"Reckless" as written by and Michael Reyne James....
Meet me down by the jetty landing
Where the the pontoons bump and sway
I see the others reading, standing
As the Manly Ferry cuts its way to Circular Quay
Hear the Captain blow his whistle
So long she's been away
I miss our early morning wrestle
Not a very Happy way to start the day
She don't like
That kind of behaviour
She don't like
That kind of behaviour

So, throw down your guns
Don't be so reckless
Throw down your guns
Don't be so

Feel like Scott of the Antarctic
Base camp too far away
A Russian sun beneath the Arctic
Burke and Wills and camels
Initials in the tree
She don't like
That kind of behaviour
She don't like
That kind of behaviour

So, throw down your guns
Don't be so reckless
Throw down your guns
Don't be so


Lyrics submitted by Marelle, edited by PaulSouth, PeterAB

"Reckless (Don't Be So)" as written by Gilles Bousquet

Lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc.

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Reckless song meanings
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13 Comments

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  • +5
    Song MeaningLead singer James Reyne is not from Sydney, but on face value, this song is an obvious reference to the morning ferry commute from the northern seaside suburb of Manly across the harbor (Oz "harbour") south to Circular Quay, where watercraft of all shapes and sizes dock. It's adjacent to the city center and business areas.

    The subtext of this song deals with Robert Falcon Scott, known as "Scott of the Antarctic," and his tragic expedition, actually reaching the South Pole only to discover that Roald Amundsen had just beaten him and then dying on the return. In a similar vein, Irish/English explorers Burke and Wills were the first to cross Australia from south to north only to starve, too weak to move, a few miles from salvation. They were actually camped by a tree that had buried provisions, but misunderstood the markings on the base camp tree.

    Thus, the underlying meaning of this song could be:

    He has spent an unspecified time alone ( "So long she's been away...") and is now waiting to meet his girlfriend who is arriving on the Manly ferry. The references to Scott/Antarctic, Burke & Wills, and a Russian sub beneath the Arctic are telling us how alone he felt, presumably during previous nights; dramatizing the feeling of utter isolation. While waiting, he is also warning himself, soliloquizing, not to be reckless or unnecessarily boisterous in front of her when she arrives, because she hates that behavior and may leave him again.

    The line, "Throw down your guns" means don't show traits such as recklessness, aggressiveness, or extreme independence popularly associated with cowboys. For many a jilted lover, the song contains a hint of cosmic irony.
    CorgiKidon January 09, 2012   Link
  • +2
    General CommentI think he's treated his girlfriend badly, and they have broken up. This happened some time ago and he regrets it deeply.

    I thought the first line was:

    "Met down by the jetty landing"

    In other words, he met her at the ferry wharf. He is there now and it reminds him of her and when they were happy.

    The second verse is how he feels about the breakup - a tragic failure despite having tried hard to survive (Scott, Burke and Wills) and lonely and invisible (Russian sub).

    The music evokes a winter's day on the harbour. It's windy and cold (pontoons bump and spray when the water is unsettled and whipped up by wind). Life is dreary and pointless without her.

    Great song.
    Sonofagunzelon July 21, 2008   Link
  • +2
    Song MeaningSO this seems to be yet another song about heroin. I'll go through the lyrics line by line but first I'll summarise. The song tells of the morning journey from Manly to the city (and presumably Kings Cross) to 'get on' (buy a hit). The experience of the addict standing apart from the people commuting to work, and the daily wrestle of trying not to use heroin when they are addicted are part of the song,

    >>Meet me down by the jetty landing
    Where the the pontoons bump and sway

    The song locates us, waiting for the ferry. You may be in a hurry but you can't go anywhere while you wait. A bit like waiting for a dealer. The pontoons bumping and swaying makes me think of a live crowd at a gig.

    >>I see the others reading, standing
    As the Manly Ferry cuts its way to Circular Quay

    The singer is apart from normal people who don't do what he does. The are standing where he is sitting or fallen in a sense. Presumably he is 'hanging out', feeling sick until he can get on. But more so, he is a failure compared to the people with jobs and healthy lives.

    >>Hear the Captain blow his whistle
    So long she's been away

    'She' is heroin and he is hanging out. The captains whistle conveys the urgency of the trip and its progress into the busy Circular Quay area.

    >>I miss our early morning wrestle
    Not a very Happy way to start the day

    Waking up, hanging out and deliberating about getting on, is not fun. Maybe he misses it because there is no deliberating these days. He has to use every day.

