Is there no sign of light as we stand in the darkness?
Watching the sun arise
Is there no sign of life as we gaze at the waters?
Into the strangers eyes

And who are we to criticize or scorn the things that they do?
For we shall seek and we shall find Ammonia Avenue

If we call for the proof and we question the answers
Only the doubt will grow
Are we blind to the truth or a sign to believe in?
Only the wise will know

And word by word they handed down the light that shines today
And those who came at first to scoff, remained behind to pray
Yes those who came at first to scoff, remained behind to pray

When you can't hear the rhyme and you can't see the reason
Why should the hope remain?
For a man will be tired and his soul will grow weary
Living his life in vain

And who are we to justify the right in all we do?
Until we seek until we find Ammonia Avenue

Through all the doubt somehow they knew
And stone by stone they built it high
Until the sun broke through
A ray of hope, a shining light Ammonia Avenue

Lyrics submitted by Ice

Ammonia Avenue song meanings
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  • +3
    General Comment

    Okay... I would like to clarify something in this song....For those of you who don't truely understand. I know Alan personally....he has been a friend of my fathers for over 30 years. The entire album of Ammonia Avenue is about science having an impact on religion yes, but not in the light you are putting it. Alan and I have had a very long conversation about this song in particular and heres the story. Alan is a VERY spiritual man, though not religious. This song is about science bringing to light that nothing is truley solid in base, and that the qualms over religion are merely pointless in the greater picture of things. Its not about the scientific becoming religious and realizing the "error of their ways" once they die....or are near death. It's about those of faith realizing that they have no solid foundation to prove they are right, and to let other belive as they will. Only by accepting others and their belifs can they truely find Ammonia Avenue. Basically the long and short of it.

    Siriktaon August 17, 2008   Link
  • +2
    General Comment

    The song was not written by Alan Parsons; it was written by Eric Woolfson. That information has been out there for almost 30 years, and it has been confirmed by Parsons. In a 1990 interview with Eric Woolfson in the liner notes to a two CD best-of compilation authorized by Alan Parsons, Woolfson said that over all the albums he wrote, "95% of the music and 100% of the lyrics." Parsons sometimes would suggest changes in structure, moving an instrumental to a different part of the song, and other basic changes when Woolfson presented the songs to him. Parsons co-wrote the instrumental pieces like "Sirius" with Woolfson, but he is listed as co-writer on all the songs because, after all, this is the Alan Parsons Project. So the responses that talk about Parsons' spirituality are irrelevant. This song was very personal to Eric Woolfson, who was Jewish. I don't know what his personal beliefs were, but the Jewish religion has no concept of Hell. It's not a thing. This is a song about faith, not about death. Ammonia Avenue is about finding faith and finding your own peace with it.

    Souldeep69on March 18, 2021   Link
  • +1
    General Comment

    "Ammonia Avenue" is the title track of an album described on the APP's defunct website as: "... focused on the possible misunderstanding of industrial scientific developments from a public perspective and a lack of understanding of the public from a scientific perspective." It is a well-known that Ammonia Avenue is the name of a street at a chemical plant in England the lyricist, Eric Woolfson, toured at the invitation of the owning company’s chief executive. According to the Wikipedia article on Billingham Manufacturing, ammonia produced by the facility is vital to the UK because the chemical is used domestically to produce fertilizer for the nation's farms. At the time the song was composed, Billingham was one of the largest ammonia producing sites in the world, if not the largest.

    The opening verse provides both literal and metaphorical images of the Billingham plant. The plant is so large that it blocks the horizon, so viewed from the west, it is still dark when the sun begins to rise. The "strangers eyes" seen across the waters are lights on the plant's equipment viewed from the River Tees that flows passed the plant site. Jewish and Christian metaphors form alternative spiritual images -- "sign of light" is hope; "darkness" is despair; "sign of life" is vitality. Here, Woolfson illustrates the contradictory nature of Ammonia Avenue, as it blocks the sunrise yet offers hope, and it appears lifeless, yet offers a richer livelihood for people (freedom from hunger) beyond mere survival.

