Unsealed
On a porch a letter sat
Then you said I want to leave it again

Once I saw him
On a beach of weathered sand
And on the sand I want to leave it again

On a weekend want to wish it all way
And they called an I said an I want what
I said an I call out again

And the reason oughta leave her calm I know
I said I know what I wear that a box or the bag

Oh yeah can you see them?
Out on the porch
Ah, but they don't wave
I see them
Round the front way, yeah
And I know and I know
I don't want to stay

Make me cry

I see
I don't know there's something else
I want to drum it all away
An I said
"I don't, I don't know whether I was the boxer or the bag"

Oh yeah can you see them?
Out on the porch
Ah, but they don't wave
I see them
Round the front way, yeah
And I know and I know
I don't want to stay
I don't want to stay
I don't want to stay



Lyrics submitted by Trent

"Yellow Ledbetter" as written by Jeffrey Allen Ament, Eddie Jerome Vedder, Mike Mccready

Lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

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Yellow Ledbetter song meanings
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163 Comments

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  • +8
    General Comment:For the most part the lyrics in this song are irrelevant. The song was written by Mike McCready and Eddie just made up the words as he went along. Eddie's voice is supposed to be more of an instrument by using improvised words, the words are never the same in concert. Ledbetter refers to Eddie's friend from Chicago named Tim Ledbetter. If there is any meaning to the lyrics I think the letter in the beginning of the song refers to the telegrams that we sent to the families of soldiers KIA in WWII. The telegrams were so distinct that many families didn't have to open them to know what they said. In the song I see a family sitting on a porch when a man comes to deliver a telegram and the family is so devestated about their loss that they cannot even bear to open it.
    Matzy94on January 12, 2002   Link
  • +5
    General Comment:found this on wikipedia: Vedder said in an online chat that it was written around the time of the Gulf War, and added that "it's an anti-patriotic song, actually."[10] On August 7, 2008, at a solo performance in Newark, New Jersey at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center, Vedder took a question from the audience requesting that he explain the meaning of "Yellow Ledbetter". At first, Vedder joked, saying, "Wait...you mean there's lyrics?" He went on to talk about how the song took as its subject a friend of his from Seattle whose brother served in the first Gulf War. His friend received a "yellow letter" in the mail informing him that his brother had died in the war. Vedder and his friend then went for a walk. On this walk, the friend, whom Vedder described as "alternative-looking," happened by a house with an American flag flying, and people on the porch. He stopped and gestured to the flag, as if to salute it, however the people on the porch glared at him disapprovingly due to his appearance.[11] this is a great song but then again there arent that many PJ songs that arent
    aaxantonoon October 28, 2011   Link
  • +3
    General Comment:I was looking for a meaning but it's pretty obvious to me now that the yellow letter is something you know right when you see it. You don't have to know what the song is about to get the feeling of the song. "Make me cry" is the biggest phrase on the track. If your family member is fighting in a war and an officer comes to your doorstep you'll get that vibe and not want to talk to him. If your significant other is about to leave you but you don't want it to happen, you'll get that vibe. Maybe not wanting to stay alive is whats happening. Don't want to stay so you can be with someone, or don't want to stay because you're yellow and don't want to hurt anymore. I heard this tonight on my way to see my wife (been seperated 1 1/2 years she's a stripper and I really wanted to tell her how she's special to me and I want to try to start over) I didn't want to go to her club I hate seeing her like that but I wanted to talk. Wrong place... I took her to where she stays without saying anything I wanted to her. My Yellow Ledbetter is not being able to express that passion I want to her. I just feel the vibe of being a fool. I also know that not expressing it keeps dragging me down. I don't want to stay like this. Hope I can bring myself to opening that letter and facing my fears.
    whocares1017on February 13, 2011   Link
  • +3
    General Comment:Loved this song for years and years.

    Great use at the end of 50/50. Great film btw. Just one of those great instances of film and music placement.

    Don't know how I went so long without this on my iTunes
    bottlerocket88on February 12, 2012   Link
  • +3
    Song Meaning:Everyone who has commented so far are retards... This is the REAL meaning... A young grundge kids older brother goes to fight in a war where he is killed (Death letters come in yellow env. and "unsealed" as in he already read it and he wishes he didnt "i wanna leave it again") Afterwards he is walking down the street and notices and elderly couple sitting on there front porch with an American flag flying and figures with everything he is going through that they havve a connection so he waves to them... All they see is the long hair and grudge look and dont wave back to him... the part about box and bag, the lyrics are wrong... Its: "I dont know weather i'm the boxer or the bag" and that should be self explanatory unless your tarded... The beach is one of 2 things.. either a memory he keeps having about his brother... Or his brother died on a beach... Either one works... Oh yeah and the reason leaving her calm: He died for his country and though its noble it doesnt make the mother feel any better... So the reason that should make it okay helps none... The younger brother wants to help (be the "boxer") but just makes things worse so he is beating himself up about it (being the "bag)... Come on if you dont know the real meaning behind a song dont comment on it saying you do...
    aaronkirkmanon May 01, 2012   Link
  • +1
    General Comment:lol, i could never understand just what he was saying never mind what it was actually about. for a little while there, i thought it wasn't even in english. but even then, i still thought it was a great song. i like the idea of eddie's voice being used as an instrument rather than for conveying the lyrics.
    pumpkingirlon May 23, 2002   Link
  • +1
    General Comment:dumpster dave you dick, it came straight from eddies mouth so blow me
    6 to 8on June 07, 2002   Link
  • +1
    General Comment:Some of you are correct, and some of you aren't. Those lyrics up above, they are not correct (for the studio version, that is). This song was recorded in one take. PJ went into the studio and recorded it as a b-side for the "Jeremy" single, in one simple take. Ed's voice in this song is meant to be left open for interpretation, not to be pidgeonholed by all of you to say what he's saying and what he's not. When performed live in concert, the "lyrics" are completely improv. Honestly, it really doesn't matter what Ed is saying. The song is beautiful, and should, like all art, be left open for interpretation.
    Pearl_Jamon October 17, 2002   Link
  • +1
    General Comment:Enough of the hypothesis; here is the meaning as told by the man in his exact words at last night's EV 2008 Solo Tour concert at the NJ Performing Arts Center:

    This was during the Gulf War, this is Papa Bush. It was about a guy whose brother went to fight in the first Gulf War, and he was kind of an alternative looking guy, like we were, with our shorts and tights and long hair and whatever we had going on. We were activists, and artists, and good young people in Seattle, and smart people (we weren’t ALL drug addicts, you know). And so it was the story about his brother being killed over there, and then he gets a yellow letter in the mail, that says your brother was killed.

    And so he tries to take a walk, he’s walking this off in his little suburban neighborhood, and he’s walking it off, his mind’s racing, he doesn’t know what to do, he feels like he can’t take a step without falling into some deep abyss, and he’s walking and walking, and he sees a couple on a porch with an American flag, he waves to them, like, “you’re my brother,” you know. And then the people look at him like, “You f8ucking scumbag.” You know what I mean? Who are you? They don’t know. They don’t know the inside; they judge him by his cover. That’s what the thought was.
    Laura in NJon August 08, 2008   Link
  • +1
    General Comment:A song with nonsense for words that can still make you cry...
    TheMonolithon December 31, 2008   Link

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