Tiny Cities Made Of Ashes

Album: The Moon And Antarctica (2000)


  • Theories on the meaning of this song range from nuclear warfare to a man's trip to hell. There's a good chance the song is based on the book The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, with the "Tiny Cities Made Of Ashes" referring to "The Valley Of Ashes" in the book. The lyric, "I'm gonna hit you in your face, I'm gonna punch you in your glasses" could refer both to the billboard of T.J. Eckleberg and when Myrtle gets hit in the face by Tom, "I'm gonna get dressed up in plastic, gonna shake hands with the masses" can imply how everyone in the book (almost) seems so ridiculously fake, and "I'm gonna shake hands with the masses" could be about Nick first attending one of Gatby's parties and getting to know everyone because he hadn't before. "Does anybody know a way that a body could get away" would refer to the book towards the end, where a couple characters are killed (we won't spoil it for you). >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Robin - Huntertown, IN

Comments: 2

  • Shelby from Houston, TxWow, I've thought much about this song and I've not come up with anything as cogent as the explanation served. I also think he compares his writing style to F. Scott Fitzgerald's "heavy on the symbolism" possibly a little wary of maintaining which was evidenced in the theme and tone of the next album "Good News for People who Love Bad News"
  • Mike from Willoughby, OhThe interpretation at the top of the page seems the best one, but when I first heard it, I saw it as the speaker being a politician who's sold off his soul and his constituency and is going to the next city of people he has to pretend to connect with.
see more comments

Editor's Picks

Spooner OldhamSongwriter Interviews

His keyboard work helped define the Muscle Shoals sound and make him an integral part of many Neil Young recordings. Spooner is also an accomplished songwriter, whose hits include "I'm Your Puppet" and "Cry Like A Baby."

Yacht Rock QuizFact or Fiction

Christopher Cross with Deep Purple? Kenny Loggins in Caddyshack? A Fact or Fiction all about yacht rock and those who made it.

Ben Kowalewicz of Billy TalentSongwriter Interviews

The frontman for one of Canada's most well-known punk rock bands talks about his Eddie Vedder encounter, Billy Talent's new album, and the importance of rock and roll.

Laura NyroSongwriting Legends In Their Own Words

Laura Nyro talks about her complex, emotionally rich songwriting and how she supports women's culture through her art.

Grateful Dead CharactersMusic Quiz

Many unusual folks appear in Grateful Dead songs. Can you identify them?

Al Jourgensen of MinistrySongwriter Interviews

In the name of song explanation, Al talks about scoring heroin for William Burroughs, and that's not even the most shocking story in this one.