"A House Is Not a Motel" as written by and Arthur Lee....
At my house I've got no shackles
You can come and look if you want to
In the halls you'll see the mantles
Where the light shines dim all around you
And the streets are paved with gold and if
Someone asks you, you can call my name

You are just a thought that someone
Somewhere somehow feels you should be here
And it's so for real to touch
To smell, to feel, to know where you are here
And the streets are paved with gold and if
Someone asks you, you can call my name
You can call my name
I hear you calling my name, yeah, all right now, hey

By the time that I'm through singing
The bells from the schools of walls will be ringing
More confusions, blood transfusions
The news today will be the movies for tomorrow
And the water's turned to blood, and if
You don't think so
Go turn on your tub
And if it's mixed with mud
You see it turn to gray
And you can call my name
I hear you call my name


Lyrics submitted by RichardWard

"A House Is Not a Motel" as written by Arthur Taylor Lee

Lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc., BMG RIGHTS MANAGEMENT US, LLC

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A House Is Not a Motel song meanings
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  • 0
    General CommentBy the time that I'm through singing
    The bells from the schools of wars will be ringing
    More confusions, blood transfusions
    The news today will be the movies for tomorrow


    these lines are amazing, as is the entire song. To me, it has no specific meaning, apart from how things are not always what they seem, how things aren't always quite as real as you expect.
    Stoned Immaculateon February 27, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentWell, the first half of the song is some kind of ideal with streets paved with gold and light shining around you.

    The second stanza "You're just a thought that someone/Somewhere feels you should be here" suggests that being in that place is temporary or only by chance because someone else wants it and you don't really have control.

    The last part is heartbreaking and is the reality of confusion, death, conflict and war. I'm sure this song was influenced by the Viet Nam war, but I can't help but think of other wars (like Iraq) that are still going on. These songs are really timeless in some ways, even if some of the hippy/trippy aspects seem a bit odd and dated at first listen.
    sbfisheron May 28, 2007   Link
  • 0
    My InterpretationI have loved this since it first came out. I find it interesting that it has at least three biblical references.
    1) "streets are paved with gold" a reference to heaven or a perfect place
    2) "call my name" salvation in both Judaism and in Christianity relate to calling upon the name of the LORD though this would involve many differing interpretations
    3) "these waters turn to blood" phrase goes back to the plagues that Moses gave to the Egyptians...this involved showing The God of Israel was more powerful than the Egyptians gods.

    After these three biblical illustrations you have the paradox of
    1) very positive things which include the "streets paved with gold", hospitality, light, and the invitation to call "my name"
    2) the very negative things that involve blood, mud, confusions

    Yet in both scenes there is the common biblical theme of "you can call my name."

    In the end the song. Gives comfort to both good times and bad times. You can always call us name and he hears you.

    This is an Arthur Lee song but Brian McClean later converted to Christianity. This song is a lot like Dylan's early lyrics where he referred to biblical motifs to get this point across. In the end it is a song of comfort for us in good or bad times.

    F. Christopher Anderson
    f christopon September 18, 2016   Link

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