One last thing I beg you please just before you go
I've watched you fly on paper wings half way round the world
Until they burned up in the atmosphere and sent you spiraling down
Landed somewhere far from here with no one else around
To catch you falling down
And I'm looking at you now

And I can't tell if you're laughing
Between each smile there's a tear in your eye
There's a train leaving town in an hour
Its not waiting for you and neither am I

Swing for the fences son
He must have told you once
That was a conversation you took nothing from
So raise your glass now and celebrate exactly what you've done
Just put off another day of knowing where your from
You can catch up with yourself if you run

And I can't tell if you're laughing
Between each smile there's a tear in your eye
There's a train leaving town in an hour
Its not waiting for you and neither am I

Is this the life that you lead?
Or the life that's left for you?
Will you take the road that's been laid out before you
Will we cross paths somewhere else tonight? Somewhere else

And I can't tell if you're laughing
Between each smile there's a tear in your eye
There's a train leaving town in an hour
Its not waiting for you and neither am I

And I can't tell if you're laughing
Between each smile there's a tear in your eye
There's a train leaving town in an hour
Its not waiting for you and neither am I



Lyrics submitted by aluminum_union

"Paper Wings" as written by Joseph Principe, Timothy Mcilrath, Brandon Barnes, Christopher Chasse

Lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

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Paper Wings song meanings
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65 Comments

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  • +3
    General Comment:The first song I ever heard by Rise Against was 1000 Good Intentions... certainly not "poppy". I do agree, however, that this song is about as close to mainstream as you can get with this band, next to Swing Life Away.

    The beauty of Rise Against is that they pull it off like no other punk band can. What is truly execellent about their music, besides the gripping vocals and powerful sound, are the lyrics of the songs. Rise Against doesn't just sing about girlfriends and heartache and the self-pity or angst and suicide and rage. These lyrics have meaning. That's a rare thing to find in music these days.

    I repeat: These lyrics have meaning! Paper Wings talks about the uncertainty of people, and how you can only truly count on yourself. You have to lead the life that's right for you, and sometimes that means leaving behind the people you wish you could take with you.

    Songs like these are the reason Rise Against are the greatest band around.

    Let's Recap:
    Powerful sound? Check.
    Powerful vocals? Check.
    Powerful lyrics? Check.
    Best damn band around? You better believe that's a check!
    CocoSaintClairon February 03, 2005   Link
  • +2
    General Comment:to me this song is about a person he knew who was doing drugs. The person is "flying on paper wings"/ getting high but the wings are fragile and the persons life comes crashing down because of his abuse. Nobody is there to catch him/ her when they fall because everyone has given up on him/ her. (the person has given up friendships and family because they are addicted to the drug.) He can't tell if the person is laughing or weather there is a tear in the persons eye because being high makes you laugh even though you may be sad/ the person is using drugs to cover up some sort of trauma in their life. The train is the person getting help and the line "its not waiting for you and neither am i" is based around the fact that if you keep saying to yourself that someday you will get help and don't finally decide to you never will, so the train isn't just going to wait around forever, and neither are the people who don't like you abusing a drug.when the singer asks if he will see the person somewhere else tonight he is wondering if that person is going to die soon weather it be in a car accident under the influence or some other drug related death. (overdose etc.). "is this the life that you lead, or the life that's left for you?" people doing drugs to cover up emotions in their lives think it's not their fault, or that this type life has just been left for them and they had no choice. The singer is basically just saying wow this is messed up, you're messed up, and i'm fed up having to deal with it so go get help or you will never see me again.
    nigdugga464on March 15, 2011   Link
  • +1
    General Comment:Great song, plain and simply, great song.
    urbanninja4on October 05, 2004   Link
  • +1
    General Comment:I thought Icarus used wax wings...
    sicklecowon June 27, 2006   Link
  • +1
    General Comment:Icarus deffinatly did use wax wings, thrice did a song about that....

    anyways this song is sort of about wasted talent, more its about how someone is tired of waiting for someone to either grow up or move on. ("theres a train leaving town in an hour its not waiting for you and neither am i") Probibly after they tried to do something great but failed, and did nothing after that. ("ive watched you fly on paper wings halfway around the world until they burned up in the atmosphere") and then ("'swing for the fences son' they must have told you once that was a conversation you took nothing from") ppl told him he could do great things again after he failed but he still chose nothing... and ("youve just put off another year of knowing where your from you can catch up with yourself if you run....") the person who failed is lost and the person talking to him is telling him to go out on his own again and he might find himself again... and again remember he is not waitng for him and neither is the train... and then the last few questions is what he wants him to do ("will you take the road thats been laid out before you?") basically is he going to finnaly go out and take up all the opportunities he has in front of him or go back and be nothing again...so basically this is a story about who i beleive is the artist and his father the artist is the lost person who failed at something great and his father is telling him to move on and make soemthing of himself
    E-Doubleon August 16, 2006   Link
  • +1
    General Comment:In my opinion this song revolves around a single persons own life and the decisions he makes.

