"One Headlight" as written by and Jakob Dylan....
So long ago, I don't remember when
That's when they say I lost my only friend
Well they said she died easy of a broken heart disease
As I listened through the cemetery trees

I seen the sun comin' up at the funeral at dawn
The long broken arm of human law
Now it always seemed such a waste, she always had a pretty face
So I wondered how she hung around this place

Hey, come on try a little
Nothing is forever
There's got to be something better than
In the middle
But me & Cinderella
We put it all together
We can drive it home
With one headlight

She said it's cold
It feels like Independence Day
And I can't break away from this parade
But there's got to be an opening
Somewhere here in front of me
Through this maze of ugliness and greed
And I seen the sun up ahead at the county line bridge
Sayin' all there's good and nothingness is dead
We'll run until she's out of breath
She ran until there's nothin' left
She hit the end, it's just her window ledge

Hey, come on try a little
Nothing is forever
There's got to be something better than
In the middle
But me & Cinderella
We put it all together
We can drive it home
With one headlight

Well this place is old
It feels just like a beat up truck
I turn the engine, but the engine doesn't turn
Well it smells of cheap wine, cigarettes
This place is always such a mess
Sometimes I think I'd like to watch it burn
I'm so alone and I feel just like somebody else
Man, I ain't changed, but I know I ain't the same
But somewhere here in between the city walls of dyin' dreams
I think of death, it must be killin' me

Hey, hey hey come on try a little
Nothing is forever
There's got to be something better than
In the middle
But me & Cinderella
We put it all together
We can drive it home
With one headlight


Lyrics submitted by kevin, edited by windandwater313, notalexb

"One Headlight" as written by Jakob Dylan

Lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc.

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One Headlight song meanings
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140 Comments

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  • +8
    General CommentFrom reading the artists few chats about the song but still leaving enough unsaid to let the listener put their own feel on it is a wonderful gift Dylan gave us with this one.

    To me this song is about growing up, you get in your 20s or early 30s and everything you though was real turns out to be bullshit. Your friends weren't really your friends, the beliefs your parents taught you aren't all correct, you find our that hippies only hate capitalism when they aren't selling you something, that both political parties are f**k'd, that rich people live by a different set of laws than poor people, that love isn't like the movies, that you can't be whatever you want to be if you work hard enough and that life can sometimes be damn hard with so many responsibilities it almost breaks your back from the weight of it. I think he uses Cinderella just as a fictional character that represents the innocents of youth. That the poor mistreated step-sister can become the princess. You see a lot of unfair and heartless situations and how ugly the world can be and you think you can change it when you're 17, 22, 26, 29 then one day you are 35 and like, "No matter what we do or how hard we try these people are still the same a$$h*les doing the same evil to each other and the world around them." It's a hell of a wake up call and it can be shocking and painful when you realize it's not all roses and sunshine.

    His only friend is innocence or liberty, take your pick. I've often wondered if Lady Liberty herself is "She" because of the undertones of American society involved in the song. I look at the second verse and "it's cold it feels like indepedence day..." It makes me think of these parades today where people are too lazy to stand and salute the flag or the soldiers and they only reason they are really there is so their kids can get all the free candy being thrown out. Nobody respects what America stands for anymore and when you realize it, it's eye opening.

    There is also a sorrow that runs through the song almost as a mourning for the dreams that die as you get older. You look around one day and you didn't travel the world like you always said you would and instead are in the same town going through the same motions as the generation before you.

    So there is this bitterness and regret that can start to get to you if you let it but even if many of your dreams and aspirations are gone and innocence is dead, you still have your own morality and drive to overcome life's obstacles. Nobody ever thinks they'll be sick or die or unemployed or any of that when they are young but as you grow older and life sh*ts on you some...

    Just never give up and you can find happiness in life despite all that crap. You can make it if you just don't quit. Life may not be as pretty as we thought but it's still got a lot of good in it. So even if your diluted view (or headlight) of the world as a kid is dead, your sensibility-view (other headlight) is still getting you through it.

    That's my take.
    guitarsandsorrowon July 12, 2011   Link
  • +5
    General CommentThe lyrics tell a fragmentary story about a former friend and her death, and the singer's emotions in the aftermath. The use of strong words and images and the incomplete story have resulted in many different interpretations of the song, which include suicide, drug abuse, death of a lover, death of one's mother, having breast cancer and/or depression.

