While the music played, you worked by candlelight
Those San Francisco nights
You were the best in town
Just by chance you crossed the diamond with the pearl
You turned it on the world
That's when you turned the world around

(Did you feel like Jesus?)
Did you realize
That you were a champion in their eyes?

On the hill the stuff was laced with kerosene
But yours was kitchen-clean
Everyone stopped to stare at your technicolor motor home
Every A-Frame had your number on the wall
You must have had it all
You'd go to L.A. on a dare and you'd go it alone

(Could you live forever?)
Could you see the day?
Could you feel your whole world fall apart and fade away?

Get along, get along, Kid Charlemagne
Get along, Kid Charlemagne

Now your patrons have all left you in the red
Your low-rent friends are dead
This life can be very strange
All those Day-Glo freaks who used to paint the face
They've joined the human race
Some things will never change

(Son, you were mistaken)
You are obsolete
Look at all the white men on the street

Get along, get along, Kid Charlemagne
Get along, Kid Charlemagne

Clean this mess up else we'll all end up in jail
Those test tubes and the scale
Just get it all out of here
Is there gas in the car?
Yes, there's gas in the car
I think the people down the hall know who you are

(Careful what you carry)
'Cause the man is wise
You are still an outlaw in their eyes

Get along (get along), get along, Kid Charlemagne (get along)
Get along, Kid Charlemagne

