I've been in this town so long that back in the city
I've been taken for lost and gone
And unknown for a long, long time

Fell in love years ago
With an innocent girl
From the Spanish and Indian home
Home of the heroes and villains

Once at night Catillian squared the fight
And she was right in the rain of the bullets
That eventually brought her down
But she's still dancing in the night
Unafraid of what a dude'll do in a town full
Of heroes and villains

Heroes and villains
Just see what you've done

Heroes and villains
Just see what you've done

Stand or fall I know there
Shall be peace in the valley
And it's all an affair
Of my life with the heroes and villains

My children were raised
You know they suddenly rise
They started slow long ago
Head to toe healthy, wealthy and wise

I've been in this town so long
So long to the city
I'm fit with the stuff
To ride in the rough
And sunny down snuff I'm alright
By the heroes and

Heroes and villains
Just see what you've done

Heroes and villains
Just see what you've done

Lyrics submitted by Bobo192, edited by Pandetech

Heroes and Villains [2002 Stereo Mix] Lyrics as written by Van Dyke Parks Brian Wilson

Lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

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Heroes and Villains song meanings
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  • +3
    General CommentThis music is about American history, specifically about pilgrim's arrive in Plymouth Rock.

    "Once a night, Cottilion squared, the fight
    and she was right in the rain of the bullets that eventually brought her down"

    It's a play between Cottilian being a dance (where the pairs form a square), and between Cottilian being a girl name (square in this context being stoping the fights)
    He personificate the dance as girl squaring the fights, but someday she is killed by bullets which means the dance (which may mean any form of distraction) no longer holds the tensions between the people.
    That may happen in some event in pilgrims history, but I don't know so much about this part of history (I am not American by the way).

    The part about Margarita is also a ambiguity about Margarita (drink) and Margarita (name), and the "You are under arrest" part shows that the narrator is drunk (maybe literally or with the girl).
    Anyway this part is about girls and drinkings passions.

    You can see here that the persons are not singular but represent situations, as well as the narrator represents the pilgrims.

    That way the innocent girl probably means the local habitants (indians), or maybe it is the region, because in history you see that the pilgrims didn't want to go back to England.

    The childrem raising part is probably about the new generations and cultures.

    In the next songs you see the pilgrims exploring, seeing fields, constructing trains and transport and etc (1rst suite), gaining culture and maturing their sentiments and conscience (2nd suite) and the 3rd suite is about elements and finally reaching Hawaii (Brian Wilson himself described the album about being a trip from Plymouth to Hawaii).
    DarkMindon January 15, 2012   Link
  • +3
    Song MeaningThose aren't the full lyrics! Scandal! What happened to sunny down snuff etc etc...?

    Enjoyed reading those interpretations. Agree Dark Mind-its American history but think a little later than you indicate. The spirit that must be kept high is the pioneer spirit.

    I don’t think it’s about the Pilgrim fathers, I think the time is later, 1850s-60s-ish, the speaker is one of those pioneer characters like Raphael Pumpelly who went to Arizona to mine / exploit the resources and lived cheek by jowl with the Native Americans, constantly at war, and recording their experiences- 'to write in the rough' Spanish and Indian home seemed to be gesturing at Mexico, again another scene of white settlers arriving from the Great Northern Cities to try and make good and eventually settling.
    It's one of those settlers looking back on his life with an agreeable feeling of contentment at a life lived well.

    I think the line that clarifies things a little is the one from a snippet not used in the final track, ‘Bicycle rider, see what you’ve done to the church of the American Indian’.

    My guess is that it’s essentially about the interaction between black culture / white culture, (white exploiting black ) which fits the song but could be alluding to rock n roll itself. Brian once described his music as ‘White spiritual music’. The song is a mish mash of black and white influences - (the la la las are very similar if not stolen from Ben E King’s Spanish Harlem) and whitey’s barbershop close harmony.

