The surf was easy on the day I came to stay
On this quiet island in the bay
I remember a line of women all in white
The laughter and the steel bands at night

Now the Americans are gone except for two
The embassy's been hard to reach
There's been talk and lately
A bit of action after dark
Behind the big casino on the beach

The rules are changed
It's not the same
It's all new players
In a whole new ball game

Last night I dreamed of an old lover
Dressed in gray
I've had this fever now since yesterday
Wake up darling they're knocking
The Colonel's standing in the sun
With his stupid face the glasses and the gun

I know what happens
I read the book
I believe I just got
The goodbye look

Won't you pour me
A Cuban breeze Gretchen

I know a fellow with a motor launch for hire
A skinny man with two-tone shoes
Cause tonight they're arranging
A small reception just for me
Behind the big casino by the sea

I know what happens
I read the book
I believe I just got
The goodbye look

Lyrics submitted by Arbiter, edited by laffndragn

The Goodbye Look Lyrics as written by Donald Fagen

Lyrics © Wixen Music Publishing

Lyrics powered by LyricFind

The Goodbye Look song meanings
Add Your Thoughts


sort form View by:
  • +1
    My OpinionI always think this song reminds me of the film "The Comedians", based on the book of the same name by Grahame Greene. It is set in Haiti, at the time of Papa Doc Duvalier and his Ton-Ton Macoute, ruthlessly wiping out the revolutionaries opposed to his terrible dictatorship. Liz Taylor plays Martha (Gretchen), the German wife of an ambassador, and two visiting Americans witness executions by the beach.
    kevmogson January 24, 2014   Link
  • +1
    Song MeaningThe songs on the whole album take place in very late fifties / very early sixties, that's the key.

    The song is about an American ex-pat in Cuba, friends with Batista regime just before Castro and the commies take over. He should have left earlier when the other Americans did. The "goodbye look" is his intuition that he will be taken out behind the casino and shot by a Castro firing squad for being an American capitalist or something of that nature.

    and next he will get shot!

    see the last season of "Boardwalk Empire", the same thing nearly happens to Nucky Thompson in Cuba.
    rash67on April 29, 2015   Link
  • 0
    General Commentnice!
    mik91on September 16, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThis is a fantanstic tune about Castro... The protaganist is in Cuba having the time of his life...till the government changes overnight with a revolution. He needs to get off the Island... that Colonel is suppose to be Castro with the stupid face, the glasses and the gun...This might even be a Hemmingway type character speaking...I know what happens... I heard the song, lots... I love it.
    underbanyantreeson March 01, 2008   Link
  • 0
    My InterpretationYou're right - its all about Cuba post-revolution as opposed to the Batista days. Of course, it could be any island that had a revolution overnight (there were many in the 70's and 80's)
    taverneron January 27, 2009   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI just love how breezy and carefree he sounds, all the time he could be arrested. "Won't you pour me a Cuban Breeze, Gretchen?" Er, don't you have a motor launch to catch?

    First time, I heard the song without knowing the lyrics. Sounded like some lover who had given him the kiss-off. Reading closer, the good-bye look is a lot more sinister!
    mumajoron August 06, 2009   Link
  • 0
    General CommentLike Mumajor, I first thought this was a guy realizing he's getting the kiss-off from a beautiful woman. Actually, he's realizing he's getting the kiss-off from a Banana Republic (any one of them in or around the Carribbean, it seems to me).

    I don't see arrested in the equation, however. Somehow, this guy was oblivious enough to get left behind after all the other Colonialists left. Now, after dark, locals are rounding up anyone who might be connected with the oppressors and taking care of them behind the big casino on the beach (which is probably pretty empty now). Could be a flaming tire around the neck or any other local execution rite, but chances are it's not pretty. He's just realized that he's one of the last ones left (he "got" the Goodbye Look). He's sick, there's no embassy to help, and the only chance he sees is some sleaze with a small boat.
    Phaltyon August 05, 2010   Link
  • 0
    General Commentits a late 50s british james bond in pre-castro cuba, great tune and poetry
    rtraubenon January 07, 2013   Link
  • 0
    My InterpretationI always interpreted this as being about the failed Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba, and "All the Americans are gone except for two" being the US Government turning a blind eye to Brigade 2506 in the aftermath. The Colonel refers to Fidel Castro. "There's been talk and lately a bit of action after dark" refers to the Cuban Missile Crisis, and "tonight they're arranging a small reception just for me" is about the US eventually reaching an agreement to extract the Brigade 2506 POWs.
    zeldafan128on October 05, 2014   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI agree with the government change in Cuba concept. Perhaps it's being sang from the perception of an American spy who is expecting to be murdered behind a casino by the beach.
    jayolsenon January 03, 2015   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