"Merry Go 'Round" as written by and Kacey/osborne Musgraves....
If you ain't got two kids by 21, you're probably gonna die alone.
At least that's what tradition told you.
And it don't matter if you don't believe, come Sunday morning
You best be there in the front row like you're supposed to.

Same hurt in every heart.
Same trailer, different park.

Mama's hooked on Mary Kay.
Brother's hooked on Mary Jane
Daddy's hooked on Mary two doors down.
Mary, Mary quite contrary.
We get bored, so, we get married
Just like dust, we settle in this town.
On this broken merry go 'round and 'round and 'round we go
Where it stops nobody knows
And it ain't slowin' down
This merry go 'round.

We think the first time's good enough.
So, we hold on to high school love.
Sayin' we won't end up like our parents.
Tiny little boxes in a row, ain't whatcha want, it's whatcha know.
Just happy in the shoes you're wearin'.
Same checks we're always cashin'
To buy a little more distraction.

'Cause mama's hooked on Mary Kay.
Brother's hooked on Mary Jane
Daddy's hooked on Mary two doors down.
Mary, Mary, quite contrary.
We get bored, so, we get married.
Just like dust, we settle in this town.
On this broken merry go 'round and 'round and 'round we go
Where it stops nobody knows,
And it ain't slowin' down.
This merry go 'round.

Mary, Mary, quite contrary.
We're so bored until we're buried.
Just like dust, we settle in this town.
On this broken merry go 'round.
Merry go 'round.

Jack and Jill went up the hill.
Jack burned out on booze and pills.
And Mary had a little lamb.
Mary just don't give a damn no more.


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"Merry Go 'Round" as written by Joshua Shaun Osborne Kacey Musgraves

Lyrics © Kobalt Music Publishing Ltd., Warner/Chappell Music, Inc., Universal Music Publishing Group

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Merry Go 'Round song meanings
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  • +6
    General CommentPut simply, it's the rare country song that's actually honest about small-town life. Most country songs try to sell rural America as a utopia. This song tells it like it is.
    hammerhead300on February 26, 2013   Link
  • +5
    General CommentI LOVE this song. I love it because of the simplicity and honesty in the lyrics. They aren't embellished with fancy words or tricky symbolism. It is deep on a level of realistic perception that is so hard to find nowadays.

    It's about the close mindedness that is prevalent in small towns. The complacency that is disguised as happiness. The ambition that is hidden away, left to settle in the dust and to be forgotten about.

    Beautiful song. Underrated, in my opinion. This isn't just a short lived radio hit, it is a country gem. Rare, clever, REAL lyrics.
    Angalieneon June 07, 2013   Link
  • +1
    General CommentA song about the lives of quiet desperation led by people in a small town. The tone of the song, and the singer's voice, feel like she's too weary and disillusioned to even be angry.

    There's a play on words about settling in the town. Settling can mean living somewhere, but it can also mean giving up and settling for less than you want.

    Despite the fact that it's a well-written and musically pleasing song, I was surprised it became a hit. Country music usually pits the wonderful small town against the evil big city, so to hear a song like this on a country station was surprising. I wonder if it didn't become a hit because it speaks to the feelings small-town people have but feel they have to hide.
    law4on October 17, 2013   Link
  • 0
    My InterpretationThis song just simply isn't a slam on southern culture it is a slam on the american dream.

    "If you ain't got two kids by 21, you're probably gonna die alone.
    At least that's what tradition told you.
    And it don't matter if you don't believe, come Sunday morning
    You best be there in the front row like you're supposed to."
    -This is a slam on the southern small town culture. You are told to have kids before you're twenty-one and you are told to go to church every Sunday even if that means you don't believe. It is pretty literal here. The southern way of life is to marry young and have kids young, if that doesn't happen well then your shit out of luck. And you must go to church or else you make your family and your families traditions look bad. It's all traditions...

    "Same hurt in every heart.
    Same trailer, different park."
    -I love these two lines. Every one is forced to do this and everyone is supposed to be the same. The second line, although it may not make sense, is one of the most powerful lines out of her whole CD. Same house with your parents but you are in a whole different place. You have the traditions passed down to you but you don't want to keep them.

