The Mississippi Delta
Was shining like a national guitar
I am following the river
Down the highway
Through the cradle of the Civil War

I'm going to Graceland, Graceland
Memphis, Tennessee
I'm going to Graceland
Poor boys and pilgrims with families
And we are going to Graceland

My traveling companion is nine years old
He is the child of my first marriage
But I've reason to believe
We both will be received
In Graceland

She comes back to tell me she's gone
As if I didn't know that
As if I didn't know my own bed
As if I'd never noticed
The way she brushed her hair from her forehead
And she said, "losing love
Is like a window in your heart
Everybody sees you're blown apart
Everybody sees the wind blow"

I'm going to Graceland
Memphis, Tennessee
I'm going to Graceland
Poor boys and pilgrims with families
And we are going to Graceland

And my traveling companions
Are ghosts and empty sockets
I'm looking at ghosts and empties
But I've reason to believe
We all will be received
In Graceland

There is a girl in New York City
Who calls herself the human trampoline
And sometimes when I'm falling, flying
Or tumbling in turmoil I say
"Whoa, so this is what she means"
She means we're bouncing into Graceland
And I see losing love
Is like a window in your heart
Well, everybody sees you're blown apart
Everybody sees the wind blow

Ooh, ooh, ooh
In Graceland, in Graceland
I'm going to Graceland
For reasons I cannot explain
There's some part of me wants to see
And I may be obliged to defend
Every love, every ending
Or maybe there's no obligations now
Maybe I've a reason to believe
We all will be received
In Graceland

Whoa, oh, oh
In Graceland, in Graceland, in Graceland
I'm going to Graceland

Lyrics submitted by dank, edited by jsjeffrey

Graceland Lyrics as written by Paul Simon

Lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

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Graceland song meanings
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  • +5
    General CommentThe skeleton key to this song, and the whole album, is Paul Simon's song "Late in the Evening," which, I think, first appeared on the "One Trick Pony" soundtrack.

    The key is the line "it was late in the evening, and the music pulled me through..."

    The whole Graceland album braids three strands, Simon's own personal story of loss and love, the recurring power of African and African-American music to refresh the musical world, and the related power of that music to heal loss and love.

    So the "Graceland album," to me, is a "Canterbury Tales" pilgrimage back to the "roots of rhythm," in Africa, in Memphis, where black music jumped the barrier into white culture through Elvis' music, in New Orleans, where Zydeco continued the dialogue.

    And the song itself is about Simon healing his own pain by going back to his musical roots.

    tappankingon February 08, 2006   Link
  • +3
    General CommentI've always thought that line "Through the cradle of the civil war" was a lovely play on words. He seems to be talking about both geography and the civil war he's in with his marriage ending.
    mcthingy2on May 26, 2005   Link
  • +2
    General CommentActually, Simon has said the song really has nothing to do with Elvis, which is why he was hesitant about naming the album (and even the song) Graceland.

    It's a pilgrimage of sorts...his wife has just left him, and he's taking a bus/train to Graceland with his son. And the journey has something to do with redemption, at least he hopes. The people travelling with him ("ghosts and empty sockets") also look like they need to be redeemed.

    So it's about turmoil, and how it leads us to flee and seek something to make it better. That's what it is to me.
    aduponton May 27, 2002   Link
  • +2
    General CommentOkay, let's clear up the whole Graceland issue...

    Maybe it was just a word he read in a newspaper, or an offhand decision of that nature. I'd like to believe that it wasn't, because that really cheapens the whole thing doesn't it?

    Elvis Presley is the embodiment of rock/popular music, so the persona's pilgrimage to Graceland mirrors Simon's musical journey to South Africa. Plus the whole idea of Graceland was a fantasy destination - a place that represented the flashy artifice of American culture in a particular period of history.
    musical_snobon December 26, 2004   Link
  • +2
    General Commentmy favorite line is, "she comes back to tell me she is gone, as if i didn't know that, as if i didn't know my own bed, as if i never noticed, how she brushed her hair from her forehead." paul nails how if feels when you break up with someone. First and foremost, he is mad and makes fun of her, as most people make fun of their ex, But then the next line he softens his voice and basically says he still loves her. He nails the feeling of loving her and hating her at the same time.
    cybearon July 29, 2007   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI am a completely devoted fan of Paul Simon, and within several of his biographies, "Graceland" is noted as a "fill word." He was looking for a name for all this that he illustrates, and that which contained the correct number of syllables to suit his melodic and rhythmic needs happened to be when he saw "Graceland" in a newspaper or something.
    sgdpon May 30, 2004   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI don't see how "graceland" could be just a placeholder word. It is integral to the basic story of the song, which is about a father and and son driving through the Mississippi Delta to see Graceland, which is a popular tourist attraction in Memphis, TN (at the top of the Delta). If it were another word like "wasteland", it wouldn't make sense to the story. As far as any deeper meaning, that's open for interpretation.
    jadyon November 02, 2009   Link
  • +1
    Song MeaningSo, there's two ways to look at this song - literal and metaphorical, just like any song really...

    The literal meaning of this song has been confirmed to be about a road trip Paul Simon took with his young son from his first marriage after parting ways with Carrie Fisher. As I'd assume is the case with many famous couples, their relationship was fairly turbulent and they dated on/off both before AND after their marriage...I believe the split is what provided the catalyst for doing the album.

    Of course, the metaphor within this song is much deeper and what makes it tangible to us as listeners beyond just Simon's personal experience. Don't we all try to get away after a bad break-up just to have it follow us in our heads and play back the many conversations or keys to why it failed? As he remembers something his lover said, he quotes her: "Losing love is like a window to your heart - everybody sees your blown apart, everybody sees the wind blow." Things that you gloss over at the time or try to ignore can end up coming back to you again and again, much like he remembers the line and hears it just a little differently each time he repeats it.

    Ultimately, as he approaches his destination (literally and metaphorically) he is confident that he'll be able to move past the end of something that he cannot understand or explain and just be received as he is.
    ADKjeeperon April 23, 2013   Link
  • +1
    General CommentThis song has such beautiful lyrics. I've always loved Paul Simon but this song I had mostly heard on the radio and just thought was a fun, light song about Graceland. It wasn't until I sat down and listened to it that I realized it was really about his divorce and being a single dad. "Losing love is like a window in your heart. Everybody sees you're blown apart." Love that line. It's a very mature and sophisticated song. He paints such a beautiful picture of travelling with his son and his introspection after his marriage. The song to me is about him finally being able to let go. Graceland is a metaphor for his salvation, and the portrait he paints of all the wandering pilgrims with their broken families travelling is just beautiful. We are all like him, lost and wandering and looking for salvation.
    jjimon February 16, 2016   Link
  • 0
    General Commentthis song has real meaning. he sees Graceland as heavan as sort of a tribute to Elvis
    chillidooron May 09, 2002   Link

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