"Color Bars" as written by and Elliott Smith....
I see color bars when I come
Sergeant Rock broke the key off in the lock to where I come from
Sir, no sir, we have no power in the air
The battle's on the ground

Laying low again, high on the sound
Bruno S. is a man to me
You're just some dude with a stilted attitude
That you learned from TV
You'll undo, but I'll be connecting everything
The traffic in my town
Riding high again, high on the sound

Everyone wants me to ride into the sun
But I ain't gonna go down
Laying low again, high on the sound

Lyrics submitted by EnjOy IncUbus

"Colorbars" as written by Thomas Pogadl Andreas Kraemer

Lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc., Universal Music Publishing Group

Lyrics powered by LyricFind

Color Bars song meanings
Add your thoughts


sort form View by:
  • +3
    General Commenti like abirata's comment on the first line.

    we're so unaccustomed to hearing this particular type of thing from Elliott (OK--so, he's nothing but frankness! I know, but--I mean the topic, and the words) that many weren't certain he meant what he seemed to mean by the word "come". Elliott enjoys wringing multiple meanings out of seemingly-simple words or phrases.

    all the more evident in what follows. everything up through "...where I come from" is terrific wordplay. the internal rhyme (Rock and lock...so get out your rhyming dictionary, and think of the other possibilities for that duo). the multiple military references (not only on Figure 8). but there are great ones here, also including what's currently my favorite E.S. song...that being "I Better Be Quiet Now". which like this song takes the shortest possible path from the songwriter's head to yours, musicially speaking in particular. I worried I'd never get it out of my head, but why would I want to?

    asdf's (sometimes left-field) analysis is worth time and effort to unravel.

    was Elliott a cineaste? before I heard this song, I'd always associated color bars with the Criterion Collection: who put this powerful tool at your fingertips, indispensable if you learn how to use it. their attention to detail...rendering of detail beyond what we're accustomed to seeing on our televisions: it's why their (usually) high price is always good value
    foreverdroneon December 31, 2010   Link
  • +2
    General CommentYou just got to love the opening line. Unforgettable.
    _ellieon June 24, 2005   Link
  • +1
    General Commentthis song has the most beautiful begining, and following piano piece the entire way through!
    juicycladon June 15, 2004   Link
  • +1
    General Commentbruno S starred in some interesting films by director werner herzog.. he said this in an interview:

    more typical is the don't-tread-on-me defiance of "color bars." over a revved-up "dear prudence"-like arrangement, smith snipes at the shallowness of mainstream culture ("you're just some dude with a stilted attitude that you learned on tv") while simultaneously resisting its attempts to categorize him ("everybody wants me to ride into the sun/I don't want to go"). the song was inspired, he says, by werner herzog movies; more specifically, the brutish german actor bruno s., hardly an american beauty by any stretch of the imagination. "how come we have no bruno s. here?" smith asks. "how come he can be a film star in europe, but over here everybody has to look like they were computer generated?"
    lisalynnon January 12, 2005   Link
  • +1
    General Commentif that's really true then I love how this song represents Elliott's desire to stay true to himself
    manic_ashon January 26, 2005   Link
  • +1
    General CommentThanks for the info on Bruno S. people. I think it all makes a little more sense to me now. The phrase "color bars" might alsp refer to the standby signal you see on TV when a station signs off the air for the night. It makes sense when you want to shut off from the mainstream, or the mainstream wants to shuts you off. And of this song has some brilliant cinematic visuals. Also, "the sound" might be the loud beeeeeping you hear when the station goes off the air.

    I picture Elliott just sitting on the couch alone late at night in front of the TV (which is how he said in an interview he often wrote songs with his guitar - brilliant!) and he just became one with the moment. That's what I love about Elliott, he could turn this simple moment into a reflection of his rugged individualism!
    Welles-radioon February 12, 2005   Link
  • +1
    General Commenthere's what i think:

    I see color bars when I come
    (he sees himself as unfit for TV, they put color bars up when he comes on)
    Sergeant Rock broke the key off in the lock
    (sergeant rock is mainstream, mainstream can be simplified as being rigidly in favor of beauty on tv)
    To where I come from
    (smith's culture/character)
    Sir, no sir
    We have no power in the air
    (air is stuff that's different from mainstream)
    The battle's on the ground
    (ground is mainstream, grounded stuff so to say)
    Laying low again
    (first hook, smith's staying out of the limelight...)
    High on the sound
    (...deriving pleasure from writing his music)

    Bruno S. is a man to me
    (welles-radio sums this up)
    You're just some dude with a stilted attitude
    That you learned from TV
    (mainstream culture contrast to bruno s.)
    You'll undo
    But I'll be connecting everything
    (figuring out the complexities and staying true to himself)
    The traffic in my town
    Riding high again
    High on the sound

    Everyone wants me to ride into the sun
    (also see welles-radio comment, smith's pegged as a loner-indie hero, like cowboys, but he doesn't want to play a character in hollywood and portray himself without the complexities)
    But I ain't going to go down
    (he's putting up a fight to above comment)
    Laying low again
    High on the sound
    (third hook)
    asdf123654on December 14, 2007   Link
  • +1
    My Interpretation'Ride Into The Sun' is an instrumental piece of 'The Velvet Underground' and it was one of Elliott's favorites...

    "It's kind of a calm, soothing, cool sounding song. It is kinda does the same thing over and over again and I like it 'cause it puts me in a trance. It's kinda like a drug, but it's not, it's a song." Elliott Smith

    Can be found in the following link:

    P.S. 'The Velvet Underground' have two songs named 'Ride Into The Sun', one is an instrumental and the second have lyrics. It's definitely the instrumental that Elliott was talking about in the quote.
    G-girlon November 14, 2008   Link
  • +1
    General Commenten esp......)

    Barras de color

    Veo las Barras de color cuando vengo
    Sgt. Rock rompió por fuera la llave en la cerradura
    de a donde provengo
    Señor, no señor
    No tenemos el poder en el aire
    La batalla es sobre el terreno
    Cayendo bajo de nuevo
    Por ariiba del sonido

    Bruno S. es un hombre para mí,
    Tu no eres más que un tipo con una actitud pomposa
    que ha aprendido de la televisión
    Te borrarás
    Pero yo estaré conectando todo
    El tráfico en mi ciudad
    Yendo arriba otra vez
    Por arriba del sonido

    Todo el mundo me quiere montar dentro del sol
    pero yo no voy a bajar
    Cayendo bajo de nuevo
    Por ariiba del sonido

    (no dudeis en corregir...atte. )
    billygatoon August 25, 2010   Link
  • 0
    General CommentAnyone know who Bruno S. is?
    Little Timmyon December 06, 2004   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!

Back to top