"High Hopes" as written by David Gilmour and Polly Samson...
Beyond the horizon of the place we lived when we were young
In a world of magnets and miracles
Our thoughts strayed constantly and without boundary
The ringing of the division bell had begun

Along the Long Road and on down the Causeway
Do they still meet there by the Cut

There was a ragged band that followed in our footsteps
Running before times took our dreams away
Leaving the myriad small creatures trying to tie us to the ground
To a life consumed by slow decay

The grass was greener
The light was brighter
When friends surrounded
The nights of wonder

Looking beyond the embers of bridges glowing behind us
To a glimpse of how green it was on the other side
Steps taken forwards but sleepwalking back again
Dragged by the force of some in a tide
At a higher altitude with flag unfurled
We reached the dizzy heights of that dreamed of world

Encumbered forever by desire and ambition
There's a hunger still unsatisfied
Our weary eyes still stray to the horizon
Though down this road we've been so many times

The grass was greener
The light was brighter
The taste was sweeter
The nights of wonder
With friends surrounded
The dawn mist glowing
The water flowing
The endless river

Forever and ever


Lyrics submitted by Demau Senae

"High Hopes" as written by David Jon Gilmour Polly Annie Samson

Lyrics © IMAGEM MUSIC INC

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High Hopes song meanings
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  • +16
    General CommentA) David Gilmour is God. In my opinion, the best guitarist of all times. I don't want to get into an argument about Hendrix and Clapton, because from a technical standpoint they are clearly better. When I say best guitarist, I mean the ability to play the right note at the right time. When I listened to many Floyd songs and heard Gilmour playing (mind you this is the first time I was hearing the songs) I imagined what the next note would be and it is what he played. I think that there is always a correct note to play at a correct time, and granted playing an incorrect note won't ruin the song, but playing the correct note creates something bigger than a song. Santana said that music exists in the universe regardless of us. It is simply funneled through us and I have to agree with him. That being said, Gilmour is very receptive to music. It flows through him beautifully. Correctly. Don't get me wrong Roger Waters was the creative mastermind, but he cannot touch Gilmour on a guitar. Not even close. Never.

    B) The guitar solo at the end of this song is the greatest solo I have ever heard in my lifetime (and I listen to a lot of music). This opinion is based on what I believe the meaning of the song to be, but nonetheless, it is perfection. It stimulates, motivates and is so powerful, that it brings me to tears. Maybe I am too passionate about music, but I don't see it that way. Gilmour is my god. His music my Bible.

    C) To those of you who said this song is about Roger Waters and the early days of Pink Floyd, you can have your opinions, but the way I see it, that can only be a portion of the meaning of this song. A subset, if you will, belonging to the greater whole. There is a difference between true and truth. Truth exists regardless of us. Pink Floyd's past and Gilmour's relationship with Roger Waters may play a part in this song, but those are facts. Those are true. The truth, however, in this song is about life. This song is about the course that life takes and how Gilmour doesn’t like it. It has to be like it is, but he wishes it could be different. And in his youth, he had pictured it different. He had “High Hopes”. Just like we all did. The song starts in childhood. The words say:

    "Beyond the horizon of the place we lived when we were young,
    In a world of magnets and miracles,
    Our troughts strayed constantly and without boundary,
    The ringing of the division bell had begun"

    It starts with a child. So free and pure. He is looking back to when magnets were miracles. When we had yet to discover the world. When the genius of the child is unbounded. Perception has yet to take a negative spin from growing old and learning of the evil in the world. The ringing of the division bell is the beginning of the impurities. People divide. They form opinions. The purity is gone. The innocence is lost.

    "Running before time took our dreams away,
    Leaving the myriad small creatures trying to tie us to the ground,
    To a life consumed by slow decay"

    As a child we dream freely, but as we age, our dreams fade. You cannot honestly say that you dream like you did as a child. No one can. It is a part of life. Looking back, if possible, we should have fought growing up. What is so great about being an adult? As a child, the wonder is still there. There is nothing not fantastic. Here I think, the myriad small creatures are other human beings. In the greater picture, we are but small creatures. And the child is tied down by others. If alone, maybe the child could resist becoming an adult. But his peers, both his age and older, try to tie him down. Not intentionally, but that is all they know. The tying down is inevitable. It is part of the process. They put him in school (no thoughts controlled) and the process begins. The tying down of the once free spirit has taken hold. Now the life of slow decay starts.

