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Lyrics submitted by Demau Senae

Sunset Grill song meanings
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  • +4
    My InterpretationAs others have posted, this is obviously about a bar, and regular hangout of a man/woman couple. They live in a city, and this bar is located in a lousy part of the city, perhaps close to a rented apartment in which they live. I say rented apartment because the theme of detachment omnipresent in the song would not generally be felt by people who own real estate where they live. The song is essentially a soliloquy of the man's thoughts.

    The old man is the bartender. Saying he's from the old world suggests he's an older immigrant, possibly European, content with his lot in life in big city America. The pourer of drinks is worldly wise, or at least he appears to be at first glance. He's seen enough to know the whole world has problems, a few mumbling homeless people don't stand out to him as being worthy of excess sympathy. C'est la vie. Knowing his customer's names helps him retain a customer base and earn tips. In all other ways, his customers are little different than the mumbling homeless. Indeed it is all the same to him.

    In the next stanza, the protagonist reveals he is different, more sensitive and more aware, than the old man bartender. He doesn’t have a way of insulating himself, of explaining it all away. The coldness, anonymity, and insignificance of individuals - the big city does bother him, in contrast to life in a small town. A man makes you something — this is quite literal - as in the food you eat, the drinks you drink, the clothes you wear - were all produced by people. But not people just down the road as might have been the case in a more simple, earlier decade or century. There is no hiding place simply means the people are unseen because they are far away. This adds to the protagonist's strong sense of disconnection.

    Respectable little murders pay. Interesting little sentence, metaphorical as opposed to literal. Describes how city people are often less than honest and forthright, stabbing each other in the back if it is to their benefit, they have little if any empathy for others. It’s accepted, even respected, if it serves your purposes and ambitions. All’s fair in the dog eat dog culture of the city. But our protagonist, he’s not that kind of guy. The woman he’s with doesn’t have to worry that he’s going to leave her high and dry. The city bothers him, he’s beginning to envision leaving, and he wants her to come with him.

    He has not reached the point of being able to pull the trigger on his need to leave. It’s not, however, that far away. For now, he has a life in the city that includes jerks/friends who hang out with him and his girl at a ratty little place called the Sunset Grill. For now, he’s content to kill time, drink beers, until a catalyst emerges.
    urbanmanon February 09, 2012   Link
  • +3
    General CommentTo me this song embodies California. In 1986, I took a 3 day greyhound bus trip to visit friends in L. A. all by myself. I journaled the whole way and when we were entering L. A at sunset, I played this song in my headset. It will always bring back the visual of downtown L.A for me.
    letterina5on March 15, 2013   Link
  • +2
    General CommentI think the song is about life in Hollywood and the Hollywood music industry, in general. Sunset Grill is a restaurant adjacent to the Guitar Center superstore on Sunset strip. It's a touristy area, but there are still plenty of hookers and mentally ill homeless people also walking those sidewalks.

    I'm not buying into the St. Louis White Castle story posted earlier without sources.
    BryanMcGuireon January 02, 2014   Link
  • 0
    General Commenti think this is a model for an ideal place, that you can go, be with all your friends, not be judged, and watch life go by.
    i actually believe that the "sunset grill" is a bar. the "working girls" are the girls who walk the street corners, and the "basket people" are the crazy drunks and druggies outside the bar. the "old man that's from the old world" is an older man - the bartender - who's "been there, done that", seen the world, and all he does is sit in the bar and tell stories about the war, or how life used to be and such.
    in the second verse, he's talking about why people turn to drinking and running away to a bar as a safe haven, because this is why the world is so harsh.
    the third verse refers to people who claim killing in the name of god, or because of this-and-that -- people who make excuses for things that are obviously unexcusable. he promises his girl that one day they'll move out of the city, and meanwhile, he'll stick by her side, and in the meantime, let's go have a drink. he keeps saying he might leave ["maybe we'll leave come springtime"], but it's so vague that it's obvious that he's built up such a comraderie and built their lives upon the chaos in the city that it'll be hard to leave. ["what would we do without all these jerks anyway?/ besides, all our friends are here."]
    sapphireskieson August 22, 2002   Link
  • 0
    General Commenti saw it slighly less negatively; they want to move to a quieter place and settle down, but probably financial reasons and boredome or thinking they would miss the town keeps them from doing it. it is sad, but a great song
    usa-1on April 18, 2003   Link
  • 0
    General Commenti agree that this song is about a bar, but i think it's more positive than negative.

    regarding the third verse, i think he's telling her that one day they "get in this car and get out of here"... but he also realizes that that this sunset grill is their safe haven, so there's no point in leaving just yet.
    the line "there is no hiding place" is kinda ironic, because it's obvious that they've found their hiding place at the sunset grill.
    "what would we do without all these jerks anyway? besides, all our friends are here" is not a negative statement, but a joking around kinda thing... like people say, regarding a place they love that there's all these jerks here, all these *ssholes, but he knows they're all buddies.
    sapphireskieson November 10, 2004   Link
  • 0
    General CommentA kind of sadness to the song, the softness of the verses, in comparison to the chorus - a rolling, sea-like quality to the music - gorgeous
    nagromnaion October 01, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI always thought this song was about NYC for some reasons, maybe just having all these types of people living(hookers, immigrants(man from the old world), basket people, murders) in one place, and how he wants to leave, but when it comes down to it, it's just too exciting of a place. The horns at the end could represent car horns throughout the city...but that might be stretching it. One of my favorite songs of all time!
    cmh2943on February 03, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThe song is exactly as it seems: a song about your typical hangout, be it a bar or a club. You go out there to check out the waitresses and watch the funny guys get hammered and do stupid shit. You make friends with the bartender, who tells you stories from the past, and knows all his customers and calls him by name.

    People go to these bars to hide from the pressures of life, especially in the city. But there actually is no hiding place. You can't escape your problems, you just postpone them for a while.

    Don't understand the bridge of this song about the respectable murders. Oh, well, I can't know everything:)

    Finally, a reprise, slightly modified, to give the idea that people know the clubbing is an empty and artificial way to "escape", but make excuses to not have to worry about it too much.
    WYWHon May 02, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI actually heard this song for the first time on the radio the other day and the DJ said the song is about a very greasy and dirty hamburger joint in Cali. It sounds like it's in a crappy location, but there is a sense of peace of togetherness when hanging out there.
    psionic_1on July 27, 2006   Link

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