How dare you wear robes and reside
How dare you cover your head to hide
Your face from God

How dare you smile from behind your beard
To hide the fact that your hearts are feared
And wave your rod

How dare you be the one to assess
Me in this godforsaken mess
You, a man in a purple dress
A man in a purple dress

When you place your frown
Between my God and prayer
However grand your crown
Or dignified your hair
Men above men all prats
In your high hats

You priest, you mullah so high
You pope, you wise rabbi
You're invisible to me
Like vapor from the sea

I lovingly mock you noble lords
We all dress up to grand awards
I do that as well

I dare condemn your fashion sense
At least you're not astride the fence
That wouldn't sell

But I will deliver this address
Your souls conditioned don't impress
You, a man in a purple dress
A man in a purple dress

Lyrics submitted by Thrust of Pain, edited by richard105

A Man in a Purple Dress Lyrics as written by Pete Townshend

Lyrics © Spirit Music Group

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A Man in a Purple Dress song meanings
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  • +3
    General Comment

    This song definitely isn't calling out one person or even one religion for that matter. Pete references the Pope, rabbis, priests and mullahs. Its more calling BS on the people that say you need to go through them to talk to God.

    In fact Pete is right. The clergy are people just like us, and like us are flawed. Just because they wear the robes, hats, etc, it doesn't mean they are any less flawed than the rest of us. Long story short he's saying, Why do I need to go to somebody who is just as flawed as I am to talk to God?

    whobeuon March 01, 2013   Link
  • +1
    General Comment

    one irish rover is on the ball. its not about condemning the pope, its about the clergy. pete sees the relationship between god and people as a personal thing, not needing a middle man. the comments about the purple dress and caps, and sticks, its all mocking the clergy and they're attire.

    theox009on July 05, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General Comment

    A song condeming the pope

    wingateson February 05, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General Comment

    Went to see The Who last night and got a bit confused by this one. I've never heard this song before and the only words I could make out properly were 'man in a purple dress' so I decided to track the lyrics down. It makes sense now :) Definitely condemning the pope.

    sakura-kon May 27, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General Comment

    This is one of several songs that Pete wrote after seeing the Passion of the Christ. I'm fairly sure it's not about the pope, but I'm not positive. It says in the liner notes for their latest album, The Endless Wire...

    one_irish_roveron June 07, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General Comment

    Saw The Who live two weeks ago. The lyrics of the live version were a little different from the one on the CD. (and IMO better ;-) )

    Evilgasmon June 17, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General Comment

    The Pope traditionally wears white vestments. Bishops traditionally wear purple cassocks in both the Roman Catholic and Anglican traditions.

    JonTomon October 29, 2009   Link
  • 0
    General Comment

    The Cassock of the Anglican and Catholic (Orthodox as well?) could easily be described as a "purple dress".

    The hypocrisy of the Anglican Church that Pete grew up under is palpable in England. Not that the Catholics or any other politically run religion is any better.

    thecrossboneon February 04, 2015   Link
  • 0
    My Interpretation

    It's a great observation on the arrogance of clergy who wield authority over christian believers, especially clergy in the Catholic Church.

    Jesus Christ warned us about these people in the Gospels. He said that no man should be refereed to as 'Father' except your biological Father and your Father in Heaven. He also condemned the Pharisees, the priests in the purple dresses of the Jewish church at the time for putting themselves as a barrier between man and God.

    spot on Pete!

    BarnabyHugheson October 28, 2015   Link
  • 0
    General Comment

    Pete told us somewhere that it's about being convicted for internet pornography. Obvious to me after learning that. Least he alluded prison. It was around the time of the Super Bowl show. Pope Smope. F the pompous judges!

    metaphorwhaton January 05, 2024   Link

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