Know a man
His face seemed pulled and tense
Like he's ridin' on a motorbike
In the strongest winds
So I approach with tact
Suggest that he should relax
But he's always movin' much too fast

Said he'll see me on the flip side
On this trip he's taken for a ride
He's been takin' too much on
There he goes with his perfectly unkept hope
There he goes

He's yet to come back
But I seen his picture
It doesn't look the same up on the rack
We go way back
I wonder 'bout his insides
It's like his thoughts are too big for his size

He's been taken...where, I don't know
Off he goes with his perfectly unkept hope
There he goes

And now I rub my eyes, for he has returned
Seems my preconceptions are what should have been burned
For he still smiles... And he's still strong
Nothing changed but the surroundin' bullshit
That has grown

And now he's home and we're laughin'
Like we did, my same old, same old friend
Until a quarter to ten
I saw the strain creep in
He seems distracted and I know just what is going to happen next

Before his first step, he's off again



Lyrics submitted by Lucky1869_420, edited by NothingMann


Off He Goes song meanings
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59 Comments

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  • +2
    General Comment:I can't believe how many people miss that this song is obviously about Eddie himself. "It's like his thoughts are too big for his size "--Ed's a little guy with some big opinions and ideas. Basically, he writing about himself from the perspective of an old friend who has seen him get famous and struggle with who he is.
    PJ10on April 13, 2002   Link
  • +2
    General Comment:ITS ABOUT HIS EXPERIENCES WITH NEIL YOUNG GOD DAMN!!
    albowlleysinheavenon April 12, 2005   Link
  • +1
    General Comment:"The song "Off He Goes" is really about me being a shit friend. I'll show up and everything's great and then all of the sudden I'm outta there ...", Eddie Vedder.
    Lucky1869_420on December 07, 2001   Link
  • +1
    General Comment:I've read an article in Rolling Stone where Eddie said "Off He Goes" is about a friend of his leaving town, and they grew apart. His friend came back, and because of their "growing apart," they just couldn't converse like old times. They just couldn't hit it off like best friends can. Anyway, he leaves town again, possibly redoing the process.
    Silent Blindsideon January 09, 2002   Link
  • +1
    General Comment:I'd say this song is deffinitly about Layne Staley of alice in chains and how due to his addiction to drugs he seemed to come and go from the music scene quite frequently.

    the lyrics all fit perfectly to him too:

    Know a man
    His face seemed pulled and tense
    Like he's ridin' on a motorbike
    In the strongest winds
    So I approach with tact
    Suggest that he should relax
    But he's movin' much too fast

    - Layne had grown skinny and tense looking after years of drug abuse, and Eddie and others would try and get him clean and to "relax" but he was into the drugs way to deep to be saved

    Said he'll see me on the flip side
    On this trip he's taken for a ride
    He's been takin' too much on
    There he goes with his perfectly unkept clothes
    There he goes

    - He's been taking on too much of the heroin and forced alice to stop touring while he dissapeared for a little while... plus the unkept clothes and flip side remark (traditional grunge wear and slang)

    He's yet to come back
    But I seen his picture
    It doesn't look the same up on the rack
    We go way back
    I wonder 'bout his insides
    It's like his thoughts are too big for his size

    - He is saying that its been a while since he's seen and heard from Layne but it hits him harder than it does fans of his because he sees Layne as a friend unlike the fans who just see him on a cd rack and don't really know how bad its gotten... but him and Eddie go way back (to the days of mookie baylock opening for alice)

    And now I rub my eyes, for he has returned
    Seems my preconceptions are what should have been burned
    For he still smiles... And he's still strong
    Nothing changed but the surroundin' bullshit
    That has grown

    - Everyone thought Layne was pretty much finished but he seemed to return a few times, for the Alice unplugged show and for Mad Season with Mike from PJ... the "bullshit that has grown" is the media constantly referring to layne as a hopeless junkie

    And now he's home and we're laughin'
    Like we did, my same old, same old friend
    Until a quarter to ten
    I saw the strain creep in
    He seems distracted and I know just what is going to happen next

    Before his first step, he's off again

    - even though Layne is back for now they know that it wont be too long before he's off again

    this theory kind of makes sence because the song came out around '97 i think and the last time most people saw Layne was in '96 after the unplugged.
    divineblindclownon April 15, 2004   Link
  • +1
    General Comment:If you go near the bottom of this page... thrasherswheat.org/jammin/… It makes reference to the song being about Neil Young. It seems pretty clear to me. Neil is constantly changing direction and going off on his own way at a moments notice. If you read "Shakey" an unauthorized biography of Neil Young you would get to know that this song fits him to a tee.
    gopakrzon July 01, 2005   Link
  • +1
    General Comment:I'm a huge Pearl Jam fan and whenever this song comes up in discousion I have heard over and over again that the song is about Uncle Neil...Neil Young.
    Chaenon March 26, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General Comment:Sorry about adding another set of lyrics to this song. I didn't see that there was more than one page of Pearl Jam songs, and I thought "Off He Goes" should've been on there. Yeah, I'm smart.
    Silent Blindsideon January 09, 2002   Link
  • 0
    General Comment:edd said live on stage that this song is about an asshole maybee about someone whom you care about and they just use you when they want to have somewhere to go but never realy care about youre feelings
    pearlpumpkins3382on January 24, 2002   Link
  • 0
    General Comment:well.....when i saw pj in concert in Columbus (which, by the way was awesome) Eddy said this song is about his friend...his really good friend that was always there but then he just fell in with a different crowd and they kinda parted ways in high school, but they still talked every once i a while until his friend messed up w/ some drug dealer and was killed...wheather or not that is a true story...i don't know. But that's what eddy said at our concert.
    wb2006muon January 25, 2002   Link

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