"Farther On" as written by and Jackson Browne....
In my early years i hid my tears
And passed my days alone
Adrift on an ocean of loneliness
My dreams like nets were thrown
To catch the love that I'd heard of
In books and films and songs
Now there's a world of illusion and fantasy
In the place where the real world belongs

Still i look for the beauty in songs
To fill my head and lead me on
Though my dreams have come up torn and empty
As many times as love has come and gone

To those gentle ones my memory runs
To the laughter we shared at the meals
I filled their kitchens and living rooms
With my schemes and my broken wheels
It was never clear how far or near
The gates to my citadel lay
They were cutting from stone some dreams of their own
But they listened to mine anyway

I'm not sure what i'm trying to say
It could be i've lost my way
Though i keep a watch over the distance
Heaven's no closer than it was yesterday

And the angels are older
They know not to wait up for the sun
They look over my shoulder
At the maps and the drawings of the journey I've begun

Now the distance leads me farther on
Though the reasons i once had are gone
I keep thinking I'll find what I'm looking for
In the sand beneath the dawn

But the angels are older
They can see that the sun's setting fast
They look over my shoulder
At the vision of paradise contained in the light of the past
And they lay down behind me
To sleep beside the road till the morning has come
Where they know they will find me
With my maps and my faith in the distance
Moving farther on


Lyrics submitted by mikepauer

"Farther On" as written by Jackson Browne

Lyrics © Jackson Browne/Swallow Turn Music/Night Kitchen Music/Open Window Music

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Farther On song meanings
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7 Comments

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  • +1
    General CommentThis is one of Browne's most underrated songs off of his most brilliantly written album. The song illustrates a man's journey through his trials. This guy has put his heart on his sleeve time after time and it is continuously trampled and beaten. But he knows that the angels are with him and he continues on in his pursuit of happiness with his heart full of hope. A very uplifting song.
    wearydreameron April 24, 2006   Link
  • +1
    General CommentA bit more detailed interpretation:

    Browne recognizes reality (instead of refusing to see life as it is) and he still refuses to let it get him down. Unlike the Pretender he has not grown disillusioned with this world; unlike the Everyman he is not looking for a way out of his problems and disappointments; and unlike the Hold Out he recognizes reality and is not watching it through rose colored glasses.

    No matter how many times his "dreams have come up torn and empty," no matter that "heaven's no closer than it was yesterday" this guy will not quit. He continues to allow beauty to be his guiding star.

    More than that, he understands as well that he may not have all the answers and indeed remarks that he could maybe have lost his way and in a parallel of reality even the angels have grown older.

    By the end of the song Browne has lost all of the reasons he once had for pursuing hope and trusting to faith to bring him home but he stubbornly refuses to lie down. He realizes that the next dawn could bring him a fresh start and new meaning for his life. He has come so far and puts his "faith in the distance" accepting that he just has to keep pushing forward in life until he comes across something to restore his passion for living as something undoubtedly will.

    Perhaps what impressed me most with this song was the absolute truth behind the message. No one will get up every day and be perfectly excited in a can't-wait-to-face-the-day sort of way. We all have our moments of the blues. But this song reminds us that we can't let our depression and damp spirits convince us to do something that should not be done. We have to get out of bed and live our lives recognizing some days will be better and some will be not so great. So even if you live from happy moment to moment any kind of life is better than no life at all and we should all remember this when the world seems dark and lonely and bleak. We have to place our trust in the distance.
    wearydreameron February 07, 2007   Link
  • +1
    My InterpretationI agree that this is probably one of the best songs Jackson Browne ever wrote, and I am a big fan of his. But I see it as sadder than some of the other opinions posted in here. Consider these phrases:

    "Heaven's no closer than it was yesterday"
    It sounds like he has not made one bit of progress toward happiness in all the time he has been struggling and moving on.

    "The reasons I once had are gone"
    This means to me that his search and struggle has practically been a waste of time because all the reasons he ever had to keep going turned out to be misguided.

    "But the angels are older. They can see that the sun's setting fast"
    By far, the saddest line in the song. It sounds like he is running out of time and will never find happiness.


    In all, the impression I get in my heart whenever I listen to this song is that he continues to soldier on simply because there is no other option. The angels will go along with him as long as far as he can go, but he has not seen any sign of success and time is running out.

    It's a magnificent, beautiful song. But I always hear it as rather sad.


    mmagliaroon November 18, 2010   Link
  • +1
    General CommentGreat comments here about this incredible song written by one of the most courageous artists of our time. I agree with mmagliaro about the pervasive sadness in the lyrics. It's heartbreaking. But Jackson Browne leaves a hint of hope at the end--the silver lining to this cloudy life--with these words:

    "...they lay down behind me to sleep beside the road 'til the morning has come, where they know they will find me with my maps and my faith in the distance, moving farther on."

    Sounds like he has no intention of giving up, no matter how tough the struggle becomes. And he hasn't. He is still bringing the truth and entreating us to look squarely at it. Check out "Time the Conqueror".
    deepwellwateron February 04, 2011   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI apologize, but my earlier post is incorrect. Jackson Browne's wife committed suicide after this album was made. It is, still, one of many amazing (and haunting) songs by this great artist.
    panzieon November 14, 2011   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI agree 100% with your comment on Late For The Sky being one of the most brilliantly written albums. This song along with Late For The Sky, For A Dancer, Before the Deluge, etc. make it one of the best albums I've had the pleasure of listening to. Many musicians from the 70's had good ideas in their songs, but none wrote so perfectly as Jackson. He is the only writer I know that can capture you with a few words and still have it mean so much
    Tmo2199on May 06, 2006   Link
  • -1
    General CommentI believe this song has a little deeper meaning. Browne's wife committed suicide before this album was produced. Many of the songs, as a result, are dedicated to her memory. For A Dancer as an example,

    "I can't help feeling stupid standing 'round, crying asd they ease you down."

    This is talking about standing at her graveside as they lowered her casket.

    So many of his songs have a deep sadness, especially as it relates to love. Her death must have had a profound affect on him. The song These Days was written to her memory. Love Needs a Heart - "Love needs a heart, and I need to find, if love needs a heart like mine."

    I believe Farther On, then, is an abrupt look at how much his view of love changed after her death. And that he may never find love again, but he will continue to pursue it. And in order to do that, he will have to rely on faith.
    panzieon November 14, 2011   Link

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