He had a thousand ideas, you might have heard his name
He lived alone with his vision
Not looking for fortune or fame
Never said too much to speak of
He was off on another plane
The words that he said were a mystery
Nobody's sure he was sane

But he knew, he knew more than me or you
No one could see his view, Oh where was he going to

He was in search of an answer
The nature of what we are
He was trying to do it a new way
He was bright as a star
But nobody understood him
"His numbers are not the way"
He's lost in the deepest enigma
Which no one's unraveled today

But he knew, he knew more than me or you
No one could see his view, Oh where was he going to
And he tried, but before he could tell us he died
When he left us the people cried,
Oh where was he going to?

He had a different idea
A glimpse of the master plan
He could see into the future
A true visionary man
But there's something he never told us
It died when he went away
If only he could have been with us
No telling what he might say

But he knew, he knew more than me or you
No one could see his view
Oh, where was he going to
But he knew, you could tell by the picture he drew
It was totally something new,
Oh where was he going to?

Lyrics submitted by Idan

Portrait Lyrics as written by Steve (usa) Walsh Kerry Livgren

Lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

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Portrait (He Knew) song meanings
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  • +2
    General CommentDefinately Einstien. Livgren said so himself. He wrote Ballads to Einstien and Hughes and put them back to back on the Album Point of Know Return. Kickass album, one of those where you can listen from beginning to end without coming across a bad song.
    WYWHon May 04, 2006   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI never knew who it was about. It could be Einstein. That'd make sense. Nobody really understood him, and "portrait" of course could mean not only just a portrait of his life, but also it could represent something. Like his work or something. And nobody's really unraveled it today, because, well, we still don't get it. Some of the lines sound like they could be about Jesus, I guess, but mostly not. It COULD be about DaVinci if you wanted it to be. Actually - it could be about most anyone you wanted it to be. And we can leave it so.
    Pippin the Mercuryon July 18, 2008   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI'm not sure where folks get their "facts" from, but it's pretty clear to me (and maybe you, now?) that the song is about Nikola Tesla, Not Einstein. Many people have put forth the "he said it was about Einstein" theory, but it doesn't make any sense. Einstein didn't leave anything 'unfinished', unless you count the 'Unified Field Theory', but he dismissed the part of Tesla's work - the real mystery - as 'spooky action at a distance.' He was perfectly satisfied to admit he did not know the answer(s) to the phenomenon of quantum entanglement.

    Nikola, on the other hand, DID know. He tried to tell us, but before he was 'allowed' to do so, he died. Penniless and shunned by the people he made rich - he knew things about the Field, about the Force, that the 'science' of the day SUPRESSED. So they could charge you for your energy usage.

    Energy is FREE. Some folks would rather you NOT know this. You may now move freely about the cabin.
    rob1099155on April 06, 2021   Link
  • 0
    General CommentHmmm, since Kerry Livgren was a deeply religous man, I althoughs felt that many of his songs were about Jesus. This one, as well as Nobody's Home.
    Fein Messon February 01, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General CommentAlot of Livegren's music was on face value about earthly things such as Albert Einstein's life, war, etc. However, he was a very religious person at points in his life though, if i remember correctly, he did go through a phase where he questioned many religions and which ones were right and wrong for him and why...much of his music is an expression of this period and despite face value alot of it has deeper meanings about religions (not neccessarily christian...see Incommudro- Hymn to Atman) that he put in both intentionally and unintentionally....also if i remember correctly he did say this song was about the life of albert einstein....but he never said it was NOT about Jesus either
    myrdhynon February 10, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI dunno, I think Leonardo da Vinci. The song is called "Portrait" after all.
    neotemplaron September 15, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI thought of Da Vinci too, i even made a poster where i pasted these lyrics next to a printout of Da Vinci's self-portrait.

    i don't think this song is about Jesus, becuse the person in this song is looking for the answers and searching. Jesus already had all the answers, that is why he came to earth. And Jesus did not "live alone with his vision", he preached to many and spoke in a clear, easily understood manner, not "The words that he said were a mystery".

    as for the person being Einstein, the mention of 'numbers' seems to support this theory, but what was the picture that he drew? Da Vinci was an artist, so it could be any of his works(i think the portrait was his self-portrait).
    findsomepeaceon December 08, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General CommentClassic album. The song is about Einstien, though. Portrait means like... "portrait of Einstien's life" instead of just picture.
    Zorgnon July 31, 2006   Link
  • 0
    Song MeaningAlbert Einstein, His numbers (in-lyrics), search 'Albert Einstein' in Wikipedia. Read about him. Albert did know more than us, and he did have a plan.Perfect for Jesus too, but , this song isn't Christian. It is Rock. I mean, they know these heavy-metal music listeners are not going to care about Jesus, I know Kerry was Christian, but get a point of view here, people!
    I have some Albert Physics for you guys:
    5)5643=66676544-664433=65arez=I have NOOOO CLUE!!!!!!!
    STARCHILD10on June 29, 2013   Link
  • 0
    General CommentGrowing up, Nostradamus was the obvious guess of who this song would have been about...or someone like him. But I think the song is really about you, me, each individual one of us.

    Regardless, it's a great song.
    mmclaughon January 22, 2014   Link

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