"Babylon" as written by Lee Hays, Don Mclean and Dp,....
By the waters, the waters of Babylon
We lay down and wept, and wept, for thee Zion
We remember thee, remember thee, remember thee Zion
By the waters, the waters of Babylon
We lay down and wept, and wept, for thee Zion
We remember thee, remember thee, remember thee Zion
By the waters, the waters of Babylon
We lay down and wept, and wept, for thee Zion
We remember thee, remember thee, remember thee Zion


Lyrics submitted by sakebox

"Babylon" as written by Don Mclean Dp

Lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group, Warner Chappell Music, Inc.

Lyrics powered by LyricFind

Babylon song meanings
Add your thoughts

10 Comments

sort form View by:
  • +1
    General CommentPsalm 137:1, by the way, is "Beside the rivers of Babylon, we sat and wept as we thought of Jerusalem."

    What is the relevance of that verse to Don McLean?

    Was he Christian or Jewish? Or neither? Or both?

    He has another song that mentions Babylon called Aftermath? What does Babylon mean to him?

    I know that to the Rastafarians (a religion that originated in Jamaica, to whom Bob Marley belonged) the word "Babylon" is very negative... associated with the evils of the modern world and materialistic society, etc.

    It would be interesting to know if maybe Don McLean knew about Rastafarianism? This record did come out in the 70s when Jamaican Reggae music was being first introduced to the U.S.

    It's more likely it is from a Judeo-Christian standpoint, but who knows?

    No really, does anyone know?
    TheThornBirdson February 04, 2009   Link
  • +1
    Song MeaningAs others have mentioned, this is based on the first line of Psalm 137; the arrangement is from the 1700s, by Philip Hayes. Psalm 137 is a song of mourning the loss of Jerusalem to Babylon and the exile of the Jewish people around 600 BCE. Here's a common translation: <biblegateway.com/passage/> The grief (and at the end, rage) are evident.

    The recording I heard (are there others?) was Don McLean leading the audience in a round. I found an interesting link referencing this or a similar recording (incongruously on Jewish Humor Central, but the page explains what's up): jewishhumorcentral.com/2014/08/… "Back in 1973, during the Yom Kippur War, singer Don McLean performed his hit song Babylon in front of a live audience and had them singing along with him." The Yom Kippur War was between Israel and several Arab states. I don't know enough about the 1973 war to know whether it was in fact an existential threat to Israel; if it seemed likely at the time, then this would have been apropos.

    Most of this I learned today when researching the song. Even without hearing the lyrics fully (I come to this site because I don't hear lyrics easily, maybe you do too!) or knowing that backstory, I had a sense of gut-wrenching mourning from this song. It's absolutely haunting.
    timmcon January 26, 2017   Link
  • 0
    General CommentBased on Psalm 137:1.
    asutboneon November 25, 2004   Link
  • 0
    General CommentTru'dat!
    I love this little catchy tune.
    Zygexon February 23, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General Commenthave to day i don't really like this song. every other song on american pie is gorgeous, but this sounds a little too much like a hymn, which was probably the intention, though.
    winwinon June 30, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General Commentthis song rocks, but im strangely alittle freaked out by it. i was listening to it on my MP3 player when we got into a car crash, so now i never listen 2 it in the car. and when i do listen 2 it, i feel ancious... strange, i know
    windchilon April 29, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General CommentHe states in an interview that he is pantheist. He is not a Christian, but believes in a God, if that helps.

    I'd just thought I'd mention I love this song.
    HELENzon November 10, 2009   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThis is a very fitting last song on Side 2 of the American Pie album. Both songs, American Pie and Babylon, mourn the loss of a “promised land” by God’s “chosen people.”

    As others pointed out, these lyrics are based on Psalm 137:1 from the Bible. During the Babylonian captivity (or exile) in the 7th century BC, the Jew’s homeland, the ancient Kingdom of Judah, was conquered by the Babylonians. Many Jews were taken to Babylonia, a kingdom located between the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers ("the waters of Babylon") in the area of modern-day Iraq.

    The Jews saw themselves as God’s chosen people as they were the first to embrace monotheism. In a similar way, Americans have described themselves as a chosen people – “manifest destiny” in the 19th Century and “American exceptionalism” in the 20th.

    I think by including this song at the end of the American Pie album, McLean is suggesting that the events and cultural changes of the late 50’s to early 70’s left Americans exiled from their own promised land. Certainly, loss is a recurring theme in American Pie and, whatever his personal beliefs, McLean use biblical/religious imagery throughout that song.

    It also interesting to note, as commenter TheThornBirds does here, that for Rastafarians, “Babylon” is their term for decadent western society. Also “Zion” is the Rastafarian name for the Promised Land -- which for them is present-day Ethiopia.
    djm60546on December 05, 2013   Link
  • 0
    Song MeaningAs others have mentioned, this is based on Psalm 137; the arrangement is from the 1700s, by Philip Hayes. I found an interesting link referencing the version I heard:

    jewishhumorcentral.com/2014/08/…

    "Back in 1973, during the Yom Kippur War, singer Don McLean performed his hit song Babylon in front of a live audience and had them singing along with him."

    The Yom Kippur War was between Israel and several Arab states. Psalm 137 is a song of mourning the loss of Jerusalem to Babylon and the exile of the Jewish people. I don't know enough about the 1973 war to know whether it was in fact an existential threat to Israel; if it seemed likely at the time, then this would have been apropos.
    timmcon January 26, 2017   Link
  • -1
    General Commentsounds like a cult chant
    sl8ron July 18, 2006   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!

Back to top
explain