"Sundown" as written by and Gordon Lightfoot....
I can see her lyin' back in her satin dress
In a room where ya do what ya don't confess
Sundown ya better take care
If I find you bin creepin' 'round my back stairs
Sundown ya better take care
If I find you bin creepin' 'round my back stairs

She's bin lookin' like a queen in a sailor's dream
And she don't always say what she really means
Sometimes I think it's a shame
When I get feelin' better when I'm feelin' no pain
Sometimes I think it's a shame
When I get feelin' better when I'm feelin' no pain

I can picture every move that a man could make
Getting lost in her lovin' is your first mistake
Sundown ya better take care
If I find you bin creepin' 'round my back stairs
Sometimes I think it's a sin
When I feel like I'm winnin' when I'm losin' again

I can see her lookin' fast in her faded jeans
She's a hard lovin' woman, got me feelin' mean
Sometimes I think it's a shame
When I get feelin' better when I'm feelin' no pain
Sundown ya better take care
If I find you bin creepin' 'round my back stairs
Sundown ya better take care
If I find you bin creepin' 'round my back stairs
Sometimes I think it's a sin
When I feel like I'm winnin' when I'm losin' again


Lyrics submitted by grouping

"Sundown" as written by Gordon Lightfoot

Lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc., Moose Music Ltd./Early Morning Music Ltd.

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Sundown song meanings
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31 Comments

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  • +5
    General CommentThe lyrics should read "satin" not "faded" in the first line...

    Gordon Lightfoot is a recovering alcoholic. He's talking about his drinking/alcoholism in an allegorical manner, giving liquor the role of a prostitute/mistress in his life.

    I can see her lyin' back in her satin dress
    - he's visulizing alcohol and remembering the "satin" smooth feel of liquor

    In a room where you do what you don't confess
    - getting drunk in a bar

    Sundown you better take care
    If I find you been creepin' 'round my back stairs
    - warning himself of the danger of letting alcohol sneak back into his life

    She's been lookin' like a queen in a sailor's dream
    - liquor and sex, two things many sailor's want when then hit port. He's reinforcing the association...

    And she don't always say what she really means
    - drinking starts with the promise of good times, but doesn't always deliver time.

    Sometimes I think it's a shame
    When I get feelin' better when I'm feelin' no pain
    - "feeling no pain" is a common expression for being drunk. He recognizes there's a problem that he has to be drunk in order to feel better

    I can picture every move that a man could make
    - since he's an alcoholic, he knows from personal exerience

    Getting lost in her lovin' is your first mistake
    - it's a mistake to lose yourself to drinking

    Sundown you better take care
    If I find you been creepin' 'round my back stairs
    - restating the dangers of alcohol sneaking back into his life again

    Sometimes I think it's a sin
    When I feel like I'm winnin' when I'm losin again
    - drinking/getting drunk makes you feel/think you're better off when it's actually creating a problem

    I can see her lookin' fast in her faded jeans
    She's a hard lovin' woman, got me feelin' mean
    - alcohol is hard on the body and can bring out a nasty side in people

    Sometimes I think it's a shame
    When I get feelin' better when I'm feelin' no pain
    Sundown you better take care
    If I find you been creepin' 'round my back stairs
    Sundown you better take care
    If I find you been creepin' 'round my back stairs
    Sometimes I think it's a sin
    When I feel like I'm winnin' when I'm losin' again
    - lamenting, reminding himself about the dangers (twice), still lamenting though
    TheToneron January 06, 2009   Link
  • +3
    General CommentA lot of people thought Lightfoot wrote this about his wife. In an April 1975 Crawdaddy magazine article, he explained: "All it is, is a thought about a situation where someone is wondering what his loved one is doing at the moment. He doesn't quite know where she is. He's not ready to give up on her, either, and that's about all I got to say about that."
    -from songfacts.com
    JeffKaos71on November 24, 2004   Link
  • +3
    General CommentI think both TheToner and Audiophile are correct- all you have to do is replace "alchohol addiction" with just "addiction", and you guys have really made the same interperatation. So the song is about his addiction either to alchohol, or to a woman/love/relationship, or even drugs if that's what makes the listener relate to the song. A good songwriter or poet writes something with the expectation that thier listeners will make their own assertions. So the song was most probably written from lightfoot's own point of view about his relationship- but he chose to use language that allowed more people to relate to it by likening that situation to any other addicts situation. So in short- i think you're BOTH completely right at the same time!! If anyone has heard nine inch nails "with teeth" its pretty similar but a little more obvious- he uses a woman as a personification of his drug addiction
    backwoodsbarbieon August 09, 2010   Link
  • +2
    General CommentI like two lines in this song:

    "I can see her lyin' back in her satin dress
    In a room where you do what you don't confess"

    and...

