"Memory Lane" as written by and Steven P. Smith....
This is the place you end up
When you lose the chase
Where you're dragged against your will
From a basement on the hill

And all anybody knows is
You're not like them
And they kick you in the head
And send you back to bed

Isolation pulled you past a tunnel to a bright
World where you can make a place to stay

But everybody's scared of this place
They're staying away
Your little house on memory lane

The mayor's name is fear
His voice patrols the pier
From a mountain of cliche
That advances every day

The doctor spoke a cloud
He rained out loud
You'll keep your doors and windows shut
And swear you'll never show a soul again

But isolation pushes you 'til every muscle aches
Down the only road it ever takes

But everybody's scared of this place
They're staying away
Your little house on memory lane

If it's your decision
To be open about yourself
Be careful or else
Be careful or else

I'm comfortable apart
It's all written on my chart
That I take what's given me
Most cooperatively

I do what people say
And lie in bed all day
Absolutely horrified
I hope you're satisfied

Isolation pushes past self-hatred, guilt and shame
To a place where suffering's just a game

But everybody's scared of this place
They're staying away
Your little house on memory lane

Your little house on memory lane


Lyrics submitted by delial, edited by TomManderson, Primus2112, ian1774721, serta, Zec

"Memory Lane" as written by Caitlyn Smith Scott Stepakoff

Lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Warner/Chappell Music, Inc., BMG RIGHTS MANAGEMENT US, LLC

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Memory Lane song meanings
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20 Comments

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  • +2
    General Commentthis song is about being isolated and medicated and terrified of absolutely everything in life. it's a horrifying, short, quiet song that has no positive note to it. elliott cautions

    "if it's your decision
    to be open about yourself
    be careful or else"

    in such a manner that suggests he never opens up about himself anymore than his patented sad, drowning sentiments and thoughtful lamentations on his life suggest. he doesnt trust anyone.

    i think "from a basement on the hill" refers to being ina situation in which you're being lifted up or on the rise or going up (i.e. the upward slope of a hill) which is basiacally elliott's fame, but you're stuck in the basement, the lowest level, the very bottom, of that top, on the hill. he's just being his old, negative self. you've got to love him for that
    NewLibertineon May 30, 2007   Link
  • +1
    General CommentSure he may of been in a mental house at the time, but I don't think this song is only about that...that is one example and he didn't get there in one day...For me this song strikes a deep chord and I take it to be about how you feel different from society whether it be inferior or weaker or different, and society notices that and "they send you back to bed" or back to wanting to isolate your self due to how different you feel (especially if you suffer from mental illness such as depression), and in doing so trigger emotions of despair and depression. Down the only road it ever takes, is depression. Anyone who has been in isolation knows all too well that it is a dark and colorless place. "youll keep your doors and windows shut" is about you keeping your self locked away and isolated and never showing a soul who you really are due to fear of rejection and more bad feelings...and isolation will always push you down the only road it ever takes wich is depression...not death but despair...
    4four2twenty0on March 12, 2010   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThis song he wrote when he was checked into a psychiatric hospital, i don't know when that was but the earliest live version i have heard was from 97... that just an indication of how old this song is. this is what the lyrics were back then

    this is the place you'll up when you lose the chase
    it's the patch or in the pill
    to make you easier to kill
    and all anybody knows is you look messed up
    they inspect you in the head and send you back to bed
    isolation draws into it
    static into night
    builds a little house for you to stay
    but everybody's scared of this place
    they're staying away
    no one counts in memory lane
    it's just as it appears
    everybody fears
    just to see u try to get
    there evasive piece to fit
    the part they never knew
    because they did not want to
    you keep the doors and windows shut
    and you'll never show a soul again
    but isolation draws into it
    static into night
    builds a little house for you to stay
    but everybody's scared of this place
    and staying away
    no one counts in memory lane
    if it's your decision to be open about yourself
    be careful or else
    you better be careful or else
    uncomfortable apart
    it's all written on my chart
    and I take what's given me
    most cooperatively
    I do what people say
    and lie in bed all day
    but im never going to cry
    under the doctors eye
    isolation draws into it
    static into night
    builds a little house for you to stay
    but everybody's scared of this place
    and stayin away
    no one counts in memory lane

