"The Loneliness of a Tower Crane Driver" as written by Guy Edward John Garvey, Craig Lee Potter, Mark Potter, Peter James Turner and Richard Barry Jupp....
Gotta get out of TV
Just pick a point and go
The ticker-tape tangles my feet
As I search for a face that I know
Come on, tower crane driver
There's not so far to go

I must have been working the ropes
When your hand slipped from mine
Now I live off the mirrors and smoke
It's a joke, a fix, a lie
Come on, tower crane driver
Oh, so far to fall

Send up a prayer in my name
Just the same
They say I'm on top of my game
Dwindle gentle rose
Send up a prayer in my name

Lyrics submitted by toadtws, edited by reubenoid24, broadpath, niteflite01

"The Loneliness of a Tower Crane Driver" as written by Guy Edward John Garvey Craig Lee Potter

Lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc.

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The Loneliness of a Tower Crane Driver song meanings
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  • +2
    General CommentI read it was about some guy Guy knew that was the highest paid tower crane driver in his workforce or something, he had a tele and microwave and stuff in his crane, but everyone hated him, so being high up on his crane is a metaphor for both success and loneliness
    telecasterthommyon March 21, 2008   Link
  • +2
    My OpinionThe title bears echoes of Allan Sillitoe's short story (and film) The Loneliness Of The Long Distance Runner, which explores related the relate theme of a 'Hegelian Master-slave dialectic', where in this case the job gives the crane driver the social freedom of a high income (a high position?!) but enslaves him through its physical and social isolation (through his workmates' envy).

    My favourite line is "They say I'm on top of my game", delivered as a tacit 'crie de coer' - he's so obviously not - like someone whose heart is breaking telling his (or her) friends "I'm all right, I'm all right" when they are falling apart inside.

    The 'mirrors and smoke' couplet is a nice piece of wordplay that could be read as a drug reference by some listeners and though I doubt that was Guy's meaning it adds a nice analogous layer to the song. He gets a lot into just a few poetic lines.
    phantlerson November 16, 2009   Link
  • +2
    Song MeaningHi,
    I thought this was about a career in television that had become a sham and the guy was living on his old successes. Maybe "As I search for a face that I know" is about finding someone who is genuine and doesn't see his reputation, the successful media type and just looks up to him. The face that I know sees the human inside?
    "Working the ropes" is part of what you do in theatre to change the scenes. He was busy with his career when he lost the friend and now he has started to belive "the smoke and mirrors", the illusions of his stage/television career. He can't even trust himself. He sees the career and his life as just "a joke, a fix a lie".

    The tower crane driver? Maybe this is the nearest he can get to god and faith? Just pick me up and lift me out of this crap. Is that the prayer that he sends up?
    BigDixteron September 10, 2010   Link
  • +2
    General CommentCV, not TV. The lyrics are "Gotta get out a CV". A CV is what Americans call a resume. He needs to find another job. And why would a tower crane driver need to get out of TV? How many of them have a career on television? Not any, I think.
    broadpathon July 24, 2015   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThis is amazing!
    I can just switch off and bliss out.

    Not quite sure what it's about, but it's definitely relating some fall from grace.

    Mirrors and Smoke is a term for illusions and the following line is about living a life that's a joke.

    Maybe he's relating the whole miserable Elbow "character" to be just that, part of a character and sometimes he's happy and sometimes he's sad... because that's how people are, but other people aren't the brightest and think it's a one persona only thing...
    xdvron March 13, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General CommentNice story telecasterthommy, it's quite plausible I think. The way I see it is that the towercrane driver in some way lost his touch with normal life. With his wife for instance:
    "I must have been working the ropes
    When your hand slipped from mine"

    I like this song alot. Another beauty of the Seldom Seen Kid album.
    groenteboeron August 20, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General CommentWhat a fantastic song. Just grows and grows on you. telecasterthommy is spot-on - ambition and loneliness. This is Guy Garvey -

    "My brother in law met a tower crane driver in a bar who began the night boasting about how well paid he was and how much he loved his job. He ended the night crying into his beer with loneliness. Ambition, if pursued to the cost of everything else, can leave you high, dry and lonely."
    gruneyon September 11, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThis song almost makes me cry every single time I hear it.
    I think it's something to do with Guy's delivery of certain lines. It's just heart-breaking.
    BoyNamedTimon September 21, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General CommentGreat post phantlers. I'm positive that 'mirrors and smoke' WAS intended also as a drug reference. The crane driver is obviously using coke and weed to help him get through.

    Beautiful song. I don't really understand the first 3 lines though. "Gotta get out of TV" meaning he's sick of sitting indoors watching the box, but feels too miserable to go out, so just "Pick a point and go" ??

    And what's that about ticker-tape? Anyone know?
    SkintEastwood75on January 10, 2010   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThis is an absolute Elbow classic, and if you know the band then you'd know that that's not a phrase to be used lightly!

    BTW In the booklet that comes with the album (it has all the lyrics in), the "dwindle, gentle rose" line is "gentle, gentle rose".
    JMNon October 28, 2010   Link

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