"Nowadays Clancy Can't Even Sing" as written by and Neil Young....
Hey who's that stomping all over my face?
Where's that silhouette I'm trying to trace?
Who's putting sponge in the bells I once rung?
And taking my gypsy before she's begun?
To singing the meaning of what's in my mind
Before I can take home what's rightfully mine
Joinin' and listenin' and talkin' in rhymes
Stoppin' the feeling to wait for the times
Who's saying baby that don't mean a thing
'Cause nowadays Clancy can't even sing

And who's all hung-up on that happiness thing?
Who's trying to tune all the bells that he rings?
And who's in the corner and down on the floor?
With pencil and paper just counting the score?
And who's trying to act like he just in between?
The night isn't black, it can only be screened
Don't bother looking you're too blind to see
Who's coming on like he wanted to be
Who's saying baby, that don't mean a thing
'Cause nowadays Clancy can't even sing

And who's coming home on the old ninety five?
Who's got the feeling to keep him alive
Though havin' it, sharin' it ain't quite the same
It ain't no gold nugget you can't lay a claim
Who's seeing eyes through the crack in the floor
There it is baby don't you worry no more
Who should be sleepin' but is writing this song
Wishin' and a-hopin' he weren't so damned wrong
Who's saying baby, that don't mean a thing
'Cause nowadays Clancy can't even sing
Who's saying baby that don't mean a thing
'Cause nowadays Clancy can't even sing

Lyrics submitted by Broken_Arrow, edited by Kadano

"Nowadays Clancy Can't Even Sing" as written by Neil Young

Lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc.

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Nowadays Clancy Can't Even Sing song meanings
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  • +1
    Song MeaningPerhaps I should call this "interpretation, "not "meaning" but I really think I understand it.

    This is a song about an artist who thinks he has lost his muse. But that's the paradox:
    the song itself is beautiful and works.
    Perhaps it is not everything it should be in the eyes of he who wrote it, but the power
    of the increasing motion of the waltz cadence makes it perfect to me.

    It's a song of regret for talent lost and wasted. It is self reproach, and a call to be honest.
    The "who" is a question: who is to blame for his inability to connect to his art and his audience?
    It is a song that says, "you know perfectly well that it is you yourself who is in your own way.
    Thus, nobody is stomping on his face, its an excuse he will no longer abide.
    He says to himself:
    You once "rang bells" that is you could hit the audience where they lived.
    You once could concentrate and work patiently with the "gypsy" which is inspiration.
    You pretend someone has kidnapped her, but you let her go yourself, "stopping the feeling",
    in order to be hip.
    The second verse shows him looking in all the wrong places. (By the way, "it can only be screened"
    should be "it can only be green") which makes sense if he is saying
    that only nature can bring back his talent, he can't get it artificially.
    In the third verse he's turning a corner, recognizing he still values what he does, although it gets harder to do it.

    See what he does here and see if you agree:
    sparrowCon April 30, 2011   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI think the first verse is about people holding him down and stopping him from what he wants to do.

    The second verse is definitly about people who worry too much about everything being perfect, that things are a certain way and you just got to deal with it.
    Ex.-tune all the bells, counting the score etc

    The third is about how happiness is intangible and you just have to find it.
    swing_forty_twoon December 05, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentIts about a school friend of Youngs who had MS
    TheDreamWeaveron April 25, 2009   Link
  • 0
    General CommentJust beautiful. Like so many of Neil's early songs, the lyrics are very surrealistic, but so evocative. It's too bad that the rest of the guys in the Springfield didn't let him sing this one. Or maybe it was their manager or record label. I remember somebody saying his voice was "too weird" in this time period, leading to Richie Furay singing a lot of the Neil compositions.
    leamancon May 14, 2009   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI thought it was another documented case of Neil chafing under being asked to follow someone else's lead, like the Management Group, Accounting Dept of the Record Company (other's laying claim to his gold nugget, the same creep working the record Co's 9-5).
    simplemindedon November 15, 2011   Link
  • 0
    General CommentFrom what I remember its inspired by two events in Neil's early life and references them.

    First, the person who is ringing the bells and the Clancy that can't sing references a boy that Neil went to school with that would run around ringing a small bell and singing at the top of his lungs. I don't remember what Neil said the boy had, but he was disabled. Someone took the bell from the boy and it took all the joy out of him and he wouldn't sing anymore.

    Second, the lines
    "Who's seeing eyes through the crack in the floor,
    There it is baby, don't you worry no more.
    Who should be sleepin', but is writing this song,
    Wishin' and a-hopin' he weren't so damned wrong"
    These are about Neil himself. He watched an ex-girlfriend of his with another boy through the cracks in a floor.

    The rest is vague, it seems to deal with the pressures of fame, but more likely about being an outcast or a fear of being misunderstood because this song was actually written well before Buffalo Springfield was together. Stephen Stills and Richie Furay they were in a folk singing group called the Au-Go-Go Singers and they first met Neil Young while they were Thunder Bay, ON in Canada. Neil took the around the town in his hearse, the same one he later drove to LA, and Richie first heard the song performed by Neil in one of the folk clubs and Richie began to sing it and cover it himself, which was one of the reasons Richie ended up singing it on the album and not Neil.
    twarn85on January 10, 2014   Link

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