Neil Young: Sugar Mountain Meaning
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Sugar Mountain Lyrics
With the barkers and the colored balloons,
You can't be twenty on Sugar Mountain
Though you're thinking that
You're leaving there too soon,
You're leaving there too soon.
It's so noisy at the fair
"Sugar Mountain" uses an amusement park as a metaphor for childood.
When we're little kids, life seems like a magical carnival. We spend our time playing and having fun. Mom and Dad are around to take care of us, and we don't even know that we could ever want more out of life.
But time goes by, we get older, and the things that once made us happy DON'T make us happy any more. As we become teenagers, we start to take an interest in sex, and we start to develop that charming adolescent sarcasm and cynicism.
The homes and families we loved as children can start to feel like a prison, and we start to long to escape from them. "You can't be 20 on Sugar Mountain," and you can't remain an innocent, happy child forever.
But even when we begin the necessary process of growing up and becoming independent, somewhere deep inside us, there's still a piece of the little children we once were, and we know we'll miss the things we left behind. Even though we know we HAVE to grow up, we sometimes wish we could stay carefree kids just a LITTLE longer.
anonymous Aug 24th, 2019 8:06am report
In a concert at the Albert Hall in London on October 29, 1970,Joni Mitchell, who was already friends with Young by the time he wrote this song, opened her song "Circle Game" with this speech:
Mitchell: "In 1965 I was up in Canada, and there was a friend of mine up there who had just left a rock'n'roll band (...) he had just newly turned 21, and that meant he was no longer allowed into his favourite haunt, which was kind of a teeny-bopper club and once you're over 21 you couldn't get back in there anymore; so he was really feeling terrible because his girlfriends and everybody that he wanted to hang out with, his band could still go there, you know, but it's one of the things that drove him to become a folk singer was that he couldn't play in this club anymore. 'Cause he was over the hill. (...) So he wrote this song that was called "Oh to live on sugar mountain" which was a lament for his lost youth. (...) And I thought, God, you know, if we get to 21 and there's nothing after that, that's a pretty bleak future, so I wrote a song for him, and for myself just to give me some hope. It's called The Circle Game.
anonymous Aug 24th, 2019 8:03am report
The “ barkers” does not mean at barker ranch in the Mojave desert. Manson hung out at that place.
Barkers where carnival barkers. Barkers at a carnival are the people yelling at you to come and see the particular attraction they want you to see. “ step right this way , see the bearded lady and the tattoo baby”
anonymous Sep 29th, 2017 9:53pm report
As a kid your life is filled with magic and wonder.Then when you become an adult you want to go back to sugar mountain.
anonymous Apr 23rd, 2017 4:22am report
Don't know how you folks can't understand it, but maybe you've never grown up in a rural community. Going to the local fair with your parents and getting cotton candy (it's so noisy at the fair with your mother and your dad). Growing up in a small school during your middle age years and passing notes to girls or boys you like (you can hear the words she wrote as you read the hidden note). Watching football games and sneaking under the bleachers to smoke a cigarette (now you're underneath the stairs and you're giving back some glares, to the people who you met and it's your first cigarette). Then you leave the nest, say I'm all grown up,I gotta get outta here, I can do everything fine by myself!!! But then... "ain't it funny how it feels when you're finding out it's it real". It's a song about growing up but unfortunately a lot of our kids aren't learning to do that until their 30s. Peace out.
anonymous Apr 19th, 2017 4:35pm report
This is just about the verse that starts, "now you're underneath the stairs and you're giving back the glares" - I remember hearing an interview with Neil many years ago. He said that he was actually underneath stairs and doing what the lyrics said when he wrote that verse. He was trying to figure out what the next verse would be, and just decided to write what was happening.
Of course, overall the song does seem to be about growing up, and some aspects of it are quite literally this discomfort "under the stairs."
kooljohn176 Dec 6th, 2013 12:24am report
old time fan of neil young's music and being a addict myself, espeacially to sugar in my younger days one can only guess that ''sugar mountain'' could be a place or a state of mind that has different meanings to people. I've heard that neil young was inspired in the idea to start writing this song when he was to young to get into this popular club hangout in Canada. several years later in the late 60's in his travels to California, stopping and meeting some of the people at barker ranch commune finally this song was recorded in his '' angelic tone of voice'' for the times that feels to me that he is trying to warn us not to hang out on sugar mountain when we hit 20, because many of us wanted to get to it way to early to chase the feeling of our pleasures in addictions while wanting to leave home. he does not want us to lose our child innocence in the playground of it in reminding us that sugar mountain can turn into a false paradise in the illussions of love and addictions if you stay on it to long before our time to find out is real tough. maybe i'am getting ahead of myself in the future here, but the feeling here is that neil also wants us to think in being patient with a clear mind to get to ''sugar mountain'' as we get old and enjoy it as a ''heavenly place'' like once when we were children.
lovesMusic Nov 17th, 2012 11:57pm report
Definitely about growing up -- too fast. "You can't be 20 on Sugar Mountain, though you think that you're leaving there too soon. " A playful rhythm signifies youth, while the melancholy chords show how hard it is to grow up. "Now you say your leaving home, cause you want to be alone. Aint it funny how you feel when you find out that it's real?"
anonymous Oct 8th, 2012 10:31am report
Is Sugar Mountain a real place in Neil Young's song "Sugar Mountain"? If so, where is it located...TIA
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