"You Set The Scene" as written by and Arthur Lee....
Where are you walking, I've seen you walking
Have you been there before?
Walk down your doorsteps, you'll take some more steps
What did you take them for?
There's a private in my boat and he wears
Pins instead of medals on his coat
There's a chicken in my nest and she won't
Lay until I've given her my best
At her request she asks for nothing
You get nothing in return
If you want she brings you water
If you don't then you will burn

You go through changes, it may seem strange
Is this what you're put here for?
You think you're happy and you are happy
That's what you're happy for
There's a man who can't decide if he should
Fight for what his father thinks is right
There are people wearing frowns who'll screw you up
But they would rather screw you down
At my request I ask for nothing
You get nothing in return
If you're nice she'll bring me water
If you're not then I will burn

This is the time and life that I am living
And I'll face each day with a smile
For the time that I've been given's such a little while
And the things that I must do consist of more than style
There are places that I am going

This is the only thing that I am sure of
And that's all that lives is gonna die
And there'll always be some people here to wonder why
And for every happy hello, there will be goodbye
There'll be time for you to put yourself on

Everything I've seen needs rearranging
And for anyone who thinks it's strange
Then you should be the first to want to make this change
And for everyone who thinks that life is just a game
Do you like the part you're playing

I see your picture
It's in the same old frame
We meet again
You look so lovely
You with the same old smile
Stay for a while
I need you so, oh, oh, oh, oh
And if you take it easy
I'm still teethin'
I want to love you, but
Oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh

This is the time and life that I am living
And I'll face each day with a smile
For the time that I've been given's such a little while
And the things that I must do consist of more than style
There'll be time for you to start all over

This is the time and this is the time and
It is time, time, time, time, time, time, time, time, time, time


Lyrics submitted by Benjer

"You Set the Scene" as written by Arthur Taylor Lee

Lyrics © BMG RIGHTS MANAGEMENT US, LLC

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You Set The Scene song meanings
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8 Comments

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  • +3
    General Commentwhat a shame that no one has commented on this musical masterpiece i mean listen to the arrangement on this song its pure genius and the lyrics are too shaby also overall i give this a 10 out of 10!
    floydian18on September 09, 2006   Link
  • +2
    General CommentI agree, floydian. This song is like a mini-suite; it's about 3 or 4 songs in one. One of the best songs ever from one of my favorite albums of all time. I'm not sure what all of the lyrics are about, a recurring theme seems to be about knowing your direction and purpose in life, about changing (rearranging) the world by choosing your own actions appropriately, about re-examining your life (do you like the part you're playing?), and about how our time on Earth is short, so live it with love, depth, and purpose -- for we will all meet again someday. It is a philosophical and musical masterpiece, and I get chills when those majestic last lines play and the horns kick in. One of the best endings to a song ever.
    Bluewaveson May 26, 2007   Link
  • +2
    General CommentI agree, that this song is at least a couple of songs in one. The first part reminds me of a something lighthearted from something like Yellow Submarine.

    The next part slows down and goes into a bit of a manifesto about what life is about and standing up for what you believe. Life is short, so do something worthwhile and make things better.

    From what I understand (from the CD liner notes, I think), Arthur Lee was convinced that his death was imminent and he was a bit obsessed about it. A few songs on this album seem to be question what is really important and worthwhile given the fact of death at some time or another. This song asks how to make a difference. Old Man seems to come to the conclusion that love is something that makes a life worthwhile later on looking back.
    sbfisheron May 28, 2007   Link
  • +1
    General CommentLet me begin by saying this is one of the greatest songs of all time and I can't believe how under rated love were coz every song on this album is superb.
    I think to find the meanings of lyrics you have to look to the drug LSD as we all know Arthur Lee was a huge user of this substance using it only for good.
    there's one part I'd like to break down coz I think it's fantastic.

    Everything I've seen is rearranging (On LSD everything moves and re arranges such as walls and faces)
    And for anyone who thinks it's strange (I.E thinks it's a bad thing)
    Uh, then you should be the first to want to make this change (You should be the first to try LSD because
    you're so close minded and it will benefit you more than anyone else due to it's mind opening qualitys.)
    And for everyone who thinks that life is just a game (Self explanatory)
    Do you like the part you're playing (Is the role your playing in life doing good?)

    The greatest set of lyrics I've ever heard.
    didier12on May 12, 2009   Link
  • 0
    General Commentone of the best songs on the album and on the alternate version it sounds like they do a freestyle rap at the end so thats cool to me that they did that in the 60's lol
    smarleywharleyon September 26, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General CommentIt's a day-in-the-life song. Every day we are faced with many different things. Work stress, worries about world events, etc. but then on the completely opposite end of the spectrum seeing meeting someone beautiful that you want to get to know. The desire for human connection is what keeps us going, gives us the courage to smile, and sets the scene.
    lizardkingpon September 07, 2014   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI've always been obsessed with the end of 'You Set The Scene' with the trumpets fading out. As mentioned by a previous person, Arthur Lee was convinced he was singing for the very last time on 'You Set The Scene'. I just bought the 2012 vinyl re-issue that uses the original mastertapes, well I was in for a huge surprise. CD issues have done a slow fade out on 'You Set The Scene', only the 2012 vinyl doesn't exactly fade out, it runs out! The sound is of the analog tape running out of space (ending abruptly) . Prior mastering of the record might have thought it was an error (hence the fade out), but I think it's part of the concept of running out of time/dying that Lee was playing with here.
    dropactionon October 06, 2015   Link
  • -1
    My InterpretationThis song has many meanings depending on the timing of life. At its core is the struggle we all share in the face of the many selfs. Driving pins into our coats out of self loathing; allowing a chicken of inner self to run amok of one's feeling. All these states are barriers we erect that block us from the most basic application of compassion for oneself.

    The picture we all see that brings us those smiles is our own happiness whether experienced within or experienced as a reflection from others. With an awareness of its roots in self we set the scene on how we feel in a life of time.
    packer998on November 16, 2016   Link

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