Without the pretty pink ribbon
You'd end up just like me
Without the pretty pink ribbon
You'd float down to the sea

Without the pretty pink ribbon
You'd say just what you please
Without the sticky little kitten
Your ticket could never be free

Without the tight little denim
Your virtues would all go unknown
Without the room that you live in
Your cancer would eat to the bone

Your muscles would bulge underground
Your demons would all be around
Without the pretty pink ribbon
You'd end up just like me

Without the pretty pink ribbon
You'd end up just like me
Without the pretty pink ribbon
You'd burn all these dying leaves

Without the pretty pink ribbon
You'd lift this steaming herd
You would kill all the sick ones
You would bury them deep in the earth

Without the tight little denim
Your virtues would all go unknown
Without the room that you live in
Your cancers would eat to the bone

Your muscles would bulge underground
Your demons would all be around
Without the pretty pink ribbon
You'd end up just like me


Lyrics submitted by shut

Pretty Pink Ribbon Lyrics as written by John M Mccrea

Lyrics © Wixen Music Publishing

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Pretty Pink Ribbon song meanings
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  • +2
    General Comment

    radiocakedoves, actually, I agree with you on your first impressions of this song. Either way, Cake rocks

    fetalpig86on August 25, 2002   Link
  • +2
    General Comment

    "pretty pink ribbon" ... "sticky little kitten" ... "tight little denim" It's definitely about a female getting away with stuff & getting advantages simply because of being female. I think the ticket reference is more about not receiving traffic tickets than being given free tickets.
    " Your muscles would bulge underground" Could this refer to Male anatomy? I don't think the cancer reference is literal; John doesn't write like that. I think the cancer is some unnamed personal flaw. And what about "lift this steaming herd ... kill all the sick ones ... bury them deep in the earth" ? Is this referring to male responsibility; men having to do the unpleasant physical tasks? And the idea that because of her frailness & femininity she's excused from these hardships.

    JustJulieon October 28, 2004   Link
  • +1
    General Comment

    I think that this song is about a woman that is as rotten to the core as the speaker but has outward beauty that lets her get away with it. Hope i didn't steal anyones ideas here, anyway, the cancer angle is interesting as well ;)

    MorningStaron September 06, 2002   Link
  • +1
    General Comment

    I think that her 'pretty pink ribbon' is just the fact that she's female. It's always seemed like this song is just about how women have it easier, and how if they weren't women, they'd be completely different--'end up just like me.' He mentions things that are typically female, like tight denim, free tickets, etc. and basically says that if she wasn't a woman, these wouldn't be important and she'd change altogether. Kind of like radiocakedoves' and morningstar's ideas put together, but her redeeming quality is only that she's female.

    belle1313on April 10, 2003   Link
  • +1
    General Comment

    "room that you live in" = vagina.

    rasputin33on December 26, 2004   Link
  • +1
    General Comment

    I'm curious how many of the above posters have been male, esp those discussing women have it so much better?

    I, for one, have always felt like it's about how women are very much constrained by the feminine roles they are supposed to fulfill, and it describes what those roles are and the societal results of fulfilling those roles. I mean, "Without the pretty pink ribbon, you'd say just what you pleased."

    I feel like basically the pretty pink ribbon symbolizes the intense constraints/ribbon of femininity/pretty pink.

    I think it a situation with this song that Elvis Costello faced earlier in his career in which people thought he was misogynistic because of his songs talking of the vapid roles women were in, but the reality was that he was complaining about them having to be in such roles and was really more of a feminist than a misogynist.

    VictoriaLeeon April 21, 2010   Link
  • +1
    My Interpretation

    Consider Pac Man, for a moment. What makes Ms. Pac Man female? She has a ribbon on her head. That's it. Without that, she'd "end up just like" Pac Man, right?

    But she already IS just like Pac Man. She does the exact same things he does. She is functionally equivalent to him. Nearly every difference that we attribute to her is imagined on the basis of the superficial symbol on her head.

    That's what I have always felt was the theme of this song. It's a snarky statement about how our culture places an unjustified amount of weight on superficial, irrelevant differences between the sexes, and how this prevents us from truly relating to each other.

    Sabelaon February 12, 2017   Link
  • 0
    General Comment

    I assume this is some kind of twisted love song; obviously, the girl's got a great ass, and it's about her only positive point (tight little denim). Perhaps she's a kept woman, or whatever the appropriate term for that is these days. Freud would love this song.

    ButtOfMalmseyon May 02, 2002   Link
  • 0
    General Comment

    I think this song is about a girl with cancer. Pink ribbons are a sign for cancer and the song also talks about the room that she lives in (perhaps a hospital room) and it even mentions 'your cancer would eat through the bone' it may not actually be that she has cancer but a mataphor. He may have cancer or some bad quality in him and she doesnt. He is saying that she would be just like him and have this bad quality if it werent for the pink ribbon. -just a thought, not actually sure about this one though

    punkrockprincess311on May 28, 2002   Link
  • 0
    General Comment

    The "Cancer" angle is one I have not considered, it's great. However, when I heard this song for the first time, I thought that this was an observation on the vanity of society. How we excuse the "pretty" people of such crimes as banality and utter stupidity. We worship them because they are easy on the eye. We actually care what they have to say. Nothing bad ever seems to happen to these people. They lead perfect lives. Or is that just on the surface? Do they struggle with the daily trials and tribulations of being role-models to thousands of the misguided, diluted masses. Sorry for the melodrama, i was just kidding.

    radiocakedoveson June 12, 2002   Link

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