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Behind the Song
I started this song in the first person. Which made sense, because I could relate to a lot of what I was singing about. But I didn’t want it to be, or appear to be, autobiographical. I wanted some distance between me and the ideas, so I switched to the third person and began singing about Billy.
This helped. I felt freer to explore his story.
Melodically, the bridge (“You were never meant to be a page”) was the original chorus melody, though with different lyrics. Those lyrics went “Who are you?” which of course are the lyrics to The Who’s 1978 song of the same title. That wouldn’t do.
So I invented the present chorus with a different melody and pushed the original melody into the bridge. I like this melody better as a bridge anyway.
Billy thought he found the road he should be on singing someone else's favorite song 'cause they seemed so happy when they crossed their finish line so he tightened his belt, said it just takes time He started climbing those gold-encrusted hills but his tank ran empty, he never felt the thrills so he told himself he didn't have what it takes and he gave up, just a big mistake Don't let them get you down, Billy don't let them box you in you're better when you choose, Billy when you play your own game, you win After a few years of furious introspection the long, lonely slog of finding your direction Billy found himself right where he'd begun in an open field, under the sun 'Cause running in circles will trap you in a maze the mind's hall of mirrors spins you in a daze so Billy got mad and kicked out with both feet the shattered glass left him bloodied but free Don't let them get you down, Billy don't let them box you in you're better when you choose, Billy when you play your own game, you win You were never meant to be a page in someone else's book, a nameless face upon a stage you were meant to follow stars light years away when life talks tough, you make your own way Billy tried singing at some neighborhood bars he tried dancing under the light of the stars he tried living with one hand on the wheel he forgot how to fret, and learned how to feel I head how Billy finally settled down he's living large in some American small town I hear he's happy teaching his kids to tie their shoes he's light on his feet, he's paid all his dues Don't let them get you down, Billy don't let them box you in you're better when you choose, Billy when you play your own game, you win