"Shallow Days" as written by Adam Duritz, David Bryson, Martin Jones, Lydia Holly and Toby Hawkins....
Mary Jane says, it's all right
She's just around the corner from the main light
Any day now, it's all right
She's standing on the precipice of big time

And I know I'm a little uptight
I got to go before the sun shines
We're just a couple small people squeezing out a life
We need a little good time

It's not far from here
Mary comes and goes
Drifting through the scenery
Of shallow days below
Now that's everybody knows

You follow trains out of town
And they vanish somewhere under the horizon
Yeah well, I saw Mary Jane drag her shadow
Down the tracks, stare off in the distance

It's not far from here
Mary waves 'Hello'
Smiling though she's sinking
In the shallow days below

Oh no, I can't find a way out of here
Out on the road again
I'm much, much too concerned about Mary Jane

I'm all alone again and
I like what she said but not what it means
She leaves me drowning
Through the shallow days down below

You know I heard a band
Playing waltzes in a grange hall
The sun is sinking lower
People staring, Mary Jane humming softly to herself
And nobody really knows her

Any day now it's all right
She tells herself that this will be the last time
Then Mary Jane pulls her hair back and wonders
What she'll do with all her free time

Not too far from here
Mary turns to go
Smiling while the waltz begins
Dancing down the road

Hey, hey, hey, hey, Mr. Freedom
What are we supposed to think?
'Cause I'm a very tiny person and it worries me

I'm all alone again and
I like what she says but not what it means
She leaves me drowning
In the shallow days way down below

"I'm sorry", she said
"I know it's not the kind of thing you want"
I'm falling, falling down
"I'm sorry", she said
"I know I'm not the kind of girl you want"
We're falling, falling, falling, falling down


Lyrics submitted by ang

"Shallow Days [Demo]" as written by Adam Fredric Duritz David Lynn Bryson

Lyrics © IMAGEM U.S. LLC , Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

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Shallow Days song meanings
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5 Comments

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  • 0
    General Commentit seems like this song is one big metaphor for being addicted to weed. but hey, what do i know? i kind of thought the whole "mary jane" thing gave it away...
    dash-con June 08, 2003   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI'm inclined to agree
    "Mary Jane

    Another word/phrase for marijuana, It is no particular type of marijuana, just a slang word for it in general. Also can be shortened as just Mary, not Mary Jane"
    - urbandictionary.com

    "I'm much, much too concerned about Mary Jane" - you know you're addicted when it's all you can think about.

    "Mary Jane says it's all right" - the mellow.
    Cyhyraethon February 07, 2009   Link
  • 0
    General CommentIts definitely about letting marinuana keep one content with sexual frustration and using weed as an escape which makes one not care that hes not getting pussy. Made obvious by the line "i know youre not the girl you wanted"
    Ben1993on December 03, 2013   Link
  • 0
    My InterpretationI think you're underestimating this song and the lyric writing abilities of Mr. Duritz. You see, it's a dual symbol pivoting on the girl's name Mary Jane and its use as slang for marijuana. Let's break it down a bit.

    Mary Jane says, it's all right
    She's just around the corner from the main light
    Any day now, it's all right
    She's standing on the precipice of big time

    And I know I'm a little uptight
    I got to go before the sun shines
    We're just a couple small people squeezing out a life
    We need a little good time

    This introduces two people, the singer and MJ as people They're a "couple of small people squeezing out a life", but MJ is about to make it big time in some way. Maybe they're both struggling singers, artists, etc. It sounds like it may have been a hook up where MJ is saying, "come over, my place is nearby" and Adam, later, is saying how he's a little uptight and wants to leave her place before the sun comes up. Really nothing about drugs at all.

    It's not far from here
    Mary comes and goes
    Drifting through the scenery
    Of shallow days below

    This is a callback in a way to how her apartment wasn't far, but also an allusion to how MJ is close-by, in and out of whatever scene, probably the local music scene, of whatever town he was in at the time. The next line really goes with the next verse so I separated it.