    "Mama's hooked on Mary Kay.
    Brother's hooked on Mary Jane
    Daddy's hooked on Mary two doors down.
    Mary, Mary quite contrary.
    We get bored, so, we get married
    Just like dust, we settle in this town.
    On this broken merry go 'round and 'round and 'round we go
    Where it stops nobody knows
    And it ain't slowin' down
    This merry go 'round."
    -This where the "American Dream" comes in. Although you go to church, your mother is hooked on makeup and other material items, your brother is hooked on drugs, and your dad is having an affair on the girl down the road. These traditions that are passed down turn into addictions to worldly things. The "American Dream" of having a perfect family that goes to church and doesn't have problems and having a great house with a white picket fence, well that gets called out. The family in the song is the exact opposite of the "American Dream" but on the outside they all seem like a perfect christian family. And they are all stuck in the cycle of "Addiction." Addiction to material things.

    "We think the first time's good enough.
    So, we hold on to high school love.
    Sayin' we won't end up like our parents.
    Tiny little boxes in a row, ain't whatcha want, it's whatcha know.
    Just happy in the shoes you're wearin'.
    Same checks we're always cashin'
    To buy a little more distraction."
    -Again the pressure to marry young and to marry the first person you have sex with. And although the house with the white picket fence isn't what you really want it's what the "American Dream" is so hey let's go along with it and it doesn't matter what you will cash the checks and get the little more luxurious items even if you don't need them it is the image you want in order to live the "American Dream"

    "Jack and Jill went up the hill.
    Jack burned out on booze and pills.
    And Mary had a little lamb.
    Mary just don't give a damn no more."
    -You strive to have the perfect family but drugs and other things get the best of it. And all these traditions used to mean a lot but now they don't mean anything anymore.

    I'm sorry if this doesn't make complete sense. I'm extremely tired and a lot of my topics probably got mixed. I hope you like it.
    whagermanon February 07, 2014   Link
  • -4
    My InterpretationGive me a break!
    This entire song can relate to every culture, ethnicity, and 'community'; as well as economic level. It all depends on the values brought forward by parents, and the perception of the parents values by the child. ...Some kids growing up to recent and/or reject them all together!
    1) Its 'small town' "tradition" that says have "two kids by 21" or you might "die alone"? Well it must be inner city tradition that says have 3-4!
    It isn't "tradition", or the small towners wouldn't marry to begin a family (to keep from dying alone!). Those who create families by accident seldom marry. If they stay together, it isn't out of a fear of "dying alone". It's monetary.
    The "tradition" thing? BS! It's all biology and values.
    2) Those parents that are born again Christian, Hasidic Jews, even devout Muslim, and all other believers in God, 'force' their children to join them in worship. ...They do it in the hope their children will find the same knowledge of God that they have. (I won't elaborate on that. The believers know. Those who don't ...well...). And, fact is, there are VERY few Hasidic Jews, Muslims, or other non-Christian groups in the small 'country' towns.
    3) "Same hurt. Different park?"
    Try "same hurt, different ???" (street, borough, suburb, housing complex, apartment building, etc., etc., etc.,), because the kind of "hurt" she mentions throughout the song is found in the families of every race, religion, and area of the world. Economy and status aren't exceptions either.
    4) The rest?:
    **Stats, across the board, show most marriages are to first loves. (And more 'first loves' are born during the last years of school.)
    **Taking for granted the statement "we won't end up like our parents" means 'separated or divorced', again, divorce is an across-the-board thing and who, ANYWHERE, marries thinking there's any chance of it ending that way.
    **"Tiny little boxes in a row...ain't what you want...it's what you know.": Inner city slums? Low income apartments? Oh yeah! It's JUST small towns that a (decent) young person feels "bored", and like "dust" becomes settled (trapped!), never feeling able to financially leave. And cashing checks of burger-flipping level pay; spending it on frivolous "distractions".
    (The "bored so we get married" is just stupid. One doing it doesn't set a precedence.)
    **How naïveté to think vanity, drug use (of any kind), and adultery are exclusive to small town America.
    In fact, they are found much more often in areas where families are considered wealthy.
    ---In the end: rich, poor, and in the middle and whether in the country, suburbs, or inner city, we ALL find ourselves on a merry-go-round. For some the ride is smooth and great for the duration. But if we decide we are on a "broken" one, it can be hard to find our way to get off. And some just accept it, saying it's too hard to alter. Or, like the addict and perpetual-adulterer, they love their broken ride; like Jack and Jill, the drugs/alcohol and false love leave them dead inside. Then even the "two kids by 21" can push back that lonely feeling at death.
    Of course, there are those who blame their parents or the rest of the world for being on it and just sit and sing the blues.
    Proteus' wifeon December 25, 2013   Link

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