Meaning of Between the Bars by Elliott Smith

The most famous track from Elliott Smith’s third studio album Either/Or (1997) was Miss Misery. It was nominated for an Oscar after being featured in the movie Good Will Hunting, and the author even performed it at the award ceremony.

But we will talk about it later, and this article is devoted to the history of the creation of the song Between the Bars from the same album, which was also included in the soundtrack to the above picture (and in two versions) and which is very popular with the singer’s fans.

Between the Bars – Elliott Smith

Let’s start talking about the track by discussing its name. The phrase “between the bars” can be translated in many ways: “from bar to bar”, “between the bars”, “between the bars” or even “between bars”. It all depends on the context, and it is replete with unambiguous phrases that gave the listeners reason to interpret the main idea of ​​the song in their own way.

The relationship between lovers, dependence on alcohol, imprisonment – this is not a complete list of the proposed versions of the interpretation of its meaning. Given that Elliott Smith refrained from explaining, decide for yourself which option is more appropriate.

Luke Wood from DreamWorks, who worked with him, spoke in admiring tones about the author and his creation:

The best example of Elliott’s writing talent and skill with metaphor is probably Between the Bars. It operates on three levels. First of all, it is about love (or seems to be). You can also take it literally, as a song about late-night bar visits. The set of images can also easily be about the prison. And, of course, potentially it is about addiction. The clarity and integrity of thought is amazing …

Recording and release

Work on the Either/Or album took place in several places. Between the Bars was recorded at The Shop in California with producers Tom Rothrock and Rob Schnapf.

The song became the fourth track on the record, which was included in several authoritative ratings of the best albums. But this composition was not published as a single and did not hit the charts.

Interesting Facts

  • For the Good Will Hunting soundtrack, Smith performed Between the Bars in an orchestral version. Composer Danny Elfman took part in its recording. The soundtrack also included a studio version of the song.

Elliott Smith Lyrics

Drink up, baby, stay up all night
With the things you could do, you won’t but you might
The potential you’ll be that you’ll never see
The promises you’ll only make
Drink up with me now and forget everything about
The pressure of days, do what I say
And I’ll make you okay and drive them away
The images stuck in your head

People you’ve been before that you
Don’t want around anymore
That push and shove and won’t bend to your will
I’ll keep them still

Drink up, baby, look at the stars
I’ll kiss you again, between the bars
Where I’m seeing you there, with your hands in the air
Waiting to finally be caught
Drink up one more time and I’ll make you mine
Keep you apart, deep in my heart
separate from the rest, where I like you the best
And keep the things you forgot

Elliott Smith Lyrics Between the Bars

Drink baby, stay up all night
You are capable of much, but you do not want, although you could
You will never open up completely
Just make promises
Drink with me and forget about everyone
Stress for the day, do what I say
And I will put you in order, and drive them away –
Images stuck in your head

You don’t want to be human anymore
who you used to be
And who push and shove and disobey your will
I will subdue them

Drink baby, look at the stars
I’ll kiss you again as we wander from bar to bar
Where do I see you with your hands up to the sky
In the hope that you will finally be caught
Drink more and you’ll be mine
Far from everyone, deep in my heart
Separate from the rest where you should be
And I’ll save everything you forgot

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