This song recounts a short visit to Bixby Canyon in Big Sur, California. In the summer of 1960, nearing the end of his career as a Roman candle, Jack Kerouac, poet-hero of the Beat...
I descended a dusty gravel ridge
Beneath the Bixby Canyon Bridge
Until I eventually arrived
At the place where your soul had died

Barefoot in the shallow creek,
I grabbed some stones from underneath
And waited for you to speak to me

And the silence; it became so very clear
That you had long ago disappeared
I cursed myself for being surprised
That this didn't play like it did in my mind

All the way from San Francisco
As I chased the end of your road
Cause I've still got miles to go

And I want to know my fate
If I keep up this way

And it's hard to want to stay awake
When everyone you need, they all seem to be asleep
And you wonder if you missed your dream

You can't see a dream
You can't see a dream
You just can't see a dream

And then it started getting dark
I truged back to where the car was parked
No closer to any kind of truth


Lyrics submitted by TDDx8, edited by kylebenjam, justgraceful14, indierox

"Bixby Canyon Bridge" as written by Benjamin Gibbard

Lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

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Bixby Canyon Bridge song meanings
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  • +5
    General CommentBefore reading the comments on the Kerouac reference's, i had my own idea:

    I got the impression that Gibbard is writting about visiting a place where someone close to him had committed suicide.

    "At the place where your soul had died"

    The person had given up hope here.

    "And waited for you to speak to me

    And the silence, it became so very clear
    That you had long ago disappeared
    I cursed myself for being surprised
    That this didn't play like it did in my mind"

    He went to the place hoping for closure, but realised that he was in denial thinking going to the ridge would make him feel any better about everything.


    "No closer to any kind of truth
    As I must assume was the case with you"

    The person presumed he/she would find the answers to 'life' in death, but did not.

    That's that really. Just my interpretation... peace
    the_lighton June 01, 2008   Link
  • +3
    General Comment" descended a dusty gravel ridge
    Beneath the Bixby Canyon Bridge
    And soon I eventually arrived
    At the place where your soul had died"

    This verse describes Ben's arrival at the cottage in Big Sur, CA. At this cabin, Jack Kerouac wrote Big Sur which was an autobiographical tale of the nervous breakdown he suffered at the same cabin some years earlier.

    Barefoot in the shallow creek
    I grabbed some stones from underneath
    Waiting for you to speak to me

    Kerouac spent days drinking from the creek, if i recall correctly to drink and bathe. Perhaps Ben expected Kerouac to appear to him and reveal some big truth to him about life/the universe etc.

    And the silence, it became so very clear
    That you had long ago disappeared
    And I cursed myself for being surprised
    That this didn't play like it did in my mind

    Obviously, the epitomie from Kerouac never came, and thus Ben is dissapointed.

    All the way from San Francisco
    As I chased the end of your road
    Because I've still got miles to go

    The "end of your road" is symbolism of kerouac losing his mind at this location, and perhaps Ben thinking he would find answers to some sort of questions at this location. Alas, he still "has miles to go" before he finds these truths.

    I want to know my fate if I keep up this way
    It's hard to want to stay away
    And everyone you meet all seem to be asleep
    You wonder if you're missing your dream
    Can't see your dream
    Can't see your dream
    Just can't see your dream
    Dream
    Dream
    Dream
    Dream
    Dream
    Dream
    Dream
    Dream

    Not really sure what he's talking about here.

    Then it started getting dark
    And I trudged back to where the car was parked
    No closer to any kind of truth
    As I must assume was the case with you

    At nightfall Ben gives up on finding his epitomie, and realises that Kerouac probably did the same thing 50/60 years ago.
    herringhaon May 02, 2008   Link
  • +2
    General CommentOkay so alot of you guys nailed the first half of this excellent opener off the new album, but I think mostly everyone is at a loss when it comes to the second half, specifically from here on:

    I want to know my fate if I keep up this way
    It's hard to want to stay awake

    When everyone you meet, they all seem to be asleep
    You wonder if you're missing your dream
    You can't see a dream
    You can't see a dream
    You just can't see a dream

    A Dream

    This passage reminds me of a quote by the late, great River Phoenix, in which he said
    "Sometimes I wish I wasn't so concious."
    For one, I can personally identify with this quote. Second, someone above me said something along the lines of "ignorance is bliss" in reference to this passage. In a way I would agree, but to elaborate on it, I would say that Ben Gibbard is say that he wants to know his fate if he continues on his road to seeking the truth so desperately, so passionately, so fervently. Like mathemeticians that lose their minds trying to solve complex problems over years and years of time, some artists lose their minds trying to seek the truths to human suffering, passion, inspiration, life, etc. I believe Ben Gibbard is an artist of just such a caliber. He goes on to say, "Its hard to want to stay awake." I can identify with this, Gibbard is saying that sometimes in the face of disappointment, letdown, mental/spiritual exhaustion, that it can be hard to carry on, to force yourself to continue. Especially difficult when you look around you at the opiated masses of people, content to shut themselves off to the truth, reality, the world around them, enlightenment, inspiration, and the search for it ("When everyone you meet, they all seem to be asleep"). "You wonder if you're missing your dream" Or maybe Ben, the artist, is the crazy one, not these people around him who are all blissfully ignorant, content in their mediocrity, the same mediocrity that Gibbard is plagued by. Maybe i'm missing out on a happiness I would only have known, if I had not chosen the path I am on. Finally, Gibbard speaks, maybe warns, maybe even laments over the fact that when you are so aware or so awake to reality, that "you just can't see a dream" Sometimes your "hyper-awareness," as it were, robs you of your own desired inspiration, your own disappointment. Your expectations of an experience that someone you hold in high regard(Kerouac) spoke in reverance of; what this experience could do for you(Gibbard).

