"King Of The Hill" as written by Tom Petty and Roger Mcguinn....
L.A.'s asleep - you roll up your window
The night air is cold - the freeway is clear.
In a green Gucci bag - are you prized possessions
The jewels of your mind - to hold back the fear.

And when Monday comes round - there's a high lonesome sound
And she follows you down for the kill.
And a while blinding light - makes it all seem so right
And you feel like the king of the hill.

The driveway is long - your princess is lovely
Your servants all wait - for your knock on the door.
How many years - will you crawl through this castle
So satisfied - and still wanting more.
And when Monday comes...

The guests have arrived - with all the right faces
But you miss the ball - in that room down the hall.
It's sunrise again - the driveway is empty
The crystal is cracked - there's blood on the wall.
And when Monday comes round...

Lyrics submitted by Major Valor

"King of the Hill" as written by Roger Mcguinn Thomas Earl Petty

Lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc.

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King Of The Hill song meanings
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  • 0
    My InterpretationI've had the benefit of watching the music video which is a pretty close literal interpretation of the lyrics. However, it seems to be about someone whose greed, lust, etc. have finally caught up with them. The subject - who is almost assuredly male - is probably on the run from so

    In the first verse, I think the subject is 'making a run for it' and leaving town. By saying "L.A.'s asleep" and "the night air is cold - the freeway is clear", it infers that the person is on the road by themselves. The only time the freeway in L.A. is really clear from traffic is very late at night.

    He seems to be skipping town on short notice as evidenced by the line "In a green Gucci bag..." meaning that he likely threw his most prized stuff into a bag and left hurredly.

    The second verse, sung by Tom Petty, refers to the lifestyle he lived prior to this happening. He likely had a large house ("the driveway is long") and a beautiful/trophy wife ("your princess is lovely") and was probably used to people jumping when he spoke ("your servants all wait for your knock on the door").

    I also think this verse is a subtle foreshadowing to what awaits him and also implies that his money, power, success, etc. was not acquired very ethically or even legally. There are numerous stories of people who were financial successes only to find that their success was built on lies and deceit. Bernie Madoff is probably the best example however there are many more.

    This song seems to be about someone who followed that path - acquired all kinds of material wealth by less than legal means and those actions have now caught up to them. Such is Petty's line "How many years, will you crawl through this castle?" as many people who took that road are often driven by pure greed and greed begets greed. So despite having virtually everything material you could want, the person still wants more and it is never enough. This causes more and more actions to gain additional wealth or maintain the current state which can lead to even more illicit activities to keep it that way.

    The last verse is quite ominous and it appears things didn't end too well for the subject. If you watch the video, he has several business associates over for a night of drinking, women and over the top celebration; only to be taken away forcefully. We can assume the people who did this are related somehow to those he did business with and probably screwed over in some way.

    However, another interpretation is that the subject here committed an even more serious crime - murder - via the line "the driveway is empty" (he got away and is on the run as referenced in verse 1) and "there's blood on the wall" (evidence of the crime is in his 'castle' but he's nowhere to be found).

    Like with most good songs, there are a number of interpretations one can take. The title to me is a reference to the feeling that power, wealth and money give you - the absolute king of the world. Like you rule everything. However, the lyrics suggest that those things are both material and temporary and show what happens when they are acquired and enjoyed in excess.
    GrtOne41on November 14, 2011   Link
  • 0
    General Commentmine is a more literal interpretation: I think the song's a about rich dude making a late night drug score (the jewels), getting high (blinding light), and the mess of a life it causes (he cannot attend his own party).
    jpton March 13, 2013   Link
  • 0
    General CommentIt's about John Phillips, from Mamas and the Papas. Heard an interview with Tom Petty discussing it. Roger and Tom had both read John's autobiography. John was doing dope with his daughter, McKenzie - that's the 'she' in 'she follows you down for the kill'. Kept his rig in a green Gucci bag.
    willypowwoon June 11, 2013   Link
  • 0
    General CommentSaw the original full-length vid back in '90. If you look carefully, as the rich guy is riding home, he reads a headline about a financial firm taking a nosedive. After the video ends, there's text saying, "The looting of the savings and loan industry will cost the American people $500 billion over the next fifty years." I remember that scandal well, as millions of people had all their savings wiped out. The worst offenders were in Orange county and LA, hence McGuinn's opening line, "LA's asleep." A number of high rollers went to prison, and at the end of the video, to underscore that point, two detectives arrest the businessman.
    ArlenMacon June 14, 2013   Link
  • 0
    General Commenti like the other comments.

    i think this song really touches on the idea of when your ego gets out of control or when you become too self indulgent. certainly the drugs, greed, perhaps being on the run or wandering is more on the surface of the meanings.

    i would add the the king of the hill has a far way to fall.

    i love the folksy style that uses roundabout verse to get at universal and personal themes. and if it gets at the soul of the character,songwriter or listener then all the better.
    treeropedon January 22, 2017   Link

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