I broke free on a Saturday morning
I put the pedal to the floor
headed north on mills avenue
and listened to the engine roar

my broken house behind me
and good things ahead
a girl named Cathy
wants a little of my time
six cylinders underneath the hood
crashing and kicking
aha!
listen to the engine whine

i am going to make it through this year
if it kills me
i am going to make it though this year
if it kills me

i played video games in a drunken haze
i was seventeen years young
hurt my knuckles punching the machines
the taste of scotch rich on my tongue

and then Cathy showed up
and we hung out
trading swigs from a bottle
all bitter and clean
locking eyes
holding hands
twin high maintenance machines

i am going to make it through this year
if it kills me
i am going to make it though this year
if it kills me

i drove home in the California dusk
i could feel the alcohol inside of me hum
pictured the look on my stepfather's face
ready for the bad things to come
i down shifted
as i pulled into the driveway
the motor screaming out
stuck in second gear
the scene ends badly
as you might imagine
in a cavalcade of anger and fear

there will be feasting and dancing
in Jerusalem next year

i am going to make it through this year
if it kills me
i am going to make it though this year
if it kills me


Lyrics submitted by fuckedupdog

This Year song meanings
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54 Comments

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  • +8
    General Comment

    Actually, the phrase "Next year in Jerusalem" (Hebrew L’shana ha’ba-ah b’Yerushalayim) is associated with Passover. The idea was that maybe next year, the Jewish people would be free and have their own homeland in which to celebrate Passover instead of always being on the run. Ties in, in a way, with what abe is saying about escaping--and with the line, "I am going to make it through this year," i.e. just one more year to endure (maybe b/c once he's 18 he can leave his abusive stepfather's home)

    TheRealDannyMon October 09, 2006   Link
  • +4
    General Comment

    people are over analyzing this song. it's about feeling trapped in his depressing home, with his abusive step-father. he escapes by leaving early on saturday morning to hang out with a girl, and drink, and he knows that when he gets back to his house he's going to be in a shit-load of trouble.

    scenicworldon December 17, 2007   Link
  • +4
    Song Meaning

    Like many other songs, Darnielle stitches together the personal and the universal using a scene that taps into our humanity.

    On the one hand, here is a Boy (here is John), harboring a miserable home life, hating and fearing his stepfather, escaping into the city and underage drinking, meeting a girl he loves, swearing he will forge on through his personal hell.

    On the other hand, here is Every Teen, harboring inexplicable isolation and disconnect, hating and (pretending s/he isn't) fearing authority, escaping into risky and often self-destructive tendencies, meeting a kindred soul entwined in platonic or romantic love, swearing that s/he will survive adolescence and the misery they're sure is eternal.

    The line about Jerusalem is the most important line in the song. It is at once strong and fragile, hopeful and doomed. "Next year in Jerusalem" is customarily repeated at the end of Yom Kippur and the Passover Seder, expressing the desire to soon see a people traditionally scattered across the globe in unanimous celebration in their most sacred place. It's a strong spiritual conviction, ingrained within the orthodoxy, and a hope passed down through the generations. The sentiment is tied into the song to juxtapose the tragedy of the religious and youthful optimism. There is never going to be a "Next year in Jerusalem"; the area is fraught with violence, extremism, and political machinations, and there is an inescapable history that surrounds that physical location. Likewise, there isn't a magic Next Year for John. All of the Boy's hope, all of Every Teen's hope, won't change the fact that his/her home and adolescence is abusive/manipulative/painful/destructive, that there is inescapable history between the walls of his/her home.

    It's almost a cruel cosmic joke that these "Chosen People" -- supposedly blessed by God, and these young boys and girls -- innocent and symbolic of humanity's future, are so earnest and so far from finding their cultural reprieve. Instead, Next Year will be no different, no closer to Jerusalem. And there's a sense that these people know -- years of repetition highlights how unlikely the promise of Jerusalem is and "ready for the bad things to come..." suggests he knew there was no escape from the beginning -- but can't face the hopelessness of it. But maybe the point is that believing in Next Year is all that matters. Because the only he and she and they and you and me can do is carry on through the present singing:

    "I am gonna make it through this year If it kills me"

    eljavion February 07, 2013   Link
  • +3
    General Comment

    "Sounds like This Might Be Giants. Just trade an accordian for piano and trade perverse cynicism for triumphant cynicism."

    If you compare John Darnielle to the writer of "Particle Man," you've clearly never heard a Mountain Goats song. Oh and it's "They" might be giants.

    rootson April 23, 2006   Link
  • +3
    General Comment

    TheRealDannyM, you hit that right on the head. It is a reference to the Jewish tradition, however I think the use of it has a rather different meaning and one that is a little more dark and cynical, in fitting with typical Mountain Goats lyrics. It isn't so much that he is going to be liberated, but that he is always going to be in search of elusive happiness. Just as the Jewish people have been permanently displaced from Jerusalem, never to have the temple again, so is happiness firmly out of reach.

    cdbarneson March 26, 2007   Link
  • +2
    General Comment

    It makes perfect sense. It's about that last year of childhood, 17. When you want to break free but your still tied down. It's an amazing recount of his personal life that anybody can relate to. Unless your not 17 yet, then you wouldn't get it. Its just amazing.

    Im2fat2bninjaon October 10, 2005   Link
  • +2
    General Comment

    The Jerusalem reference is to a customary Jewish saying. It is customary to say "Next year in Jerusalem" at the end of Yom Kippur and the Passover Seder. You could call it Zionist, but I think here it's clearly about being delivered away from bondage/exile to a promised land "of milk and honey". That's sure how I felt when I was 17.

    yoyomacon October 04, 2012   Link
  • +1
    General Comment

    This song will forever have meaning to me. I turned up for my final assembly at school on the last day and my bands meant to be playing. But at the leavers party the night before the singer from my band tried to fuck the drummers girlfriend so the band is just all over the place and its an impossibility that we play a song. This has all come as a shock to me and I dont know what to do. When the band got called up, me and two of my other friends got up there and played this song, which everyone totally dug. It was great, because my band (pretty much my whole life) had just crashed down around my ears but I knew i had to stick through with it.

    And if anyone has trouble understanding this song, just interpret it in a totally literal way and you'll see what its about.

    Crookon December 05, 2005   Link
  • +1
    General Comment

    Actually, despite what BoomSwagger says, Mountain Goats are similar to TMBG lyrically -- check an album like Lincoln or Apollo 18 -- all of those songs sound airy and funny but the lyrics are often crushingly sad, personal, and covering ground similar to MG.

    abeon June 08, 2006   Link
  • +1
    General Comment

    This song is amazing. Recently i saw them play live. I never seen a better performance before. Although this is one of their more popy songs it sent shivers down my spine. Everytime i hear it, it uplifts me. His lyrics are so amazing.

    josiejoon February 21, 2007   Link

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