"Sixteen, Maybe Less" as written by and Samuel Ervin Beam....
Beyond the ridge to the left, you asked me what I want
Between the trees and cicadas singing around the pond
"I spent an hour with you, should I want anything else?"

One grinning wink like the neon on a liquor store
We were sixteen, maybe less, maybe a little more
I walked home smiling, I finally had a story to tell

And though an autumn time lullaby
Sang our newborn love to sleep
My brother told me he saw you there
In the woods one Christmas Eve, waiting

I met my wife at a party, when I drank too much
My son is married and tells me we don't talk enough
Call it predictable, yesterday my dream was of you

Beyond the ridge to the west, the sun had left the sky
Between the trees and the pond, you put your hand in mine
Said, "Time has bridled us both, but I remember you too"

And though an autumn time lullaby
Sang our newborn love to sleep
I dreamt I traveled and found you there
In the woods one Christmas Eve, waiting

Lyrics submitted by sofarsogood

"Sixteen, Maybe Less" as written by Samuel Ervin Beam

Lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc.

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Sixteen, Maybe Less song meanings
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  • +1
    General Commenti didn't really find this disappointing; in fact, it's an older song from a home recording session that i think was improved upon in the new ep. this is actually one of the more upsetting iron and wine songs for me, because the themes of dissatisfaction with life and longing for the past are pretty big downers, especially in the stanza with the line: "call it predictable, yesterday my dream was of you." i like it a lot.
    yourtwowinterson December 16, 2005   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI think this song is about regret. it's about a young love back in the day that never was truly experienced, and way later on in life after having a family and kids, he regretted never getting this girl. Notice how he "met his wife at a party" when he drank too much and his son isnt too happy with their relationship, showing how his life now isnt nearly as good as it could have been with that other girl.
    ourmodernredon March 14, 2006   Link
  • +1
    General CommentAgree that this is a beautiful song; certainly my favorite on the Iron & Wine / Calexico album... Seems a fairly straightforward song about a remembered encounter, and the way memory colors things with a brighter pallete than life really does...

    From the opening line we get that this is about choices ("you asked me what I want"), both those taken and the ones we pass on...

    A specific question, which doesn't much impact the meaning of the song but: "...tells me we don't talk enough..." -- Do you guys think the son is telling his father that he and the son don't talk enough, or the man and his wife (the subject of the previous line) don't talk enough. Just curious. In some ways, it makes more sense that he and his wife don't talk enough, since the song is a remniscence of a past love, and, in a way, a daydream about the path he didn't take...

    Also, the use of alcohol in the track is interesting... "...neon at a liqour store" = the intoxicating promise of drink/love, contrast with "a party where I drank too much" = another subtle comment about the real deal (booze/love) being both good and bad mixed.

    Maybe reading too much into this, but somehow, with this songwriter, I don't think so...
    tfieldson August 30, 2006   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI thought it was:
    One granted wink.
    instead of one grin and wink?

    I think it would make more sense.
    hfranklin2010on November 09, 2006   Link
  • +1
    General CommentIt is a song of remorse for a lost love.

    He and the girl fall in love, but there love fades (an autumn time lullaby sang their newborn love to sleep) for what reason, we do not know.

    Though it didn't work out, he learns that she still loves him (waiting in the woods). He gets married, has a family, but it's not fulfilling (was drunk when he met his wife, relationship with son is not good).

    He dreams of her (yesterday, my dream was of you), that they are walking in the woods after all of these years and he dreams that she would say to him, "I remember you too".

    He repeats the second refrain, that their love was lulled to sleep, but this time he dreams he could travel back to the time she was wandering in the woods and find her there, and live a different life than the one he did.
    okjungaon March 01, 2007   Link
  • +1
    General CommentOkjunga hit the nail on the head.

    Its the love of his youth that he longs for. He met his current wife at a party when he was drunk, he dreams of his childhood love at night, even dreams that he meets her back where they used to hang out (the pond).

    I think the line 'Autumn time lullaby sang our new born love to sleep' sums it up. It was a summer time romance, then autumn came, and as 16 year olds do, they go back to school/family. Autumn put the love to sleep.

    Now he keeps dreaming he is meeting her at the place of their youth
    woodendogzon June 23, 2008   Link
  • +1
    MemoryI briefly dated a girl during the summer I turned 16 and went out of touch in the autumn. She died two years later but I know I will continue to see her in my dreams and in the corner of my eye, however rarely.

    Sometimes a song fits into my heart like a long-lost puzzle piece.
    introspectiveMonkeyon July 19, 2010   Link
  • 0
    General Commentthis is a great song, very romantic
    jlynda10on December 04, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General CommentCorrection: the last stanza differs from the third stanza in the last 3 lines.
    I dreamed that I traveled and found you there
    In the woods, morning on Christmas Eve

    Lovely song, though it doesn't pack the literary punch of other Iron and wine songs. This last album was just slightly dissapointing. Still incredible, just not quite up to the standards that Sam Beam has set forward in his previous songs.
    tlacomborroon December 08, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General CommentA more positive possible take on this song: it's not about dissatisfaction and longing for the past, it's about young love that's grown old. his wife is the same girl who he meets beyond the ridge. in the last stanza, "our newborn love" is actually a newborn, their child. "time has bridled us both", meaning we're old now but we're still in love, i remember how it was when we were young.

    but that interpretation is pretty much ruined by "i met my wife at a party when i drank too much". how could he have met her at a party if he knew her from the ridge?

    i also love the small details he changed in this (in the reins) version, like: "beyond the ridge to the west, the sun had left the sky" - another sign of age, of loss.
    roglewison February 02, 2006   Link

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