Four and twenty years ago, I come into this life,
the son of a woman and a man who lived in strife.
He was tired of being poor and he wasn't into selling door to door
and he worked like the devil to be more.

A different kind of poverty now upsets me so.
Night after sleepless night, I walk the floor and I want to know- why am I so alone?
Where is my woman can I bring her home? Have I driven her away? Is she gone?

Morning comes to sunrise and I'm driven to my bed.
I see that it is empty and there's devils in my head.
I embrace the many colored beast. I grow weary of the torment, can there be no peace?
And I find myself just wishing that my life would simply cease.


Lyrics submitted by defective, edited by RMB

4+20 song meanings
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10 Comments

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  • +2
    General CommentThis song is not hard to understand at all, and it really needs no interpretation. There isn't any layered symbolism, or multi-hued metaphors, or complex artistic constructions beyond an honest description of one person's pain. I'll describe the song in the first person, the way it is sung. I'm 24 years old. All during my childhood when I was growing up we were poor. My dad tried hard to support us, but his life had been hard and he was a broken man by the time he'd married my mom and had us kids.

    Now that I'm 24 years old and a grown man, I find that my childhood experience of coming from a broken home has defined my young adult life. I'm repeating all of my dads mistakes, and the poverty I'm experiencing now is exactly the same as when I was a child - but my own and not my dads, and not physical, but of the soul. I'm broken and dysfunctional, and lonely, and my only refuge is that of drugs and alcohol. And I'm oh, so tired of entertaining this monster which clings to me and will never ever let go, which only serves to distract me from my despair with the false hues of fake satisfaction and happiness, that I just want to kill myself.
    eliashon April 28, 2014   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI think it's about a man who sacrifice a lot to become rich:
    "and he worked like the devil to be more."
    He makes it:
    "A different kind of poverty now upsets me so. "
    but loses his woman on the way and realises that money doesn't make you happy:
    "I see that it is empty and there's devils in my head"

    When he see that he has devils in his head it could be a metaphore for him realising that he has done some wrong things on his way to the top.
    uncason June 09, 2006   Link
  • +1
    General CommentOnly 3 comments? Wow. This is such a beautiful song - lyrics, chords, vocals and all.
    disgustipated77on December 08, 2009   Link
  • 0
    General CommentMan, Steven was obviously down after losing his woman. The lyric is actually..

    Four and twenty years ago, I come into this life,
    the SON of a woman and a man who lived in strife
    jim68nyon July 30, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI was wondering if there's any "4:20" connection to it but the term was used since 1971 and the album came out in 1970... ?
    kubaf1g1elon April 01, 2012   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI tend to agree with jim68ny, though as many songs tend to, this one seems to be somewhat abstract
    Irvingtonon July 17, 2012   Link
  • 0
    My Opinion4 20 is his age.The many coloured beast is TV,which many people embrace to escape real life
    Bob67on September 06, 2012   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThis song is not hard to understand at all, and it really needs no interpretation. There isn't any layered symbolism, or multi-hued metaphors, or complex artistic constructions beyond an honest description of one person's pain. I'll describe the song in the first person, the way it is sung. I'm 24 years old. All during my childhood when I was growing up we were poor. My dad tried hard to support us, but his life had been hard and he was a broken man by the time he'd married my mom and had us kids.

    Now that I'm 24 years old and a grown man, I find that my childhood experience of coming from a broken home has defined my young adult life. I'm repeating all of my dads mistakes, and the poverty I'm experiencing now is exactly the same as when I was a child - but my own and not my dads, and not physical, but of the soul. I'm broken and dysfunctional, and lonely, and my only refuge is that of drugs and alcohol. And I'm oh, so tired of entertaining this monster which clings to me and will never ever let go, which only serves to distract me from my despair with the false hues of fake satisfaction and happiness, that I just want to kill myself.
    eliashon April 28, 2014   Link
  • 0
    General CommentIn my experience, similar to what I believe the song is about (already described well here by others, I think), "the many colored beast" was neither TV nor drugs, but a huge, fancy, crocheted blanket, big enough to cover a queen-sized bed, that an ex-girlfriend's grandmother had made for the two of us.

    The girl gave it to me as a kind of "parting gift" - although I had actually been the one who rejected her and "our future together," not the other way around - and I understood why she did not want it any longer. I accepted the blanket. So, while I knew that she and I were not meant to be together, in ensuing times as a single man, occasionally, when I felt "so alone" and wondered why, wondering "Where is my woman?" (not my ex, but just, "the one for me"), I wrapped myself in that blanket. Its multi-colored design reminded me of this song. It kept me warm, gave me an "embraced" feeling, and so it became "the beast" - a reminder that I had a pretty good girl and relationship, but, there was then, both before and after the breakup, "no peace" in me about having the girl and relationship I was meant to have.

    That peace came a couple of years later, when I met the girl who I've been with since, over 35 years. Now I can't remember where that blanket is! I believe we still have it, in storage since we rarely need blankets like it in our warm climate. I am sure I have never told my wife this whole "inside story." It doesn't matter anymore. It's a beautiful blanket. And the memory now is just like a quilt-scrap piece, a fragment of my life.
    Hipnoticedon January 08, 2016   Link
  • -1
    General Comment"I embrace, the many colored beast.." Mega drug point there.. I can really relate to, "and I found myself wishin' my life would just, simply cease.."
    I-have-lost-iton September 03, 2005   Link

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