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 feels 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
Graceland
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 © BMG Rights Management, Universal Music Publishing Group, Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Warner Chappell Music, Inc.

Lyrics powered by LyricFind

Graceland song meanings
Add Your Thoughts

55 Comments

sort form View by:
  • +5
    General Comment

    The 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.

    IMHO

    tappankingon February 08, 2006   Link
  • +4
    General Comment

    Actually, 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
  • +4
    General Comment

    I'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 Comment

    Okay, 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 Comment

    my 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
  • +2
    General Comment

    I 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
    General Comment

    I watched Carrie Fisher's one woman show a few weeks ago, and she talked about breaking up with him by flying to the other-side of the country to wherever they were working on her movie, so maybe that's where the "there's a girl in New York City" comes from Also, I always assumed 'who calls herself a human trampoline' was a bipolar reference, or maybe their on/of relationship given the context of the earlier part of that sentence.

    zombiejamboreeon May 10, 2011   Link
  • +1
    General Comment

    It sounds like Simon's effort to exorcise his memory of Carrie Fisher through a USA road trip but it's not really working.

    Chi-Chiefon December 23, 2023   Link
  • +1
    Song Meaning

    So, 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 Comment

    This 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

Add your thoughts

Log in now to tell us what you think this song means.

Don’t have an account? Create an account with SongMeanings to post comments, submit lyrics, and more. It’s super easy, we promise!

More Featured Meanings

Album art
Son Şansın - Şarkı Sözleri
Hayalperest
This song seemingly tackles the methods of deception those who manipulate others use to get victims to follow their demands, as well as diverting attention away from important issues. They'll also use it as a means to convince people to hate or kill others by pretending acts of terrorism were committed by the enemy when the acts themselves were done by the masters of control to promote discrimination and hate. It also reinforces the idea that these manipulative forces operate in various locations, infiltrating everyday life without detection, and propagate any and everywhere. In general, it highlights the danger of hidden agendas, manipulation, and distraction, serving as a critique of those who exploit chaos and confusion to control and gain power, depicting a cautionary tale against falling into their traps. It encourages us to question the narratives presented to us and remain vigilant against manipulation in various parts of society.
Album art
Cajun Girl
Little Feat
Overall about difficult moments of disappointment and vulnerability. Having hope and longing, while remaining optimistic for the future. Encourages the belief that with each new morning there is a chance for things to improve. The chorus offers a glimmer of optimism and a chance at a resolution and redemption in the future. Captures the rollercoaster of emotions of feeling lost while loving someone who is not there for you, feeling let down and abandoned while waiting for a lover. Lost with no direction, "Now I'm up in the air with the rain in my hair, Nowhere to go, I can go anywhere" The bridge shows signs of longing and a plea for companionship. The Lyrics express a desire for authentic connection and the importance of Loving someone just as they are. "Just in passing, I'm not asking. That you be anyone but you”
Album art
Holiday
Bee Gees
@[Diderik:33655] "Your a holiday!" Was a popular term used in the 50s/60s to compliment someone on their all around. For example, not only are they beautiful, but they are fun and kind too ... just an all around "holiday". I think your first comment is closer to being accurate. The singer/song writers state "Millions of eyes can see, yet why am i so blind!? When the someone else is me, its unkind its unkind". I believe hes referring to the girl toying with him and using him. He wants something deeper with her, thats why he allows himself to be as a puppet (even though for her fun and games) as long as it makes her happy. But he knows deep down that she doesnt really want to be serious with him and thats what makes him.
Album art
Blue
Ed Sheeran
“Blue” is a song about a love that is persisting in the discomfort of the person experiencing the emotion. Ed Sheeran reflects on love lost, and although he wishes his former partner find happiness, he cannot but admit his feelings are still very much there. He expresses the realization that he might never find another on this stringed instrumental by Aaron Dessner.
Album art
American Town
Ed Sheeran
Ed Sheeran shares a short story of reconnecting with an old flame on “American Town.” The track is about a holiday Ed Sheeran spends with his countrywoman who resides in America. The two are back together after a long period apart, and get around to enjoying a bunch of fun activities while rekindling the flames of their romance.