Big Time

Album: Broken Arrow (1996)
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Songfacts®:

  • "Big Time" was the only single released from Broken Arrow. It was backed with "Interstate," an outtake from sessions for the Ragged Glory album released in 1990.

    Young made Broken Arrow after the death of David Briggs, his close friend and longtime producer. It's easy to think Briggs is the person Young is talking to when he sings, "I'm still living the dream we had." That's not how the song feels, though. It seems more like it's being sung to those folks who have "grown up" and moved on from their childhood dreams. Young's never said one or the way other.
  • In the song, Young sings about going on a cross-country road trip. It quickly becomes a mystical excursion as the "ocean's daughter" calls him over. Narratively, the song never really goes anywhere. It's not a story with a beginning and an end so much as it's Young's statement about keeping his eyes fixed on wonder, magic, and art.
  • In discussing what this dream entails, Young mentions a "youthful fountain," "you and me," and "eternity." He also mentions the "big time," which is a phrase for fame and success. Young's relationship with both of those concepts has been a source of tension throughout his life and was reflected in his music almost since the beginning.

    Young always espoused the hippie ideals of charity, love, and peace, but also doggedly pursued success in the music business. So, it's not clear if he's using "big time" here ironically, metaphorically, or literally.
  • The first verse seems to have Young reliving the journey that brought him to California in the beginning. Young is from Canada and toured there as a solo musician before driving down to the Los Angeles in 1966.

    The "golden gate" in the verse obviously refers to the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, and the "land of suntan lotion" is almost certainly California.

    Gonna leave the pain behind
    Gonna leave the fools in line
    Gonna take the magic potion
    Gettin' in an old black car
    Gonna take a ride so far
    To the land of sun tan lotion
    Gonna take it state by state
    Til I hit the golden gate
    Get my feet wet in the ocean

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