"The Greatest" as written by and Marshall....
Once I wanted to be the greatest
No wind or waterfall could stall me
And then came the rush of the flood
Stars at night turned deep to dust

Melt me down
Into big black armour
Leave no trace of grace
Just in your honor
Lower me down
Culprit south
Make 'em wash a space in town
For the lead
And the dregs of my bed
I've been sleeping
Lower me down
Pin me in
Secure the grounds
For the later parade

Once I wanted to be the greatest
Two fists of solid rock
With brains that could explain any feeling

Lower me down
Pin me in
Secure the grounds
For the lead
And the dregs of my bed
I've been sleeping
For the later parade

Once I wanted to be the greatest
No wind or waterfall could stall me
And then came the rush of the flood
The stars at night turned deep to dust


Lyrics submitted by caffeino

"The Greatest" as written by Chan Marshall

Lyrics © BEGGARS MUSIC, LTD.

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The Greatest song meanings
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64 Comments

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  • +8
    General CommentI think this song is about giving up on your dreams/hopes/goals because you've lost confidence in yourself due to obstacles in life.

    The funeral/burial images symbolize giving up on life; it's a resignation to "death" of hope. Death is painted as an inevitable end, but also peaceful (sleeping) and protective (armor) because it's the opposite of life with its hopes & disappointments. She's tired & giving up, when once she felt strong & capable.


    -------
    Once I wanted to be the greatest - she had great hopes & dreams for herself
    No wind or waterfall could stall me - she felt confidence in herself, able to take on any obstacle to her goals
    And then came the rush of the flood - reality hits
    Stars of night turned deep to dust - her dreams dissolved in the face of reality

    Melt me down
    Into big black armor - this is possibly referring to a coffin; it's an armor against life & its disappointments. If you're dead, you cannot feel. This is about a death of hope though; if you cannot hope, then you cannot be disappointed. It's a kind of protection from bad feelings, to go numb.

    Leave no trace of grace
    suggesting your honor - resignation that she will not be the greatest, that she will not leave any significant mark

    Lower me down
    To culprit south
    Make 'em wash a space in town
    For the lead
    And the dregs of my bed
    I've been sleepin' - the idea of sleeping is peaceful; death is painted as a relief from the disappointments of failing to meet her dreams
    Lower me down
    Pin me in
    Secure the grounds
    For the later parade - funeral & burial imagery for the theme of giving up on life

    Once I wanted to be the greatest
    Two fists of solid rock - she used to feel strong, determined & capable
    With brains that could explain
    Any feeling - she used to feel smart & able to articulate herself


    The rest of the song repeats the funeral/burial imagery.
    voodoodollyon October 03, 2011   Link
  • +4
    General Commenti think personally that this song is about wanting to be the best and to exceed even the highest of expectations but being brought down and secured as "average" at everything that you do.

    so she sings for people to lower her down, secure her at the bottom and pin her in because she can't do anything better than dream of being the greatest.

    i think that this song is "the greatest" i love the way that she sings it and the piano in the background. it's a wonderful song most definitely the best i've heard from her.
    apollo IVon July 03, 2006   Link
  • +3
    General CommentThis is one of my favorite song's of all time. Simply beautiful.
    oceancycon January 22, 2006   Link
  • +2
    General CommentI absolutely love this song! I can't wait till the album comes out! This is probably her best song- at least musically.
    BabyBritianon January 10, 2006   Link
  • +2
    General CommentChan Marshall explaining the meaning of her song :
    youtube.com/…
    hugsyon February 26, 2011   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI don't know why... but this song reminds me of King Kong, the great monkey. It seems like a song he would write with his own perspective, and the nature that she describes is like in the jungle he lives in.
    This Part
    "Lower me down
    Pin me in
    Secure the grounds
    For the lead
    And the dregs of my bed
    I've been sleepin'
    For the later parade"

    King Kong was once the king of the jungle but then he was pinned for the later parade in New York.
    Or maybe I'm just a dreamer, haha! So yeah..

    Like in the movie also that phrase:
    It was beauty who killed the beast...
    Ganishaon April 10, 2006   Link
  • +1
    General Commentshe says "turned you to dust"...not "turned deep to dust". i could be wrong, but it doesn't sound like "deep" at all.
    rabashinkoon October 09, 2006   Link
  • +1
    General Commenti thought it was
    "leave no trace
    of grace or just in your honor"

    that line is important to me. i need to know which line is right.
    nuumbon January 14, 2007   Link
  • +1
    General CommentThis is a beautiful song. I think a lot of the comments are correct, it is about ambition, the inevitibility of time, and ultimately, death. But it is not perhaps about failed ambition, or, directly about Chan Marshall.

    "The Greatest" is the name of Muhammed Ali's autobiography. The Album cover features a pair of boxing gloves, the song contains the lines, "Once i wanted to be the greatest / two fists of solid rock", and, "no wind or waterfall could stop me".

    It is perhaps a metaphoric history of his life which draws paralells with her own. Ali is now very ill, a shadow of his all powerfull former self. Marshall nurtured a massive ego that crashed and burned with alcoholism and drug abuse. In any case, this song has haunting, emotional power carried simply by the beatifully vunerable qualities of her voice.
    Scarchyon June 12, 2007   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI agree about most of that being a coffin reference, but I think it's more metaphorical than literal.

    "Lower me down
    Pin me in
    Secure the grounds
    For the lead
    And the dregs of my bed
    I've been sleepin'
    For the later parade"

    It's just the sense that the future's gone up in flames and the 'lead' referring to that mood that every time you get out of bed is a fight against yourself. The dregs likely referring to the dirt being thrown on a coffin, even the whole "ashes to ashes" thing.. So it's essentially saying "just wait for me to die, it's not like I'm going anywhere." Really depressing.
    The 'flood' would be some sort of realization, but thats about as far as my interpretation can go on this song. Anything beyond that is more whimsical assumption than what I think I pretty much have grounded here.
    Pandoruson January 14, 2008   Link

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