    Probably, the most telling clue for the song’s meaning is to replace the song title within Woolfson’s lyrics to something like “A Christian Venue”. By doing so, the lyrics express that for the folks referred to as “we”, Ammonia Avenue provides them the same sense of hope and salvation a religion promises. Key to the meaning is the explicit reference to Matthew 7:7-8: “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.” The New Testament passage addresses people who seek God’s help, and the Christian doctrine (Augustine) based on these verses says that prayer is: "Asking, is that we may get healthiness of soul that we may be able to fulfill the things commanded us [by God]; seeking, pertains to the discovery of the truth. But when any has found the true way, he will then come into actual possession, which however is only opened to him that knocks." In the lyrics, for the materialist "we", the analogy is that, “For we shall seek and we shall find / Ammonia Avenue” is that seeking Ammonia Avenue is to ask for a chemical needed by people for the betterment of living, and the chemical will be provided for the betterment of civilization. Specifically, “finding Ammonia Avenue” is not merely done to acquire ammonia but that “finding it” has higher meanings for civilization – as the fifth verse asserts Ammonia Avenue has the "rhyme" and "reason" to provide people hope and save them from despair (i.e., from “living his life in vain”), and the sixth verse declares what “justifies the right in all we do”, i.e., their a way of life., is to build Ammonia Avenue (presumably, a successfully operating plant). The last verse declares that the justification has been achieved at great cost – “stone by stone” built high just as how the chemical plant was constructed.

    So, what is this Ammonia Avenue, beyond being a portion of a chemical plant in England? Verse three makes clear Ammonia Avenue is a belief, and verse four states the belief has been articulated in words. Suggestions that Ammonia Avenue is a symbol for environmental catastrophe miss these points. Furthermore, the avenue being a symbol for science and technology doesn’t go far enough, as both are based on reason (e.g., natural laws and causes rather than the supernatural, though the reliability of machines does involve a kind of faith). Thus, it appears Ammonia Avenue is the newer faith that science and technology will solve civilization’s major problems. Such a faith promotes hope and a salvation from despair (the “sign of light” and “darkness”, respectively, in the first verse), and vitality (the “sign of life” in the first verse); and, also, affects culture in ways religions do, as Woolfson specifically addresses doubters of the faith addressed as “they” in the lyrics. The “we” of the Ammonia Avenue faith is to leave the “they” doubters alone, as verse two questions why doubters should be criticized and the lyrics repeat, “And those who came at first to scoff, remained behind to pray”. Importantly, though the lyrics make no mention about whether or not Ammonia Avenue and religion are incompatible faiths, some compatibility is implied because those doubters who remained behind to pray will also benefit from Ammonia Avenue and, perhaps, be convinced to adopt the new faith.

    Overall, the song for the “we” is essentially a hymn, as in the last verse, Ammonia Avenue is characterized as a successful new faith. The “we” use Christian images (e.g., “sun”, “shining light”, “darkness”, “waters”) for Ammonia Avenue and declare it has joined religions in giving hope as a guiding light to humankind. To the extent human civilization essentially depends on science and technology advances to provide for the near- and long-term survival and welfare of people, the album cover displays a picture for the new faith, infrastructure seen on Ammonia Avenue, just as an orthodox Christian church would display an icon. As polluting and unnatural as it appears, and ammonia is used to produce explosive munitions, Ammonia Avenue is glorified, as it must, because as a way of life, the ”we” accomplish their mission only if they succeed.

    However, the full meaning of the song is incomplete without addressing the album’s back cover that is a picture of a group of researchers standing in a lab working, though each is bent over with their face stuck into a mound of dirt in a tray. These experts at work refer to the “blind” in the third verse: “Are we blind to the truth or a sign to believe in? / Only the wise will know”. Given the picture, the answer to the question will often be "yes", a humble admission that the “we” are so obviously fallible, in part, maybe because there are many alternative solutions to address human needs. In this manner, Woolfson seems to suggest that the ”we” are wise not to reject the views of the “they” or, rather, be open to the views of others. After all, with the technical experts figuratively working with their heads stuck in a pile of dirt, civilization needs all the wise help it can get to guide them.

    [Edit: grammar fix]
    DKWongon August 12, 2023   Link
  • 0
    General Comment

    This is a true gem of a song. To me, it is about the conflict of science vs. religion in our everyday lives. "If we call for the proof and we question the answers only the doubt will grow." Ask any grad student and they will tell you this is dead on. Of course, this is the crux of science; to question everything. Religion is just the opposite. Faith, by definition is accepting without questioning. Too often, faith is looked down upon by scientists, and this song adresses the wrongness of that.

    I especially love the significance of the title as it merges the two themes of science and religion. See if you can puzzle that one out on your own. Write me if you want my solution at (The title bugged me for several years, and I felt a great thrill when I figured it out. I want to give others a chance to do it on their own without spoiling it, so I don't want to post it here.)

    dhavalon June 13, 2002   Link
  • 0
    General Comment

    A song telling the story of how the nonreligious become religious when SCIENCE becomes their new religion. After all, isn't most science based on theory, rather than fact? We hope, we assume, we weigh what can't be seen, but the reality is that we don't really know, do we?

