After the show
You walked right past
Arms reached out
For your autograph
And as you flashed
Your backstage pass
I caught your eye
With a camera's flash
When the band came out
They stood behind you
Cymbals crashed
The lights went blue
You stood alone
In the halo's haze
Shining guitar hung on
Gold lame

And you
You were the lonely one
You were
The lonely one
When you perform
It's so intense
When the critics pan
I write in your defense
I understand I am just a fan
I'm just a fan
When I get home
I turn off the alarm
I've checked the phone
No messages on
I play the ones from yesterday
I play your song
Just to hear you say that you
You're the lonely one
You are
The lonely one
You're the lonely one
You are the lonely one

Lyrics submitted by OwnPersonalDemon

The Lonely 1 Lyrics as written by Jeffrey Scott Tweedy Jeff Tweedy

Lyrics © BMG Rights Management

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The Lonely 1 song meanings
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  • +2
    My OpinionI just found this site and I love to read everybody's comments. I am not an English native speaker and feel I miss nuances in the texts, it is great then to compare my interpretations with others. In this song I have always loved the ambiguity going on in the lines

    I've checked the phone, no messages on
    I play the ones from yesterday
    I play your song just to hear you say that...

    where (I think?) "the ones" can refer to both the messages and the songs from yesterday. The image of a person replaying his old telephone messages really empathizes the feeling of loneliness and isolation, I think. Beautiful song.
    Loudeacon January 20, 2009   Link
  • +1
    General CommentJeff is so taken by music, the good music... and this one is a bitter sweet confession of a deep connection between musician and fan ...the music has made him almost love-sick. It might be a tribute by Jeff to Paul Westerberg, and in fact this song seems to me much in style of one of those heart-on-sleeve Replacement songs.
    thelighton January 16, 2008   Link
  • +1
    General CommentMy Opinion:

    The person speaking is the Fan of some band. He/She explains the events that went down at a show. Then he/she goes home and is lonely but in order to feel better plays a song, not this song, but a song he/she heard at the show which reveals the frontman's loneliness and so the speaker can relate. Simply saying that even if you are a rock star and loved by everyone, you can still be just as lonely as the speaker in this song.

    Just my opinion.
    terriblyvexedon February 26, 2008   Link
  • +1
    General Commentit seems like tweedy is writing from the perspective of a fan. but where i differ from the above interpretations is that i think the fan knows that the frontman is lonely and feels for him. when the fan catches his eye the fan realizes that the frontman can be just as lonely up on stage as the fan is sitting at home with no calls. the fan is empathizing with the frontman.

    the ironic twist is the line that says, "I play you're song just to hear you say that....You, you're the lonely one." which means that the fan listens to the wilco song "the lonely 1" which means that tweedy is both the fan and the frontman with whom his is empathizing. interesting. great song, great band.
    humbleopinionon July 19, 2009   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI always thought this was about Neil Young. The instrumental phrase that leads in at the beginning and reoccurs throughout is from a Neil Young song. When Neil Young does live shows he steps out into a spotlight with his band behind him. He also has a gold lame guitar strap. Plus he went through a mid-career slump when critics didn't like him anymore (but has since made a comeback).
    That said, I've also felt it could be about Jay Farrar, simply from knowing how Tweedy felt about Jay.
    rrstrickon September 17, 2011   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThis is a really sad, disheartening song about isolation and alienation, as I'm sure you can gather from reading the lyrics alone. This is a great sad, slow song about being on the other side of the spotlight, certainly an interesting view to take.
    ars musicaon April 29, 2003   Link
  • 0
    General CommentWhile I initially saw the same thing as the above commenter, the latter part of the song indicates the song is from a fan's perspective, and overall the song seems to be about people who are drawn to certain songs in a misery-loves-company sort of way, they relate to the song, and in a way, it makes them feel less lonely.
    b.chroneoson December 27, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General CommentIt seems very ironic to me. The fan is commenting on how the frontman gets everyone reaching for his autograph and the band is behind him, people are cheering, his performance is great, but then the fan, who actually is lonely, goes home and plays a song in which the frontman deplores his loneliness. But the way its sang it seems like there's no ill will between the fan and frontman. I guess even though the fan realizes the frontman isn't really lonely, he doesn't care and just wants the musical equivalent to what he's feeling. This is a great song either way.
    TheBMon February 01, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI think this song is very autobiographical. He's writing it as if he were a fan of Jeff Tweedy. The fan thinks that he has a perfect life, full of fame and such, but in reality, the artist is lonely.
    theweeks123on October 16, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI agree with ars musica, it's about the loneliness on the other side of the spotlight. I first heard this sung by Robert Sean Leonard in the movie Chelsea Walls. Beautiful film.
    skittlesjcon October 11, 2007   Link

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