"Dying On The Vine" as written by and Larry Sloman John Cale....
I've been chasing ghosts and I don't like it
I wish someone would show me where to draw the line
I'd lay down my sword if you would take it
And tell everyone back home I'm doing fine

I was with you down in Acapulco
Trading clothing for some wine
Smelling like an old adobe woman
Or a William Burroughs playing for lost time

I was thinking about my mother
I was thinking about what's mine
I was living my life like a Hollywood
But I was dying on the vine

Who could sleep through all that noisy chatter
The troops, the celebrations in the sun
The authorities say my papers are all in order
And if I wasn't such a coward I would run

I'll see you me when all the shooting's over
Meet me on the other side of town
Yes, you can bring all your friends along for protection
It's always nice to have them hanging around

I was thinking about my mother
I was thinking about what's mine
I was living my life like a Hollywood
But I was dying, dying on the vine

Lyrics submitted by Santo Arma Re-dux

"Dying on the Vine" as written by Larry J. Sloman John Davies Cale


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  • 0
    General CommentI am quite sure this lyric should read "like a Hollywood", not "like a holy war". It's an allusion to the famous intersection of Hollywood & Vine in Los Angeles.
    miesvanderroboton October 13, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentIt is "Hollywood". There are two versions of this one, so different they might not be the same song. The studio version is slow, tortured & stately: the live one is jaunty, so the tune clashes with the meaning. I love 'em both, in different moods. Particularly the scary verse that seems to be set in a militaristic, authoritarian country & ends "If I wasn't such a coward, I would run".
    morbid moragon October 07, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General CommentJohn Cale really likes Graham Greene and I can see parallels between this song and The Power And the Glory, although he didn't write the words himself. The chorus is supposed to be a pun on "Hollywood and Vine," that notorious LA intersection.
    owennnnnnnnnnon September 10, 2009   Link
  • 0
    My InterpretationThis is one of my favorite songs of all time.

    As far as I understand the song is really about John Cale's issues with alcohol and, of course, about a deeper inner crisis. In one of the video available on youtube, Cale states the song is deeply biographical and that it is really about a change of lifestyle. More likely about the need for a change of lifestyle.
    In this sense, the reference to the Vine has at least three meanings: the above mentioned intersection in Los Angeles where he was living at the time (if I recall correctly), his alcoholism and finally the meaning of the metaphor itself. Feeling like a fruit left way too long on the vine after it ripened and started to spoil and rot. This is probably how he saw his life and his talent at the time.
    The first part really describes a deep feeling of being disoriented and lonely, hoping for someone to help him to "draw a line" and maybe "lay down his sword" (his 'cross' if you want) and admitting he feels like giving up and call for some sort of help.
    I think the refrain is beautiful and poetic. The way he describes recalling his mother (his childhood?) and how he is attempting to live his life in a wild way, like a star ("like a Hollywood") while he is actually dying inside.

    The end is still an enigma to me and I would love to hear someone's interpretation of it.
    annieallon August 23, 2012   Link

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