"The Impression That I Get" as written by Dicky Barrett and Joseph Gittleman....
Have you ever been close to tragedy
Or been close to folks who have?
Have you ever felt a pain so powerful
So heavy you collapse?No?
Well I've never had to knock on wood
But I know someone who has
Which makes me wonder if I could
It makes me wonder if
I've never had to knock on wood
And I'm glad I haven't yet
Because I'm sure it isn't good
That's the impression that I get
Have you ever had the odds stacked up so high
You need a strength most don't possess?
Or has it ever come down to do or die?
You've got to rise above the restNo?
Well I've never had to knock on wood
But I know someone who has
Which makes me wonder if I could
It makes me wonder if I've never had to knock on wood
And I'm glad I haven't yet
Because I'm sure it isn't good
That's the impression that I get
I'm not a coward I've just never been tested
I'd like to think that if I was I would pass
Look at the tested and think there but for the grace go I
Might be a coward
I'm afraid of what I might find out
Never had to knock on wood
But I know someone who has
Which makes me wonder if I could
It makes me wonder if I've never had to knock on wood
And I'm glad I haven't yet
Because I'm sure it isn't good
That's the impression that I get
Never had to but I'd better knock on wood
'Cause I know someone who has
Which makes me wonder if I could
It makes me wonder if I never had to but I'd better knock on wood
'Cause I'm sure it isn't good
And Im glad I haven't yet
That's the impression that I get


Lyrics submitted by Jurak, edited by drakeland

"The Impression That I Get" as written by Joseph Gittleman Dicky Barrett

Lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

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The Impression That I Get song meanings
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  • +5
    General CommentOK, I think a big comma needs to be noted in the lyrics of this song in the chorus line, it should read "I've never had to, knock on wood", and it talks about the western tradition of 'knocking on wood' (see en.wikipedia.org/wiki/…).

    I think song is about this writer's admiration for people who have survived through adversity and about him wondering if he was put in a challenging situation whether he could get through it.

    So the lines;

    "I've never had to, knock on wood,
    But I know someone who has,
    Makes me wonder if I could,
    Makes me wonder if..."

    "I'm not a coward, I've just never been tested,
    I'd like to think that if I was I would pass,
    Look at the tested and think but for the grace go I,
    Might be a coward, I'm afraid of what I might find out...

    These lines are about the writer never having to face adversity, and how he's glad he hasn't because he's not sure how he'd cope, he might be a coward but he doesn't know because he's never been tested.
    MammothChrison July 20, 2012   Link
  • +4
    General CommentOkay, THIS IS THE TRUTH. I know Dickie Barrett's best friend -- they grew up together and are still friends. His/my friend told me this song was written his (not Dickie's) brother who died of leukemia, who was a great guy all around. He fought the cancer for years and years and then went into remission for a long and then it came back and he passed away. It was horribly tragic. And b/c Dickie knew my friends family for so long, this was as hard for him to watch as it was for the family. So that's what the song is about. It's about life handing some someone some serious cr*p -- and yet, why him and not you/me? What did my friend's brother ever do to deserve what he had to suffer through, and to lose the fight on top of it? What did WE ever do to deserve NOT to have to go through that? That's why it's "There but for the grace go I" -- it's an old expression "There, but for the grace of God, go I." It's a tribute to the sheer luck that any of us exist -- and continue to exist. And the thing about being tested, it's what if God tested you like that? What would you do? Crumble? Fight? You never really know until you face it yourself. So now you know the REAL story behind this song.
    Orangeyougladdeston October 09, 2006   Link
  • +3
    General CommentI'm absolutely stunned at the misinterpretation of the meaning of this song, but I guess it does possibly make sense to older people. Regardless of the inspiration, this song is as straight as it gets with lyrics means.

    * I've never had to - knock on wood.

    This is a standard PHRASE in english - at least in Australia and I think it came from England. If you see something bad and say something like "I'm glad that hasn't happened to me" then a very common superstitious beleif is that you will jinx yourself ( and it will happen to you ) so you "Knock on wood" to touch something natural (earth magic superstition ) and it dispels the jinx... Once a pagan tradition, now just common language although most people actually do knock on wood when they say it.


