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 JEFF TWEEDY, JEFFREY SCOTT TWEEDY

Lyrics © BMG Rights Management

Lyrics powered by LyricFind

The Lonely 1 song meanings
Add Your Thoughts


sort form View by:
  • +2
    My Opinion

    I 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 Comment

    Jeff 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 Comment

    My 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 Comment

    it 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 Comment

    I 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 Comment

    This 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 Comment

    While 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 Comment

    It 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 Comment

    I 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 Comment

    I 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

Add your thoughts

Log in now to tell us what you think this song means.

Don’t have an account? Create an account with SongMeanings to post comments, submit lyrics, and more. It’s super easy, we promise!

More Featured Meanings

Album art
Spirit Within
Bertoldi Brothers
Warren wanted a Beach Boys thing for this one, and Carl Wilson and Billy Hinsche came in, with Carl arranging the vocal parts. The other harmony vocalists (credited as the "Gentlemen Boys") were Jackson Browne, J.D. Souther, Zevon's longtime backers Waddy Wachtel and Jorge Calderon, and Linda Rondstadt/Stone Poneys guitarist Kenny Edwards.
Album art
Show Me a Little Shame
Ben Harper & the Innocent Criminals
He certainly did earn that reputation.
Album art
Fast Car
Tracy Chapman
"Fast car" is kind of a continuation of Bruce Springsteen's "Born to Run." It has all the clawing your way to a better life, but in this case the protagonist never makes it with her love; in fact she is dragged back down by him. There is still an amazing amount of hope and will in the lyrics; and the lyrics themselve rank and easy five. If only music was stronger it would be one of those great radio songs that you hear once a week 20 years after it was released. The imagery is almost tear-jerking ("City lights lay out before us", "Speeds so fast felt like I was drunk"), and the idea of starting from nothing and just driving and working and denigrating yourself for a chance at being just above poverty, then losing in the end is just painful and inspiring at the same time.
Album art
The Night We Met
Lord Huron
This is a hauntingly beautiful song about introspection, specifically about looking back at a relationship that started bad and ended so poorly, that the narrator wants to go back to the very beginning and tell himself to not even travel down that road. I believe that the relationship started poorly because of the lines: "Take me back to the night we met:When the night was full of terrors: And your eyes were filled with tears: When you had not touched me yet" So, the first night was not a great start, but the narrator pursued the relationship and eventually both overcame the rough start to fall in love with each other: "I had all and then most of you" Like many relationships that turn sour, it was not a quick decline, but a gradual one where the narrator and their partner fall out of love and gradually grow apart "Some and now none of you" Losing someone who was once everything in your world, who you could confide in, tell your secrets to, share all the most intimate parts of your life, to being strangers with that person is probably one of the most painful experiences a person can go through. So Painful, the narrator wants to go back in time and tell himself to not even pursue the relationship. This was the perfect song for "13 Reasons Why"
Album art
Mountain Song
Jane's Addiction
Jane's Addiction vocalist Perry Farrell gives Adam Reader some heartfelt insight into Jane’s Addiction's hard rock manifesto "Mountain Song", which was the second single from their revolutionary album Nothing's Shocking. Mountain song was first recorded in 1986 and appeared on the soundtrack to the film Dudes starring Jon Cryer. The version on Nothing's Shocking was re-recorded in 1988. "'Mountain Song' was actually about... I hate to say it but... drugs. Climbing this mountain and getting as high as you can, and then coming down that mountain," reveals Farrell. "What it feels to descend from the mountain top... not easy at all. The ascension is tough but exhilarating. Getting down is... it's a real bummer. Drugs is not for everybody obviously. For me, I wanted to experience the heights, and the lows come along with it." "There's a part - 'Cash in now honey, cash in Miss Smith.' Miss Smith is my Mother; our last name was Smith. Cashing in when she cashed in her life. So... she decided that, to her... at that time, she was desperate. Life wasn't worth it for her, that was her opinion. Some people think, never take your life, and some people find that their life isn't worth living. She was in love with my Dad, and my Dad was not faithful to her, and it broke her heart. She was very desperate and she did something that I know she regrets."