"Falling Down" as written by and Tom Waits....
I've come 500 miles just to see your halo
Come from St. Petersburg, Scarlett and me
When I open my eyes, I was blind as can be
And to give a man luck, he must fall in the sea
And she wants you to steal and get caught
For she loves you for all that you are not
When you're falling down, falling down
When you're falling down, falling down, falling down

You forget all the roses don't come around on Sunday
She's not gonna choose you for standing so tall
Go on take a swig of that poison and like it
And now don't ask for silverware, don't ask for nothing
Go on and put your ear to the ground
You know you'll be hearing that sound, falling down
You're falling down, falling down
Falling down, falling down
Falling down

When you're falling down, falling down, falling down

Go on down see that wrecking ball come swing in on her now
Everyone knew that hotel was a goner
They broke all the windows and took all the door knobs
And they hauled it away in a couple of days
Now someone yelled timber, take off your hat
We all look smaller down here on the ground
When you're falling down, falling down, falling down
Falling down, falling down
Falling down

Someone's falling down, falling down, falling down
Falling down, falling down
Falling down

Lyrics submitted by wopPi

"Falling Down" as written by Thomas Alan Waits

Lyrics © BMG RIGHTS MANAGEMENT US, LLC , Universal Music Publishing Group

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Falling Down song meanings
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  • +2
    General CommentI feel like there is a lot to say about this song, but it's hard to find the words.

    First of all, it's lyrically beautiful and the delivery is simply amazing. In fact, I think the delivery really tells most of the story.

    Let's start at the top:

    I feel like the beginning is about a man, obviously traveling with a lover, who finds enlightenment and is completely sideswiped by it. ("Opened my eyes, I was blind as can be") Scarlet either wasn't what he thought she was, or she did something terrible to him, or both.

    Although sad, there's still a hint of optimism here. ("To give a man luck, he must fall in the sea") Despite the loss of Scarlet (or whoever), there are always "more fish in the sea." If he's going to find a companion, he's had to lose the one he had.

    ("You forget all the roses don't come around on Sunday") I'm imagining him sitting relatively alone in a bar drinking on a Sunday. All the young girls had there fun the night before and now they're in church begging Jesus for forgiveness. He finds himself leaning on his crutch, alcohol. Now, the next few lines sort-of blend together. ("She's not gonna choose you for standing so tall/Go on take a swig of that poison and like it/And don't ask for silverware, don't ask for nothin'.") Being alone in a bar on a Sunday, the only women around are probably waitresses or the regular bar crawling tramps. Still, he's trying to hard, hitting on everything in sight. When he's rejected he takes another sip. When the waitress tries to avoid him, he resents her for it.

    And then the story takes a much bigger turn. This is by far my favorite part of the entire song. There is also an entire "silent verse" before the last one. I imagine time passing. Also, I've interpreted this last verse in a few different ways...

    First (and most literally)
    ("Go on down see that wrecking ball come swingin' on her") The hotel bar is being demolished after some time. All the regulars and others come to see it fall. They loot it for whatever they can find, find some humor and sadness in it, and then ultimately mourn. ("It all looks smaller down here on the ground")

    Second (and more psychologically)
    It's said that homes and places to stay sort of represent your mind and mindset. If he's spending so much time at this hotel bar, it represents his mindset. He IS the hotel. The owners have taken all of his money and made him hollow ("They broke all the windows, they took all doorknobs"). When it finally come crashing down, the "falling down" action is completed, and he's hit bottom. It's the end of an era, so to speak. There is nowhere to go but up.

    Finally (and more abstractly)
    For a second while listening I imagined this man being beaten up and robbed. In the sense that he is the hotel, he gets his lights punched out ("They broke all the windows") and his money stolen ("They took all the doorknobs") and he's basically left as a pile of human wreckage.

    I really love this song. I feel like Tom's delivery is really where the substance is, though. He really takes the character on. At the start of each verse he's just telling a story, when suddenly it sounds like he's holding back sobs, as if he's still at the bottom, telling us how he got there. It's so powerful and masterfully done.

    Thanks Tom!
    Wattzon July 10, 2009   Link
  • +2
    General CommentTo me, it seems pretty obvious that it's about a rather 'good guy' who is realizing that the girl he's after would rather have someone a little more risky and dangerous. "Go on take a swing of that poison and like it" and "she wants you to steal and get caught" implies that he needs to try and be uncharacteristic of himself to appeal to her -- but he ends up being someone who: "she loves you for all you are not".

    So first he falls down to become that person who she would like, and then falls down to realize that he's not happy not being himself.
    PACrivellaroon July 09, 2010   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI love Tom Waits, he is brilliant.
    i think this song is about a man who realizes that there is a woman who loves him even though his flaws are not ones to be proud of, but still cant help falling with his addiction. Its a song about helplessness, the woman loves him even when he is falling down, and the man cant help falling
    yogiwogion October 17, 2008   Link
  • +1
    General Commentyogiwogi - you nailed it! Spot on.
    taal_19on October 20, 2008   Link
  • +1
    General CommentAll songs - like poetry - mean different things to different people.

    My idea of the drive behind this song is slightly different from those posted above. I think it's about a good, straight/narrow type of guy who becomes involved with the wrong girl, and then about the effects this has on his life.

    In this case, "She loves you for all that you are not" would not mean "she loves you even though you're a screw up," it would mean that he's not her type, but he tries to fit into her mold anyway.

    The second verse would seem to contrast who he was before with who he has become. Forgetting the roses and not going to church on Sundays would imply that he once brought roses and went to church. She's not going to choose him for any moral stance he makes, so he ought to go ahead and drink and follow the crowd (which is what the ear-to-the-ground line seems to mean). So, while he may be "falling down" in a literal sense, he also seems to be falling down on a personal level. He is not changing for the better.

    Nobody's addressed the third verse yet, which has to do with the destruction of the hotel. My idea is that the hotel is the holding place for his soul, or at least of everything that makes him unique. The crowd he became involved with, though, broke the windows, they stripped his soul, taking everything. And now the whole thing has fallen, on every level.
    Sparks22on October 27, 2008   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI think Sparks is on the right track with this..

    I didn't get it at all at first though now i think I have a pretty good idea.
    I think it is referring to a sort of irony and sadness in finally belonging.[came from 500 miles just to see..] One reaches the point desired, only to find that it lacks heart or genuineness. [give a man luck, he must fall in the sea] now they have the love and gratification they always wanted but for all the wrong reasons. [love you for all that you're not]
    He thought he could see clearly before what it was that he wanted and now realizes that he was blind, naive to the truth.
    [Roses] I took to mean like the rose colored glasses, a myth a fairy tale one maintains while still unaware. [Sundays] morality and the notion or presence of God. Also now gone to this person.
    I think the biggest line is [She's not gonna choose you for standing so tall.] Tall like proud and noble. This says that integrity is irrelevant here. You won't be chosen on account of it, at least not by this force.
    Accept the fact that what you thought was so great is toxic..[take a swig of the poison and like it] because it's exactly what you asked for.
    Moniqu520on November 24, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI am glad to be the first one to comment 'Falling Down'
    Love this song - one of favourites
    Kasparson May 19, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General Commenti love this song, too...
    i'm surprised there aren't more comments on it.
    mlss11on May 22, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General Commenti would really like someones opinion on what the song means i havent a clue just yet... help?
    TheCutestCulpriton June 16, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI think this song refers to feeling helpless about things you have no control over. You can't make someone fall in love with you. I love the opening line so much: "I've come 500 miles just to see a halo, come from St. Petersburg, Scarlett and me."
    Twoey2Eon July 10, 2008   Link

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