    The lyrics did get changed a lot between then and the basement version.
    first timeron July 30, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General Commentthis song is about him being in mental house
    ferdinandon August 01, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI kind of see the mental house thing as being a metaphor for something like how his past is upsetting and "Theres a place we all go when we lose the chase" is like when everythign is going good and them something bad happens that reminds you of your past, and how it's happened before. You get wrapped up in your past and your memories and it's not a good kind of remembering, it haunts him - "everybody's scared of this place".
    "i hope you're satisfied, isolation pushes past self hatred, guilt and shame" I think that this line kind of shows how it's about a past relatioship, maybe this is after a break-up ... and he's remembering how it's all happened before and he's upset about it all ... and is wrapped up in all of the happy moments they had together and now that its relaly over it haunts him.

    Maybe im twisting this around too much, I don't know. haha
    palinon August 01, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThis song is very obviously about being in an asylum.
    The first few lines are saying that an asylum is a place that no one ever wants to go to, and especially in this case, it was forced incarceration, essentially. 'Basement on a hill" is that point where you still have a mental illness, and everything isn't peachy, but your are dealing with it to your standards. Nevertheless, people want to fix you because you are "not like them." And mental issues must be ruthlessly dealt with in our society. Also, the "not like them line" speaks of the stigma attached to mental illness. Other parts of the song like "the mayors name is fear," and "doctor spoke a cloud" speak of the bleak labels doctors tend to throw on you, telling you how you are so ill and must be controlled, also sing the publics fear of mentally ill people to justify things they do to them. The mountain of cliches refers not only to people's jaded and incorrect assumptions of mentally ill people, but also of the useless bromides that people and doctors tend to throw at people to try and help them, of course such cliches are useless.
    For me, the most powerful line is:
    "isolation pushes past self hatred, guilt and shame
    to a place where suffering is just a game"
    I think since mental illness is so stigmatized and misunderstood, people have a tendency to think of mental patients as somewhat less than human. Even psychiatrists do this. To the doctors, the patients aren't really people but simply cases to be studied, regardless of the patient's wishes. Similarly, the general public sees all mentally ill people as either dangerous or weird to the point of being intolerable. The intolerable ones are made fun of and become spectacles or are ignored, and sometimes worse. The ones seen as 'dangerous' (regardless or whether or not they actually are) are seen as subhuman things which need to be confined and controlled, usually by force, because the assumption is that if lest alone they will invariably hurt someone, which is simply not the case.
    commutronon September 07, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General Commentit's about his stay at a psychiatric hospital.

    he was so amazing
    why do only the good die young?
    the scenic worldon November 09, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThis song is perfect
    flyingwon November 11, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI'm sure a lot of these people share my opinion that deepl music has a kind of nihilistic pull upon me, Elliott Smith, Joy Division etc. Listening to this song, especially the line "isolation pushes past self-hatred, guilt and shame to a place where suffering is just a game"was a catlayst for a rather unpleasant feeling which I wouldn't want anyone to share, Don't listen to Elliott Smith too closely, is all I'd like to pass on, if you don't have a positive outlook on life. I've forced myself to give up listening too him, because even though it's brilliant, it can make you feel like what he's describing........ I'd seen "From A Basement On The Hill" as a reference to being low even when you are/should be high (ambiguously). Maybe being at the climax of your life (at the top of the hill) but not feeling like you expected, and realising that mediocrity catches up with happiness quicker than a lot of people realise. I hope I've got my point across in all that haha
    bangbangyouredeadon December 16, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI really, really like this song

    Be careful or else
    bitterbritteron April 24, 2008   Link

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