your existance. The song then shows examples of this man's most important relationships throughout his life- his son and his lover.


    #3 top rated interpretation:
    click a star to vote
    Oct 17th 2006 !⃝

    Sometimes the world seems so big, and we're such a small part of it. It can be easy to feel like we're not that important in the larger scheme of things. This song is trying to tell us that it's the relationships in our lives, the love and friendships, that make our life meaningful. The song talks about a relationship between an older, wiser man and a younger person (friends), a parent and child, and romantic love, in that order.

  4. anonymous
    click a star to vote
    Mar 2nd 2019 !⃝

    The Riddle (Five for Fighting song)
    A boy asked a dying man what is the meaning of life. Why did God put us on earth just to live and then die?
    The man answered why are you questioning me? Enjoy your life, live it to it’s fullest, be free, fall in love and swoon with an angel (partner) because love and is the meaning of life

    The father asked his child what he learned at school; believing this is the most important thing in the world. The son answered why are you questioning me about school, there is more to life than learning, people from the beginning of time have not been wise enough to understand, school cannot teach you wisdom.
    Our lives are a mere spec of sand on bouncing beach ball (earth). We seem so big but we are So small. So be open and talk; have good relationships and play while we can
    The reason for life is the same for everybody – we all have a “you and I” we are all are born and all will die. So in your time on this earth, Love the people around you freely without any judgement. When someone dies you will be sad but have peace that they were loved and now are free from all the troubles, sadness, loneliness or illness they might have had.
    There will be no more question when you die, your spirit is freed and only then will God reveal the true meaning of life


  5. anonymous
    click a star to vote
    Dec 6th 2018 !⃝

    This is an exceptional song with beautiful lyrics. It tells a story and teaches a lesson. The music video made for it did not do it any justice, unfortunately. My interpretation of the lyrics would have played out through the video in the following way:

    In the first verse, the singer (as a younger man) is beside an elderly man who is laying on his death-bed. The singer, overly-analytical and trying to squeeze out the last bit of insight the dying man can share, asks him what the purpose of life is. The old man, seeing the futility in the question, essentially asks him why he would focus on the mechanics of life - just listen to some good music, gaze at the heavens, and be with the person who makes you happy. The dying man rephrases the question into a riddle, and challenges the younger man to solve it for himself. What is the reason for the world, you and I?

    In verse 2, the (now a few years older) singer is in the driver’s seat of his minivan or SUV. He picks his son up from school and they talk on the way to the park. The singer/father is pressing his son for the knowledge he gained at school, and the son poses the same riddle to the man. What’s the reason for the world, you and I? The father waxes poetic a bit, overly-fatherly in tone, and explains to the son that there is no way of knowing; some things are simply beyond human comprehension. As the boy is climbing out of the vehicle, baseball glove in hand, to join his friends, he tells his dad that he’ll give his dad a clue to the riddle: he loves his dad free.

    In verse 3, the scene finds the father sitting in the bleachers of a youth baseball game, beside his wife. The two are relaxed, watching with pride as their son’s team plays under the lights of the evening. With music playing softly around them, he looks into his wife’s eyes and the man puts it all together. The reason for the world, you and I...is love. It was never a series of facts, chemicals, or a mathematical algorithm to be solved; the reason for life had been all around him the entire time. What the old man had been wise enough to see, and the son was innocent enough to find obvious, finally occurred to the singer.

    I think that if the music video had helped tell the story, this song would have been even more popular than it was. It remains one of my all-time favorites though. Thank you, and much love, to those who wrote and sang it.

  6. anonymous
    click a star to vote
    Jul 20th 2017 !⃝

    The dying old man is the father.
    Later the son has a son

    Same riddle.
    And Hey Dad
    Here's a riddle for you
    Find the Answer
    There's a reason for the world
    You and I...

    I said,

    Son for all I've told you
    When you get right down to the
    Reason for the world...
    Who am I?

    He said... You looking for a clue I Love You free...

    The answer to the riddle,The unconditional love between a father and son.Their place in the world.

  7. anonymous
    click a star to vote
    Sep 19th 2016 !⃝

    This is just a beautiful song showing that there is meaning to life but we shouldn't waste time trying to figure out what that meaning is. We should make the most of every moment, go and experience all that life has to offer, and always remember that to love fully and deeply is the most important aspect of life.

  8. anonymous
    click a star to vote
    Jan 19th 2012 !⃝

    The way i've analyzed this song is that the meaning of life doesn't have to be found exactly because you will only feel terribly small compare to the outer world. but when you have finally come to the end of your life, and when you look back, you will see how you have developed and you would have cherished every relationship you've had. It's the jouney itself that's the most fascinating. And that, is the reason for this world.

  9. anonymous
    click a star to vote
    Jun 6th 2011 !⃝

    its about the meaning of life...42

  10. anonymous
    click a star to vote
    Mar 19th 2011 !⃝


  11. anonymous
    click a star to vote
    May 16th 2009 !⃝

    I think that it means, everything is so big and were so small, but every relationship we have, every friendship, we effect those people. We mean something to them. Also the lyric "Son for all I've told you
    When you get right down to the
    Reason for the world...
    Who am I?" This is the father speaking. God says the reason for the world..Who am I. He is everything he is every reason for everything

  12. Moose_Attack
    click a star to vote
    Dec 28th 2006 !⃝

    I think i's about how we're all we got and to love the way you are.

    This interpretation has been marked as poor. view anyway
  13. anonymous
    click a star to vote
    Sep 29th 2006 !⃝

    This song is said to be about a father who is trying to help his crack addicted son.

    This interpretation has been marked as poor. view anyway

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