    >>She don't like
    That kind of behaviour
    She don't like
    That kind of behaviour

    Heroin is in charge now and she doesnt like him thinking that he can not use for a day. The drug is portrayed like an aggressive dominatrix.

    >>So, throw down your guns
    Don't be so reckless
    Throw down your guns
    Don't be so

    The singer is telling the listener not to toy with heroin. Put down the needle before you start and certainly before she takes control.

    >>Feel like Scott of the Antarctic
    Base camp too far away
    A Russian sun beneath the Arctic

    He is cold, desperate, dying, isolated from humanity and there is a kind of dead headedness i think in active heroin and methadone addiction that could be like having a polar ice cap over you and between you and the sky

    >>Burke and Wills and camels
    Initials in the tree

    He is too far from help and out of the living water

    >>She don't like
    That kind of behaviour
    She don't like
    That kind of behaviour

    >>So, throw down your guns
    Don't be so reckless
    Throw down your guns
    Don't be so

    So the title of the song relates to what gets people in trouble with drugs despite being warned - they think "it wont happen to me" but like an explorer exploring drugs, they can recklessly push to a point where they are beyond help.

    I think this is a very powerful song with real investment by the writer.
    ayebrobrololon May 21, 2018   Link
  • +1
    My InterpretationThere is a rift between him and his girlfriend ("so long she's been away"). He doesn't know when or if she's coming back. But the problem is his behaviour. There's something he's constantly doing ("she don't like that kind of behaviour"). We're not told what it is, but it's driving her away. He's telling himself not to be so reckless. He's losing her. Stop fighting. Stop 'sticking to your guns'. Throw down your guns. Give up that kind of behaviour.

    But he won't or can't change. It's so close it's within his grasp, like Scott (base camp beyond his reach), or a Russian sub trapped beneath Arctic sea ice (near home but can't get there) or Burke Wills perishing in the desert (so near yet so far). He's a bit of a tragic! He going to lose her and he just can't make that little bit of extra effort to get there and win her back. Aren't we all a bit like that?
    argie777on December 12, 2015   Link
  • 0
    General CommentGreat song, Marelle. Just one thing - I'm fairly sure it's "A Russian sub
    beneath the Arctic". Maybe I misheard the lyric. Or its sung that way
    (I've noticed that, with a few artists I've come across). "...Manly Ferry cuts
    its way to Circular Quay", refers to the famous Sydney Harbour amongst
    other references. I love the statement, "She don't like That kind of behaviour"
    I relate it to men who mistreat women (not the song or singer, just that line).
    I don't like men who mistreat women. I'm male.
    globalon July 03, 2002   Link
  • 0
    General CommentTop Notch Song!

    A band who is a true testament to great Ozzie music.
    Beautiful metaphors to the Ocean and the Bassline - O, the Bassline! Bloody Mega!
    bkat004on March 17, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General Commentthis song reminds me of the guy i like drawing on my back as i looked into his eyes over my shoulder.very sexy.
    forsakenangel25on July 25, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General CommentHe has spent the night alone and is now waiting to meet his girlfriend who is arriving on the manly ferry. The references to burke and wills, russion subs and scott is telling us how alone he felt the previous night. He is also warning himself not to be reckless (boistrous) in front of her when she arrives cos she hates that behaviour and my again leave him alone.

    Beautiful song....
    iambretton April 13, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentOk the lyrics being disputed will now be set straight, they are "We met down by the Jetty landing", "I feel like Scott on the Antartic" and "A Russian sub beneath the Artic"
    I like Corgikid's explanation, very well explained, well done

    P.S Yes it is "I feel like" or "feel like Scott ON the Antartic" I know because I am OBSESSED with this song and you don't know how many times I have played it!

    P.P.S exactly, that and Midnight Oil are great Aussie bands, least you weren't trying to steal ours (I am a Kiwi)
    Tycookon February 23, 2013   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI've always taken the song pretty literally and thought it was about the rampant booze culture in Australia, particularly the way it predisposes men towards violence.

    The song is sung about a female, possibly the object of affection by a male, who thinks that showing his masculinity by fighting people will win her over. But in reality, the singer can see that she detests that kind of brutal physicality, while it's oblivious to this man.

    Then again, there appear to be a lot of metaphors in the song, so it could be a little more deeper and complex than I've taken it to be.
    anne1076on February 26, 2015   Link

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