What does I Am A Child mean?

Neil Young: I Am A Child Meaning

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Album cover for I Am A Child album cover

I Am A Child Lyrics

I am a child, I'll last a while.
You can't conceive
of the pleasure in my smile.
You hold my hand,
rough up my hair,
It's lots of fun
to have you there.

God gave to you,
now, you give to me,
I'd like to know
what you learned.
The sky...

  1. anonymous
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    May 30th 2022 !⃝

    Geez, the layer of meaning gathered from this song is amazing!I love Neil Young's songs for that reason.I suspect Neil says his own truth & you can take that how you will. Lot of respect for the guy.

  2. anonymous
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    Apr 3rd 2021 !⃝

    Just a simple song about a child and his/her father. The lyrics aren’t that deep and to even imagine it’s about gay or free sex is a pretty demented reach. I mean seriously? The title says exactly what it’s about.

  3. anonymous
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    May 31st 2020 !⃝

    Has anyone thought of just asking Neil Young what he meant by the song? He has been open to discussing his other songs, right? I dont really want other peoples interpretations --I want HIS reason for writing the song.
    This is obviously a song that he wrote for "Buffalo Springfield."

  4. anonymous
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    Mar 26th 2020 !⃝

    Here's the gay sex thing, as this song feels to me.

    The song is sung with great vulnerability and fragility.
    He's into what is happening, but is following the more experienced guys lead. "You say what's fair". Starting out with some affectionate touching, leading to unexpected pleasure. The lyrics speak for themselves if you go with this.

    He is surprised by his acceptance of the forbidden pleasure, condemning neither himself or his partner. "The sky is blue and so is the sea." It is what it is, learning to accept life's experiences for growth. He can't really feel anything is bad.

    This was the 60s, and "free love" was linked with inner personal freedom, and freedom from society's repressive rules. "What is the color, when black is burned?" Teachings accepted in black and white have to be reexamined when reality is directly encountered, creating the need for new definitions. That right/ wrong 'piece of paper' goes up in smoke.

    It is not precisely a 'gay lib' song, it is only gay in the sense that both partners here are men. It uses the imagery of both sex and innocence to go beyond labels and negativity in a gentle, lightly spiritual way that is life affirming.

  5. anonymous
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    Mar 25th 2020 !⃝

    It is a simple existential question, "What is the color, when black is burned", like "What is time?" or "How does gravity work?", or the basic child's unwitting question, "Where do people go when they die?".

    This question follows a very mundane, tactile declaration that most people grasp easy, "The sky is blue...", so I believe he setting up a basic philosophical exchange.

    First-time sex? I'm lost to that interpretation.

  6. anonymous
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    Nov 6th 2019 !⃝

    I thought it was about gay sex

  7. anonymous
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    Mar 31st 2018 !⃝

    About his feud with stephen stills.

  8. anonymous
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    Apr 8th 2017 !⃝

    The poet says the child is the father of the man/ mother of the woman. Chronologically and spiritually we all share this common experience. This song reminds me of that reality as the circle of our lives plays itself out.

  9. anonymous
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    May 3rd 2014 !⃝

    This song was first performed in 1968 by Buffalo Springfield. Mr. Young's first child hadn't been born yet, so the song is not about his child or Young's relationship with his child. Incidentally, the mother of his first child, Carrie Snodgrass, had to sue old Neil in 1983 for child support. He is an entertainer and, as with many of that flock, a fraud.

  10. anonymous
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    Oct 29th 2013 !⃝

    Is it possible this has to do with the little black girls that were burned in the church that was bombed?

  11. anonymous
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    Sep 23rd 2013 !⃝

    I always thought it had something to do with a young girl first having sex.

  12. lovesMusic
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    Nov 17th 2012 !⃝

    When Young sings "You can't conceive of the pleasure in my smile" he means that when he sees his child as very happy, but he doesn't at all get the joy his child feels.

    When Young sings "I last a while" he means that childhood is fleeting, and possibly the innocent joy that comes with it.

    "God gave to you, now you give to me. I'd like to know what you've learned." These lyrics show that Young believes his child is a gift from God, but the child then taunts him by somehow asking him what has he learned from this. Young is showing that as a father he has no answers.

    As far as what is the color when black is burning is a question that a child could ask to show Young that as a father he has no answers again.

  13. lovesMusic
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    Nov 17th 2012 !⃝

    The song is about his child and what Mr. Young thinks his child is thinking. Lovely tune, playful beat -- like a kid

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