    "The grass was greener,
    The light was brighter,
    With friends surrounding,
    The nights of wonder"

    Our youth was brighter, the grass was greener, our friends were around, and the nights were free. Like our minds. To wonder. To explore. To discover.

    "Looking beyond the embers of bridges glowing behind us,
    To a glimpse of how green it was on the other side,
    Steps taken forwards but sleepwalking back again,
    Dragged by the force of some inner tide"

    Aging, however, is inevitable. When we reminisce we see that the world was beautiful in our youth. Free and infinite. Yet, something inside of us has been grown. We can take steps towards the freedom of our youth, but we take them back unconsciously. The aging process does not allow for the purity of youth. It is not possible. You can get close, but never wholly free again.

    “At a higher altitude, with flag unfurled,
    We reached the dizzy heights of that dreamed of world”

    I feel that these lines are only talking about youth. Reaching the freedom and purity of the young mind, but as an adult. This might be controversial, but the use of high and dizzy here remind me personally of LSD. The dreamed of world. The return to freedom and to wonder. I do not advocate the use of said drug, but it returns to us the unrestricted mind. The freedom is infinite.

    "Encumbered forever by desire and ambition,
    There's a hunger still unsatisfied,
    Our weary eyes still stray to the horizon,
    Though down this road we've been so many time"

    Desire and ambition are human nature. It is only what we desire that is influenced by others (the myriad small creatures trying to tie us to the ground). Despite what we are doing and what we are aiming for, we still stare into the horizon. Trying to free our minds. Tying to attain the purity of youth. The song might even be saying that we are trying to get back to our youth, but we have tried before, and failed. A hunger is still unsatisfied.

    “The water flowing,
    The endless river”

    The process of life is but a river. It has both a beginning and an end, but more importantly, a flow. It only flows one way. The start of the river may be glorious and serene, but despite our efforts, the river flows, taking us further from the beginning. This process, this course that life takes, was and will always be. It is endless.

    In closing, I think the point of David Gilmour writing this song was to express that he does not like the course of life. He does not like how it works. Unfortunately, it has to be this way. As Voltaire writes, through Pangloss (a philosopher in the book Candide): “This is the best of all possible worlds”. We can think up different worlds, but they wouldn’t be plausible. They could not exist. Everything is in balance, so life is what it is. And it will always be this way.

    In light of what I think this song means, the solo is so big and beautiful.. The song is somber and slow, but the solo is fast and energized. It fills me with a feeling of empowerment. It, forgive me for being cheesy, returns me to my youth. The solo is free and boundless. Just as I long to be.
    topolovichon March 04, 2005   Link
  • +8
    General CommentI think this song is about growing up and regretting what you've lost. When your young everything is simple and fun. When you grow up everything is different. You get so old and theres nothing left to look forward to, just hard work and people who use you for their own gains. I know I miss being a kid :(
    markoon September 12, 2002   Link
  • +3
    General CommentThis song is about growing older, and never quite being at peace with your place in the world. About how you're never able to achieve all your desires and ambitions, and how as a kid you somehow envisaged your life being better than how it turned out to be. Even the things that turn out right are never what you expect them to be.

    One of many Floyd songs that refer to the loss of childhood innocence, and life never being as much fun as an adult as it was as a kid.

    I think the lyrics do deliberately parallel the Floyd's career ('the dizzy heights of that dreamed of world' is the superstardom which was thrust upon them after the runaway success of 'Dark Side Of The Moon'), but I think the song as a whole is much broader than that.