    ‘Heroes & Villains’ is an ambiguous or playful/ironic title. Were the pioneer Natty Bumpo characters Heroes or Villains? Were they bold self reliant characters who forged a path for civilisation, or cruel dead-eyed adventure capitalists etc etc…yawn yawn.

    Cotillion could just be a cotton flag , could it not? Blasted with holes by disgruntled natives but still proudly aloft.

    God bless us, one and all!
    Cryptorchidismon June 08, 2012   Link
  • +2
    General CommentNobody writes music like Brian Wilson,nobody.This is some original shit.
    izze90on June 12, 2008   Link
  • +1
    General CommentPaul McCartney said at the time of this song's release that it had the greatest harmonies he had ever heard. That's what makes the song--the harmonies.
    Chazspainon August 28, 2007   Link
  • +1
    General CommentIt's impossible to understand the lyrics of Heroes without having heard SMiLE. That's where Brian failed. Nobody understood what the damn thing was about, and that's why the single failed.
    donutbanditon October 29, 2007   Link
  • +1
    General CommentFor years, I thought "healthy wealthy and wise" was really "Wendy Carnie & I" and the "indian girl" mentioned in the song was referring to Brian Wilson's wife (which it still might).
    GuyinGAon September 11, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General CommentH&V: With all the phenomenal sections the Boys recorded, could it have been the best song ever, or was it just too bitty, too stop-start to succeed? History tells us it was the latter, but there's just something about it that makes you think "but if they just put *that* bit *there*, it would click". In my opinion, anyway.....
    almcn82on August 24, 2002   Link
  • 0
    General Comment"That bit there", as you phrase it, I feel is part of the idea that this piece was created as part of the Smile album: the part that was going to hold the whole thing together. A great track, it has to be said, but the track is only made up as the sum of its parts. Cf: Barnyard. According to Jimi Hendrix "I didn't like The Beach Boys particularly. Makes me think of a psychadelic barber-shop quartet." Regardless of that, it was probably the best thing done for Smiley Smile (discounting Good Vibrations, probably meant as a one-off single, rather than the stand-outedly outcasted track). I think of Smile as "Diamond Head" - ie, the cumulative 20th Century classical music-esque weirdness of that track, followed by how different that was to the classic Beach Boys tracks.

    Definition: The tracks that were released as singles, and made number one either side of the Atlantic.

    Though I try not to include a personal opinion as much as possible, I feel I must. I first heard this track when I was very young. The first thing I thought was, like a lot of tracks I did back then that I heard, "Oh, it's a song, it's music, I must get interested in it". Now, when I hear music, I automatically think... "What's this song trying to say?" This is mainly due to the fact that I've found this site.

    The long phrases and tempo change, for me, are what make this track. Just like any Wilson/VDParks track, it has something hidden. A hidden meaning, a hidden lyric. Personally, I think that Van Dyke Parks hated Cabinessence's "Nestle in a kiss below there" line. Merely because it just wasn't "deep". Unlike the whole of Surf's Up, which has hidden meanings which I've tried to summarize to the best of my ability, that line just didn't have anything to warrant its VDP-ness.

    According to Parks, the age of the concept album is passé. That's due to the fact that the public wants some kind of instantaneousness via albums. This was shown in this piece. There is no instantaneousness, as far as I'm concerned. This track is a grower, and as such, will continue to grow. Upon me. It has consumed me for so long, and I'm not seeing that fade now.
    Bobo192on October 05, 2002   Link
  • 0
    General CommentHuh?! Okay.. thanks for your input. (It's been 2 1/2 years since anyone's posted?!) I love this song, too. A masterpiece in my opinion. I don't think I'll get tired of it - although have different versions laying around helps... the unreleased Vigotone bootlegs and now the Brian Wilson version from 2003... You can't beat listening to the boys singing this though... I get lost in this stuff.
    R2-D2on April 30, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General CommentGiven Brian Wilson's history with schizophrenia, I can safely say that this song may be the closest thing ever recorded to representing a day in the life of someone with the disease.
    mofloon August 09, 2017   Link

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