    The first lines describes the story "Icarus" from greek mythology.
    It shows that a person with hope, courage and a great potential can throw it all away by some false motivation and following the wrong path.
    As this person has a form of bravery and courage to fly a large distance as she follows this path though the wings are made of paper. Using "paper wings" works as an image that implies futility and thus this person flies a futile path.
    As their bravery flares this life finally crumbles, as it would have all along. Sending the person spiraling down, this image shows a time of depression or a breaking down of the protagonists blind hopes and dreams.

    Furthermore, the next lines "landing somewhere far from here with no one else around, to catch you falling down and im looking at you now" shows that as this person followed this futile life that she has lost anyone who could have been there for her and the speaker was once there for her.

    A deeper meaning can be found in "i cant tell if your laughing, between each smile theres a tear in your eye" that revolves around this life that she is leading. It describes how though she is happy with her achievements in this life, she doesnt truly show happiness as this life is one "that [she] follows" and not one that she leads. As mentioned by someone...the next lines shows that one must pursue their own lives, dreams and hopes guided by their potential and that it might require leaving those you love behind.

    As "loneliverock" mentioned, it has implications to potential, especially in the next lines. though these lines can have two meanings."swing for the fences son" is advice given to that child to jump high and be the best could either be "go for the highest place" (being a life that he follows) or "become the best of who you are" (being a life that he leads). Straight after this the lines follow with "a conversation you took nothing from" meaning that this boy did not listen to the advice. Again the next line can have two meanings "raise your glass now celebrate exactly what youve done youve just put off another year of knowing where your from" creating the image of a toast to the child ignoring his family heratige (passing down of a certain life path - a business or something of that sort). The second image contains a slight sarcasm and thus putting emphasis on the point htat the child contains potential though he is throwing it away. The following line works as a motivational expression towards the child this can be seen as he says "you can catch up with yourself if you run...." that though he is falling behind in his life due to his failure if he runs he can pick his "road" back up.

    The last lines reffers back to the girl, possibly in comparison to the boy. The speaker is giving a retorical question asking them is that the life that "[they] lead or the life thats lead for [them]" then the speaker simply says "as they both follow different paths will they meet again?" seen in the line "will we cross paths somewhere else tonight?"
    Meloeon August 13, 2009   Link
  • +1
    General Comment:This is what I feel this song means....
    Verse by verse.

    "one last thing i beg you please just before you go
    ive watched you fly on paper wings halfway around the world until they burned up in the atmosphere and sent you spiraling down
    landing somewhere far from here with no one else around
    to catch you falling down and im looking at you now"

    He is speaking to a girlfriend and telling her to listen to him before she walks away. He is telling her he has seen her change, and it has come so far that now she has left everyone who cares about her behind. He tells her he sees her for who she is and sees who she has become.

    "i cant tell if your laughing, between each smile theres a tear in your eye
    theres a train leaving town in an hour its not waiting for you and neither am i"

    After he confronts her changes as she attempts to leave him, her reaction is to laugh as if he is making it all up. But through the laughter he sees that, deep inside of her, she believes him. Then he is saying that if she leaves then he is too, and he won't wait for her.

    "'swing for the fences son' they must have told you once that was a conversation you took nothing from so raise your glass now celebrate exactly what youve done youve just put off another year of knowing where your from you can catch up with yourself if you run...."

    By this he means that he was settling for the girl he just broke up with. He is celebrating, sadly, that he is starting a new stage in his life where he can find himself. He also hints he dated this girl for a year or more and by dating her he was forgetting where he is from.

    "is this the life that you lead, or the life thats lead for you?
    will you take the road thats been laid out before you?
    will we cross paths somewhere else tonight?
    somewhere else tonight.... "

    In this closing verse he is asking his ex why she is leaving, and why she is giving up and taking the easier route. Will we cross paths somewhere else tonight? he is asking if he will ever be with her again. And it makes him sad that its over, because he loves her.
    jocosandon September 07, 2009   Link
  • 0
    General Comment:Very beautiful song.
    I love it.
    sundayrequiemon November 25, 2004   Link
  • 0
    General Comment:i cant believe that hardly anyone has said much about this song! its wicked! this was the first song i heard by them.each song i hear gets better and better. they are deffently one of the greatest bands right now
    give_it_allon December 20, 2004   Link
  • 0
    General Comment:i cant believe that hardly anyone has said much about this song! its wicked! this was the first song i heard by them.each song i hear gets better and better. they are deffently one of the greatest bands right now
    give_it_allon December 20, 2004   Link

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