"Coast to Coast" as written by Elliott Smith...
Last stop for a resolution
End of the line, is it confusion?
So go. Go see what's there for you
Nothing new, nothing new for you to use
I've got no new act to amuse you
I've got no desire to use you, you know
But anything that I could do, would never be good enough for you
If you can't help it then just leave it alone
Leave it alone, yeah, just forget it
It's really easy
I believe I'll forget it too
Still you're keepin' me around
Til I finally drag us both down
Streaming feathers out your hat
Yes I believe that's where it's at
You belong tagging along
And I belong in your zoo
So I wait for confirmation
That you're never gonna use your starting gun
Unless its me it sounds like being here just wasn't that much fun
Anything that I could do
Would never be good enough for you
If you can't help it then just leave it alone
Leave me alone, yeah, just forget it
It's really easy
I'll just forget it too
Coast to coast, coast to coast
I'll do what I can so you can be what you do
Coast to coast, coast to coast
I'll do everything I can so you can be what you do
Coast to coast, coast to coast
Circuit rider comes every fifth Sunday
Oh my Lord, I fell asleep one day
Anything that I could do
Is there anything that I could do
That someone doesn't do for you
That someone didn't do for you
That I haven't already done for you

Lyrics submitted by planetearth, edited by Jate

"Coast to Coast" as written by Steven Paul Smith Steven P. Smith

Lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

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Coast to Coast song meanings
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  • +5
    General Commentthis whole cd is a masterpiece.
    rival it seemson January 11, 2006   Link
  • +3
    General CommentI strongly believe that this song is directed to the friends who tried to help Elliott Smith, the friends who didn't like how he was living his life. I recall Elliott Smith saying in an interview that a lot of people wish he'd live a better life. And he'd just wanted to be left alone. The lyrics "just leave it alone. leave me alone. The lyrics "you belong tagging along. And I belong in your zoo" seem to be about the discomfort he felt when people told him how to live his life. It was as if he was in a zoo, locked up, where people could watch his every single mood. And then the lyrics "I'll do what I can so you can be what you do" seem to be implying "i'll keep on living my life miserably until you can see that when I think of you, I will only think of how you try to change me. Eventually, that will be the only thing that will define who you are, in my eyes."
    chapfalleneyeson December 30, 2004   Link
  • +2
    General CommentI'm just speculating here, but it sounds like this song may have something to do with Elliott's relationship with Jennifer Chiba at the time of his death. Seriously, look at the lyrics: "I've got no new act to amuse you," "Streaming feathers out your hat" -- these sound like the sort of things a semi-famous, hugely talented guy like Elliott would say to a considerably less-famous musician girlfriend who he'd been seeing for all of a year. Consider the line "I'll do what I can so you can be what you do"; I take this as a direct reference to Elliott's production work on Chiba's band's single, the one that apparently never panned out. In other words, he's saying "I'll do you this favor so you'll have something to back up this rock star attitude you've assumed." Of course, I have no idea what Chiba is like or was like at the time of Elliott's death, so, like I said, just speculation. But still, pretty interesting if you think about it..."Coast to Coast" could refer to the jetset lifestyle of a rock star, or perhaps someone who fancies herself a rock star without really having anything to show for it.
    mfluder2676on October 21, 2004   Link
  • +2
    General CommentI found this,

    This is Nelson Gary, Elliotts good friend that wrote the poem of coast to coast... the article is incredibly interesting...also the complete poem of that song can be found there.

    AMAZING jewl for fans
    intwilighton December 10, 2008   Link
  • +1
    General CommentThis song's from the yet to be released last album from Elliott Smith known as 'From A Basement On The Hill.'