    "Sometimes I think it's a sin
    When I feel like I'm winnin' when I'm losin again"

    in my opinion that is songwriting at its finest.
    defuncton August 28, 2006   Link
  • +2
    General CommentI almost preferred TheToner's allegorical interpretation of Mr. Lightfoot's alchoholism. But I can't reconcile the notion of the threat. (sundown you better take care). Who is he warning? The bottle? Perhaps the lyric is more literal than metaphorical. See some of his other lyrics, he's not real complicated. Or maybe that's just me. Not complicated.
    billybayouon January 11, 2009   Link
  • +2
    General CommentTo TheToner

    I really like your very interesting interpretation, but, according to a 2008 interview, it is not what Gordon had in mind.

    According to what Gordon said in the interview, the song is about his passionate relationship with Cathy Smith. Smith was a groupie, a drug addict, and had, shall we say, "committment problems". She would later become infamous for giving John Belushi the lethal speedball injection (she served 15 months in prison for that).

    I do think that the line

    "Sometimes I think it's a shame
    When I get feelin' better when I'm feelin' no pain"

    is a specific reference to drinking....it works in this song because Gordon was drinking A LOT when he was in a realtionship with Smith.

    The line "got me feelin' mean" no doubt is a reference to the time he (according to Wikopedia) punched Smith in the face and broke her cheek bone.

    I think it is interesting that two of Lightfoot's biggest hits, "If You Could Read My Mind" and "Sundown" are sort of "book ends". IYCRMM is about being in a relationship with a woman who has lost interest in sex, and Sundown is about being in a realtionship with a woman who enoys a lot of sex, but if you do not keep a close eye on her, she will stray.


    Audiophile65on January 29, 2010   Link
  • +2
    General CommentFor sure it's about a man who is wondering what his woman is doing when he's not with her. But even more so, it seems to me, to be about a man who is with a woman, whom he knows is cheating on him and he is singing about the different feelings he is having.

    1st verse: Picturing his woman seducing the man. Warning the other man that if he finds him at his house, then there's gonna be a reckoning.

    2nd verse: Describing the way his woman has been dressing/looking lately since the affair started and how their communication has gone to crap. He's begun to dull himself with drugs or alcohol.

    3rd verse: Understanding how the other man can be tempted and seduced by her, because it may have been how the singer started his relationship with the woman (by cheating). The singer wonders why he settles for this.

    4th verse: Angry with his woman about how she dresses to entice other men and how he's constantly getting angry at her for it.
    Redensteinon April 14, 2012   Link
  • +1
    General CommentThe first urge is to think sundown is a prostitute. But JeffKaos71's reference I think holds water. Re-read the lyrics and you see that he never really claims sundown to be a prostitute.

    "In a room where you do what you don't confess" .. I always thought was a dead giveaway reference to prostitution.

    However, not too many married couples confess to what goes on in their bedroom .. hence the wife theory could be consistent with this line. I don't see any other line that supports the prostitution theory any stronger - and now we've debunked its veracity. So the wife theory definitely holds sway in my mind.

    In fact, in the prostitute scenario, how does "you better take care If I find you been creepin' 'round my back stairs" get interpretted? I've never completely reconciled that one.

    However, in the wife theory .. that line makes complete sense .. he's warning his wife that she better not be fooling around in their own bedroom or house.

    Also, I'm w/ defunct that the lines to which he refers are pretty F'ing awesome. Really cuts to the chase, sends chills deep into your soul (especially if you've ever worn the same shoes as sundown's lover)
    tsreybon August 31, 2006   Link
  • +1
    General CommentWe shouldn't even try to decipher this song. Some songs lose their beauty as their disected line by line. Gordon Lightfoot is amazing, that much I can say.
    bella___muerteon November 28, 2006   Link
  • +1
    General CommentIf you've ever been both the cheated-on and the "other guy" you feel these lyrics. It's about a sneaking around relationship that should be physical, but that leads to emotional
    "Getting lost in her lovin' is your first mistake"

    Almost always leads to heartache for someone, regardless.
    nosmaSon May 29, 2007   Link

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