Looking through some photographs
I found inside a drawer
I was taken by a photograph of you
There were one or two I know that
You would have liked a little more
But they didn't show your spirit quite as true

You were turning 'round to see who was behind you
And I took your childish laughter by surprise
And at the moment that my camera happened to find you
There was just a trace of sorrow in your eyes

Now the things that I remember
Seem so distant and so small
Though it hasn't really been that long a time
What I was seeing wasn't what was happening at all
Although for a while, our path did seem to climb
When you see through love's illusions,
There lies the danger
And your perfect lover just looks like a perfect fool
So you go running off in search of a perfect stranger
While the loneliness seems to spring from your life
Like a fountain from a pool

Fountain of sorrow, fountain of light
You've known that hollow sound
Of your own steps in flight
You've had to hide sometimes
But now you're all right
And it's good to see your smiling face tonight

Now for you and me it may not be
That hard to reach our dreams
But that magic feeling never seems to last
And while the future's there for anyone to change
Still you know it seems
It would be easier sometimes to change the past
I'm just one or two years
And a couple of changes behind you
In my lessons at love's pain and heartache school
Where if you feel too free
And you need something to remind you
There's this loneliness springing up from your life
Like a fountain from a pool

Fountain of sorrow, fountain of light
You've known that hollow sound
Of your own steps in flight
You've had to hide sometimes
But now you're all right
And it's good to see your smiling face tonight

Fountain of sorrow, fountain of light
You've known that hollow sound
Of your own steps in flight
You've had to struggle, you've had to fight
To keep understanding and compassion in sight
You could be laughing at me, you've got the right
But you go on smiling so clear and so bright

Lyrics submitted by Irishred516, edited by 3d1mandakng

Fountain of Sorrow Lyrics as written by Jackson Browne

Lyrics © Jackson Browne/Swallow Turn Music/Night Kitchen Music/Open Window Music

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Fountain Of Sorrow song meanings
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  • +3
    My InterpretationGo to youtube.com and look up this song. He has an intro to Fountain of Sorrows and tells what the song is about. He saw a gal that he had dated previously, and she looked amazing. They renewed a relationship. However, he said that, in retrospect, it was a much more generous song than she deserved. Obviously, the relationship went south after that.

    I wish people would be more careful about just assigning the meaning of every song to the memory of his deceased wife. Besides the fact that the dates don't add up, he has already stated what the song was about.
    phxvalleygirlon September 17, 2009   Link
  • +2
    General CommentThis song was on an album that was released in 1974 and his first wife died in 1976.
    newtonwbon May 22, 2009   Link
  • +2
    General CommentI agree with newtonwb. Chronologically it can't be but I've never interepeted the lyrics as such either.
    hostertogon August 14, 2009   Link
  • +2
    General CommentJust after I got married, a friend took some portrait photos of my wife at my request. The results were stunning, but there was a hint of a hard, tough streak in her face in some of the prints, which I had never noticed in real life. 12 years later, she walked out and soon married someone else.

    So the lines;
    There were one or two I know that you would have liked a little more,
    But they didn't show your spirit quite as true.

    certainly has a resonance for me. Jackson has a way of putting across life's experiences in such a brilliant way.
    PhilMarshon October 26, 2011   Link
  • +1
    General Commentthis is one of jackson browne's best songs. it seems so melancholy and reflective until the end, which is much more uplifting. and the man's voice is gorgeous.
    uncgurlon April 12, 2004   Link
  • +1
    General CommentWe all have that moment when we look at someone and say to ourselves and realize that this is love. But we rarely remember the moment that we realize it is probably over. That just seems to happen as a slow painful process.

    To me this a song about a man who finds an old photo and realizes that what he had with a person is gone and has been for some time. I picture a woman laughing with friends and someone calling out "smile" and points behind her and when she turns around she drops her guard for a moment and expresses being let down that it was just him. The expression of sorrow.

    Browne tends to go on in this song and place the cause of the sorrow upon himself, which is probably the way he felt at the time. There are hints of an affair "so you go running off in search of a perfect stranger". And the entire song gets very intricately reflective and apologetic to the end with upbeat lyrics and music thrown in at the end of each verse "but now your alright, and it's good to see your smiling face tonight". These almost seem out of place in this song.

    I believe it was a very personal song written for a particular person. I've heard that he later said it was more credit than the person deserved. But what makes this song so special is that just as the photograph encapsulated that moment of discovery, this song encapsulated that moment in his life and he is a VERY talented artist to put pen to paper and take this snapshot of his life as it was on the day he wrote it.
    CalebTayloron March 09, 2018   Link
  • 0
    General CommentTo me, this song reminds me of someone I had fallen in love with when I was 17 years old. He had never really loved me as I did, but we had known each other since we were both 1-year-olds! He just wanted to be friends, of coarse. After highschool, we went our separate ways, and I still think of him every once in a while, and I call him to chat, but I still really love him. This song just describes how I felt for him perfectly, plus I'm a huge Jackson Browne fan!
    Music4Me182on November 02, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThis song is about Joni Mitchell, whom Browne dated early in his career. He references this fact on a liver version of this song, saying it was about an old girlfriend who later did something horrible to him after he wrote the song.

    Mitchell plays piano & electric piano Browne's album For Everyman. Jackson has stated before that she has always been in love with him since they broke up, when Mitchell claimed he was abusive regarding the story about Daryl Hannah and their breakup. Browne was never charged with a crime in that event.
    karldaggerfieldon July 30, 2011   Link
  • 0
    Song Comparison"H-A-T-R-E-D"
    dirtylemonson October 24, 2011   Link
  • 0
    Song MeaningBeautiful love song meditating on the regrets of the past, nostalgia for what once was, and the acceptance of the present and the hope to change the future. The picture symbolizes the past, a moment where perhaps he could understand his lover. The relationship is always changing and possibly ending (the hollow footsteps running away).
    massivegeniuson July 22, 2020   Link

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