Oh the night, here it comes again
It's on with the jeans, the jacket and a shirt
How'd I end up feeling so bad
For such a little girl

And I hold you close in the back of my mind
Feels so good but damn it makes me hurt
And I'm too scared to know how I feel about you now
La Cienega just smiled, "see you around"

And I hold you close in the back of my mind
Raise my glass 'cause either way I'm dead
Neither of you really help me to sleep anymore
One breaks my body and the other breaks my soul
La Cienega just smiles, waves goodbye

Oh the night, here it comes again
It's off with the jeans, the jacket and the shirt
How'd I end up feeling so bad
For such a little girl

And I hold you close in the back of my mind
Feels so good but damn it makes me hurt
I'm too scared to know how I feel about you now
How I feel about you now
La Cienega just smiles and says, "I'll see you around"


Lyrics submitted by ang, edited by atrium13

La Cienega Just Smiled Lyrics as written by Ryan Adams

Lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

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La Cienega Just Smiled song meanings
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55 Comments

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  • +5
    My Interpretation

    My all-time favorite Ryan Adams song. I've listened to this so many times. I feel the song is about a girl he has fallen in love with who lives in an area off of La Cienaga Blvd in LA. He's fallen completely in love with her but she doesn't feel the same way. He's a mess because of it. The nights are the most difficult (as they always seem to be after break-ups).

    "Feels so good but damn it makes me hurt" I think refers to how great the memories are but it hurts so bad because it's all over.

    She doesn't want to see him anymore so he know he's not going to be in her neighborhood again - "La Cienega waves goodbye." This hits home to me as it's always sad when you realize you're no longer going to be going to your girlfriend's/boyfriend's house.

    I love the line about "one breaks my body and the other breaks my soul." Basically, he thinks about her all the time. The only way out is to drink, and drink. Drinking breaks his body but continually thinking about her breaks his soul.

    Amazing song all around.

    wombats3on January 27, 2012   Link
  • +4
    General Comment

    Maybe, but I feel like it can be expressive of any moment in which you realize the girl you care about doesn't care about you anymore (and maybe never did). The "I'll see you around" is that key phrase that lets you know.

    There's also the monotony of "jeans, jacket, and shirt". He goes out every weekend night, looking for love, developing relationships, and all to no avail.

    This song is about that moment: just when you think you've got it, and she don't give a shit...

    davidecoyoteon November 11, 2004   Link
  • +3
    Song Meaning

    I always thought it was about a girl he was sleeping with, but not committed to. She was in it for the fun of it too, but he's beginning to fall for her. He's afraid to admit to himself how he feels about her, but one way or another he's screwed... if he falls for her she will break his heart when she stops sleeping with him. If he doesn't fall for her, his heart will still be broken when she stops sleeping with him because he will feel rejected.

    But now I have a little different opinion. I think it's about a girl he let go of, and he's afraid to admit to himself that he has feelings for her and screwed up. La cienaga literally means marsh... perhaps everytime he gets drunk she fills his head and heart again, and he's stuck. If you look for la cienega long enough online, you'll also come across "knot." So la cienega is the marsh (alcohol and heartbreak) that he will be stuck in again tomorrow night, as he tries to drink away the girl that he is slowly admitting to himself that he should not have let go.

    burningphotographson May 29, 2009   Link
  • +2
    General Comment

    i think this song is about ryan, who is in a very serious relationship with some girl, who he's been with for awhile, and naturally, lately its been growing a little stale. That's when he meets the new girl, who is cute and innocent and new, and who he really begins to like and want, but can't, because he feels restrained down by his other "love".

    blind_gunmanon March 21, 2005   Link
  • +2
    General Comment

    there is a guy who loves a girl who is possibly a bit younger than him and who he is better off with because the love seems pure yet tainted. it is tainted with the other woman who he finds himself with too but is there more to bide his time with and fill the void, because he finds himself somehow going back to the younger girl despite the fact it is by now it is too worn out.bascially i am rambling, for the simpple fact that this song, when i first heard it and read the lyrics, it got me..its amazing how a complete stranger can word things so right to fit exactly what you are feeling..i guess we are all human and share alot of the same emotions.

    Konstantine_18on May 31, 2007   Link
  • +2
    General Comment

    This has always been one of my favorite songs. Lately, it means something more to me. Me and a friend started sleeping with each other and naturally I ended up getting hurt because I began to get attached. When we talked about what was going on, the guy teared up and said "You have no idea how hard it is to try to tell someone that you care so much about as a friend that you don't love them"... I feel this song is exactly what the guy was going through. Sure, the act of having sex feels good but once you realize what you're doing to the other person, it hurts.
    "la cienega just smiles and says, 'i'll see you around' "-- I feel like I was that girl... I kinda knew what was going, there was no attachment on his side but I wanted to stay positive.
    I do think you could take this song any way you want to... that's just my interpretation

    jessmecaon September 02, 2007   Link
  • +1
    General Comment

    La Cienega is the girl... the one he loves even though it hurts him. He keeps going back to this girl and hurting her and she tries to stay brave "La Cienega just smiled...see you around". He feels the guilt but yet can't help how he feels so tries to forget but can't "I hold you close in the back of my mind."

    Beautiful song

    maroonsaltireon September 21, 2007   Link
  • +1
    General Comment

    The part that strikes me is the third verse "oh the night, here it comes again it's off with the jeans, the jacket and the shirt." In the first verse he put them on when the night came, but the second time he took them off. This makes me think drugs are at work more than a prostitute. Out all night and day binging, then you come down and go back home beat. I think that he's addicted and in love, but he can't kick the addiction and he knows its gonna ruin his relationship. When he mentions La cienega I think he's talking about his source. "just smiles and says I'll see you around" - always knowing he'll be back for more.

    Just my opinion. I could see it going in a lot of different directions on this one.

    mr_head86on November 28, 2008   Link
  • +1
    General Comment

    I don't think this song is about him being torn between two women.. I tried to reread the lyrics a few times to see it from that point of view but to me... It's about one girl. by "little" she may be younger, or petite, or just fragile..i agree that the "on with the jeans, the jacket and the shirt" is him going through the everyday motions.. i don't know what la cienega means.. but i think maybe it's the girl and how she can say the smallest thing "see ya around" like it's nothing, but he feels so intensely for her.

    i think the song is about alcohol also, when he says:

    "and raise my glass 'cause either way i'm dead neither of you really help me to sleep anymore one breaks my body and the other breaks my soul la cienega just smiles as it waves goodbye"

    he'll drink because either way he's in pain. "neither one of you really help me to sleep anymore" to me means, that the drinking doesn't make him sleep better either. nothing really numbs it. the "one breaks my body and the other breaks my soul", the alcohol being what breaks his body (bad for him physically), and "the other breaks my soul"... SHE breaks his soul.

    :/i don't know. just my two cents.

    BrookieCookieon April 09, 2009   Link
  • +1
    My Interpretation

    I agree with an earlier comment. i think La Cienega is a prostitute. a young one. maybe too young. he never got her real name, so he named her after the street, where she was standing. oh, the night here it comes again. it's on with the jeans etc. he is in love with her, but he knows, he can't have her, so he sleeps all day and drinks all night. "either way i'm dead" means that if he will never get her, he will die from sorrow, and if he takes her (i think she loves him too) her pimp will come after her and our dear narrator. Thoughts?

    peterlangon December 11, 2012   Link

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