Don't know where things went wrong
Might have been when you were young and strong
Don't know where things went wrong
Might have been when you were young and strong
Love brought joy and life brought pain
The emptiness of money and a name
After that, things got a little rough
In the American dream

American dream, American dream
American dream, American dream

I used to see you on every TV
Your smiling face looked back at me
American dream, American dream
I used to see you on every TV
Your smiling face looked down on me
American dream, American dream

Then they caught you with the girl next door
People's money piled on the floor
Accusations that you try to deny
Revelations and rumors begin to fly

American dream, American dream
American dream, American dream
American dream, American dream
American dream, American dream

You wake up in the middle of the night
Your sheets are wet and your face is white
You tried to make a good thing last
How did something so good go bad so fast?

American dream, American dream
American dream, American dream

Now you think about reaching out
Maybe get some help from above
American dream, American dream
Now you think about reaching out
Maybe get some help from above
American dream, American dream

Reporters crowd around your house
Going through your garbage like a pack of hounds
Speculating what they may find out
It don't matter now, you're all washed up

American dream, American dream (all washed up)
American dream, American dream

Don't know where things went wrong
Might have been when we were young and strong
American dream, American dream
Don't know where things went wrong
Might have been when we were young and strong
American dream, American dream
Don't know where things went wrong
Might have been when we were young and strong
American dream, American dream
Don't know where things went wrong
Might have been when we were young and strong
American dream, American dream


Lyrics submitted by planetearth

American Dream [Summer Songs Version] Lyrics as written by Neil Young

Lyrics © Silver Fiddle, WORDS & MUSIC A DIV OF BIG DEAL MUSIC LLC

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American Dream song meanings
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3 Comments

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  • 0
    General CommentI'm not positive, but it might be about Jimmy and Tammy Baker?
    wrongdudeon December 20, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General CommentIt is indeed about that among other things.
    floydfan87on December 18, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThis song is about Gary Hart, disgraced US Democratic Presidential nominee.

    His tumultuous campaign ended in March of 1988. This album was released in November. “Used to see you on every TV” references Hart’s ubiquitous media coverage at the time. The ambiguous lyrics refer to reporters “Going through your garbage like a pack of hounds.” This signifies the extra-marital affair Hart was having with Donna Rice, and the media frenzy that ensued, resulting in reporters following the candidate around incessantly.

    “People’s money piled on the floor” most likely refers to the $1.3 million dollar debt Hart had racked up during his 1984 presidential bid.

    The lyric “Don’t know when things went wrong / Might’ve been when you were young and strong” may be up for interpretation. ‘You’ may be Hart, or America itself. Perhaps Neil Young was asking if America went wrong long ago when it was young and strong, and indeed whether the American dream had died long ago.
    Quisquiphileon April 15, 2021   Link

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