"Sad Peter Pan" as written by and Vic Chesnutt....
It's the plan of most to discover that magnificent ghost
When did I get perverted and my innocent eyes diverted
From a view so grand imbued with distractions
I'm greedy like Senior Babbitt I'm just chasing that electric rabbit

I'm a reluctant rebel I just want to be Aaron Neville
With a crown on my head and my denim shirt all dark with sweat
I'm just pushing the paint around on advice from your lying mouth
You touched me and then you ran and left a sad Peter Pan all alone
And awkward but a transformation I swear it will occur


Lyrics submitted by mrtrout

"Sad Peter Pan" as written by Vic Chesnutt

Lyrics © BMG RIGHTS MANAGEMENT US, LLC

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Sad Peter Pan song meanings
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  • 0
    General CommentWhere are the Chesnutt fans?
    Guarimnon January 06, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General Comment...and decent into
    the soul-Spreading thin
    frolicing madly ever so
    in love with the thought-
    Guarimnon January 06, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General CommentYea, if no one is gonna give two cents on this song I am going to give a buck-fifty!
    Guarimnon January 06, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General Commentgreat song, when things hit you in the face this is the song to hear, love the smashing pumpkins cover/collaboration
    remir1284on March 12, 2008   Link
  • 0
    My InterpretationThe opening of this song is a little misleading and vague. The very first line introduces a "magnificent ghost" I've never really figured out what he meant by that. Is this referring to the Holy Ghost in Christian doctrine or something more universal since he says it's the plan "of most". What ghost are most people trying to discover. Could he be singing about the soul, the "magnificent ghost" that hides within us, un-perverted and innocent. Perfection of the soul, so to speak? I'm not sure, but it's one of the things I love about this song.

    The next part is more simple. Vic is lamenting a loss of innocence that comes with growing up. The song's subject has a grand view of a beautiful thing, but there are too many distractions for him to really focus on finding that ghost.

    The next part should be "Senor Babbit" which is, no doubt, a reference to Sinclair Lewis' 1922 novel Babbit about an ambitious businessman who is chasing and ultimately becomes disillusioned by the "American Dream".

    When he references a reluctant rebel who want's to be Aaron Neville, Vic is saying that he's different than mainstream performers, but not for the purpose of being different, he just IS different while he really wants to be more mainstream a la Aaron Neville who was popular at the time the song was written (early 90's most likely) for his duet work with Linda Rondstadt in the song I Don't Know Much.

    He has a crown on his head because he sees himself as a king in what he does, but a hardworking and blue-collar (denim shirt) kind of musician.

    The next part seems to refer to a kind of apathy towards his creative work because of bad advice from someone regarding his career. This may also mean that he's in some kind of creative fugue following this relationship.

    The advice-giver, whoever it is (I'm guessing it's a female) was briefly in his life and then left and left him, the titular Sad Peter Pan, in her wake. The image of a sad Peter Pan is vivid in the juxtaposition of the classic fun-loving and perpetually childish Peter Pan with the sadness of the loss of someone. It could also point to a kind of parallel with the Peter Pan story where Wendy, someone Peter wanted to stay very badly, left Never Never Land and returned to her own world which left Peter quite sad to the point where he would visit her and look through the window to her room long after she left. Of course, we can't really get this reference from the cartoon version of the story, but it's very clear in the Barrie's book.

    The next part is the culmination of the song's lament in that Chesnutt is swearing that he will transform. It's not clear into exactly what he will transform and it's left up to the listener to decide that for himself, but based on the predicating line in the song, it would be a transformation from a sad Peter Pan who is awkward into something greater than that. Transformation is classically moving from a lesser form to a greater form like when an ugly caterpillar turns into a beautiful butterfly or an ugly duckling into a swan. He may be stating that he will transform into the king he knows that he is (re:crown in the previous stanza), but I prefer to think that he's actually calling back to the first stanza (first line even) of the song which would mean he would transform into that "magnificent ghost".

    Regardless of what he may eventually turn into, this song resonates on many levels and really touches listeners in a very personal way and that's why I really love it. It gives the listener hope that there is a chance for transformation and redemption, even if you are feeling like you're just some sad version of Peter Pan.
    jankouton June 10, 2016   Link

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