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Babylon by David Gray

Album: White LadderReleased: 2000Charted:
57
5
  • This is about a guy whose girlfriend who has left him. Once he realizes he has allowed fear to block his path to love, he decides he wants her back.
  • Gray is a singer/songwriter born in Manchester, England. He recorded his first album in 1993. After the failure of that and his two subsequent albums due to neglect from prior record labels, it was thanks to the tuned ear of Dave Matthews that Gray finally found success. Matthews signed Gray to his label, ATO Records and put out Gray's album White Ladder. This was the first single; it captured the attention of listeners and quickly spread like wildfire on radio stations worldwide. White Ladder gradually built up sales and in the UK it finally hit the #1 spot 2 years and 5 months after it was released, the second longest run to #1 by any album. Only T Rex's "My People Were Fair And Had sky In Their Hair" took longer, at nearly 4 years.
  • Babylon was a major city in Mesopotamia, and is located in what is now Iraq. The Hanging Gardens Of Babylon are one of the 7 wonders of the ancient world.
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Comments: 23

This song is one of my all-time favorites. It is poignently sad, and hopeful at the same time. As for interpretation, I agree with Paul, Tony, and Anna. It seems to me to be about a sudden leaving and surprise return interwoven with the metaphor of ancient Babylon. It saddens me that people judge the song on the basis of the biblical record, and slant, on Babylon. Paul and Tony take opposite approaches: Babylon representing the place of exile-like experience of being left by a lover (who later ends the exile by returning vs. the historical record of Babylon the great and prosperous city city that eventually crumbles... yet both of their interpretations work. But, Anna, you nailed it: it's about a girl! Thank you, Mr. Gray.Ed - New Cumberland, Pa
I was reminded of this song (from the late nineties) while waiting at a Long Island Rail Road station in Jamaica, New York a few years ago. The city "Babylon" was displayed on the board as the train's final destination. While I understand those who believe the song is written with an air of "Babylon" in the biblical sense, for some reason I am always drawn to believe he's in Babylon, Long Island, in early fall. The piano and acoustic guitar are beautiful. I can almost picture David Gray driving, heading towards the city and thinking about his lost love - determined to rekindle the flame.Rob - Maple Grove, Mn
I suspect David Gray is a fan of Squeeze because they had an album called 'Babylon and On', and I think it is in reference to that pun that he wrote the song.Jason - Upper Darby, Pa
I love this song! I think that it is about a girl who has left him over the weekend, she leaves him friday(lights green to red) and returns on sunday (turn around to see you smiling there in front of me)great song, a classic!Anna - Hemel Hempstead, United Kingdom
Could be he is saying "Babble on"Gentle Fluter - Perth, Australia
This song has absolutely nothing to do with Israel and the bible at all.Jr - Easington, United Kingdom
I have a different theory. David Gray knows a lot about the Bible and the history of Israel. He uses "Babylon" in this song as a symbol of "exile" which is was for ancient Israel, and also for him and his girlfriend. Just as the people of Israel suffered 70 years in a concentration camp in ancient Babylon (500 miles from Jerusalem and then ruled by King Nebuchadrezzar) and longed to go home to their loved ones back in Jerusalem, so Gray feels separated from his loved one and longs to be reunited. And just as the Israelites eventually got to go him (after Nebuchdrezzar died) so Gray gets his girl in the end of the song. Israel had a happy ending after a long separation, and so did Gray. That's my theory, and I'm sticking to it . . . .Paul - New Orleans, La, La
In the Bible, Babylon was also looked upon and is the representative for everything evil.Kara - Wichita, Ks
Classic song by a musical genius !
Nicky in new haven,no-one ever said it was about "Babylon" the place.As for being 2nd rate,you really must be deaf or stupid or both!
Go and peddle your 2nd rate thoughts somewhere else!
Kevin - Birmingham - England, United Kingdom
This and Ventura Highway by America are great summer driving songs.Rob - Wilkes-barre, Pa
NOTHING happened to David Gray - he is still going strong!Dave - Cardiff, Wales
yeah adrian....what DID happen to david gray?Lisa - Fort Worth, Tx
Babylon (an ancient city that no longer exists)was compared to Utopia. It was wealthy, modern, and ahead of it's time in the ancient world. It was considered to be a powerful and perfect place. Ironically, it fell under it's own weight (greed and power).

I believe David Gray uses babylon as a metaphor for a strong and seemingly perfect institution (his relationship) which eventually crumbles and falls apart.
Tony - Oshawa, Canada
I just love everything about David Gray...from his voice to his lyrics...He's amazing...I think this song is about messing up with his girl friend or a girl and then realizing how foolish he has been and wanting her back...I think maybe he goes into the town of Babylon in one point of the song...like he's walking through the town thinking about it and wishing she was there...Oh I love him!!Julie - Freehold, Nj
babalon is my fav song ever. love it. why try make sense of lyrics and say thats what they mean and thats that. each song has a different meaning to each different person. to me its about going out on the town on a weekend. makes me smile each time i hear it.

chris m from scotland
Chris - Glasgow, Scotland
Good song. We don't much of his music in the States.Stefanie - Rock Hill, Sc
Since my last post, David has scored two more UK hits with "The One I Love" and "Hospital Food". He is now one of the biggest-selling musicians of all-time in the UK having just gone to No.1 for the third time in his career with his eighth album "Life In Slow Motion". As for Nicky, David has continued to remain popular over Europe despite the fact that the media have doone absolutely noything to help his cause. Like him or not, he is a talented songwriter, though as lyricists go he's no Bob Dylan - but then what modern songwriter is?Dave - Cardiff, Wales
Read the lyrics and you will see that the song has nothing to do with the ancient city of Babylon or anything even related to it. It's about a guy and a girl breaking up and reuniting - nothing more. This is just a cheap attempt to develop a catchy phrasing to peddle his 2nd rate song.

"Babble-On" is more like it.
Nicky - New Haven, Ct
This song has one of the best lines ever, the one where he's climbing up the stairs and turns around to see her smiling there in front of him. I love this song.Elizabeth - New Orleans, La
Solva is actually located Nr St Davids in Pembrokeshire West walesTed - Pembrokeshire, Wales
David Gray is a musical genius. I love him. One day we will be wed.Tamar Elizabeth - Murrieta, Ca
David Gray was born in Manchester, but he lived in Solva, a small village near Cross Keys in South Wales, until he was 25. This was the first of seven big UK hits for David Gray between 2000 and 2003 - the others were "Please Forgive Me" (no relation to the Bryan Adams song of the same name), "This Years Love" (from the popular film", "Sail Away", "Say Hello Wave Goodbye" (a cover of the Soft Cell classic), "The Other Side", and "Dead In The Water". While his fourth album "White Ladder" took nearly two-and-a-half years to make No.1 in the UK, the follow-up (2002's "A New Day At Midnight") hit the top spot after just one week on release!Dave - Cardiff, Wales
what happened to david gray?Adrian - Merthyr Tydfil, Al