You’re old enough to know well
The better things are all up hill
Bitter songs are never sung
In the highlands where you belong
In the smoke of cannons below
Men they bury each other in rows
People come people go
Work in numbers and leave alone

There’s a light making its way
On up the mountain night and day
You’ll get tired and you’ll get weak
But you won’t abandon your masterpiece

Off to sleep you’ll go
Through the halls and opened doors
Silver bells swinging low
Strung in branches of the unknown
Soon morning comes
To warm the world and wake you up
Night is gone awful fast
It ain’t wrong to be sad

There’s a light making its way
On up the mountain night and day
You’ll go down and you’ll go deep
But you won’t surrender your masterpiece

Here it comes and there it goes
The unbearable sound
Of the earth making men out of boys
First you learn then you’ll teach
About the bright light


Lyrics submitted by Nachtmusik

On Up the Mountain song meanings
Add your thoughts

4 Comments

sort form View by:
  • 0
    General Commenti love this song, it is just so ironic that I don;t know exactly what it means.

    Can anyone share their opinion:D
    bear_hug20on October 15, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General CommentIt clearly has something to do with war, but I'm not exactly sure about details.
    punkbooty93on August 06, 2009   Link
  • 0
    Song MeaningTo me, it seems like an ode to the 'everyman.' This is a somewhat literal and basic interpretation, but here we go. The first stanza reminds me of mining; in fact there seems (to me at least) to be a theme of mining rather than war.

    "You're old enough to know well/The better things are all up hill/Bitter songs are never sung/In the highlands where you belong"

    I'm not exactly sure what to make of the "old enough to know well" part. It seems to be projected at a child, but also seems to be projected at an older person, perhaps someone who has recently entered adulthood and has just begun to work.

    "In the smoke of cannons below/Men they bury each other in rows"
    While the "men they bury each other" part may seem to signal war, I think of it as mining. Smoke cannons would clear the mine, and perhaps "bury" doesn't mean to bury in the ground, but to bury each other in soot as they work.

    "People come people go/Work in numbers and leave alone"
    This seems to me to be a simple line about how laboring jobs are often temporary and you really only see your coworkers while you are working.

    "There's a light making its way/On up the mountain night and day/You'll get tired and you'll get weak/But you won't abandon your masterpiece"
    The chorus again relates to mining. The third line seems even more so to be directed at a young man entering the workforce for the first time. They will toil and work hard, but they won't stop working for whatever makes them who they are. I'm interpreting "your masterpiece" to be something ambiguous, and not a physical masterpiece like a painting or novel. As in the masterpiece is your life; you'll work hard, wear yourself out, and it will be tough but you will still do what needs to be done.

    "Off to sleep you'll go/Through the halls and opened doors/Silver bells swinging low/Strung in branches of the unknown"
    Lines about dreaming. This stanza is somewhat more melancholic and a bit mysterious. Silver bells conjures up the image of marriage, or even just a joyous occasion, but they are somewhat ominous and intriguing because they are in "branches of the unknown."

    "Soon morning comes/To warm the world and wake you up/Night is gone awful fast/It ain't wrong to be sad"
    These lines seem to signify that the hypothetical young man does not want to leave the dream. Because the end of the dream means he must begin his toiling again, which is where the chorus comes in again.

    Here the stanza isn't just an introduction into how he'll work but maintain, but a repetition (it's the chorus so it's repeated, but it also symbolizes how the young man's job is circular) and a reminder after he wakes.

    "Here it comes and there it goes/The unbearable sound/Of the earth making men out of boys/First you learn then you'll teach/About the bright light"
    I see mining metaphors here, too. "The unbearable sound of the earth" could be the sound of young men working in the mountain. Since (in my interpretation) the song is written to a young man just beginning, he is young and almost like a child, echoing the initial lines that sound like they are meant for a child ("You're old enough to know well"), but the hard toiling makes him a man. The last lines imply that this cycle is circular and unending. The current young man will learn ("You'll get tired and you'll get weak/But you won't abandon your masterpiece") and will pass this wisdom along. It's almost like a revelation here, since it goes from just a light to a "bright light."

    That's just my interpretation. Sorry it was a little long-winded. :)
    onethingscertainon April 16, 2010   Link
  • 0
    Song MeaningMy humble opinion:

    I think the song is sung to God.

    There is always the option to abandon man altogether, and through history the obstinate and stubborn ability of man to do evil makes it tempting to Him. He will grow tired of man and weak in dealing with him (like He did with the generation of Noah), but despite how bad it has been, God has always come back to redeem man and encourage her to change.


    "Bitter songs are never sung in the highlands where you belong"/"In the smoke of cannons below, men they bury each other in rows"
    ---This first line seems to be a complaint that God has chosen to ignore the plight of man and placed his attention elsewhere. He can seal himself off from the turmoil of the earth and focus on the untold mysteries and joys of some other world/dimension. (hence the language about halls & open doors & branches of the unknown)


    "People come, people go/work in numbers and leave alone"
    ---An immortal can take the position that no one life matters but only the grand direction of things (as some think that God does)

    "There's a light making its way on up the mountain - night and day."
    ---The light is a symbol of the righteousness of man that God encourages us to pursue. Mankind is growing better. We are seeing more and more clearly. There seems to be a metaphor here as well as the light making its way up a mountain would take place during a sunrise.

    "You'll get tired/You'll get weak"
    ---Referencing when God gets fed up with the evil that men create and desires to leave the whole ordeal.

    "You'll go down/You'll go deep"
    ---Referencing God hiding from the masses of men. Making himself hard to find.

    "But you wont abandon your masterpiece"
    ---Despite all the trouble, he never has abandoned man. Mankind is biblically described as being made in God's image, the Church is the bride of Christ. God's masterpiece, man, will not be abandoned because God will never choose to leave her.

    "You will deliver your masterpiece."
    IAmADerekWilsonon March 27, 1988   Link

Add your thoughts

Log in now to tell us what you think this song means.

Don’t have an account? Create an account with SongMeanings to post comments, submit lyrics, and more. It’s super easy, we promise!

Back to top
explain