    Either way, this is probably my favourite Pink Floyd song.
    ch0ganon December 15, 2004   Link
  • +3
    General CommentI recently watched the music video to High Hopes, and it makes the song clear. High Hopes has been one of my favorite songs for years, but the video took my breath away. I used to study at Cambridge University in England, and the video is shot in my old college grounds, around the university, and in the fenlands around cambridge in the winter. Pink floyd were from Cambridge, and the song for me perfectly captures what studying in that fantastic town meant to me. As well as no doubt commenting on some other stuff too, like the band itself (I dont know much about that to be honest), the lyrics clearly refer to the fact that at a place like cambridge people were able to think anything, to stray in their thoughts 'without boundary'. it was a wonderful, inspiring, and often pretty magical place to be (the video really shows this, check it out on youtube). but many people end up moving on to work in the city, financial services and other all-consuming and challenging careers. look for the bit in the video with the business men on stilts striding to the horizon, full of optimism and focusing on a wonderful future. People have high hopes, and they press on to the rat race, where most get worn down, jaded, and the spark of personality which most had while at university slowly fades and is all but forgotten. The video shows a man, obviously a former student, gazing across the fenlands (flat farm and marsh land surrounding the town for miles), having just driven back to cambridge, and he is obviously thinking back, nostalgically, to his time there. In part of a video you see a circle of friends on the backs (the lawns) behind the St Johns College, releasing balloons into the sky. ideas, maybe, which in their drive to find success, to pursue their high hopes, with 'flags unfurled', forget the wonderful ideas and ideals which they perhaps nurtured, and shared, while at university. in retrospect cambridge is a truly surreal and magical experience to many people. but most dont see it at the time. So once people reach the 'dizzy heights of the dreamed of world', they perhaps find that there is little there, and they begin to look back at their time as students, when they had freedom to think, to act, to pursue whatever they wished, and in such a fantastic environment, where they might not have been rich, but they were responsibility free, and with time to learn and to grow. there is nothing quite like the opportunity to spend time in a place like that where you were free to think whatever you want, to read whatever you want, and to learn so much. Pink floyd were definitely the sort of people who saw and appreciated this (although i dont know if they ever went to university, of cambridge, themselves, although i believe they came from cambridge). of course, because the video is filmed in cambridge, and because they are from there and i went there, i see the song in terms of my very personal experience of the place, which is uncannily and beautifully captured in the video, which is, by the way, the best music video i've seen. the imagery in it really struck a cord with me. But the principle of what they were saying is more widely applicable, as most comments here have pointed out. That the video shows cambridge gives the video special significance to me, but it is ultimately a song about the 'hunger still unsatisfied' which remains even when 'high hopes' are made reality, and one reaches the 'dizzy heights of that dreamed of world'. At the top, materially and career wise, i think many people must then have cause to stop and think, once they find the top is no better, in terms of an intangible, perhaps intellectual satisfaction. Those that reach such heights will tend to be driven, intelligent and 'hungry' people, inquisitie people, who suddenly begin to see that there is more to being human then material achievement. Many will then turn and see that perhaps true satisfaction can only come through understanding, and that is where - i for one - see university as being so significant, especially a place like cambridge, with all its learning, its 50 odd libraries, its ancient and inspiring architecture. True satisfaction, for me, was falling asleep each night (more often at dawn) having spent a day reading, learning, partying, and talking with friends until 5am, walking the ancient old streets there, surrounded by sparky and intelligent people. what makes us so wonderfully human is our ability to think, to learn, to create, to wonder, to marvel. Universities really give free reign to those ideals, and it is a time when people are not yet sucked into a life of responsibility and sapped of their ideals, their inquisitiveness. For most of us the time at which we are able to be most atuned to what makes being human so wonderful is when we are at university, when we can if we choose - throw outselves into thinking, learning and creating to our hearts content. I think the song is reflecting on the sadness of this realisation, because when it comes for the most part one's bridges will be burnt, and when we return to see where we once were, we see the grass is indeed greener than our career, say, but that it is forever closed to us. So sadness, yes, and nostalgia. A wonderful song, and a beautiful music video. The irony is that i ldiscovered the song in my last year of high school, when i was applying to cambridge, and i used to listen to it on repeat quite a lot, it had a eerie mystery about it which fascinated me, i never found it depressing as such. But only now, tonight, when i have seen the video on youtube (and then google searched it's meaning, and found this site),do i see how strange it is that i listened to it endlessly while i was working my ass off to get into university, only to find that they wrote it (I'm assuming this having watched the video) with cambridge in mind! anyway, that is my overly long analysis.
    calnicholsonon October 25, 2006   Link
  • +2
    General CommentI agree with Iano. I think it is about the decline and break-up of the band. The chorus is very reminiscient like Gilmour wishes for the good old days before he and Roger's differences tore the band apart.

