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The Old Man's Back Again
Scott Walker Lyrics


Jump to: Overall Meaning ↴  Line by Line Meaning ↴

I seen a hand, I seen a vision
It was reaching through the clouds
To risk a dream, the shadow crossed the sky
And it crushed it to the ground, just like a beast

The old man's back again
The old man's back again

I seen a woman, standing in the snow
She was silent as she watched them take her man
Teardrops burned her cheeks
For she'd thought she'd heard the shadow had left this land

The old man's back again
The old man's back again

The crowds just gathered, their faces turned away
And they queue all day, like dragons of disgust
Older women whispering
Wondering just what these young hot-heads want of us
And Andrei V. he cries, with eyes that ring like chimes
His anti-worlds go spinning through his head
He burns them in his dreams
For half-awake, they may as well be dead

The old man's back again
I see he's back again

I see a soldier, he's standing in the rain
For him there's no old man to walk behind
Devoured by his pain
Bewildered by the faces who pass him by
He'd like another name, the one he's got's a curse
These people cried
Why can't they understand?
His mother called him Ivan, then she died

The old man's back again
The old man's back again
I can see him back again
Da da da da da da da da

Overall Meaning

The lyrics of Scott Walker's song "The Old Man's Back Again" are evocative and charged with emotion. It speaks of a world where the old man, representing a time-tested and valued way of life, is replaced by cruelty and ignorance. The opening lines depict a vision of a hand stretching out from the clouds, suggesting that a divine force may be present but is unable to stop the shadow that crushes dreams on the ground. The ‘beast’ that it is likened to implies a sense of malevolence, and Scott hints of a foreboding presence.


The song then goes on to describe different characters and their predicaments in dealing with the shadow. There is a woman standing in the snow, watching as her man is taken away, and struggling with tears as she realizes the shadow may not have completely left this world. Later in the song, a soldier standing in the rain has no old man to guide him through his pain, lost and bewildered in a world of strangers who do not comprehend his plight.


The song is a comment on how times change and how younger generations turn their back on the traditions and values of the past. The old man represents the wisdom, guidance, and support that has been lost, while the shadow that crushes dreams represents the new and destructive force that has taken its place. This is a song that touches hearts with its poignant lyrics and represents a poetic commentary on the changes that the world experiences.


Line by Line Meaning

I seen a hand, I seen a vision
I saw a hand reaching through the clouds, as if to grasp a dream


It was reaching through the clouds
The hand appeared as if from the heavens


To risk a dream, the shadow crossed the sky
A dream was threatened by a dark presence overhead


And it crushed it to the ground, just like a beast
The dream was violently destroyed


The old man's back again
An old and well-known presence has returned


I seen a woman, standing in the snow
I saw a woman standing alone in a cold, desolate place


She was silent as she watched them take her man
She was powerless to stop someone close to her being taken away


Teardrops burned her cheeks
She was overcome with sadness and grief


For she'd thought she'd heard the shadow had left this land
She had hoped that the source of her pain had gone away


The crowds just gathered, their faces turned away
People were avoiding confrontation or acknowledgement of a problem


And they queue all day, like dragons of disgust
They move mechanically, as if driven by some base instinct


Older women whispering
The elders were communicating discreetly behind closed doors


Wondering just what these young hot-heads want of us
They were unsure of the motives of younger generations


And Andrei V. he cries, with eyes that ring like chimes
A man named Andrei was very emotional, his eyes shining with tears


His anti-worlds go spinning through his head
He was lost in his own world of anti-establishment ideas and feelings


He burns them in his dreams
His thoughts and ideas consume him, even in his sleep


For half-awake, they may as well be dead
His dreams are more real to him than reality


I see he's back again
The old man has returned again


I see a soldier, he's standing in the rain
I notice a soldier standing alone in the wet weather


For him there's no old man to walk behind
The soldier has no support or guidance from any authority figure


Devoured by his pain
The soldier is consumed and overwhelmed by his own suffering


Bewildered by the faces who pass him by
He is confused and disoriented by the people around him who seem indifferent or hostile


He'd like another name, the one he's got's a curse
He wishes he could have a fresh start and escape his current grief and suffering


These people cried
The people around him were emotional and distressed


Why can't they understand?
The soldier is frustrated and unable to comprehend why others seem indifferent to his plight


His mother called him Ivan, then she died
The soldier's past is marked by loss and tragedy


Da da da da da da da da
This is a non-lyrical portion of the song, possibly indicating a change or break in the narrative




Lyrics © Warner Chappell Music, Inc.
Written by: Scott Engel

Lyrics Licensed & Provided by LyricFind
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Most interesting comments from YouTube:

@mirsadathossain3932

I seen a hand, I seen a vision
It was reaching through the clouds, To risk a dream
A shadow cross the sky
And it crushed into the ground, Just like a beast
The old man's back again
The old man's back again
I seen a woman, standing in the snow
She was silent as she watched them take her man
Teardrops burned her cheeks
for she thought she'd heard, The shadow had left this land
The old man's back again
The old man's back again
The crowds just gathered, their faces turned away
And they queue all day like dragons of disgust
All the women whispering
Wondering just what these young hot-heads want of us
And entres vie he cries
with eyes that ring like chimes
His anti-worlds go spinning through his head
He burns them in his dreams
for half awake they may as well be dead
The old man's back again
I see he's back again
I see a soldier, He's standing in the rain
For him there's no old man to walk behind
Devoured by his pain
bewildered by the faces who pass him by
He'd like another name the one he's got's a curse
These people cried
Why can't they understand
His mother called him Ivan then she died
The old man's back again
The old man's back again
I can see him back again



@oliviersalomon5806

I seen a hand, I seen a vision
It was reaching through the clouds
To risk a dream, the shadow crossed the sky
And it crushed it to the ground, just like a beast
The old man's back again
The old man's back again
I seen a woman, standing in the snow
She was silent as she watched them take her man
Teardrops burned her cheeks
For she'd thought she'd heard the shadow had left this land
The old man's back again
The old man's back again
The crowds just gathered, their faces turned away
And they queue all day, like dragons of disgust
Older women whispering
Wondering just what these young hot-heads want of us
And Andrei V. he cries, with eyes that ring like chimes
His anti-worlds go spinning through his head
He burns them in his dreams
For half-awake, they may as well be dead
The old man's back again
I see he's back again
I see a soldier, he's standing in the rain
For him there's no old man to walk behind
Devoured by his pain
Bewildered by the faces who pass him by
He'd like another name, the one he's got's a curse
These people cried
Why can't they understand?
His mother called him Ivan, then she died
The old man's back again
The old man's back again
I can see him back again
Da da da da da da da da



All comments from YouTube:

@chrisleddy2414

The bassline is incredible. Its like a stranger rummaging in your backpack.

@gentlemanloser6787

That's a brilliant description!

@Deliquescentinsight

Do you write Chris, do you pen reviews, the odd poetic line?

@blingn27

No idea wtf you mean , but I can get behind that

@mikedavies8741

What this guy said!

@gavinstarling8737

That explains exactly how I feel about this song but couldn't have put like that, perfect!

58 More Replies...

@BasementProphet

Listening to this song today is kind of depressing.
History straight up repeating itself and we were at this point of history before.
Peace is the only solution.

@illumimason7724

People keep talking about the bassline, but those violins deserve just as much credit, so beautiful! Gives me goose bumps every time!

@anthonycardott3541

and the belching choir

@illumimason7724

@@anthonycardott3541 love the belching choir, gregorian chanting is always welcomed

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