    Now that's everybody knows

    You follow trains out of town
    And they vanish somewhere under the horizon
    Yeah well, I saw Mary Jane drag her shadow
    Down the tracks, stare off in the distance

    It's not far from here
    Mary waves 'Hello'
    Smiling though she's sinking
    In the shallow days below

    To me this is saying that MJ tends to chase things that she can't quite attain. She goes to follow, but doesn't quite make it out after the train. She turns and waves, but she's sinking into these mundane "shallow days". Now, upon first hearing this part you think she may be a dreamer, but based on the rest of the song, I think that the trains "under the horizon" and down the "tracks" may be allusions to harder drugs that MJ is using to escape these shallow days. It will make more sense in a bit.

    Oh no, I can't find a way out of here
    Out on the road again
    I'm much, much too concerned about Mary Jane

    I'm all alone again and
    I like what she said but not what it means
    She leaves me drowning
    Through the shallow days down below

    I think this part is the part where the dual use of Mary Jane firms up a bit. Adam is on the road and he's concerned about MJ the woman and MJ the drug. He's smoking and likes how he feels and what "she" says (as the MJ speaks to him), but ultimately the high doesn't last and he's forced to drown in shallow days which is kind of a strange juxtaposition since drowning in shallow water is relatively difficult.

    You know I heard a band
    Playing waltzes in a grange hall
    The sun is sinking lower
    People staring, Mary Jane humming softly to herself
    And nobody really knows her

    Any day now it's all right
    She tells herself that this will be the last time
    Then Mary Jane pulls her hair back and wonders
    What she'll do with all her free time

    This is relatively straightforward. MJ is at a show for a band and it alludes to MJ as a person and also the use of MJ as a drug at the show (perhaps?). Nobody really knows her true nature. She's high at this show on whatever drugs she was chasing previously, I'm not going to specify what, and she wants to quit this drug and wonders what she'll do with all this free sober time she'll have once she's off. This is very telling, these last two lines, because it's often a number one fear for anyone who is trying to get sober, what do you do with all this time you suddenly have. This time that was spent getting money to get drugs to get high that repeated itself every day, how do you fill that time without drugs. This is how we know that the train tracks that went below the horizon (should really be over the horizon) are referring to something a bit more sinister than a train.

    Not too far from here
    Mary turns to go
    Smiling while the waltz begins
    Dancing down the road

    Hey, hey, hey, hey, Mr. Freedom
    What are we supposed to think?
    'Cause I'm a very tiny person and it worries me

    She leaves the concert and, leaves the town, perhaps leaves Adam. He's left wondering what her deal is because she walked away from this party they were having. It may also point to her leaving her potential success. We know she was on the precipice of big time before, she may have left it all behind and Adam is left wondering what's up with her and, as he said before, maybe he never knew her anyway.

    I'm all alone again and
    I like what she says but not what it means
    She leaves me drowning
    In the shallow days way down below

    "I'm sorry", she said
    "I know it's not the kind of thing you want"
    I'm falling, falling down
    "I'm sorry", she said
    "I know I'm not the kind of girl you want"
    We're falling, falling, falling, falling down

    The end is the final breakup, so to speak, of Adam and MJ. It reflects how he may feel from breaking up with a drug (thing) and MJ as a girl since it repeats for both instances of how the term Mary Jane was used in the song. She / it is finally saying that she /it can't keep him above the shallow days because it's not really what he wants and they're both falling from that high up above the shallow days.

    That's my take on it anyway. I don't disagree that the use of Mary Jane is purposefully calling back to marijuana use, but it's much more than just the tale of a guy touring in a band and needing weed too much to get through the mundane parts of life. It's about the need for weed, or a girl, or harder drugs go get through and not drown in these shallow days. Ultimately, they all end up falling down.
    jankouton April 25, 2017   Link
  • 0
    General CommentHere is what I think. Mary Jane is something of a small town name, so basically she convinced her small time BF to move to the city to make it big. In summary, she ends up leaving him for a rich guy in the city, hence him having to deal with her shallowness. Powerful song actually as it sort of revolves around their last meeting for her to tell him she never wants to see him again.