Lyrics submitted by AbFab, edited by savino76, paluche

Kid Charlemagne Lyrics as written by Walter Carl Becker Donald Jay Fagen

Lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

Lyrics powered by LyricFind

Kid Charlemagne song meanings
Add Your Thoughts


sort form View by:
  • +18
    General Comment
    Ok, this song is 100% about Owsley Stanley. He made the best LSD and was the Dead's soundman for several years in the late 60's and in the 70's. Some of these posts are way off however. The "Day Glow Freaks who used to paint the face have joined the human race" are the former hippies who have gotten jobs and stopped tripping (look at the old footage of San Fran in '68...they've all got flowers painted on their faces). "You're obsolete, look at all the white men on the street" 'White Men' are the coke dealers. No one was dropping anymore by the mid 70's, but rather doing blow. Hence, Owsley was obsolete. And the running out of gas thing is apparently a true story....He got caught 'cas his car ran out of gas. Now the idea of Owsley creating something new ie "crossing a diamond with a pearl" I don't really see. I think it just refers to the good LSD he was making. The Acid derivative he created was a big failure and was responsible for nothing but bad trips, so I don't see that experiment being eulogized in song. Peace, Munch Johnson
    epjmunch215on August 05, 2011   Link
  • +11
    General Comment
    from wiki..... Although the lyrics are, at first glance, typically oblique and allusive, writers Walter Becker and Donald Fagen have stated that it was loosely inspired by the exploits of the infamous 1960s San Francisco-based LSD chemist Owsley Stanley[1] — although it conflates the core story with numerous other images of the Sixties. This is evident in the following lines: On the hill the stuff was laced with kerosene But yours was kitchen clean Everyone stopped to stare at your Technicolor motor home The first two lines draw on the fact that Owsley's acid was famed for its purity, although the last line is clearly a reference to the famous psychedelic bus named Furthur, which was used by the Merry Pranksters. The final verse foreshadows the main reason for Owsley's eventual bust: Clean this mess up else we'll all end up in jail Those test tubes and the scale Just get them all out of here Is there gas in the car? Yes, there's gas in the car I think the people down the hall know who you are Owsley and another person were arrested after their car ran out of gas. The song features a famous guitar solo by guitarist Larry Carlton. Owsley Stanley (b. Augustus Owsley Stanley III, January 19, 1935, also known as Owsley or Bear) was an "underground" LSD chemist, the first to produce large quantities of pure LSD. His total production is estimated at around half a kilogram of LSD, or roughly 5 million 100-microgram "trips" of normal potency, although accounts vary widely. The widespread and low-cost (often given away free) availability of high-quality Owsley LSD in the San Franciso area in the mid-1960s may well have been indispensable for the emergence of the "hippie" movement in the Haight-Ashbury area, which the historian of that movement Charles Perry has described as "one big LSD party" and which has had continuing repercussions to this day in American society in terms of increasing tolerance for alternative perspectives and lifestyles. He was also an accomplished sound engineer, and the longtime soundman for seminal psychedelic rock band The Grateful Dead; the band's well-known "dancing bear" icon derives from his nickname, as he frequently printed the image on blotter sheets of LSD distributed at Grateful Dead concerts.[citation needed] He designed the massive "Wall of Sound" electrical amplification system used by the Grateful Dead in their live shows, at the time a highly innovative feat of engineering[1], and was involved with the creation of high-end musical instrument maker
    mandalexon May 12, 2007   Link
  • +4
    General Comment
    jackiebum and pakalolo are right. this song is more about a famed chemist and innovator of LSD than a dealer. And you should read Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test if you haven't. Although written by the squarest of the squares, it's a great piece of New Journalism that also conveys just how world-changing people thought LSD might be at its inception and introduction to the world. Owsley was also a sound man for the Dead.
    jimmymackon April 01, 2006   Link
  • +4
    General Comment
    Definitely Steely's Hallmark Tune. All the way around, a number off their last "guitar-based" album, signaling the end of one style on the threshold of something more. Larry Carlton was just superb. As Donald opined in the PBS special, the song was, yeah, loosely based on a character like Owsley, with all the particulars of his story, but was also, as the boys have said earlier in a "Musician" magazine interview from 1979, that their method of penning these vingettes is to, instead of presenting the kernal of the idea, they more or less go for the "husk"--the outer, or whole idea, allowing the others to draw their own conclusion as to what it means to them. That said, Donald further mentioned that as the 60's decade was coming to an ugly end & looking for some closure, this offering also represented the whole general feel of the 60s decade. Namely, a beginning, middle and final chapter, like the fusiform shape of a muscle fiber: "", if you will. Actually, DanFan, there are no KEY changes in Kid Charlemagne. It's all in C major. Yes, the bridge and the turnaround have different chord progressions, they are all within the C Major frame work. The very 1st chord is a C7 #9th chord ( a five note chord ), which is a very well utilized jazz chord going back in rock to The Beatles' "You Can't Do That" as well as way before in the jazz annals. It is that crazy Major 7th interval WITHIN that chord, namely, the E note ( the third of the chord ) and the D#, ( the # 9th ) that gives it its unique and gritty , "I MEAN BUSINESS" sound. The root position of the C 7th #9 is this: C E G B-flat D#...then the verse begins with an A minor, etc. OK. I find LAbeefs comment on the White Men and the cocaigne shift amusing. I still pnder that phrase. Thanks.
    shemp3on May 23, 2008   Link
  • +3
    General Comment
    Mandalex pretty much nails it. Also "White Men on the street" is a reference to cocaine use on the rise in the 70's. People were moving away from hallucinogens towards stimulants, which added to the Kids demise.
    Sleepy LaBeefon February 28, 2008   Link
  • +2
    General Comment
    jakiebum is right. this is a tribute to Owsley, the famed creator of the sunshine acid in the late 1960s. read Wolfe's Electric Cool Aid Acid Test to learn a little more about Owsley and the dayglow freaks.
    pakaloloon February 08, 2005   Link
  • +2
    My Interpretation
    DCEngineer..Bit late on this reply to you man but I just had tell that for a seemingly intelligent man you can crap on why Kid Charlemagne dissappointed you and Owsley Stanley didn't "DESERVE a great song and I find your comment that it "somewhat upset you," obnoxious, you pretentious prick. If it wasn't for songs like this and the '60's movement you wouldn't be what you are. I also take offense you feel you can even comment on Owsley, a fucken genius! If you knew him you'd be writing songs, Poems and Books about him as well and the World is a much lesser place without him. I just don't get you! How you can write what you do..I guess "Lucy In the Sky With Diamonds" and the rest of Sgt Pepper, being influenced by the drug culture along with most sounds of the era are crap as well, including Dylan who's just admitted to being hooked on Heroin for a time..all this music "upsets you too?" What about "The Mighty Quinn?" Another dope dealer, or was he OK cos' he didn't exist!? You post your name as DCEngineer, geez, I hope thats not alluding to a Music Engineer cos I certainly don't think I'll be checkin out anything you put together. Don't you realise the difference '60s music played on evolution. Unfortunately we now have the MTV world destroying what real music was. You sound like you need to read "The Electric Kool Aid Acid Test" or maybe take a hit of Acid or Ecstacy yourself and you may start to appreciate whats behind much of the music you hear.
    Orkaon May 26, 2011   Link
  • +2
    General Comment
    Larry Carlton's guitar solo is one of the best ever, of any song.
    ThirdWorldManon July 22, 2019   Link
  • +1
    General Comment
    Its about a young guy who came up with a new kind of drug and it became popular really quick and it was better than all the other stuff that was being sold. this made the young dealer feel like he was "kid charlemagne" ( charlemagne was a powerful king who conquered italy and was crowned emporer of rome by the pope) and the guy was living life to fullest till time caught up with him and the drugs he was selling became unwanted. He eventually falls so far whrer he gets busted by the police
    RSY1111on October 14, 2006   Link
  • +1
    General Comment
    Thanks for the comments! I actually understand the song now. :)
    CicadaATXon June 02, 2013   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
Cranberries, The
"Zombie" is about the ethno-political conflict in Ireland. This is obvious if you know anything of the singer (Dolores O'Riordan)'s Irish heritage and understood the "1916" Easter Rising reference. "Another head hangs lowly Child is slowly taken And the violence caused such silence Who are we mistaken - Another mother's breaking Heart is taking over" Laments the Warrington bomb attacks in which two children were fatally injured on March 23rd, 1993. Twelve year old Tim Parry was taken off life support with permission from his mother after five days in the hospital, virtually braindead. "But you see it's not me It's not my family" References how people who are not directly involved with the violence feel about it. They are "zombies" without sympathy who refuse to take action while others suffer.
Album art
slowthai & A$AP Rocky
This track is the first official collaboration between the rappers. It was produced by SAMO, slowthai himself & Kwes Darko. The track was released on January 5, 2021, in anticipation of his latest studio album titled "TYRON".
Album art
River Tiber
This standout psychedelic track was produced in its entirety by River Tiber, being released to all major digital streaming platforms on December 29, 2020.
Album art
Up 2020
Uncle Murda
This standout song of the rapper's latest studio album titled "Don’t Come Outside, Vol. 3" was produced by Great John. The track was released via major streaming platforms on January 1, 2021.
Album art
This standalone single by Lauv marks the end of the year 2020. The track was produced by Jamil “Digi” Chammas & Lauv, being released via major streaming platforms on December 31, 2020.