    "There but for the grace go I".

    Another common phrase - especially in Australia and especially amongst pilots... Shortened version of "There, but for the grace of god, go I" meaning "It could have just as easily happened to me". Often said as a consideration to a recently killed person to show that you feel that the accident wasn't their fault in the slightest and as a respect to the common dangers faced by us all.

    The entire song reads exactly as it is written. Everything in it is either literal or a common phrase that you could search for on google and find other people using.

    I heard it was written about a relative of a band member, but i've heard much of the sentiment expressed in this song after all kinds of tragedies...

    David.
    davidkon April 27, 2008   Link
  • +1
    General CommentOH MY GOD, DO YOU NOW HOW LONG I HAVE SEARCHED FOR THIS SONG??????? Ok, I heard it on the radio and they never said who it was by. I even emailed the station, but they never replied. Gah... I love this song so much...
    Kaila004on July 09, 2002   Link
  • +1
    General CommentThe song is talking about being around people who've gone through tragedy. He's not sure what it is to knock on wood...
    "I'm not a coward
    I've just never been tested
    I'd like to think that if I was,
    I would pass
    Look at the tested and think there but for the grace go
    I might be a cowards,
    I'm afraig of what I might find out"
    This one part probably explains what he's exactly feeling. He's seen other people gone through rough stuff...and he's saying that he's never "been tested" or realize who he exactly is. Like untapped potential. "Look at the tested and think there but for the grace go." He is witness to clearly defined people, whereas he is somewhat lost or unsure as to who he is. Almost looks up to them i guess...
    Great song by the way...
    DarkApathyon March 09, 2003   Link
  • +1
    General Commentfor the people who don't know the expression, "knock on wood", I'll explain it to you. "I haven't been run over by a car, knock on wood." or, "I haven't been abducted by random aliens, knock on wood." or "I haven't been chewed to death by a pack of rabid squirrels, knock on wood." Heh, that was fun... Anyway, You knock on wood when you dont want something to happen. Sort of like you're trying to un-jinx yourself. So, if you've never had to knock on wood, you've never spent time worrying about something bad/had to worry about anything bad happening to you/had anything bad happen to you.

    I think that makes sense.

    Probably not though.


    The Bosstones are an AWESOME example of Ska in recent times (post Clash, the specials, etc) and just and AWESOME example of Ska in general.
    SpineofaJellyFishon February 12, 2005   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI never quite understood the meaning of the chorus either (despite knowing the phrase "knock on wood" until this morning) Let me see if I can explain the semantics of it...

    He's not saying he's "never had to knock on wood" as in - he's never had to perform the action of knocking on wood - though that seems to be what the common interpretation is.

    It seems instead that there are all these lyrics about rising above adversity in a do-or-die situation. He's never had to do that. Knock on wood.

    So if you added a bit of punctuation to the song, it would look like this:

    Never had to - knock on wood,
    but I know someone who has...

    Does that make any sense?
    davefhammondon February 26, 2008   Link
  • +1
    General CommentThis song may be about the Uncle, but if a meaning was to be put to this song that applied to everyone else it would be this:

    The singer has seen all the hard times that has come to his fellow friends, but the hard times seem to pass him by.

    "Have you ever been close to tragedy
    Or been close to folks who have"
    "I've never had to knock on wood
    But I know someone who has"

    He wonders if he would be able to handle the hard times if they ever come to him.

    "I'm not a coward,
    I've just never been tested
    I'd like to think that if I was,
    I would pass"

    He's glad the hard times have spared his life, but he thinks he could handle it if his luck ever changes.
    thesuperfrenzyon March 29, 2009   Link
  • 0
    General CommentIt's a situation song, about somebody an uncle of one of the band members, but the lyrics are soo damn good that they apply to all of us, i guess. I love the bit "I'm not a coward, I've just never been tested I'd like to think that if I was, I would pass"
    But i am too stupid to figure out the line after that, if anybody has any ideas please post them here...
    Louis Burdetton April 25, 2002   Link
  • 0
    General CommentSome secrets are better left unknown.
    Cliffyon May 23, 2002   Link

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