"Never Let Go" as written by and Tom Waits Kathleen Brennan....
Well, ring the bell backwards and bury the axe
Fall down on your knees in the dirt
I'm tied to the mast between water and wind
Believe me, you'll never get hurt
Our ring's in the pawnshop, the rain's in the hole
Down at the Five Points I stand
I'll lose everything
But I won't let go of your hand

Well, Peter denied and Judas betrayed
I'll bail with the roll of the drum
And the wind will tell the turn from the wheel
And the watchman is making his rounds
Well, you'll leave me hanging by the skin of my teeth
I've only got one leg to stand
You can send me to hell
But I'll never let go of your hand

Swing from a rope on a cross-legged dream
Signed with One Eyed Jack's blood
From Temple to Union, to LA and Grand
Walking back home in the mud

Now I must make my best of the only way home
Molly deals only in stone
I'm lost on the midway, I'm reckless in your eyes
Just give me a couple more throws
I'll dare you to dine with the cross-legged knight
Dare me to jump and I will
I'll fall from your grace
But I'll never let go of your hand
I'll never let go of your hand


Lyrics submitted by Anderson_Council

Never Let Go song meanings
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  • 0
    General CommentMan this song is great, that new Tom Waits stuff is great. I can't exactly navigate through all of the metaphor and imagery in this song but it seems basically to be about commitment to unrequited love.

    I'd love to hear more about some of the specific lyrics and see what people have to think about them, though.
    Silver195on April 11, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI'd say its about unconditional love. Well thats the way I like to think about it.
    NiemandWeisson May 23, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General CommentFirst few times I heard this I took it for a love song. But the music sounds like an old-fashioned hymn. And look at the language - "send me to hell", "fall from your grace". He could be talking to god. A lot of those old hymns sound like love songs & not a few love songs sound like hymns. Whose hand is he holding? Does it matter? A little bit of ambiguity never did anybody any harm.
    morbid moragon July 25, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General CommentWaits seems to have a common motif of lover as God, but it does seem to me that he's speaking to an actual person, rather than a divinity despite the Biblical images.

    The song to me is about a yearning which lasts beyond all hope or despair. He will hold onto the (metaphorical) hand of the song's subject, no matter what she does or thinks of him. Is it creepy? Certainly. Is it powerful? Yes. Love, especially the hopeless love of Tom Waits, takes place beyond good and evil.

    I love the switch, using the same images, from suicide to damnation ("Dare me to jump"/"Fall from your grace"), all in the same context.
    nedlumon August 20, 2009   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI doubt this is about a literal person, though it always could just be exaggeration about the love between two people.

    I also agree with the idea of him singing about God, or the World in general, much like Cave did on There She Goes My Beautiful World. The idea seems to be that regardless of what happens to you in life, you refuse to stop living it.

    Lyrics like "dare me to jump" make sense in that context: the world puts risks and iffy situations in our path, and Waits is saying every time it tempts him like that he's going to give it his all.

    That's the way I prefer to read it, anyway. It is just as likely that it's about God or a specific lover.
    Caleddinon May 17, 2011   Link

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