    On a related note, I can see now why Gilmour didn't exactly get along with Waters. I mean, how would you feel if the principal song writer kept writing about how he wished the former guitar player was still around? I know I would be pretty miffed.
    Paradoxon August 24, 2002   Link
  • +2
    General Comment..

    This song is distinctly meant to not only be the last song on "The Division Bell" but also the last song .. ever .. for Pink Floyd.

    This outro of the song is the music before the death of a great, great band.

    The lyrics go through the years of Pink Floyd and all the things it *felt* like. There are also allegories to aging and dying and looking back at one's life and the way it *felt*.

    The final phrasing, the couplets, are supposed to be an ode to the final song (Eclipse) on Dark Side of the Moon as the work that Floyd will be most remembered for. They are both written in the same style.

    I believe, personally, that this song turned out so good that any time that David might have been tempted to resurrect the band in the ensuing decade, I think he kept looking back at this song and thinking, "I don't think I can put it to bed any better than that. That just about perfect." So, he let Pink Floyd be and die gracefully and in silence.

    This is a Top 5 song in the history of Floyd. A true masterpiece.

    You did good with the eulogy, Dave.

    You did good.

    ..
    StealBreezon August 18, 2012   Link
  • +2
    My InterpretationThis song is about the difference between our human experience and our true nature, to which we will be returning as one being very soon.

    "Beyond the horizon of the place we lived when we were young
    In a world of magnets and miracles
    Our thoughts strayed constantly and without boundary
    The ringing of the division bell had begun"

    When we were children, we were still very close to our true nature, which is our conscious experience, in which we are guided magnetically (literally). We still have access to our conscious experience, but as soon as thoughts entered our minds when we were children, and we were taught concepts and ideas about our reality, they started to replace our true reality with an artificial one: a reality that only exists in the mind.

    This is "the ringing of the division bell". It's our world of duality. Yin and Yang. Everything has a counterpart in this divided world. However, in reality, we never have been separated from one another, except for in the mind only. When we were babies, we experienced everything as one, but this was (temporarily) undone by everything we have been taught to believe in.

    "There was a ragged band that followed in our footsteps
    Running before times took our dreams away
    Leaving the myriad small creatures trying to tie us to the ground
    To a life consumed by slow decay"

    The illusion of time is what is keeping us all captive. We truly have become "slaves of the clock". But time is only a human invention, based on the rotations of our solar system, while our whole solar system is a projection of light- and soundwaves to begin with. So we are all being held captive by an illusion that only we ourselves hold onto: mental slavery.

    The "myriad small creatures" are all the petty, daily trivialities that we keep ourselves busy with, and that distract us from what we really are. Succumbing to the trance of our illusory world, our collective soul - split up in the mirror images that we are as humans - keeps running in circles, and sentences us to a life "consumed by slow decay", because we will never break out of the karmic life for as long as we keep believing in our illusory world. Also see "Wish you were here" for vivid symbolism about this predicament.

    "The grass was greener
    The light was brighter
    When friends surrounded
    The nights of wonder"

    When we break out of the illusion of separation, our collective soul will reunite again, the way it once was before our division became reality. This is what is known as "paradise".

