And now you know my name
But I don't feel the same
But I ain't gonna blame
The rider on the wheel

And I know my song is new
I know it's new for you
I tell you, how it's true
For the rider on the wheel

And round and round we go
We take it, fast and slow
I must keep up a show
For the rider on the wheel
For the rider on the wheel

Know my name
But I don't feel the same
But I ain't gonna blame
The rider on the wheel
The rider on the wheel

Lyrics submitted by foxyurchin

"Rider on the Wheel" as written by Nick Drake

Lyrics © BMG Rights Management

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Rider On The Wheel song meanings
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  • +2
    General CommentSounds like he's found out that all relationships are give and take, and he finds it difficult to find that balance of being true to oneself while "keeping up a show" for the other person. This could be true of a familial relationship, a friendship, a love affair, a business partnership, or the relationship between artist and fan.
    aventurineon December 15, 2011   Link
  • +1
    General CommentHe's talking about the beginning of a loving relationship. The first few moments of the relationship were magical, but as it continued, the intensity of it revealed his full vulnerability and it's made both of them paranoid and questioning--"and now you know my name / but I don't feel the same / but I ain't gonna blame"

    He wants to be trusted in complete faith, but since trust is only something that exists mutually, either her or his own insecure questioning prevents it from occuring--"but I don't feel the same." And even though they've already seen through to each other, the intensity of it has painted them into corners and he "must keep up a show."
    psilogonon April 02, 2005   Link
  • 0
    My InterpretationAs someone who relates a lot to Nick Drake, I think there is a very clear message in this song about not being able to relate to most people and feeling different from practically everyone. "And now you know my name," fairly literal, or basically you can communicate with me on a surface level. "But I don't feel the same" feel like an outsider, don't want to engage in surface level conversation. "But I ain't gonna blame the rider on the wheel," What is the rider on the wheel? Simple, the wheel is Earth, and everyone is a rider on it, but I think the simplification of life is specifically referring to simple people; people who live through life happily, do the normal things, don't do anything too bad or too good, and then disappear in history. These people make up most of humanity and there is no reason to try to change them or hold animosity towards them for being the way they are. Another interpretation is that he identifies that we are all riders on thee wheel, so we are all the same, so even if you feel different, you are acting the way you are and so are others, don't blame the rider on the wheel.

    The second verse is fairly literal to me; his music is not reaching anyone because it has not had time to get around, and it is really ahead of its time, but it holds truth for everyone.

    Third verse is about the absurdity of life. "Round and round we go," the Earth hurls across the universe. "Take it fast and slow" its just the way life works. "Must keep up a show, for the rider on the wheel," act like someone your not throughout society.
    anthonyoxkon May 12, 2017   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI wonder if this song falls in with 'hanging on a star' in being about his reported disillusionment with not breaking through and being more widely accepted/successful, shame he became widely acclaimed only after death.
    Anyway I wonder if the 'rider on the wheel' is a DJ or anyone playing his record(s)? It would kind of fit. Maybe.
    Just a thought.
    David Lon May 16, 2019   Link

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