    Jakob Dylan, the lead singer and songwriter of The Wallflowers, has said that the song is about "the death of ideas" and that the many metaphors and images in the lyrics were not meant to be taken literally. Dylan explains that he and the band had very little support when they were putting together the record, hence the shout-out "c'mon try a little." The last two lines of the chorus "we can drive it home / with one headlight" are a reference to how the band were able to get through with their ideas despite being hindered (i.e. with one headlight) by the lack of support. (Wikipedia)
    musiclover9753on January 28, 2012   Link
  • +1
    General CommentTo me this song is about a girl who committed suicide because she feels that it just won't get better and everytime she tries to break out of the life she feels trapped in, she gets knocked back down. I also think that it says he feels the exact same way as she did; and since her death, he realizes what he needs to do to make the change happen, but isn't really doing anything about it. The lines about me and cinderella i think say that even though it isn't perfect, it is still functional.
    ttroellon June 20, 2002   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI think the singer is watching his friend die from domestic violence. "The long broken arm of human law." Maybe the law turned it's head away from her. She was trapped in the abusive relationship, and didn't know how to get out. "She said it's cold
    It feels like Independence Day
    And I can't break away from this parade
    But there's got to be an opening
    Somewhere here in front of me
    Through this maze of ugliness and greed"
    Sounds to me she was trapped in a relationship that drove her over the edge. She confided in her friend, the singer, and in the last verse he shows his digust. "Well this place is old
    It feels just like a beat up truck
    I turn the engine, but the engine doesn't turn
    Well it smells of cheap wine & cigarettes
    This place is always such a mess
    Sometimes I think I'd like to watch it burn." Maybe I'm reading to much into it. This song has bugged me about it's meaning for years.
    Honeybeeon August 27, 2002   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI never thought of it being about a girl commiting suicide. To me it always sounded like a girl being murdered that he loved and it being unsolved. Thus - "The long broken arm of human law". Also, the domestic violence theory sounds correct too. Going from the domestic violence theory, it kind of makes sense. And the lyric of "She always had a pretty face" shows that just because someone is pretty and popular on the outside, tells nothing of their home life. Going from the suicide theory - it sounds like she wasted something very important. "It always seems such a waste". As if she was very talented, and had the ability to go far in life and wasted it.

    Either way, beautiful song. The end.
    Kippixinon March 08, 2003   Link
  • +1
    General Commentlike tito said..this song isnt about a girl who died..not even a girl at all..the song is about perserverance and how even though times may be hard, everything around you is falling apart..with "one headlight" you can make it through. the "she" is life...the world..the world is greedy and cold. just to clear it all up for you! if you dont believe me..just check out their website
    bettybooperz19on April 21, 2003   Link
  • +1
    General CommentJakob Dylan said this song is about the death of ideas, not a suicide. It's very metaphoric.
    doubleTon August 31, 2009   Link
  • +1
    General CommentThis is a song I heard loads of times when i was younger, but i've just recently started listening to it again. Beautiful lyrics.
    I assume he used the name Cinderella because of the one headlight/one shoe missing thing.
    Normally the name of a fairy tale princess would make us think of a happy ending, but in this case it gives us the image of a tragic figure with no happy ending.
    Forget sappy love songs - these lyrics really make me feel this man's love for the girl.
    davydaveon February 04, 2010   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI love this song. :) It's about the studio that they recorded it in and the music industries
    "indifference" to what Jacob was trying to do artistically.
    Thia007on November 23, 2011   Link
  • +1
    General CommentTo me this song is about carrying on with life after someone dies. Trying to move on though your life is irrevocably changed while trying to keep this person alive in your heart.

    He's singing about a girl who committed suicide, which is made clear by the lines "she died easy of a broken heart disease" and "She ran until there's nothin' left, She hit the end, it's just her window ledge" which seems to indicate she jumped out of a window. He talks about visiting her place, or some place she frequented, and how it's all broken dreams and he wants to watch it burn. It's the only thing left that remains of her in the real world, but it's filled with reminders of her hard life. He feels like he has failed her.

    The most important part of the song, the driving it home with one headlight, is his way of coping with the loss. The world is a cruel and messed up place, but together the two of them made their way through it, feeling whole. Now she's gone but he resolves to carry on, to fight through to the end, even though this light in his life has gone out. What strikes me is his use of "we" as in "we can drive it home". She's dead, but he's still going to make it through for her. Pick up where she left off, and make it home (someplace where he can live his life in happiness and peace), because she couldn't. He will carry her memory with him, and try his best to live whatever dream they had aspired to when they were together, alone.
    sporkleson January 25, 2013   Link

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