"What A Good Boy" as written by and Steven/robertson Page....
When I was born
They looked at me and said
What a good boy
What a smart boy
What a strong boy

And when you were born
They looked at you and said
What a good girl
What a smart girl
What a pretty girl

We've got these chains
Hanging 'round our necks
People want to strangle us with them
Before we take our first breath
Afraid of change
Afraid of staying the same
When temptation calls
We just look away

This name is the hair shirt I wear
And this hair shirt is woven from your brown hair
This song is the cross that I bear
Bear with me
Bear with me
Bear with me
Be with me tonight
I know that it isn't right
But be with me tonight

I go to school
I write exams
If I pass, if I fail, if I drop out
Does anyone give a damn?

And if they do
They'll soon forget
'Cause it won't take much for me
To show my life ain't over yet

I wake up scared
I wake up strange
I wake up wondering if anything in my life
Is ever gonna change
I wake up scared
I wake up strange
And everything around me stays the same

It's the hair shirt I wear
And this hair shirt is woven from
It's woven from your brown hair
This song is the cross that I bear
Bear with me
Bear with me
Bear with me
Be with me tonight
I know that it isn't right
But be with me tonight

I couldn't tell you
That I was wrong
I chickened out grabbed a pen and a paper
Sat down and I wrote this song

I couldn't tell you
That you were right
So instead I looked in the mirror
Watched TV, laid awake all night

We've got these chains
Hanging round our necks
People want to strangle us with them
Before we take our first breath
Afraid of change
Afraid of staying the same
When temptation calls, yeah

This name is the hair shirt I wear
And this hair shirt is woven from
Woven from your brown hair
This song is the cross that I bear
Bear with me
Bear with me
Bear with me
Be with me tonight

And when I was born
They looked at me and said
What a good boy
What a smart boy
What a strong boy

And when you were born
They looked at you and said
What a good girl
What a smart girl
What a pretty girl, yeah

What a pretty girl, hey yeah


Lyrics submitted by ojms

"What a Good Boy" as written by Steven Page Ed Robertson

Lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc.

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What A Good Boy song meanings
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56 Comments

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  • +3
    General CommentJimFranklin, there is absolutely no concrete evidence proving that it's about a brother/sister relationship. By your argument alone, we could determine that it's about a man in love with a sheep, as well.
    Sammichon December 22, 2005   Link
  • +2
    General CommentSo powerful this song is to me, that I wrote my son, currently away at college to apologize to him if I ever boxed him in with expectations and pre-conceived notions of what he should, could, would be in his life. Our bond is so special to me and this song caused me to stop and truly appreciate the beautiful man/child I have!
    ShannyHon May 13, 2005   Link
  • +2
    General CommentYou know...I think people tend to look at them as a completely joking band (because of the humor in their music, and their constant jokes and all that) but this song really puts them on another level, in my opinion. I think the power of this song lies in the fact that it is something everyone can identify with. From what I can gather, he's basically saying from the moment we're born, people are already planning our lives. We're put into a mold from the first breath we take, and we're expected to fit that mold.

    "I wake up scared, I wake up strange
    I wake up wondering if anything in my life is ever going to change
    I wake up scared, I wake up strange
    And everything around me stays the same"

    Who can't identify with that?

    That's why this song is timeless.
    thecoldparton February 18, 2008   Link
  • +2
    General CommentComment: I Had to create an account to make this comment. That was overdue though. I first heard this song around 2007. It was used for a commercial for the A&E show, Intervention. I loved it ever since.

    Interpretation: When we are born people have all these expectations for us. These expectations may be to go to school, to be straight, good, what ever. You are not asked what you want but the expectations exist independently. For example, My parents raised me protestant so my sisters and I are expected to be protestant-Christian.

    When you grow up, you start going through the motions of what is expected. As you get older, you will start questioning why and what you are doing. When I was about 16, I started to doubt my faith. So, it was a struggle to be who I was verses what was expected of me.

    I think the chains are the expectations. The protagonists is struggling with what to do. He is 'wakes about scared' strange' because of this struggle and identity crises of sort. (I am not too sure after this but..) The girl is in the same struggle. She does not have the preexisting expectations for him to be good, strong, smart. He is looking to her to affirm him, that he can be who he is becoming. He affirms her that she is 'a pretty girl' (the last lines of the song).

    A hair shirt is meant to irritate the skin. It is often wore as a penitence. The cross is a burden one must carry. So, maybe something with her did not work out. It is a constant irritation to him. It is a burden he is carrying. Only she can lift it. He wants to be with her but he knows 'it isn't right'. He is looking to her to save him.

    Overall, It is about putting faith in expectations. Expectations that are not yours but you try to meet.
    FeelAThouton February 07, 2013   Link
  • +1
    General Commentdag, you, my good sir, are a complete moron. this song is deeper than a teenager trying to get some, you small minded doofus.how dare you think that BNL would write such a shallow song. let me guess, you probably think the song Alcohol supports drinking. try thinking before you post, alright buddy? thanks.
    Skeezmoon May 13, 2004   Link
  • +1
    General CommentQuick funny story...

    I was feeling kinda down a few years ago, so one day I decided to inspire myself by putting the lyrics "I go to school, I write exams. If I pass, if I fail, if I drop out, does anyone give a damn? And if they do, they'll soon forget, 'cause it won't take much for me to show that my life ain't over yet." on the inside of my locker.

    Now, any half-wit can tell you those lyrics are kinda uplifting and empowering.

    I got called down to the principlas office to discuss my suicide note. Man, some people just can't look at the poetic sides of things.
    ACYon January 12, 2005   Link
  • +1
    My InterpretationThis is a really sad song, and it especially relates to a current situation I am in. I'd like to think this song is about a young man who has just realized he is in love with or has feelings for a long-time friend of his, hes unsure if she feels the same way and this feeling creates a lot of pain for him. Something is holding them back from being together, probably due to current relationships they are in. .. the timing is all wrong, but he wants nothing more than to be with her, and he can only hope that she feels the same way... The protagonist sounds really upset, and confused. wanting a positive change in his life, he's not sure if he can be happy without her.
    ronslickon February 27, 2012   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI didn't bother reading through all the comments, but most of you are way off. This song is packed with relgious language, specifically Christian, and even more specifically, Catholic terms. In earlier ages it was more common, but even today, a monk will wear uncomfortable clothing to do penance, a way to "take up your cross, and follow me" in the words of Jesus. A hair shirt was extremely rough, irritating material worn against the skin underneath one's normal clothes. The song is about struggling with a religious upbringing, temptation to abandon its requirements, etc., reconciling that with falling in love. It's a coming of age song. That's how I hear it anyway. But good songs tend to mirror our own values and reflect them back on us.
    bodyslamon May 16, 2013   Link
  • 0
    General CommentFirst of all, what the hell is a hairshirt?? lol

    This song completely describes my transition from college to the working world. After graduation and spending so many years in a place that often felt more like home to me than my childhood home ever did scared the heck out of me. I knew though it was time to move on with my life, but like this song says--"Afraid of change, afraid of staying the same"-- Welcome to the new world, take a step into it!

    BNL--especially before they got big via "One Week"--rock!!
    ELS24on January 24, 2002   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThis is a great old BNL song, along with Brian Wilson, and of course, If I had $100000
    NtoTheDrkon May 03, 2002   Link

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