"The Blue" as written by and Jason Isbell....
What can you see from your window?
I can't see anythin' from mine
Flags on the side of the highway
And scripture on grocery store signs

Maybe eighteen was too early
Maybe thirty or forty is too
Did you get your chance to make peace with the man
Before He sent down his angels for you?

Mamas and grand mamas love you
'Cause that's all they know how to do
You never planned on the bombs in the sand
Or sleepin' in your dress blues

Your wife said this all would be funny
When you got back home in a week
Turn twenty two and we'd celebrate you
In a bar or a tent by the creek

Your baby would just about be here
And your very last tour would be up
But you won't be back, they're all dressin' in black
Drinkin' sweet tea in Styrofoam cups

Mamas and grand mamas love you
American boys hate to lose
You never planned on the bombs in the sand
Or sleepin' in your dress blues

The high school gymnasium's ready
Full of flowers and old Legionnaires
Nobody showed up to protest
Just sniffle and stare

There's red, white and blue in the rafters
And there's silent old men from the Corps
What did they say when they shipped you away
To fight somebody's Hollywood war?

Nobody here could forget you
You showed us what we had to lose
You never planned on the bombs in the sand
Or sleepin' in your dress blues
You never planned on the bombs in the sand
Or sleepin' in your dress blues


Lyrics submitted by drh1382, edited by bkabbott, zcullens, jepcubed

"Dress Blues" as written by Jason Isbell

Lyrics © Kobalt Music Publishing Ltd.

Lyrics powered by LyricFind

The Blue song meanings
Add your thoughts

2 Comments

sort form View by:
  • +4
    Lyric CorrectionThese are the lyrics to "dress blues" not "the blue". The lyrics should be as follows...

    Don't roll away that stone, girl
    Leave it where it lay
    You think he's coming home but you know it's not today
    I think the road will break me and never fill the holes,
    but every time I'm saved I stop beating out a soul

    I'm too scared to ask the right questions
    and too tired to fill the right shoes
    so I'll take advantage of the blues
    I'll take advantage of the blue

    There really ain't no difference
    in Michigan and Maine
    If you ain't here to see this I'm missing just the same
    Your skin as soft as water, same temperature as me
    I'd never know I touched you if you didn't let me see

    I'd crawl to meet you if you'd just stay there,
    and finally have a thing I couldn't bear to lose
    So I'll take advantage of the blues
    I'll take advantage of the blue

    Mark me up so they can see the best of me
    Hold me down so I can't find a drink
    Dance so I don't have to think



    I believe this song is about being a recording artist out on the road all the time and how he draws his inspiration from being on the road (I think the road will break me and never fill the holes,
    but every time I'm saved I stop beating out a soul) but is losing the person at home whose waiting for him to return (You think he's coming home but you know it's not today) However I really have no idea. Love the song though. Looking to find the tabs for this so if anyone can point me in the right direction, that would be Dyn-o-mite!!
    MarkCox11on July 05, 2012   Link
  • +1
    General CommentJason Isbell sobered up about a year before me, so my interpretation of his lyrics are always colored by that fact. That said, I think Isbell wrote this song just prior to putting down the bottle for good, and you can see in this song that he's teetering on the brink, wrestling with his demons:

    "I'm too scared to ask the right questions
    and too tired to fill the right shoes
    so I'll take advantage of the blues"

    It's a strange place, when you're just starting to realize you might have a problem with alcohol. To me, he's saying that he probably knows that he should quit, but he's too tired to ask the right questions. The blue is that in between, just nothingness.

    "Mark me up so they can see the best of me
    Hold me down so I can't find a drink"

    The closing stanza shows that he knows he shouldn't drink anymore, but that he will if those closest to him don't stop him. "Hold me down" is almost a plea for help -- it's perhaps Jason's first realization that he needs to ask for help.

    That time in your life right before you are willing to put in all the work and effort of getting sober is a very strange place, at least it was for me. Life is sort of a haze of self-pity but also helplessness and apathy. That, to me, is what the blue is.

    Reminds me of another song Isbell covered, "Rachel's Song" (written by James McMurtry):

    "I probably oughta quit my drinking
    But I don't believe I will"

    Fortunately for us, Isbell did ultimately get sober, and his best writing has emerged since. And another brief chapter without any answers blew by. For both Isbell and myself.
    zcullenson April 09, 2015   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