    "Looking beyond the embers of bridges glowing behind us
    To a glimpse of how green it was on the other side
    Steps taken forwards but sleepwalking back again
    Dragged by the force of some sleeping tide
    At a higher altitude with flag unfurled
    We reached the dizzy heights of that dreamed of world"

    We can never go back. Our physical reality is a running program that evolves, no matter what we do, simply because we are not in control. Life is in control. As individuals, we can only be consciously aware of what is going on, but we will always be guided to do whatever it is we do, no matter what thoughts may arise about those actions. There is only one outcome in reality, but there are many different illusory outcomes within our thought structures.

    The "glowing embers" are a reference to what is going to happen to this world and our human forms. It will most likely be destroyed in nuclear warfare that will have its center in the Middle-East (the United States are already well on their way with this). Armageddon it is.

    But this is a good thing, because it's part of the program. This world has turned into a disaster. Everything's torn apart. Individualism is all-pervasive and unity will never come about by playing the game of this world. We all have been able to witness that the game of this world only leads to greed, poverty, war, murder, crime, disease, abuse. In short: sin. And quite a bit of it. Nevertheless, we are in love with this world ("how green it was on the other side"), but still we have to burn this bridge to evolve.

    All this while, we have been taking steps forward, but also reverting to many mistakes. This is all part of our inner tide, that is guiding us through life. The moon (which is also responsible for real-life tides) seems to play a big part in our mind-dominated world. References to the moon are recurring in Pink Floyd's music, but none so much as in "Dark Side of the Moon". Check out "Brain Damage" for revealing clues about our current path as humanity, and Syd Barret's visionary prophecy.

    Despite all of this, we will reach the heights of our dreamed of world. This is the huge change in consciousness that is already happening around the world. People are awaking from the dream, and becoming more conscious with every turn of our solar system. This is at "a higher altitude", because we will then have shed our "human skin", and collectively ascended as the higher beings that we really are. This is the unification that is our next step in evolution.

    "Encumbered forever by desire and ambition
    There's a hunger still unsatisfied
    Our weary eyes still stray to the horizon
    Though down this road we've been so many times"

    We have now been given a glimpse of our next stage as one united being, but as long as we individually keep being "encumbered by desire and ambition", we will only perpetuate this fool's game. We will keep trying to satisfy a hunger that cannot be satisfied. Eventually, all of us get worn out by the game of life, that can never be won by playing it. We should know this, because we've been "down this road so many times". This is because you and I are not separate from any other human being that ever lived, now lives, or yet has to live. We are constantly re-spawned in this karmic game, and all of us have to begin over and over again, learning everything we have learned, and then unlearning everything we ever learned to evolve into higher, spiritual beings.

    The game of life is the endless river.
    But we will transcend the game altogether, and reach the other side.
    repentofyoursinson May 29, 2013   Link
  • +1
    General CommentThe decline and break-up of Pink Floyd.
    IanoDublinon June 16, 2002   Link
  • +1
    General CommentOF COURSE it uses bits of earlier Pink Floyd - because it's ABOUT Pink Floyd. What the hell is with all you Roger Waters freaks? God forbid the band carry on without him, right? Have you HEARD the shit he's shoveling out on his solo records? No one man is Pink Floyd. The songs don't cease to have meaning just because poor, tortured soul Waters decided he'd rather sing kumbayah to land mine victims in Serbia.
    Kafzielon May 24, 2004   Link
  • +1
    My InterpretationIf you watch the video you can see the relevance of the school bell or church bell that calls children away from their humble but balanced state. The bell is of course the calling of the adult world that promises so many things but never really delivers in the end what is promised. CG Jung spoke about this alot mainly in "Modern Man in search of a Soul" he calls that time in youth "the unbearable age" where instinct and consciousness come to head and threaten to rip you apart in the process before you are forced to choose the way that puts food in your mouth and vaporous dreams are left behind you across the bridges that are now burnt and unreachable. That of course is the division bell in all it's sharp ironic humanity and the entropy of mother earth will find a way to restore instinct again if we don't kill everything beforehand. The division bell is the sliver in our mind driving us mad, its what seperates us from the instincts of the past that are a threat and have the ability to topple our modern world. We have rejected nature, and if we don't embrace paganism and sustainability again nature will reject and destroy us.
    draven66on January 10, 2009   Link

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