    Mary Jane says, it's all right
    She's just around the corner from the main light
    Any day now, it's all right
    She's standing on the precipice of big time

    Here she is just convincing him everything will be okay and to take the risk, good things are going to happen in the city!

    And I know I'm a little uptight
    I got to go before the sun shines
    We're just a couple small people squeezing out a life
    We need a little good time

    So, this guy is working long hours and is feeling stressed. He doesn't think things are working out, and he basically has to get up and go to work early, and he's trying to convince her they are "small town folks" and had more fun living the life they had I the small town and they should go back.

    It's not far from here
    Mary comes and goes
    Drifting through the scenery
    Of shallow days below
    Now that's everybody knows

    He notices her slipping away, perhaps foreshadowing the "scenery" being the rich guy, and her being drawn to it.

    You follow trains out of town
    And they vanish somewhere under the horizon
    Yeah well, I saw Mary Jane drag her shadow
    Down the tracks, stare off in the distance

    Existential moment for the singer here as he reflects that you know where journey's start but you can't always know the end. In other words, he basically threw the dice and followed her to the city. While he keeps looking back, she is constantly looking forward.

    It's not far from here
    Mary waves 'Hello'
    Smiling though she's sinking
    In the shallow days below

    Here he knows he lost her, and he thinks she's just being fake now and he is so hurt but she doesn't care. He doesn't know what to do.

    Oh no, I can't find a way out of here
    Out on the road again
    I'm much, much too concerned about Mary Jane

    Here she finalizes that she is moving out, so, he has to either find another place or more likely, go back to the small town. He tries to convince her she is making a big mistake but she won't budge.

    I'm all alone again and
    I like what she said but not what it means
    She leaves me drowning
    Through the shallow days down below

    So, here we can piece together that she found a rich guy, moved out, and when he says, "like what she said, but not what it means" I think she told him she IS indeed being really shallow (he agreed) BUT that meant that she is not only breaking up with him, but cutting him off completely because he is bad for her image.

    You know I heard a band
    Playing waltzes in a grange hall
    The sun is sinking lower
    People staring, Mary Jane humming softly to herself
    And nobody really knows her

    Now he is pissed. He thinks she is being some debutant staying up all night being someone she is not and he has to get to bed to get up and work again. He thinks she doesn't fit in and she is awkward with this new crowd.

    Any day now it's all right
    She tells herself that this will be the last time
    Then Mary Jane pulls her hair back and wonders
    What she'll do with all her free time

    She is also pissed at him as we peer into MJ thoughts and she really wants her ex gone. She never wants to think about him again, and dreams about her new rich life where she doesn't have to just scrape by any more.

    Not too far from here
    Mary turns to go
    Smiling while the waltz begins
    Dancing down the road

    Here, I think she throws him a small bone and her (high class) waltz, turns into a (dance) that he is familiar with - which just rips his heart out. He knows she is not coming back now. I think she is metaphorically telling him she happy and to leave her alone.

    Hey, hey, hey, hey, Mr. Freedom
    What are we supposed to think?
    'Cause I'm a very tiny person and it worries me

    This is where the song picks up as he panics now and feel shitty about himself. He's somewhere he doesn't want to be, alone, and realizes she has been the leader in the relationship and he isn't even sure what to do.

    I'm all alone again and
    I like what she says but not what it means
    She leaves me drowning
    In the shallow days way down below

    Here it's sinking in, he's thinking about all the problems he has now because of her (drowning) and he is blaming her shallowness for it all.

    "I'm sorry", she said
    "I know it's not the kind of thing you want"
    I'm falling, falling down
    "I'm sorry", she said
    "I know I'm not the kind of girl you want"
    We're falling, falling, falling, falling down

    Here we find out what she actually said. More sadness because I think she is sort of blaming him, because he didn't like it in the city. She's like, "You don't want to be here, you don't belong here." Then she goes on to say, "I'm not the girl you want, I'm shallow and greedy." The theme of the whole song. The relationship they had for so long that was stable, is falling down now. And not going to be built back up again.
    shazzamon June 23, 2017   Link

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