"Tin Man" as written by and Dewey Bunnell....
Sometimes late
When things are real
And people share the gift of gab
Between themselves

Some are quick
To take the bait
And catch the perfect prize
That waits among the shelves

But Oz never did give nothing to the Tin Man
That he didn't, didn't already have
And cause never was the reason for the evening
Or the tropic of Sir Galahad

So please believe in me
When I say I'm spinning 'round, 'round, 'round, 'round
Smoke glass stain'd bright colors
Image going down, down, down, down
Soapsud green like bubbles

Oz never did give nothing to the Tin Man
That he didn't, didn't already have
And cause never was the reason for the evening
Or the tropic of Sir Galahad

So please
Believe in me
When I say I'm spinning' round, 'round, 'round, 'round
Smoke glass stain'd bright colors
Image going down, down, down, down
Soapsud green like bubbles

No, Oz never did give nothing to the Tin Man
That he didn't, didn't already have
And cause never was the reason for the evening
Or the tropic of Sir Galahad

So please believe in me

Lyrics submitted by Ice

"Tin Man" as written by Dewey Bunnell

Lyrics © Warner Chappell Music, Inc.

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Tin Man song meanings
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  • +5
    General CommentThis is my take on the song.

    1st Verse

    Paranoia. Quote Dewey Bunnell (wrote, sang, played guitar for AMERICA) "We were exposed to more and more sophisticated people, and there were times I found myself saying things I wish I hadn't."

    Oz never did give nothing to the Tin Man that he didn't already have.

    Wizard of Oz referenced. Oz never did give the Tin Man anything in the end of the story. The Tin Man already had a heart, he just didn't have faith in it.

    Cause never was the reason for the evening or The Tropic of Sir Gallahad - Just because wasn't the reason for the get-together, neither was being chivalrous, being a gentleman.

    Spinning round, round - kaleidoscopic imagery

    All put together could mean - You may find yourself in a gathering of upper class people. Not sure why you went , you just did. As you talk to sophisticated people, you may feel your mind spinning (round, round, round). Believe in yourself. Just like the Tin Man in the Wizard Of Oz, you may find that there is something inside you that you don't know exhists but it is already there. You just have to believe in yourself, or as the song begs "Believe in me." Like saying "I'm not a dork, I'm just intimidated. Give me some time to get used to this situation I'm in, cause right now my mind is spinning stupid thoughts. There is a reason I was invited but I have no faith in myself right now. I'm working it out in my head and will get back to you once these thoughts have cleared."
    rockographeron March 21, 2008   Link
  • +4
    General Comment"Sometimes late when things are real and people share the gift of gab between themselves."

    "Some are quick to take the bait and catch the perfect prize that waits among the shells.

    Sometimes late at night when people have nothing better to do, they congregate at parties, clubs and social scenes. Many people enjoy talking and many of them talk even then they have nothing particularly relevant or interesting to say. They just want to try to fit in with the social scene. They feel important when others listen to them. These people are interposers and social opportunists.

    This is a shell game because what the interposer has to say may be relevant and interesting to the others and they could be encouraged to continue, i.e., "catch the perfect prize among the shells". Or, probably more likely, the interposer fails to entertain and is deemed irrelevant to the established socialites and intellectuals.

    "But Oz never did give nothing to the Tin Man that he didn't, didn't already have."

    The interposer, or "Tin Man", is seeking to be made whole through social acceptance in situations where he or she may not belong. But the other people may also be tin men in their own right. Although they seem socially connected, they each have their own deficiencies, fears self doubts. It is impossible for these people to give the Tin Man what he really needs, that being self confidence to go out and make his own mark.

    "And Cause never was the reason for the evening or the tropic of Sir Galahad."

    The interposer or Tin Man should realize that he is in this place by choice and he could easily wake up and realize that he would be better off somewhere else. Other people's opinions are not as important as his own opinion of himself. Everyone won't fit in every place. It is up to each of us to find where we belong. The the problem of social acceptance will be solved.

    "So please believe in me when I say I'm spinning round, round, round, round..."

    Note to self: although I'm trying hard to fit in here, I really don't think that this is working out for me. Believe me when I say that I'm really confused about what my next move should be. I feel like I'm spinning out of control, wasting my time and I'm not thinking clearly. In my heart, I know that I'm going in the wrong direction but I really need to work on my self confidence and perhaps I need to pray for direction and purpose. I'm going to work hard to figure this out so I can do better. I owe myself that much. I'm going to make a conscious decision to believe in myself from now on.
    Mofowizardon January 23, 2012   Link
  • +2
    General CommentPerhaps more than any other song, the lyrics to "Tin Man" have been scrutinized by America fans and general observers alike. From Internet chat rooms to TV quiz shows, people have wondered what lyrics like "Oz never did give nothing to the Tin Man that he didn't, didn't already have" meant. Over a decade later, Dewey looked back at the unorthodox songwriting method which produced this memorable song:
    Great English, that one... isn't it? Good grammar. That line was just lifted straight off the "Wizard Of Oz." In the end all of those characters already had brains and courage and a heart, and so on. And of course Tin Man was the heart. Essentially I do use words very haphazardly. I just put words together and in a lot of cases it's like word association... I hope there's always a positive side to all my songs... No message as such, no, it's just flighty, colorful words. Certainly if that one line suggests that we all have something within us that we may be looking for, then that is the message, to seek within. But I don't like to get too heavy on any of that stuff...