    Literally, that Gibbard can't see, now that he has arrived here at this figureative mecca of expectation, just what all the fuss was about for Kerouac. He's severely disappointed.

    In fact though, life is about the journey, and everyone's journey is just that, their own. I think Gibbard sees that once he arrives at Bixby Canyon Bridge, he curses himself for being gullible enough to think that this place would have the same effect on him as it did on Kerouac. Gibbard realizes that he must find his own inspiration from his own metaphorical "Bixby Canyon Bridge," whatever, or wherever it may be.

    The last lines based on my comments for the previous passage, are pretty self-explanatory.

    This is my first post, sorry if i sound a tad pretentious, please be kind of responding!!

    Thanks
    fluoresceinon October 13, 2008   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI realized i spelled epiphany completely wrong and forgot to spell check it, that is what bixby is about......
    wyliekyleon May 02, 2008   Link
  • +1
    General CommentThen it started getting dark
    And I trudged back to where the car was parked
    No closer to any kind of truth
    As I must assume was the case with you

    ahhhhhhhhh so great. the end is so haunting but so compelling.
    scarletfeverron July 16, 2008   Link
  • +1
    General CommentJack Kerouac was from Lowell, MA.

    I've been to Lowell, MA, and there's not much to see. It's an old mill-town that developers are currently trying to rehabilitate with loft apartments and riverwalks.

    Funny thing is, on the west coast things aren't much better. The culture's different, but human beings are still lonely, fake. If you're looking for truth, take solace in the journey of life itself. Life is anticlimactic in that way.

    It's not a party, but we can still dance.
    davidecoyoteon September 21, 2008   Link
  • +1
    My InterpretationHi everybody! DCFC is truly an amazing band
    Bixby anyon Bridge brings two different concepts to mind for me. Lost Love, and trying to Understand a mass social disconect.
    To me, Bixby Canyon is about leaving a love behind. After trying to search for something that is no longer mutual. Something ( an intimate relationship)that had died long before it was still able to be salvaged.
    The end of the song, "...No closer to any kind of truth as i must assume was the case with you", brings us to the conclusion that finally, the fact that the love is gone is recognized. But alas, the searching individual feels nothing was acomplished by this. A distant, but mutual confusion as to why the love did not last or what went wrong.

    The second concept for me was about feeling lost in a world where emotional disconnect is dominant. "I want to know my fate. If I'll keep up this way. Cos it's hard to want to stay awake; when everyone you meet, they all seem to be asleep. And you wonder if you're missing the dream. You just can't see the dream."
    A feeling of being an outcast for trying to hold on to human emotions and compassion seems to stick out to me. You wonder if you should disconnect and simply dwell like the others, because maybe it will hurt less to just exist as they do; without truly feeling love or hurt. " you just can't see the dream"

    :]
    nianimalon May 22, 2009   Link
  • +1
    My InterpretationNow that i know the story behind this song, I think something different but originally I thought this song was about remembering someone who took their life. And I think it can be interpreted that way, as trying to understand why someone committed suicide:
    I descended a dusty gravel ridge
    Beneath the Bixby Canyon Bridge
    Until I eventually arrived
    At the place where your soul had died

    He decided to visit the place they died to try and understand why they did it.

    Barefoot in the shallow creek
    I grabbed some stones from underneath
    And waited for you to speak to me

    Wishing they were still alive to explain why they took their life

    And the silence, it became so very clear
    That you had long ago disappeared
    I cursed myself for being surprised
    That this didn't play like it did in my mind

    Feeling foolish for thinking that coming here would make him understand why that person took their life.
    savindieon June 08, 2011   Link
  • 0
    General CommentBeautiful. This is about Ben going to Big Sur. He spent a couple weeks in a cabin where Jack Kerouac stayed and wrote a large portion of Narrow Stairs there.
    TDDx8on April 22, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General CommentWell, it is about Big Sur... but Ben has said that he wasn't able to write much of Narrow Stairs while he was there. It's more about he couldn't get the inspiration from Kerouac/Big Sur that he thought he would to help him write new songs. It's all about disillusionment, both with the trip, and with life in general.
    linmarieon April 26, 2008   Link

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