"Everything Beautiful Is Far Away" as written by and J Lytle....
He just finished eating dinner
And stepped outside the cave to smoke
A cigarette he made from rolled up photo paper
They were pictures of things back on earth
He looked out on a greyish white expanse
Of uninhabited terrain he now called home
He'd seen plenty of mirages and imaginary visitors
Up until then so he wasn't sure what to think when
He saw swans and they were wading
On the shores of a pale white lake
That he'd never seen there before
And it was quite beautiful and it was far away
Cause everything beautiful is far away
He knew he was as good as gone
But gone was somewhere he really didn't mind going to
Since the shuttle had crashed many years had passed
And the pictures of his loved ones
That he drew on the walls of the cave had finally faded
He put out his smoke and proceeded
Toward the lake repeating to himself
Everything beautiful is far away

Lyrics submitted by ramthar, edited by iluvvsmp2

"Everything Beautiful Is Far Away" as written by Jason Lytle

Lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group,

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Everything Beautiful Is Far Away song meanings
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  • +2
    General CommentI love the half-spoken words here. You can really see this man walking steadily on the lakes shore, a tear in his eye, mumbling something to himself, and disappearing beneath the surface cos its his only way out.
    benfoldsfanon May 12, 2003   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI'd say that there's quite a suicidal trend in this song. I guess he's just too far away from everything he loves and he's just letting go. He finally burns the photos and just disappears under the surface.
    Anyone else realize that the image of the lake from this song appears on the cover of Sumday?
    tackledspoonon December 28, 2004   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI always thought this song was making some allusion to Plato's Allegory of the Cave. Obviously, the mentioning of the cave is what first gave me that idea. But the lines

    he'd seen plenty of mirages
    and imaginery visitors up until then
    so he wasn`t sure what to think
    when he saw swans


    and the pictures of his loved ones
    that he drew on the wall of the cave had finally faded.

    really, really remind me of how in Plato's allegory, the people only could see the shadows of real p eople and things reflected onto the walls of the cave, and so thought those images were the real thing. then, when the man was let out into the real world, he didn't know what to make of all the actual real things he saw. I haven't read the allegory in a couple of years so i don't remember all of it and am not sure how the rest of the song fits in, but I definatley think there's evidence that this song is related in someway.
    mtolskyon February 15, 2006   Link
  • +1
    General Comment"Nobody does nostalgia like these guys."
    Well, I would challenge that with Boards of Canada's 'Music Has the Right to Children' or 'A Beautiful Place Out in the Country'.

    Other than that, I agree that it is similar to 'Miner at the Dial-a-view', but for a different reason. Lyrically, they remind me of sci-fi short stories from the early-to-mid 1900's. Specifically, they remind me of Ray Bradbury's 'The Illustrated Man' or 'The Martian Chronicles'. The songs feel like they could have come right out of those books. Actually, they do make me feel nostalgic in that way, but not really in the homesickness way that you describe, although that is what the song is about, in part.
    I like how the lyric "everything beautiful is far away" can be read in several ways. In the context of the song, I see it as meaning the stranded space traveler, his mind deteriorating from a long period of isolation, decides to set out on what he probably knows to be a final voyage, to chase the distant, mysterious lake. Understanding his situation, that there is no hope for rescue, and there is no point in trying to fight his delusions, he finally surrenders to them, convincing himself that he finds them beautiful by repeating the phrase like a mantra.
    reclusivesageon May 03, 2007   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI've always felt this brilliant song (in particular its title) is an ironic look at the old chestnuts of "the grass is always greener on the other side", and "you don't know what you've got 'til it's gone".

    In a literal sense, our protagonist is a space traveller who travelled to a far away planet, in the hope of finding something more wonderful than he could ever see on Earth. The shuttle crashed on the far away planet, leaving him trapped.

    After many years (literal or figuratively? could just feel like this) trapped here, all he wishes for is to be back on Earth - now realising how beautiful the simple things, like watching swans on a lake, really were - especially compared to a grey and uninhabited planet. And, of course, his family, who he probably never really appreciated & realised how much he needed until he was light years away from them.

    There clearly isn't a real lake on the planet - it's a mirage. I think the previous comment around Plato's Cave allegory also ties in with this - as it's been so long since he has actually seen anybody/anything else, he's lost his mind and can't distinguish that the lake isn't real (even though he's never seen it before!).

    It's open to debate whether proceeding to the lake is a suicidal/defeatist thought as suggested, it could simply be interpreted as heading for the mirage in the belief it's really there.

    I love the imagery in this song, I have a lot of friends who think that the town where they lived is the cause of all of their problems - so leave town for a bigger city/country, thinking it will solve everything. Of course, it very rarely works out like this. They are essentially the protagonist in this song.
    zealmanon March 30, 2013   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThis song, as well as a few other of Grandaddy's spacier tunes (Nonphenomenal Lineage?) reminds me of Kurt Vonnegut's _The Sirens of Titan_. I wonder if Jason's read it... I bet he'd like it.
    arithexon June 08, 2004   Link
  • 0
    General CommentDefinately one of the best on their solid Under the Western Freeway. There's something so normal about this song that I absolutely love. The opening line, "He just finished eating dinner", is a perfect statement to open up a song about a man stuck by himself on a distant planet. The fact that the song is so relatable while being somewhat sarcastic is just great writing, period.
    PittsColt45on April 08, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI believe this song is basically about what I believe to be Grandaddy's main underlying theme in their music throughout the years: Nostalgia. Nobody does nostalgia like these guys. Nobody.

    I like to think of this one as a companion song to "Miner at the Dial-a-view", a masterpiece of homesickness if there ever was one.
    frijolito_tson April 26, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General CommentCome on...

    "back on earth" ... "uninhabited terrain" ... "shuttle had crashed"

    Is it not obvious that he's stranded on another planet? This song is about the last day(s) of an astronaut lost in space, I came here to see if anyone wanted to make some presumptions about which planet he or she might be on, i'd like to think it's Mars just because it seems to be a visually compelling fit.
    jtmetcalfeon August 07, 2012   Link
  • 0
    Song MeaningI think a lot of people are interprerating this too literally. Id say its about someone that is "in their own world." He makes himself distant from others and is more of an introvert. It seems as if the person being described is also depressed bcause he looks out at a grayish-white land on an unihabitated terrain he calls home. Maybe the white lake and swans are a metaphor for an oppurtunity of some sort at finding happiness and beating this depression and loneliness. When the pictures on the wall fade and he puts out his smoke, maybe it means he is moving on from what was holding him back because he is heading towards the lake trying to move on and find hapiness. But he repeats to himself it is very far away because depression takes a long time to over come and it is very difficult to overcome and he knows it will take time, but he will get there. So basically its about someone who is depressed and dstances themself from others, but finally finds an oppurtunity to find happiness, and decideds to try to let go of the past and move on to try to find hapiness.
    stevenh99on October 21, 2012   Link

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