    Source: Comprehensive History: America Revisited
    leonardo217on September 12, 2009   Link
  • +2
    My InterpretationWhen a situation has already transpired,
    And convincing people talk amongst themselves
    Some of them are quick to buy into the "BS"
    And reap the comfort/satisfaction of knowing they've diverted a crises/accomplished a solution

    Believe in yourself/have no doubt in your own ability/don't be convinced b/c it's convenient.
    Don't take comfort in someone else's "pitch" b/c things do not happen "just because" or as a result of benevolence.

    Here is the one truth. It's all "BS."
    Too many convincing opinions are floating about
    It is causing confusion and blinding us from the truth that we naturally seek
    americanscientiston January 21, 2011   Link
  • +2
    My InterpretationI'm not certain about this, but nobody has mentioned the possibility of illicit drug use being involved in an interpretation of the chorus:

    So please
    Believe in me
    When I say I'm spinning round, round, round, round
    Smoke glass stain'd bright colors
    Image going down, down, down, down
    Soapsud green like bubbles

    In particular, "Smoke glass stain'd bright colors" could easily be a reference to a bong. Most bongs used for smoking pot or hash, especially from the era of the song's popularity, were made of colored glass.

    "Image going down, down, down" could be a reference to the smoke going down into your lungs as you take a hit off a bong.

    "Soapsud green like bubbles" could be a reference to the water in the bottom of a bong, which bubbles as you take the hit. The bong could be green (very many are/were).

    Finally, taking a big hit off a big bong - one of many when sitting around late at night with friends getting stoked - can have an immediate affect of causing some dizziness and disorientation, not just from the pot, but maybe even more from the fact that you exhale as much as possible, then quickly pull as much smoke into your lungs as they can possibly hold (dont' waste any), now hold your breathe as long as you can before exhaling and gasping for air. Combined with the effects of pot in big sudden doses, that can seriously make one feel as though they are "spinning round, round round".

    Put all of that into the context of being among people you are insecure with, late at night, feeling peer pressure maybe to take another hit, or to understand the conversation, and also feeling paranoia, which is a natural and common side effect of marijuana. Oh, and through in the concept of reaching for Nirvana (the Tropic of Sir Galahad), while you are at it.

    PS - I know all of this from my younger days, which I'm very glad to be far removed from now.

    Those is my two thoughts.
    Fritzieon December 17, 2013   Link
  • +2
    General Commenttin man by america a guy in a touring band is calling his wife from a late night party. he swears all he’s doing is being high and spinning around looking at the decor of the fancy hollywood hills pad. others have been hooking up, picking pretty seashells from the beach that is the couch full of chicks, but not our honest tin man. he’s in the hot tub looking at the swirling sky. sir galahad was famously celibate and trustworthy.
    Oz=god, fate
    nothing he didn’t already have=a woman of his own
    cause never was the reason for the evening=i never intended to get into this situation
    I bet “tropic” was originally “topic”, but changed for poetry.

    cool song!
    jbean42on January 06, 2014   Link
  • +1
    General CommentInteresting interpretation rockographer. I never thought about the song that way before...
    drh_08on June 09, 2008   Link
  • +1
    General CommentMy take on the song is that America did have a specific meaning to it but possibly said all that jargon to the press out of embarassment? If you read into the meaning of the song it seems to say that the Tin Man was a nobody lonely guy. "Oz never did give nothing to the Tin Man. That he didn't already have." In truth Oz didn't give the Tin Man a heart. He didn't get anything from Oz (heart) "that he didn't already have" (not a heart). The Tin Man represents a hollow shell of a man in a lonely orchard rusting away. The song also talks about other people having the gift of gab and then seems to say that some will take the bait, (of trying to fit in) and when they fail they will be put on the shelf.

    In the chorus he says "Please believe in me". Whoever wrote the song is explaining himself. He's the Tin Man and has been put on the shelf but is wanting people to believe in him.

    Spinning round....image going down represents the heartache of being shelved and thus being a Tin Man.
    It seems as if the writer wrote the song to express himself. Song writers do this quite often. Songs that come from the heart tend to have more feeling and meaning. And when you listen to the song you can feel it. I think the writer may have been embarassed of the song and its meaning as he got older and so said those things to the press.
    j50weLLson March 26, 2010   Link
  • +1
    Song Meaning

    Experiencing life transcends its interpretation. It's spontaneity and creativity and not direction
    or causation that promotes our being and the sharing of self with others.
    spotomorseon November 19, 2010   Link
  • +1
    Song MeaningDewey Bunnell penned the lyric and he says:

    "The song is jumbled in my mind--there's not a lot of cohesiveness. I had really liked the chords, those major-sevenths. It was up and kind of bouncy, with a little Latin-y feel to it. That's how it is: I get the chords and the melody, and then I have to get some words."

    "My favorite move of all time was probably The Wizard Of Oz, it still amazes me how great that movie is. And here's my classic use of bad grammar: 'Oz never did give nothing to the Tin Man...' Another god-awful use of the language. But it served the purpose. But that was really the only cohesive thought I had. How do I convey that? The first verse--I guess that was a little bit of paranoia. We were being exposed to more and more sophisticated people, and there were times that I found myself with my foot in my mouth, saying things I wish I hadn't. The first verse is very ambiguous. 'The Tropic of Sir Gallahad' is a whole other image to me about being chivalrous or a gentleman. 'Spinning round, round, round, smoke glass stain bright colors...'--that's all just purely kaleidoscopic imagery. The melody definitely dictated those words, because it was a swirling, rising thing."

    Read more: accessbackstage.com/america/song/…
    TruthConveyoron October 04, 2011   Link

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