"Tell Me Why" as written by and David Lynn/mckenzie Young....
Sailing heart-ships through broken harbors
Out on the waves in the night
Still the searcher must ride the dark horse
Racing alone in his fright
Tell me why, tell me why

Is it hard to make arrangements with yourself
When you're old enough to repay but young enough to sell?

Tell me lies later, come and see me
I'll be around for a while
I am lonely but you can free me
All in the way that you smile
Tell me why
Tell me why

Is it hard to make arrangements with yourself
When you're old enough to repay but young enough to sell?

Tell me why, tell me why


Lyrics submitted by H-bomb

"Tell Me Why" as written by Davel Mckenzie Dave Young

Lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc., MISSING LINK MUSIC

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Tell Me Why song meanings
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15 Comments

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  • +5
    General CommentI'm gonna say: I've loved before, and I've been hurt. I'm still searching, alone. I'm getting older, but I'm still not that old. Even if you don't love me, you can still make me happy.
    zzleon October 11, 2006   Link
  • +1
    General CommentThe first verse seems to be about beng willing to take the risk of falling in love, but I'm not sure how that fits with the rest of the song. Either way, it is very peacefull and can always calm me down when no matter how I feel.
    brian_bon March 03, 2006   Link
  • +1
    General CommentTell me why...when you're wise enough to know what's right, but young (and impulsive) enough to not follow your own advice. (i.e. The second verse - he's wise enough to be aware of the lies, but young and passionate enough to ignore them temporarily.)
    "Hard to make arrangements with yourself" - internal conflict of this wisdom vs. youthful passion.

    I've never listened to Neil Young before, but I've been hooked on this album for two straight weeks. Love this song.

    E.-
    nycdawsonon September 29, 2010   Link
  • +1
    General CommentThe song also jumps around from this cheerful major-chord bluegrass to sober minor folk, changes in time signature too. The music itself has this conflict between whimsical youth and grave maturity. Well, that's great songwriting, right?. The music and words intertwine.

    E.-
    nycdawsonon September 29, 2010   Link
  • +1
    General Commentsuch a tough song to interpret. To me it seems like a transition from youth to maturity -- he begins by trying to be in love in what's probably a broken relationship "broken harbors". He has to keep fighting through the problems, because in the end, even if she lies or hurts his feelings, even a simple smile on her face brightens his day. It's kind of romantic, in a way.

    And as someone said already, the line "I am lonely but you can free me, All in the way that you smile" is one of his best lines.
    giantmetfanon July 01, 2011   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI think you're right, brian...the song is about being able to open up and STAY opened up, despite the pitfalls of finding (and losing) love.

    Although I also think it has a lot to do with life in general. The chorus has so many interpretations that Neil himself refuses to play it anymore because it confuses even HIM. I've always interpreted it as meaning that it's hard to reconcile your desires when you grow up. You suddenly have the ability to make your own choices and chart your own course, yet you feel like you owe a debt to those who got you there (like, say, your parents), and you feel responsible for trying to repay that debt.
    thermo4on January 08, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI think that the line "I am lonely but you can free me
    All in the way that you smile"
    Is one of neil's best and just a beautiful line!!
    NecroGanjeon August 31, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General Commenttell my why... this song only has 7 comments
    thekep1014on May 07, 2009   Link
  • 0
    General CommentLove is bitch....why is it so hard to make compromises. I'm old enough to be in a relationship but young enough to move on. Oh what the hell....come on over...this isn't all that complicated. Just smile and I'm back.
    kitconsulon September 24, 2014   Link
  • 0
    General Comment"Is it hard to make arrangements with yourself"
    Neil was contemplating his future course.
    "Old enough to repay, but young enough to sell"
    I think Neil was saying he had made his mark, but he's too popular to quit.
    WolfComeCallinon November 17, 2014   Link

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