It's a pity
It's a crying shame
Who pulled you down again?
How painful it must be
To bruise so easily inside

It's a pity
It's a downright crime
But it happens all the time
You wanna stay little daddy's girl
Wanna hide from the vicious world outside

But don't cry
Know the tears'll do no good
So dry your eyes

Your daddy he's the iron man
A battleship wrecked on dry land
Your mama she's a bitter bride
She'll never be satisfied,
And you know
That's not right

But don't cry
Know the tears'll do no good
So dry your eyes

They told you life is hard
It's misery from the start
It's dull and slow and painful

I tell you life is sweet
In spite of the misery
There's so much more
Be grateful

Who do you believe?
Who will you listen to
Who will it be?
It's high time that you decide
In your own mind

Tried to comfort you
Tried to tell you to be patient
They are blind
They can't see

Fortune gonna come some day
All gonna fade away
Your daddy the war machine and
Your mama the long and suffering
Prisoner of what she can not see

They told you life is hard
It's misery from the start
It's dull and slow and painful

I tell you life is sweet
In spite of the misery
There's so much more
Be grateful

Who do you believe?
Who will you listen to
Who will it be?

It's high time you decide
It's time you make up your own sweet little mind

They told you life is long
Be thankful when it's done
Don't ask for more
You should be grateful

But I tell you life is short
Be thankful because before you know
It will be over

'Cause life is sweet
And life is also very short
Your life is sweet


Lyrics submitted by kevin

Life Is Sweet Lyrics as written by Natalie A Merchant

Lyrics © Downtown Music Publishing

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Life Is Sweet song meanings
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6 Comments

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  • +1
    General Commentcant believe nobody commented this .. songs speaks for itself and its so beautiful.
    NIKKIEon April 26, 2004   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI agree with Nikkie.. so beautiful. I think it's about a girl being surrounded by terrible situations and troubled people, but Ms. Merchant is convincing her to stick with it because life will get so much better.
    Leneschoon December 09, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThis song does speak for itself on many levels. I feel like I can relate to this song a lot for one my father was in war, even though he isn't all pro-war, "Iron man" anymore, but its just a way for me to relate to the song differently. I can relate to the lyrics while shes talking about your mama and your papa just because there have been times in my life where my parents are like the ones she speaking with, and I feel bad for them because they are prisoner of literally "what they cannot see".
    emjb0412on May 03, 2010   Link
  • 0
    General CommentLast Thursday Natalie explained that she wrote this song for the 13 year old daughter of a friend. The girl tried to kill herself and happily failed. Natalie wrote the song to show her that no matter how bad things are life is worth living. The girl's mother told Natalie that after she got the song and learned that Natalie had written it just for her she went into her room, turned the volume up and played it over and over again for the next two days. After Natalie told us this story she sang the song and before the end she was crying so hard she had to stop a couple of times to compose herself and so did everyone else.

    (PS) The girl is fine now.
    ianrobertsonon October 28, 2014   Link
  • 0
    General Comment"Oh, your daddy, he's the iron man, a battleship wrecked on dry land."

    The older I get, the more and more I understand some of my favourite music, and I find new meanings in it.

    I know many of us hold an image of our dads, especially when we're little, a projection of power, majesty, integrity, something unimpeachable. This verse has always held a lot of meaning for me in that regard, but as I get older, I start to see the latter half of it more and more.

    The verse is about that image we hold of him, the person we can hold on to when things are tough, and hide behind when we're scared, but also how as time goes on, we come to see the old warrior that has outlived its purpose, a relic of another era.

    I've certainly felt that way for a while when I talk to my Dad, and I find out new things about him, like how he's a Trump supporter now, abandoning the reason and principle he once seemed to hold to in favor of that old time when maybe he saw himself as something so much more, too.

    Of course, I'll never forget Natalie's caution in this song, either, that life is short, and to be thankful for what we've got.

    Thanks, Natalie, for being one of my absolute favorite artists, and for helping me to see so much in life and express the feelings I always had difficulty in doing.
    ncc74656mon June 08, 2016   Link
  • 0
    General CommentAs inspiring at the history of the song as told by ianrobertson is, the actual story is bit less dramatic but more inclusive to all of us and can be found here: songfacts.com/facts/natalie-merchant/…

    I think the fact that Ian's post was not necessarily the real story might be gleaned as Ian described the girl who inspired it as a "daughter of a friend." A friend who apparently is a "bitter bride" and "long suffering" who married an "iron man" and a "war machine". Not very complimentary description for friends.

    This is my favorite Natalie Merchant song. And as beautiful as it is, what always moved me about this song was the ending, which -- as hopeful and inspiring the rest of the song is -- the ending is a real slap in the face.

    But I tell you life is short
    Be thankful because before you know
    It will be over

    'Cause life is sweet
    And life is also very short
    Your life is sweet

    And then she repeats the last two lines over and over as it fades away. Life is short and that's what makes it sweet. Inspiring and haunting at the same time.

    I was lucky to see her perform on her last anniversary tour. center stage 10 rows back. It was so lovely. A cherished moment in my life.
    robert1044on September 27, 2020   Link

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