    Some words about this song from Elliott's last interview: "This one was called Circuit Rider but not any more. This song I don't play everything on. This one actually has two drummers on it. One is Steve Drozd from the Flaming Lips and the other is the drummer for the Lillies. Steve and I are good friends and we've both had similar situations and we have both improved in the same way. I asked this friend of mine to make up something he could say as fast as he could in fifteen minutes about people healing themselves or being unable to heal themselves. While he's saying this thing there is a main vocal that goes over that."
    planetearthon July 03, 2004   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI just noticed the "That's why" line the other night for the first time while driving with the volume WAY up. All I could think was "What does THAT mean!?" I really like how the beginning of the song has that loop of music in which you can hear the main guitar and vocal melody foreshadowed. Is this the Rachmaninoff sample? If so, I think it's great that he "sampled" the riff from such an obscure source and made it his own.
    facedownowlson February 25, 2005   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI find these words beautiful and mysterious:

    So I wait for confirmation
    That you're never going to use your starting gun

    I love the way he uses the rhythm of simple speech as a powerful instrument. The rhythm and the melody build to a powerful resolution in

    never be -- good enough for you


    Leave me alone -- yeah -- just forget it

    I am so sad that he's dead.
    jrm36on October 06, 2006   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI want to go back and agree with the evangelist comment. i think the whole song is actually about evangelism and going to hell. I think "circuit rider" refers to a traveling preacher that goes from town to town, and comes "every fifth Sunday" and goes coast to coast. I think he uses evangelism as a metaphor for people constantly trying to help him and tell him what is right "if you can't help it, leave it alone". None of that has any meaning to Elliott. I think the "that's why" at the end is referring to why he doesn't believe, religiously- that is all blather and nonsense. And I always thought that the part about feathers out your cap referred to the concept of something being a feather in your cap-accomplishing something. Every televangelist might feel a convert was a feather in his cap. And that when you get converted, you are an animal in the zoo.
    suburbangirlon November 07, 2007   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI feel like Coast to Coast may be a Spirit singing to it's heavy/tired soul that doesn't want to come alive and help it's person so there is sort of a compromised negotion between the two then a stalemate reached between the two about their third wheel (the person) at the end and the Spirit begins to leave. I know it's a very egyptian way of looking at the makeup of man but I personally know Elliott was into some weird stuff. And if he is saying pushy preacher at the beginning and 'that's why' over such types at the end perhaps that is his way of saying there is no point in talking about the things he was truly interested in in that way cause it just doesn't work and is brain dead. [by Egyptian earlier I meant, for example here, that the Egyptians taught if your soul doesn't become an astral boat for your eternal spirit in this life before you die then there is no afterlife for you except some kind of being stuck regurgitating down here in the low, which 'is' hades/thuat]. And of course it's a song to his main old girlfriend too because you can detect the patterns but may have also been about Chiba who was said to come around and revitalize him with 'medications' [ie. 'circuit rider' sung in a way that sounds like he's saying cinco de maya too almost]. But there's definitely something 'other-wise' about it that lends me to sense a metaphysical side and not only girlfriend stuff. if this lyrical interpretation seems doubtful consider that Sam, his best friend, said all he can remember ever doing on his own tours with Quasi is picking up equipment and taking it to the next place but all he ever remembers doing all the time when touring with Elliott is reading Occult books with him. Reading Elliott's lyrics to 'A Living Will' should make this background abundantly clear.
    And in other songs Elliott says:
    'I'm a crash credit card registered to 'Smith' not the name that you call me with.'
    'why should you want any other when you're a world within a world.'
    And there is the red balloon he carries around in his video which he explained the meaning of..
    And there is his interview where he says his best songs are like one part of him, in him, singing to another part in him.
    My sister dated him for awhile in a sweet and innocent way and I knew a lot about him then and even briefly met him a little after that but was too scared to talk to him..or maybe it was like two brujo's circling each other like bulls, or like crabs in the sign of cancer, but giving each other friendly estimations, I don't know..it was a stalemate beyond the 'Hi' and assessment. People who say he gave off a blue aura you could almost sense and that he could make you feel like you were shot across to the other side of the room when he looked at you were right - that is what I felt then even before I knew other people said this about him. When he died I cried more then when my Grandfather died who was a great man - and I never even really knew him. But one sensed he was a human who went through a lot of suffering by people not like him but he always maintained himself like a gentleman to people in a BIG way to the end. Being that way would mean nothing if he didn't have something otherworldly in him because there are plenty of dead souled excellent smilers but he did and so that was why it means something important that he suceeded. One sensed at that time that he did and that he was, in a way beyond sense, out of this world before and after his death (btw..I lean toward thinking he was murdered by someone other then his girlfriend and that - almost certainly - it was not suicide). But, in any case, as the Sufi's say: 'Leave your life before your life leaves you.' and as the medieval author on King Arthur says: 'I won't say that he never died but that even before he had left this life he became immortal.' And as Elliott Smith says: 'Now I never leave my soul reposed although I'm going home...' One sensed this of Elliott to some degree and no doubt even David Bowie, also into strange practices, who was coming down to visit him at a certain point near the end having sensed something similar about him. [Bowie and Plant always show up like Gandalf's when people in the little hobbit world of music actually start doing something that connects with something bigger - for example Plant showing up at Ian Astbury's recording of Love before many yet knew of him etc.]
    So enough pre-ambling, here is my Interpretation. When listening very closely all of it sounds more like this then any of the variants proposed so far I am fairly strongly convinced. I wouldn't have realized the interpretation also if I hadn't have started hearing these anomalies in the sounds of the words of the lyrics too - and I only did so also while half asleep in that in-between state where you hear other-wise sometimes:

