"But I Might Die Tonight" as written by and Yusuf Islam....
I don't want to work away
Doing just what they all say
Work hard boy and you'll find
One day you'll have a job like mine

'Cause I know for sure
Nobody should be that poor
To say yes or sink low
Because you happen to say so, say so, you say so

I don't want to work away
Doing just what they all say
Work hard boy and you'll find
One day you'll have a job like mine, job like mine, a job like mine

Be wise, look ahead
Use your eyes he said
Be straight, think right
But I might die tonight!


Lyrics submitted by BrainDamage

"But I Might Die Tonight" as written by

Lyrics © EMI Music Publishing, Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Warner/Chappell Music, Inc., BMG RIGHTS MANAGEMENT US, LLC

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But I Might Die Tonight song meanings
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10 Comments

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  • +3
    General CommentAnother superb track on the "Tea For the Tillerman" album. This song is NOT a rejection of religion. It's a rejection of materialism, and the 20th century American "gotta get a slice of the pie" materialist work ethic. It's about growing up SPIRITUALLY and realizing that life is so much more than just "doing time" at a hard job in order to be able to "get stuff". I was about 13 when this album came out and I used to play this track over and over again at full volume. The result? I'm a responsible husband and father of two who spends BALANCED time between work and family. Thanks Cat!
    RayManon June 20, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General CommentA dad telling his son to be just like him, but the son is saying, "I could die tonight, and that would make it all nothing, so why not live in the moment?" It's kind of a Harold and Maude-esque theme.
    myeh_manon June 16, 2004   Link
  • 0
    General Commenti love this song. so much of life is preparing for some unfathomable, unspecified and probably unattainable goal.

    even though this song is really short, it captures that sentiment perfectly.
    brain.damageon February 14, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentJust like Father and Son it's the clash in ideals between a Father who has the strict views on a 'good life' and the Son is young, rebellious and personifies rejection of the previous generation's doctrine.

    You must take into account this song was realeased in 1970, the time of the sexual revolution and the rejection of religion.
    Magnusnorthon July 15, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General Commentsome people live in the here and now...everything we see around us...their meaning is in those things like their job, possessions, people they know etc. Some people feel there is more than that. Things that we don't "see" but are still none the less real. I think the singer feels that pull towards the unseen things.
    singleeyeon January 08, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General Commentit's written for the movie "DEEP END"
    HassanSon June 24, 2009   Link
  • 0
    General CommentIt's reflective of the 60's-70's era in which it was written; the pressure to conform to the expectations of the older generation and its meaning of success, versus the youthful yearning for meaning and experience.
    Jaronon January 01, 2011   Link
  • 0
    General CommentIt's reflective of the 60's-70's era in which it was written; the pressure to conform to the expectations of the older generation and its meaning of success, versus the youthful yearning for meaning and experience.
    Jaronon January 01, 2011   Link
  • 0
    My InterpretationI agree this song is about a young person who disagrees with what others think is "best" for him (whether that´s his father or society at large). However, unlike Father and Son, this song is completely from the "son´s" perspective.

    There is one part that I´ve always wondered about though... Anyone have opinions on what this line means?

    "Cause I know for sure
    Nobody should be that poor"

    I have two theories..

    1)Figurative meaning: Noone should be so poor as to spend their entire lives working.
    2)Literal meaning: Poverty is wrong, and rather than waste our time on our petty jobs, we should dedicate ourselves to helping people.

    I am guessing it´s the figurative meaning considering the next to lines, which go back to the main theme of thinking for oneself vs. submitting to societal expectations:
    "To say yes or sink low
    Because you happen to say so, say so, you say so "

    I am interested in other interpretations!

    SwedishFishon August 17, 2011   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI always feel like this relates to that parable where the rich man accumulates all these worldly possessions, then dies that night, meets God, and realises that his riches are no good to him in the afterlife. This song's been on my mind now - I'm in an unfulfilling job, and really feeling that "I don't want to work away/Doing just what they all say". A short, sweet gem.
    Regalizon May 16, 2014   Link

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