    Humans have shown that they need answers to the questions they have - why wouldn't science and atheism taken to extremes not be their own belief system?

    ctlizyrdon September 10, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General Comment

    I feel the most significant parts are the "What gives us the right to criticize..." and "What gives us the right to boast about our good deeds?." This criticism and praise should be saved until Ammonia Avenue (the grave) where God will be the one to judge anyway, not us. I also believe the lines mean that it's all (everything we do in life) irrelevant and we should be caring about more important things. We don't have the infinite insight to proclaim one else evil or us good...and even if we did, we're still going to end up in a box on Ammonia Avenue.

    I think the change of heart shown by the scoffers remaining to pray is meant to back up the reason to not judge until it's all over, because nothing is set in stone until you're dead. I also feel it may be the scoffers praying as they're destroyed for their unbelief which may not really fit into the song but I like thinking about people dying, begging and praying for deliverance, all brought upon themselves. It's the worst spite possible to yourself... Also, it is a plausible explanation, as not all praying is reverent and precautionary, some is reactionary as you're being destroyed, along with "left behind." I really like thinking about people begging for their life.

    I don't think the lyrics depict a conflict between factions (believers, unbelievers) but rather show how in this fantasy song-world believers and unbelievers have handled themselves. taking their paths..and they both end up dead.

    It was obvious to me what Ammonia Avenue was when I heard the song but didn't make the connection from the title only. It looks like at least some people haven't found a connection for "Ammonia Avenue," and right or wrong, I believe it just stands for death/the grave/hell/the end/the thing after the end. I think "Ammonia Avenue" literally represents rows and rows of graves, and the fertilizer inside those sealed boxes, and rows and rows of anything lends itself to pathways within those rows.

    I don't know if the last line "A ray of hope, a shining light Ammonia Avenue" was meant to have any specific meaning but I like to think of it as an abstract hope to all people who have fallen to Ammonia Avenue. Maybe the Second Resurrection.

    I feel this as a morbid song pondering and glorifying death and the peace it brings...and in the meantime to do what truly makes you happy. It sounds like this guy read Ecclesiastes a few too many times before writing this song. In Ecclesiastes the preacher depicted that all human efforts are futile and the life of a wise man, and the life of a foolish man end in the same thing: Ammonia Avenue. Death.

    To summarize, it boils down to good or bad, we all eat drink and be merry while you spend your life force.

    poxypoxyon November 26, 2007   Link
  • 0
    My Opinion

    Is it just me, or does the solo in this song inspire others too. i cant stop listening to this song and it never gets old :)

    Gleebaon April 15, 2014   Link
  • 0
    My Interpretation

    The body is filled with fluids that are drained through embalming. The embalming chemicals prevent "dropsical water" which contains sithate of ammonia, a slightly alkaline substance that causes putrefaction. "Ammonia Avenue", in my opinion, is the natural state of the body after death—decomposition. While this is the end of all our bodies, the soul is something most believe not tied to the body and continuing to exist after death. Whether you believe that or not, we all shall find out one way or another, so Parson's conclusion is not "eat, drink and be merry" but that there is little sense in conflicts over belief and doubt. Ammonia Avenue will answer this for us.

    InnerArtiston August 19, 2014   Link
  • 0
    General Comment

    NH3 is the chemical symbol for ammonia and it was printed in the inner sleeve as well as "avenue" abbreviated to Ave. and none the less devoted to the commerciality of "Don't Answer Me" while otherwise the title track preceded by Pipeline and a few other tracks convey themes of a rather chemical industrialization of the world... My father was employed at an ammonia plant at the time, two actually as the first was burnt down somhad to be relocated until he'd finally officially retired from all workforce... -- Dave

    DaveAMKrayoGuy on March 19, 2023   Link
  • 0
    General Comment

    I've read some interesting opinions on this song. And whether Alan Parsons is quite spiritual or not there is no wonder,we are all spiritual beings, but Faith is only given to some as a gift, and as the Bible says, the rest can't agree among themselves.

    25 And when they agreed not among themselves, they departed, after that Paul had spoken one word, Well spake the Holy Ghost by Esaias the prophet unto our fathers,

    26 Saying, Go unto this people, and say, Hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and not perceive:

    27 For the heart of this people is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes have they closed; lest they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.

    Acts 28:25-27 -- King James Version (KJV)

    Orabidooon January 27, 2015   Link

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