"The Boxer" as written by and Paul Simon....
I am just a poor boy
Though my story's seldom told
I have squandered my resistance
For a pocketful of mumbles
Such are promises
All lies and jest
Still, a man hears what he wants to hear
And disregards the rest

When I left my home
And my family,
I was no more than a boy
In the company of strangers
In the quiet of the railway station
Running scared,
Laying low,
Seeking out the poorer quarters
Where the ragged people go
Looking for the places
Only they would know.


Asking only workman's wages
I come looking for a job
But I get no offers
Just a come-on from the whores
On Seventh Avenue
I do declare,
There were times when I was so
I took some comfort there


Then I'm laying out my winter clothes
And wishing I was gone,
Going home
Where the New York City winters
Aren't bleeding me
Leading me,
Going home.

In the clearing stands a boxer
And a fighter by his trade
And he carries the reminders
Of ev'ry glove that laid him down
And cut him till he cried out
In his anger and his shame
"I am leaving, I am leaving
But the fighter still remains


Lyrics submitted by kevin

"The Boxer" as written by Timothy Allan/rowlands Burgess

Lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc., Universal Music Publishing Group

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The Boxer song meanings
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  • +4
    General CommentI've heard this verse added a few times, I guess it would be the 4th verse:

    Now the years are rolling by me,
    they are rocking evenly.
    I am older than I once was,
    but younger than I'll be.
    That's not unusual.
    No, it isn't strange,
    After changes upon changes,
    we are more or less the same.
    After changes we are more or less the same.
    zer0vectoron September 10, 2002   Link
  • +3
    General CommentWell, I am often cited as being a pessimist; perhaps rightly so...but I interpret this song differently than most.

    First, the genre of folk rock music leads me to think that the song is NOT one of hope (or overcoming the despair, loneliness, fear conveyed within the first few verses).

    I think it's interesting that the narrator (telling his seldom-told story), prefaces his story by stating that "still a man hears what he wants to hear and disregards the rest..." To me, I believe Paul was being ironic, referring to listeners who thought that the "fighter still remains" was a victory or triumph for the boxer. I believe that while the boxer (metaphor) may not leave the ring ("fighter still remains")...that does not signify victory in any sense. I equate it to similar ideas in other P. Simon tunes; like American Tune, or like in America. Songs about unfulfilled dreams (IMO).

    Again, some interpret these songs as perservering/overcoming; I read them as the protagonist simply giving in, or worse yet--feeling powerless to overcome unfulfilled hopes/dreams. Giving in, accepting that the dream was just a dream. Songs about acquiescing...
    If it isn't obvious, my interpretation of this song is sad, while at the same time, comforting. The boxer is not just Paul; it's basically anyone (everyone?). We're all battle weary.... And while we may keep on keeping on, that doesn't mean we're victorious (morally or otherwise).
    UWDawgfatheron March 09, 2010   Link
  • +2
    General Commentthis song carry's so much... anger, sadness, frustration, lonliness, fear, regret, and strength. It's a great fight song about pulling through when everything's against you.
    BlackEyedAngelson April 10, 2002   Link
  • +2
    General CommentI can remember when SNL came back for the first time after the september 11th attacks. Paul Simon opened the show with this song.

    I asked my girlfriend if she wouldn't prefer to hear "America" instead. But she said no, the boxer was the right mood for us. We needed courage and strength, even though we had been beaten down.

    Upon reflection, I think she was right.
    sakeboxon April 11, 2003   Link
  • +2
    General CommentIt's a semi biographical piece from Paul Simon. Fantastic song but needs to be considered with the removed verse:

    Now the years are rolling by me
    They are rocking evenly
    I am older than I once was
    Younger than I'll be, that's not unusual.
    No, it isn't strange
    After changes upon changes
    We are more or less the same
    After changes we are more or less the same
    tuckyon March 16, 2007   Link
  • +2
    General CommentI'm noticing a lot of similarities to J.D. Salinger's "Catcher In the Rye".

    Just throwing that out there.
    FearTheHobbitson February 18, 2008   Link
  • +2
    General CommentIt is so ironic that I read through these comments until I find one I agree with (like UWDawgfather's) and forget about the rest.

    The melancholy melody tells me it isn't a song about victory at all

    The fighter remains because he doesn't have a choice. It is his only way to make a living and he doesn't want do it anymore.
    duncon September 12, 2011   Link
  • +2
    My InterpretationI just see this as a man who's hopeless, who's not getting what he wanted out of life.
    He seems to present it as a story no one wants to hear, that doesn't inspire anyone despite it being the brutal reality of many people "still a man hears what he wants to hear and disregards the life".
    I think it just shows his best efforts to live on his own despite thinking he can't do it, and this is supported by the boxer metaphor. He's fighting to stay alive and to live on his own, even though all the odds are against him. And every blow he takes just makes him want to go home more, but he can't leave, and so the fighter still remains.
    NexusHUBon October 23, 2012   Link
  • +1
    General CommentActually this song came to Paul as he was on a plane and looking through the bible and saw "workman's wages" and he immediatly started writing and was in a time of depression at the time. Its ALL ABOUT PAUL!!! AS a young man in England, and New York, the boxer is a metaphor for his perserverance.! READ THE WORDS AGAIN.
    And I think Paul Simon has litttle over Bob Dylan. He's a bit more direct and doesnt stray the meaning for no reason like Dylan does with Mr Tambourine Man or something. He wont even say waht its about!
    REspect for Dylan though, still one of the best, but I personally think Paul is better.
    sebastianquilton April 16, 2004   Link
  • +1
    General CommentThis song might be about the Prodigal Son in the Bible, but I think there are probably a lot of correlations to the narrator, or probably Paul Simon himself, going out on his own as a young man. My favorite part is the following: 'When I left my home and my family I was no more than a boy in the company of strangers in the quiet of the railway station running scared.' That, to me, conjures up an image of a young person who moves to the big city (NYC) to embark on his dream. He gets homesick but that's the sacrifice he made to go after what he believed in.
    alracon January 31, 2006   Link

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