"Who Was That Masked Man" as written by and Van Morrison....
Oh ain't it lonely
When you're livin' with a gun
Well you can't slow down and you can't turn 'round
And you can't trust anyone

You just sit there like a butterfly
And you're all encased in glass
You're so fragile you just may break
And you don't know who to ask

Oh ain't it lonely
When you're livin' with a gun
Well you can't slow down and you can't turn 'round
And you can't trust anyone

You just sit there like a butterfly
You're well protected by the glass
You're such a rare collector's item
When they throw away what's the trash
You can hang suspended from a star
Or wish on a toilet roll
You can just soak up the atmosphere
Like a fish inside a bowl

When the ghost comes round at midnight
Well you both can have some fun
He can drive you mad, he can make you sad
He can keep you from the sun
When they take him down, he'll be both safe and sound
And the hand does fit the glove
And no matter what they tell you,
There's good and evil in everyone


Lyrics submitted by yuri_sucupira

"Who Was That Masked Man" as written by Van Morrison

Lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc.

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Who Was That Masked Man song meanings
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  • +1
    My InterpretationAs for the song Title - maybe people had a different view of this man on the surface, maybe he just looked all bubbly and lovable on the surface but that is not really who he was... He could be lovey dovey with other people but not with his wife... He would pretend to love people, but lacked in the emotional intimacy department when it came to love because of his so well concealed distrust in humanity.

    And the title poses a question - who was that masked man? I mean who was a really and what memory did he really leave behind, or can he leave behind - the fake image he lived out in society or this other emotionally closed off image in his own home towards his wife and kids? How would people really remember him, or rather those who really knew them how would they remember him in comparison with society's twisted view on their beloved family member?

    And finally, is it better to live this fake image and be remembered for it, or to be really that lovable guy to your family, to be remembered as REALLY lovable?

    It is actually very ironic because people are not usually the same person they are out on the street as inside their homes towards their closest family members.

    Just something to think about... Who do you really want to remember you? Your family or strangers, and what is the image you want to really leave behind in their minds and hearts about who you are or can be?!
    Elektra999on June 20, 2012   Link
  • 0
    My InterpretationLiving with a gun, what is the gun? A weapon of destruction. It seems as if this man is tormenting himself as he feels that he "can't trust anyone" and thus is unable to let anyone in, holding the weapon or key to his own self-destruction. This man seems tormented by his own mind, maybe feels no one would understand him if he opens up and he has seen the true nature of people in his life backed by the "there is good and evil in eberyone"... And he has seen so much evil, that he chose to close himself off emotionally from other people, he cannot trust them any more, and he feels lonely because of it, and he cannot turn around or slow down the process of his distrust in humanity, it is far too gone to be saved now.

    He is like a butterfly, he can fly if he chooses, by opening up his heart to love but he does not because he is too afraid of getting hurt again.

    Encased by glass - maybe being so shielded by his own ego and pride, hiding behind it, he made sure no one could touch him like a "rare collectors item" that must be put in a glass case for all to see but not to touch... Like pretending to be something special, untouchable by others but deep down he feels utmost misery, he is alone and depressed because of his emotional unavailability... He yearns to be touched by someone deeply, but he won't ever admit it because he is so proud in his choice to never let anyone close to him. But he still knows he is suffering, and knows he isn't really that special like some collectors item without Love and adoration from the right people, or the right person who really understands him and not just looks at him as another "gun" or "collectors item", he wants sentiment attached to his soul, someone that would really Love him, and the History of where the "gun" or "he comes from" to value everything about where he has been in life, and what he has done, almost seeking for someone to share the journey(s) he went on with - back to the first stanza about being a weapon of destruction; well it looks like he is his own worst enemy

    There is a slight aspect of Hope - if he dies, it speaks of stars, he can hang from a star in the universe whichever one he chooses to visit in the afterlife, or if he was in the military it could denote some sort of recognition for his loyal services honouring him in Death - a sense of acknowledgment with this one being able to mean something for someone, being remembered as valuable
    At least to someone or some organisation.

    Or the "wish on toilet paper" if he is not dead, and keeps on living, he would continue to live a mundane existence, without the Love or recognition he truly seeks... Like life becomes only a boring survival routine without emotional input or "magic" to light up his life in any special way. This is emphasized by "Soaking it up like a fish in a water bowl" - the atmosphere of being depressed, and having nowhere to go (confined by the bowl or the restrictions of his own mind and thoughts)... He wants to breathe but cannot escape the trap or locked den he weaved for himself to live in, could be he wants to feel alive or fly and feel free, but he lacks the faith to pick his feet off the ground (that which holds him down - his sense of hopelessness in Love and emotional intimacy).

    The ghost is like his conscience, maybe he knows he must have believed in Love to be really happy in life and blew it because he did not, or it could denote something hungry and greedy inside of him, that needs to be fed, a part of him he shut off, basically his heart screaming at him to feed him some love and this desire or hunger comes to pester him, to fight him as to "why did you never feed me, it is the very reason why you are so unhappy and lonely in life?!!!"

    Could be that he seeks to avoid this part of him like the pest during the day, escaping from it by keeping himself busy with hobbies and all sorts of other things, as long as he just do not have to face this emotionally hungry side of himself. He suppresses it because he does not want to admit how miserable he really is with this need going unfilled for so long. During the night when he relaxes and stop running to keep his thoughts preoccupied with other stuff, it is then when this ghost come nagging on his guts driving him crazy and making him think about his life and love.

    So he fights this hungry ghost, keeps it down by suppressing it, keeping it locked deep down "safe and sound", pretending it does not bother him, but it really means he is not letting the ghost out to go and feed, to satisfy this hungry need for emotional intimacy.

    The hand fits the glove - maybe he is just as evil as the evil he hates in the people he cannot trust by withholding his love from them, leaving them emotionally dry too - maybe if he is married their marriage lacks this emotional intimacy he craves, and he cannot trust anyone enough to open up and let them in even his wife is kept out.

    There is good and evil in everyone - everyone has evil inside them, do not say you cannot trust people or be emotionally close to them because they are all evil, remember you are a person too, a human too, you are part of humanity, how can you not trust them to get close if all have similar flaws?! If you withhold yourself from others, especially your wife, it is evil too... So who is more evil? You that punish yourself by withholding yourself emotionally and physically from her, or she that cannot wait for you just to touch her, longing for you just to talk with her and be close to her... She hoping or you that just says "no, I do not believe in love so won't even try"?
    Elektra999on June 20, 2012   Link
  • 0
    Song MeaningTo understand this song you have to listen to the song that precedes it on the album, "Linden Arden Stole The Highlights," which flows into this one.

    The last line of that song is "Now he's livin', livin' with a gun."
    AcousticLouon August 22, 2013   Link

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