"Head Held High" as written by and Lou Reed....
My mama told me, ever since I was seven,
Hold your head up high.
My parents toldmy ever since I was eleven,
"Hold your head up high."
They said the answer was to become a dancer,
Hold your head high.
Oh, just like I figured, they're always disfigured
With their heads up high.

Now I'm older, I'm getting so much bolder
With my head up high
Oh, as I figured, just like I figured
Since your head's up high, baby.
Oh, just like I figured,
You know, they was disfigured
Hold your head up high.
You know, they says the answer was to become a dancer
Hold your head high, boy.

Ever since I was a baby on my mama's knee,
Oh, just listened to what everybody told me,
Oh yes I did. But still the answer was to become a dancer,
And hold your head high,
But, just like I figured, they're always disfigured,
They hold their heads up high, Watch out!

Do the dog! Oh, watch out!
And now I'm older, they say I'm so much bolder
Got your head up high.
Oh, and the answer was, hey, to become a dancer,
Head up high.
Well, but just like I figured, they're always disfigured
They got their heads up high.
But the answer was, now, boy, to become a dancer
With your head up high

Head up high,
Head up high...

Lyrics submitted by nuclearjew

"Head Held High" as written by Micheal O'suilleabhain Lou Reed

Lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

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Head Held High song meanings
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  • +1
    My InterpretationI'm not too sure about the meaning of the song in general, however, the first verse definitely relates to me.
    My parents are reputation-freaks. Doesn't matter if they're happy, if I'm happy, if my sister's happy, if anybody's happy, as long as we look good on the outside to everybody else. Somebody in my family has an abusive spouse but my father refuses to do anything about it because he's afraid of what other people around us will think if they see that she got divorced. They're obsessed with how society perceives us and so tells me to do everything "the normal way" - if I want to wear band shirts instead of frilly sleeves that's too bad for me. If I want to listen to bands that play the electric viola and sing about heroin instead of catchy love songs, that's too bad because I'm just being "abnormal".
    I know it seems like I'm just trying to collect pity, but that's what I get from "my parents always told me..." - like trying to tell your sons and daughters how to think and what to do just because they do it; "with THEIR heads up high"
    othatzsokewlon November 16, 2009   Link
  • +1
    General Commentalso, DO THE DOWGG
    othatzsokewlon November 22, 2009   Link
  • +1
    General CommentAccording to this: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/…
    Reed was treated with electroshock to overcome his "disease" of homosexuality. I think maybe this song could have to do with that? "The answer was to become a dancer" seems like maybe a similar head-in-your-ass mentality about homosexuality (like thinking that if he could just express his femininity he wouldn't have to suck c*ck or that this was a societaly acceptable role for "someone like him" or something stupid like that) that his parents probably had. So, he's saying something like "my parents told me to hold my head up high by pretending to be something I wasn't but I've learned to really hold my head up high by embracing/loving who I am". "Oh, just like I figured, they're always disfigured" is how he has come to see his parents worldview on the matter. Or am I reaching?
    jerartson August 29, 2011   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThis song should be named, "Head Held High" (as should the chorus be aptly changed).
    Fucking awesome.
    The Distortedon July 13, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI think hold your head up high means keep up appearances and act like you're above everything. It's kind of like trying to repress something you don't want to deal with, it will still be there disfiguring you and making your life miserable. They said the answer was to become a dancer could mean that people told him if you have problems you will be able to overcome them through art and self-expression. But he says just like I figured they're always disfigured meaning if you become a dancer or an artist of some kind it really doesn't solve your problems, it just puts them on display for the whole world to see, and that makes you feel like a circus animal or something. It's also kind of like when try to repress something. The whole song is angry and it says do the dog and people calling him boy it's like when people are so twisted they just want you to perform for their entertainment and they don't care what you're going through. It reminds me of Atrocity Exhibition and also Showroom Dummies in some weird way.
    thebodiesobtainedon April 18, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General CommentNot that Moe wasn't a great drummer, but in this particular song, her refusal to play those killer rolls near the end would've just pissed everyone off i think...
    thirsty_thursdayon September 09, 2008   Link
  • 0
    My InterpretationI think the song is about people, as he grew up, telling him what he should do and what to become when he gets older. He never states that he became a dancer. But he certainly shouts on the mountain top not the advice to become a dancer but rather to hold your head up high, which he obviously has.
    puzzudon July 31, 2010   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThis is definitely about how keeping your head held high (I'm assuming never giving up) is the alternative to becoming a dancer (giving up). But the people who told you to hold your head up high were disfigured in their own ways (not necessarily physically disfigured) and you chose to "do the dog" (A dance? Or perhaps dog is a reference to humbleness?) Anyways, the boy was always told to keep his head up high, and as he got older (and bolder) it was easier for him to become a dancer (give up).

    At the same time they tell him to hold his head high they said become a dancer (an ultimatum?) Perhaps the boys parents were cognizant of their own failures and told him to either hold his head up high or give up. It's much easier to give up.
    strausson January 10, 2012   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI just want to know how to do the dog.
    rosalyreon November 02, 2013   Link
  • 0
    General CommentDo the Dog...is that the one where you bend your elbows so your forearms are straight out and then let your wrists flop so your hands dangle and then wiggle your bum?
    Anyway my meaning for this song is that you should feel good about yourself whoever you are and whatever you do :)
    Tikkaon March 11, 2014   Link

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