Along for the Ride

Album: Dream Theater (2013)

Songfacts®:

  • This is the closest to a ballad on Dream Theater's 2013 self-titled album. Guitarist John Petrucci explained the song's meaning to Grammy.com: "The theme of the song is very free-spirited and was inspired by a stream of consciousness writing style that I like to do sometimes where there's no music in front of you at all and you just start writing. You start writing words, and as those words are coming out one thing leads to the next, and you develop a theme."

    Petrucci added that the Boston bombings happened as the song was being written, which helped inspire its message. He said: "I had some of the verses and found that there was a contrast between this attitude of we're all on this planet floating along and the idea that there are some people out there [who] are willing to do some really bad things to us and make us change that attitude and live in this hyper vigilant, paranoid way. If you listen to the bridge of that song, it takes on a little bit different mood and says that this crazy stuff does happen, that there are bad people out in the world, but it's not going to break me down and not going to pull me away from that original attitude that I had when this wasn't going on a lot. It's also another way of saying that there are so many situations that are out of our control, and this is one of them unfortunately, but it shouldn't break down our spirit - not as a country, not as a people. It shouldn't break down our belief in the good of people."
  • Petrucci told MusicRadar the story of the song: "I had started to write the words to this one before the music, which is something I don't do too often," he said. "I was sitting in my car, waiting to pick up my daughter at school, and while I looking out the window I got hit by that term 'along for the ride.'"

    "I went home, picked up the guitar and pretty much wrote the themes, the choruses and the bridge to the song. So it was the only song that really existed prior to going into the studio – in a way that I could play it and sing it for the guys."

    "Having said that, it really wasn't complete until we got in there and worked out an intro and a bridge. But my idea all along was, 'Guys, I want a song that's anthemic.' I wanted something that people could sing along to, waiving their phones and lighters in the air – that whole feel-good vibe."

    "It partially has that loose, flowing, kind of hippie-ish Grateful Dead feel. At the same time, as a contrast, I had completed the lyrics after the Boston bombings, which happened while we were in the studio. The whole bridge about not living our lives afraid and not being shattered – that tied in with the overall theme."
  • Petrucci explained why there's no guitar solo on this song: "You know, there's a lot of guitar solos on the record, so I can't hog all the space," he said laughing. "Even when I was writing it at home and it went into where the keyboard solo starts, I thought it was more ELP. Jordan (Rudess, keyboards) did a great job of pulling off an improvised solo. It's Lucky Man-esque, the sounds that he gets. It's really something."
  • The phrase "along for the ride", meaning to do something for pleasure or interest rather than any serious purpose is of US origin dating from the 1950s. The image is that of a passive passenger. Here are some more examples of artists singing about coming along for the ride:

    "Driving Nowhere" by Paul Weller ("Driving nowhere, going no place. I'm just drifting, I've got low faith. I'm just waiting for a tide. To take me nowhere, along for a ride.")

    "Mr. Spaceman" by The Byrds ("Hey, Mr. Spaceman. Won't you please take me along. I won't do anything wrong. Hey, Mr. Spaceman. Won't you please take me along for the ride.")

    "Along for the Ride" by Randy Houser ("I'm just along for the ride. I'm just here for the good times. That's the greatest thing about this crazy life, we're all just along for the ride.")

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