The Velvet Underground: Sweet Jane Meaning
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Song Released: 1973
Sweet Jane Lyrics
Suitcase in my hand
Jack's in his corset, Jane is in her vest
and me I'm in a rock 'n' roll band. Huh.
Riding a Stutz Bear Cat, Jim
ya know, those were different times
all the poets studied rules of verse
This is a narrative on how life forces some people to compromise their ideals, and how as we age our priorities sometimes change.
There are three sets of characters in the song, the singer (in a rock n roll band), Jack and Jane (in a relationship), and Jim (who drives a race car).
The proclamation, "Sweet Jane" is literally Jack's love for Jane (but also probably just a general reference to finding your muse).
The song follows characters through the latter parts of their lives from fun-loving and free-wheeling adventure with big dreams (standing on the corner off to somewhere with a suitcase-different times in which men studied poetry and drove race cars--etc) to, some, "workin for the man" (both Jack and Jane now have jobs to make money). Others live out their dream (the singer is obviously still in a rock n roll band). And still others keep doing what they have always done (Jim sounds like he never grows up in the singer's eyes and is still defending his ideals).
Jack and Jane, the lovers, now come home and cut loose with each other by the fire, listening to classical music--a departure from their old ideals in which they were poets and dreamers.
The reference to the "wooden soldiers" is a reference to Babes in Toyland in which the soldiers defend the children's fantasy kingdom from evil--which he follows with a line about "protest kids," possibly alluding to them being the wooden soldiers now defending their dreams and fantasies. Jim, referenced directly before the wooden soldiers line, sounds like he is still a protester and grouped in with this bunch, a rebel, an idealist.
The last verse, he is singing about how some may say life may be plain and boring ("Evil mothers" will tell you "truths" about how things are and how life is "just dirt"), but that it holds beauty. And, even though life sucks ("you know... Life is just to die"), if you ever find love or your place in life, and you have a heart or enough sense to know it, that you would be a fool to something that makes life so worthwhile, that beautiful thing.
"Some people they like to go out dancin
and other people they have to work. Just watch me now
and there's even some evil mothers
Well there gonna tell you that everthing is just dirt
you know that women never really faint
and that villains always blink their eyes
that children are the only ones who blush
and that life is just to die
But anyone who ever had a heart
they wouldn't turn around and break it
and anyone who ever played a part
They wouldn't turn around and hate it
Sweet Jane, Sweet Sweet Jane"
anonymous Feb 19th, 2018 2:41pm report
It’s about heroin usage and how sweet things are when you are high you float with no worries.
But when you are out and searching life’s just dirt. Evil mothers will cheat or steal for the bang. Normal folks going to work to support the life habit. Protesters because war gave them this wicked craving ... Sweet Jane all high again. Broken heart ... out and searching playing a part scheming and having to conn and lying for the bang.
Roses whisper to the dead O.D’d in the grave ... if you had a heart you would not break it.
anonymous Nov 14th, 2013 11:32pm report
Sweet Jane is code for heroin.
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