"Alameda" as written by and Steven P. Smith....
You walk down alameda shuffling your deck of trick cards over everyone
Like some precious only son
Face down, bow to the champion

You walk down alameda looking at the cracks in the sidewalk
Thinking about your friends
How you maintain all them in a constant state of suspense

For your own protection over their affection
Nobody broke your heart
You broke your own because you can't finish what you start

Walk down alameda brushing off the nightmares you wish
Could plague me when I'm awake
And now you see your first mistake was thinking that you could relate

For one or two minutes she liked you
But the fix is in
You're all pretension
I never pay attention

Nobody broke your heart
You broke your own because you can't finish what you start
Nobody broke your heart
You broke your own because you can't finish what you start

Nobody broke your heart
You broke your own because you can't finish what you start
Nobody broke your heart
If you're alone it must be you that wants to be apart

Lyrics submitted by EnjOy IncUbus

"Alameda" as written by Steven P. Smith

Lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

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Alameda song meanings
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  • +9
    General Commenti absolutely hate to compare all of elliott smith's songs to addiction BUT here i go..

    i can't help but see the parallels between this song and my own personal struggles with heroin addiction.

    "you walk down alameda shuffling your deck of trick cards over everyone" reminds me of when i first started seriously using and believed i fooled everyone. that nobody knew the truth. my own personal deck of trick cards was the facade of a life i lived. i went to work every day, paid my bills, was in a relationship. there was no sign that anything was wrong beneath the surface. i thought i had it figured out and actually got a kick out of knowing that i could shoot dope in the bathroom at work and walk into my boss's office 10 minutes later. "face down, bow to the champion."

    the next phase of my addiction was, as with almost every addict, marked by increase use and its subsequent consequences. i started neglecting friends, family. still went to work but only as a means to support my addiction. "you walk down alameda looking at the cracks in the sidewalk thinking about your friends how you maintain all them in a constant state of suspense" my friends realized something was up and the history of our group of friends shows that those who go down the road of addiction typically end up either dead or in jail. what's it going to be? also i started relying on people around me more and more all as crutches to support my addiction. there are a few people i can think of who i'm sure absolutely dreaded my phone calls because they knew it wasn't just me calling to see how they were. not to mention the potential for phone calls from others saying i ended up dead like so many others have.

    next was full blown addiction with little care for anything else. no care, i should say. i had been self aware for years at this point but only recently decided i really didn't care. addiction kept me arrested to the point that i watched everything i once loved and held dear to me crumble around me and the most fucked up part is that I DID NOT CARE. "walk down alameda brushing off the nightmare you wish would plague me when i'm awake." lost my job? oh well i still have a paycheck coming. lost my girl? good even less reason to have any restraint. no place to live? i always liked shooting dope in the park anyway. all these things that should have deterred me or at least kept me awake at night were complete non-issues. "and now you see your first mistake was thinking you could relate." this line rings so true to me. the whole self-pity mixed with a fucked up weird self-righteousness. you will never understand where i am coming from, why even bother trying? just leave me to my medicine.

    anyway this is just what i get out of the song. i'm not claiming i know exactly where he was going, it's just an interpretation. regardless this song helped me through some extremely difficult times in my life. i've only been clean of heroin for 2 months but anyone who has been through the throws of any addiction can attest to how hard even one day is and i attribute a lot of what i have accomplished to this man. from the jaws of addiction to the horrors of withdrawal he helped me deal with my emotions (or lack there of during the worst parts of addiction) every step of the way.

    if any of you are having trouble with addiction and need somebody, even a random person from songmeanings.net, to talk to feel free to email me at asouthern729@gmail.com and i'll try to give you any comfort i can. just know you aren't alone.


    asouthern729on July 23, 2011   Link
  • +5
    General CommentThis song is a perfect example of Smith's trademark bittersweet style. The song is gorgeous and ethereal in delivery, but the lyrics are brutal and scathing. Elliot adresses the listener by writing in the second person perspective - all of his accusations are directed at 'you.' This line is probably cruelest: "how you maintain all (your friends) in a constant state of suspense / for your own protection over their affection." It implies that an entire personality could be nothing more than a gimmick. It suggests that someone might be so insecure that they would utilize friendship as a scam. Elliot was very good at finding our worst flaws and exaggerating them. It must have been an awfully heavy cross to bear.

    "If you can't get rid of the skeletons in your closet, you'd best teach them to dance."
    -George Bernard Shaw
    danredding.comon November 18, 2004   Link
  • +5
    General CommentPeople get a bit far off about the religious stuff. Sure, Elliott used metaphor extensively, but you have to think of all his songs as a translation of some simple event or raw feeling that he experienced.

    It's a dirge about pathological behavior, being motivated to the core by control or a need for attention. All very on point.

    'Shuffling your deck of trick cards over the heads of everyone' - Not only is he admitting being manipulative, but he's also saying he's a showoff about it. I think maybe his 'deck of trick cards' is his music, his gimmick for attention.

    'Like some precious only son' - has about a million valid meanings in this context. Childish behavior. Maybe he grew up with this tendency, being an only son to his mother and father (despite step-siblings). Could mean he makes sure his friends need him, and won't abandon him no matter how childish he acts.

    'Look at the cracks in the sidewalk, think about your friends' - the road you've put yourself on is crumbling beneath you, you're walking into oblivion. Soon you'll be disconnected from everyone.

    'First mistake, thinking you could relate' In bitterness reflecting that you'd be better off alone, in despair.
    aaronv15on April 25, 2010   Link
  • +4
    General CommentIthink the song is about someone who never lets anyone get too close. A fear of rejection, or perhaps a fear that someone might actually see him for who he really is. However, he blames the world rather than himself. Yeah, that last line kinda says it all.
    radiocakedoveson April 21, 2003   Link
  • +3
    General CommentI know I'm not contributing anything but...I love listening to Elliott Smith when i feel blue. I live in a town called Alameda. It's kinda funny when i listen to this song on my MP3 player while im walking home from school.
    theNMEon July 31, 2005   Link
  • +3
    General CommentThis is about a man who is realizing his narcicism. He's not a bad guy, but he thinks that he should deserve special treatment from people. He walks around doing whatever he pleases, without real concern of others. Right now, he is in a state of self-reflecting and realizes that the life he lives isn't really as great as he thought because he keeps himself from getting close to people. He wears his arrogance as a mask to hide his insecurity.
    'nobody broke your heart, you broke your own cause you can't finish what you start'
    He might be coming of age and realizing he needs to just be himself and not be afraid to get close to people.

    We all know people like this.
    moosicles83on September 21, 2006   Link
  • +3
    General CommentIt just hits you with subtlety and knocks you for six. It's just about everyone who's ever pushed someone away when they need them most
    bmccabeon January 10, 2007   Link
  • +3
    General CommentIt's Elliott singing to himself. It's not about drama queens or ex-girlfriends, it's about Elliott's inability to be closer to people.
    pretorbenon June 13, 2007   Link
  • +2
    General CommentI always listened to this song with an outside perspective, and now that I see it here, I realize that it's the story of my life. What a horrible epiphany - Elliott, ouch - so damn harsh.

    This song just climbed significantly further up my list.
    themorningafteron December 02, 2004   Link
  • +2
    General CommentI don't think the song is as specific as a lot of you are making it out to be, but I agree with your themes. I think the song is about someone who is unable to allow himself to be dependent on others for fear that they will leave him in one way or another.
    newmonkeyon September 28, 2006   Link

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