"Stones in the Road" as written by and Mary Chapin Carpenter....
When we were young, we pledged allegiance
Every morning of our lives
The classroom rang with children's voices
Under teacher's watchful eye
We learned about the world around us
At our desks and at dinnertime
Reminded of the starving children
Cleaned our plates with guilty minds

The stones in the road
We played like marbles in the dust
Until a voice called for us
To make our way back home
The stones in the road

When I was ten, my father held me
On his shoulders above the crowd
To see a train draped in mourning
Pass slowly through our town
His widow kneeled with all her children
At the sacred burial ground
And the TV glowed that long hot summer
With all the cities burning down

And the stones in the road
Flew out from our bicycle tires
Worlds removed from all those fires as we raced
Each other home
The stones in the road


And now we drink our coffee on the run
Climb that ladder rung by rung
We are the daughters and the sons
But here's the line that's missing

The starving children have been replaced
By souls out on the street
We give a dollar when we pass
And hope our eyes don't meet
We pencil in, we cancel out
We crave the corner suite
We kiss your ass
We make you hold, we doctor the receipt

Stones in the road
Flew out from beneath our wheels
Another day, another deal, before we get back home

The stones in the road
Leave a mark from whence they came
A thousand points of light or shame
Baby, I don't know

Stones in the road


In the road

Lyrics submitted by maggiesfarm

"Stones in the Road" as written by Mary Chapin Carpenter Mary Carpenter

Lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

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Stones in the Road song meanings
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    General CommentThe song seems to be about the way in which peoples' worldview narrows with time, due to immediate pressures, ambitions and the worries of day-to-day life. It is worth noting that when Baez was ten, she was living in Iraq, where she was shocked by the abject poverty of some of the people there. The song, however, seems to place the singer's childhood in the early sixties- the train draped in mourning is probably that of JFK, and the cities burning down could be a conflation of the race riots and social upheaval of that decade.

    But what of the stones? It seems they may be intended as signifying the change in time, and with it perhaps the attitude- in the early verses, the children scatter the stones, unconcerned about where they came from, more sending them on their way, whereas the last reference to the stones is concerned with the "mark from whence they came"- things closer and more immediate, and perhaps concerned for consequence.

    The song asks a rhetorical question in the last line- is it something childish, with unbecoming lack of concern for other, competing worry, to take such a wide worldview with ambitions of working for the "greater good", in perhaps nebulous terms? Surely not.
    TomtheJerryon April 11, 2009   Link

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