"The Naked Ride Home" as written by and Jackson Browne....
Just take off your clothes and I'll drive you home I said
Knowing she never could pass on a dare
And knowing it sounded more desperate than reckless or bold
I just put it out there cold, too far gone to care

My eyes on the road, she slid herself down in the seat
And a vision of paradise swung into view
Across those five lanes not one driver glanced over to see
The beauty known only to me, and a big rig or two

On that freeway the light was receding
Her beauty, a sight so misleading
I failed to hear the heart that was beating alone
On the naked ride home

With the trace of a smile and that defiant look in her eye
She hurtled through space in a world of her own
And turning aside my caress spoke of all that she'd not yet done
As if I was the doubting one who would have to be shown

On that freeway the light was receding
Her beauty, a sight so misleading
I failed to hear the heart that was beating alone
On the naked ride home

She gathered her clothes
And ran through the yard in the dark
Up onto the porch like a flash, and inside
Then one room at a time
I watched every light in our house come on
Like the truth that would eventually dawn
Forcing me to decide

But on that freeway the light was receding
Her beauty, a sight so misleading
I failed to hear the heart that was beating alone
On the naked ride home

Lyrics submitted by mikepauer

"The Naked Ride Home" as written by Jackson Browne

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

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The Naked Ride Home song meanings
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  • +2
    General CommentThere are three questions to answer regarding this song. They all come in its last two lines:

    "Like the truth that would eventually dawn" (what truth?)
    "Forcing me to decide" (between what? and what do we think he will decide?)

    Using what we know of both characters from the earlier lyrics gets us at an answer.

    The truth is this: "I need to break up with this girl." He's already living with her, so we know they're already in a relationship (notice they share a house). But it's just not working. This truth is bitter; he's reluctant to break up with her, but deep down, he knows its the only way.

    Why is he reluctant? He's strongly attracted to her beauty (and possibly her happiness and carefree attitude). But he is also aware that the relationship cannot succeed, for at least two reasons. One is that she has some flaw in her character. Her beauty is "so misleading," suggesting that her external beauty is not reflective of her inner self.

    The second reason is that she is not attracted to him as he is to her. She turns aside his caress, his heart beats alone, and she seems to doubt his potential ("as if I was the doubting one who would have to be shown").

    The profoundness of his struggle is evidenced by the song's construction. It leaves on a point of tension, rather than resolution--he hasn't made a decision, but he is being pressed into one. It's also shown by the verse's construction. It starts with a "but," as if it contrasts from the rest of what the song presents. You can almost hear the struggle in his head when he starts to reflect on how he needs to break up with her...but then he remembers the night on the freeway. It's also significant that the song's final words are from this conflicted chorus, even when the last we hear of him is his being forced into a decision because of a truth that's dawning on him.

    The last point I'd like to make is that Browne does an awesome job illustrating these characters by keeping her focus on the present and the physical (naked beauty, running, etc) and his on the past and future and mental (metaphors, images, ideas of paradise).
    OldSouthon July 03, 2009   Link
  • 0
    Song Meaningi heard jackson say this song is regarding the political stands he has taken - he is using the reference to a girl as a political point of view
    steve103061on January 30, 2011   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI have heard Jackson to say this song was about vulnerability and trust. That taking off her clothes represents a "nakedness" of the soul that few are willing to share/bare. Her beauty was misleading to him because inside, "underneath it all" she felt empty and unloved -- but she showed her beauty, inside and out, and her heart, only to him and he took advantage of it, knowing he no longer could love her the way she wanted but he was not able to commit and he lets her go... her heart beating alone.
    essbeepon December 30, 2011   Link
  • 0
    General CommentNice entries. As the previous writers note, the literal meaning is quite obvious and not just about this naked ride he remembers having taken with someone (did it really happen?), but he comes to some kind of revelation/realization about this relationship. I always assumed it had to do with one of his personal relationships, maybe even with the wife who committed suicide. But the political analogy is intriguing. I'll have to think about that!
    dgibby13on October 05, 2013   Link
  • 0
    General CommentLove and loss, with a side of comedy...that's Jackson's realm.
    lemmylemmyon October 07, 2014   Link

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