Tears on the sleeve of a man
Don't want to be a boy today
Heard the eternal footman
Bought himself a bike to race
And Greg he writes letters and burns his CDs
They say you were something in those formative years
Hold onto nothing as fast as you can
Well still pretty good year
pretty good year

Maybe a bright sandy beach
Is gonna bring you back, back, back
Maybe not so now you're off
You're gonna see America
Well let me tell you something about America
Pretty good year
Pretty good

Some things are melting now
Some things are melting now
Well,hey what's it gonna take till my baby's alright
What's it gonna take till my baby's alright

And Greg he writes letters with his birthday pen
Sometimes he's aware that they're drawing him in
Lucy was pretty your best friend agreed
Well still pretty good year
pretty good
pretty good year


Lyrics submitted by Novartza

Pretty Good Year Lyrics as written by Tori Ellen Amos

Lyrics © Downtown Music Publishing

Lyrics powered by LyricFind

Pretty Good Year song meanings
Add Your Thoughts

12 Comments

sort form View by:
  • +6
    General Comment

    I got a lettre from a guy named Greg. He's a fan, and this lettre just happened to get to me, because a lot of times I don't get them. But he's from the north of England and he drew this picture, a self-portrait of himself. It was a pencil drawing and Greg had glasses and long hair and he was really, really skinny. He had this drooping flower in his hand. And he wrote to me this lettre that touched me to the core about how at twenty-three, it was all over for him. In his mind, there was nothing. He just couldn't seem to catch the kite by the tail. You know, sometimes you see that kite flying and bloody hell, you just have to grab the tail, bring it down and see what's on the kite. Well, he just couldn't find a way around putting his desires and his visions into anything tangible, except this lettre. Many people today, before they even reach thirty, feel this way-it's a functional exercise waking up, brushing your teeth, going through your day. People have just numbered themselves. I don't know the answer why. I think there are loads of answers. It's not my job to come up with an answer. Nobody wants to hear an answer from me. The point is, what I tried to come up with is the feeling we all feel. Shanking us out of this numbness. I was just telling Greg's story and Greg affected the singer so much that it brought my own stuff into it, and that was kind of a neat surprise. -Tori Amos

    -from the book In Their Own Words:Songwriters Talk About The Creative Process written/compiled by Bill DeMain

    marquiceriseon January 17, 2006   Link
  • +4
    General Comment

    "Heard the Eternal Footman bought himself a bike to race" - A realisation of time starting to go faster.

    This song always struck me as one about a sad, unhappy guy, "pretty good year" is said in a bittersweet tone.

    He doesn't want his good days to be over, but they are soon gonna be "sometimes he's aware that they're drawing him in" - time and history are drawing him in, making him lose his youth, and that makes him unhappy.

    Carableaon July 02, 2008   Link
  • +2
    General Comment

    "Whether it bums you out or not, the truth is, all this happened, as much as the first record did. But there are other characters involved a bit more. There are just other beings involved in this one. Like Pretty Good Year, for example, I got a letter from a guy named Greg in England. This one got to me - it missed getting to me for, like, three months. But it just got passed around to different people, and finally somebody just - I was walking through the record label in between the tour up in England, and somebody put it in my bag. They just said, "You know what, Tori? This has been sitting around here. Just take it." And I took this letter, and I opened my bag two days later, and I read it. It was a picture of - he had drawn himself. It was a pencil drawing. Greg has kind of scrawny hair and glasses, and he's very skinny and he held this great big flower. Greg is 23, lives in the north of England, and his life is over, in his mind. I found this a reoccurrence in every country that I went. In that early 20 age, with so many of the guys - more than the girls, they were a bit more, 'Ah, things are just beginning to happen.' The guys, it was finished. The best parts of their life were done. The tragedy of that for me, just seeing that over and over again, got to me so much that I wrote Pretty Good Year. You don't really know what my role is. Am I Lucy, or am I that eight bars of grunge that comes out near the end where I express, and then nothing, everything else is Greg's story? I found that kind of really fun. The emotion is coming from somebody else's story. And yet it touched me so that I could sing it."