    inaudible: emtn (?)
    inaudible: Grdjf (?)
    [Spirit speaking to Soul about Person:]
    last stalk for a re-sol-ution
    end of the life: is a con-fus-ion so low
    I go and see what's there for you..
    nothing new, nothing new for you to 'you' ..s ('use')

    I've got no new act to abuse you
    I've got no desire to use you, you know

    but anything that I could do
    would never be good enough for you if...
    you can't help it.. then just leave it alone
    [2nd voice, soul, chimes in higher, happily agreeing and being sluggishly tempting:] 'leave it alone'
    [Back to Spirit talking to torpid soul:] leave it alone..
    yeah just forget it, it's really easy, I believe I forget it too

    [now screaming to his soul:]
    still keeping me around
    till I finally drag us both down
    pulling feathers out of your hat
    yes I believe that's come to that..:
    you belong, tagging along
    and I belong in the Zoo
    so I wait for confirmation that you're never gonna use your starting gun
    unless it's me it seems like 'being him' just wasn't that much fun
    [soul sings:]
    anything that I could do
    [spirit cuts back in quickly:]
    ..would never be good enough for you:
    if you can't help it then just leave it alone
    [soul tempting:] leave it alone
    [spirit:] leave me alone
    [soul tempting:] leave me alone
    [spirit:] yeah just forget it, it's really easy, I'll forget it too
    coast to coast, coast to coast
    [then the rest is the Spirit's lament:]
    I'll do what I can so you can 'be what you do'
    coast to coast, coast to coast
    I'll do everything I can so you can 'be what you do'
    coast to coast, coast to coast

    cinco de maya/circuit rider [full moon?] comes every 4th/5th Sun day
    Oh my Lord I fell asleep one Day

    anything that I could do...
    is there anything that I could do
    that someone doesn't do for you
    that someone didn't do for you
    yeah/now that I'm already done for you
    Commagene12on December 30, 2009   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI think it's about drugs and his girlfriend. How he doesn't want to use drugs and be a better person while at the same time he doesn't want to be a burden on his girlfriend. "leave it alone, yeah just forget it and I believe I'll forget it too..." he may be saying "I need my space and time to get things right and you'll get over me I know it and I think I'll get over my problem." Also when he says "Drag us both down" he doesn't want to continue to hurt himself or her. I don't think it's a depressing song I think it's a song with a lot hopefulness and for smith, it's a song of realizing what his life has become after years of travelling from coast to coast and abusing drugs and never being able to really settle down. I'm not really sure though but this is what I think when I read the lyrics from another songwriters point of view.
    johnbottomleyon November 07, 2009   Link

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