    "...in New Mexico, where I went to write, and record, this album, was that at one point I was spraying Pledge polish in a cupboard and I inhaled it and I got a lung infection which meant I couldn't speak, or sing, for three weeks. And I really thought my voice was damaged forever and had to do voice lessons on the phone, with this voice teacher to try and get the natural corisone back on the cords. I was thinking 'what if I never sing again?' Then I'd say 'if I can't sing what's the point in being alive, is this person worth anything at all?' And there were moments where the only answer to that question was 'no'. Then i'd give in to the self-pity that comes out in the song PGY, and in the lyric 'They say you were something in those formative years'. [Tori Amos, Hot Press, 02/32/94]

    "mountain biking became a major event in my life for a week, the mud was so thick on the tires we got there just in time to feel the mountain thaw, the sound when these two merged was something like 'thclulpleekooh' i said on an intake of breath with no lips moving and no throat usage, i like this word and i liked the idea of the eternal footman saying 'asta' on a mountain bike" [Tori Amos, Under The Pink Songbook]

    merchantpierceon May 04, 2002   Link
  • +2
    General Comment

    that's true breakfast...you couldn't burn cds in 1994

    PianoChickon December 06, 2006   Link
  • +1
    General Comment

    I once asked Tori after a concert what she meant by "Greggy writes letters and burns his CDs," and she told me, "Why don't you burn one and see what you get?"

    presidentandceoon June 17, 2003   Link
  • +1
    General Comment

    This is a classic example of a song that has been changed by technology.

    These days everyone burns CDs on their computer, when it was written the only way to burn a CD was to throw it on a fire.

    Breakfaston May 09, 2006   Link
  • +1
    General Comment

    this song gives me closure - i don't know how to describe it. tori is amazing.

    maggotbrainon February 21, 2007   Link
  • +1
    General Comment

    been watching the video lately .... what a fantastic song !

    modarxmodaron September 10, 2012   Link
  • +1
    My Interpretation

    The interpretations written so far are pretty much my thoughts as well. I always thought Greg was someone who was perpetually alone, maybe the 'bullied' kid in school, and the letters were his way of reaching beyond and out of something that he is so stuck far inside. I originally wondered too if it was a fan letter that she had received as well.

    'Greg he writes letters with his birthday pen, sometimes he's aware that they're drawing him in" - 'drawing him in' means a few things. Mostly, that other people are etching him into their minds in a place that is probably misunderstood and casts a shadow. It also means that he is aware maybe that they are affecting his spirit and pushing him farther into isolation. "Pretty good year", to me, is a way of probably downplaying a not-so-good year, but one that may have been better than other much worse ones. The choice of the word "pretty" is irony, and very on point as far as description goes.

    And two perspectives are sung - "what's it going to take till my baby's alright" is sung from someone else who loves him - likely his mother, who wishes to protect him, but obviously can't or isn't capable of for probably a number of reasons.

    I often wonder too if Greg had SAD? I can relate to most of this song because it seems to reflect of my own experiences as a teenager and into my early 20s. Every decade has its own soundtrack.

    vancouvertyleron November 28, 2013   Link
  • 0
    General Comment

    hold onto nothing... wow what a sad thing to think about. having nothing to hold onto when falling

    Confuciuson August 15, 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
Bron-Y-Aur Stomp
Led Zeppelin
This is about bronies. They communicate by stomping.
Album art
I Can't Go To Sleep
Wu-Tang Clan
This song is written as the perspective of the boys in the street, as a whole, and what path they are going to choose as they get older and grow into men. (This is why the music video takes place in an orphanage.) The seen, and unseen collective suffering is imbedded in the boys’ mind, consciously or subconsciously, and is haunting them. Which path will the boys choose? Issac Hayes is the voice of reason, maybe God, the angel on his shoulder, or the voice of his forefathers from beyond the grave who can see the big picture and are pleading with the boys not to continue the violence and pattern of killing their brothers, but to rise above. The most beautiful song and has so many levels. Racism towards African Americans in America would not exist if everyone sat down and listened to this song and understood the history behind the words. The power, fear, pleading in RZA and Ghostface voices are genuine and powerful. Issac Hayes’ strong voice makes the perfect strong father figure, who is possibly from beyond the grave.
Album art
When We Were Young
Blink-182
This is a sequel to 2001's "Reckless Abandon", and features the band looking back on their clumsy youth fondly.
Album art
Punchline
Ed Sheeran
Ed Sheeran sings about missing his former partner and learning important life lessons in the process on “Punchline.” This track tells a story of battling to get rid of emotions for a former lover, whom he now realized might not have loved him the same way. He’s now caught between accepting that fact and learning life lessons from it and going back to beg her for another chance.
Album art
Amazing
Ed Sheeran
Ed Sheeran tells a story of unsuccessfully trying to feel “Amazing.” This track is about the being weighed down by emotional stress despite valiant attempts to find some positivity in the situation. This track was written by Ed Sheeran from the perspective of his friend. From the track, we see this person fall deeper into the negative thoughts and slide further down the path of mental torment with every lyric.