It Ain’t Easy – An Anthology of Ascent and Descent


You can view the lyrics, alternate interprations and sheet music for David Bowie's It Ain't Easy at Lyrics.org.
Article Contents:
  1. Music Video
  2. Lyrics
  3. Song Meaning
  4. Scaling The Metaphorical Mountain: A Study of Ambition
  5. The Sisyphean Struggle Encoded in Melody
  6. Digging Deeper: The Hidden Religious Undertones
  7. A Carnal Cry: Satisfying Earthly Desires
  8. Memorable Lines: Verses that Echo Beyond the Song

Lyrics

When you climb to the top of the mountain
Look out over the sea
Think about the places perhaps, where a young man could be
Then you jump back down to the rooftops
Look out over the town
Think about all of the strange things circulating round

It ain’t easy, it ain’t easy
It ain’t easy to get to heaven when you’re going down

Well all the people have got their problems
That ain’t nothing new
With the help of the good Lord
We can all pull on through
We can all pull on through
Get there in the end
Sometimes it’ll take you right up and sometimes down again

It ain’t easy, it ain’t easy
It ain’t easy to get to heaven when you’re going down

Satisfaction, satisfaction
Keep me satisfied
I’ve got the love of a hoochie koochie woman
She calling from inside
She’s a-calling from inside
Trying to get to you
All the woman really wants you can give her something too

It ain’t easy, it ain’t easy
It ain’t easy to get to heaven when you’re going down
It ain’t easy, it ain’t easy
It ain’t easy to get to heaven when you’re going down

Full Lyrics

In the landscape of rock n’ roll, there exist songs that transcend mere auditory experience and become narrative tapestries woven with the very threads of human emotion. ‘It Ain’t Easy,’ a track from the cosmic jigsaw puzzle of David Bowie’s album ‘The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars,’ is one such song. Through its raw lyricism and Bowie’s inimitable vocal delivery, the song encapsulates a journey both external and internal.

The song, while less high-flying than some of Bowie’s hits, captures the struggles inherent in the pursuit of enlightenment and personal growth. Straddling the line between the earthly and the ethereal, ‘It Ain’t Easy’ echoes the perennial philosophical pondering of what it means to truly ‘succeed’ in life and beyond.

Scaling The Metaphorical Mountain: A Study of Ambition

The opening verse acts as a metaphor for life’s journey, where ‘the top of the mountain’ represents the pinnacle of one’s goals, and the ‘sea’ serves as the vast pool of possibilities. This imagery catapults the listener into a reflection on potentiality and position. The young man, perhaps a vestige of Bowie himself or a universal avatar, stands as a symbol of untapped potential.

During Bowie’s era, the idea of ‘making it’ was layered with complex social and individual implications; to reach the ‘top’ was not merely a personal triumph but a beacon of cultural significance. Yet, in an era of spiritual rediscovery and the rejection of traditionalism, ‘It Ain’t Easy’ touches on the irony of success, referencing the transient nature of achievement and the inevitable return to ground level.

The Sisyphean Struggle Encoded in Melody

The mantra-like chorus ‘It ain’t easy to get to heaven when you’re going down’ is both a declaration and a lament. It reveals the dualism that permeates human ambition—the yearning for transcendent purity coupled with the gravitational pull of base nature. Bowie illustrates this conflict through the simplicity of the song’s construct, a cyclic pattern mirroring life’s ebb and flow.

By embedding the idea of challenge directly into the song’s hook, ‘It Ain’t Easy’ remains an infectiously resonant observation on the fragile state of mortal endeavors. The song serves as a reminder of the labor and resilience required to forge ahead against cyclical adversities, each refrain a chorus of communal fortitude.

Digging Deeper: The Hidden Religious Undertones

There’s a spiritual undercurrent running beneath the surface of Bowie’s earthy rock tune, one that speaks to the 70s zeitgeist’s search for meaning. The ‘good Lord’ mentioned explicitly hints at the Judeo-Christian narrative of struggle and salvation, yet Bowie’s interpretation is far from orthodox.

The song’s yearning for deliverance—and its acknowledgement that divine assistance is sought by ‘all people’ with their own ‘problems’—transforms the personal into the universal. Bowie’s secular invocation of the ‘good Lord’ underscores our shared existential yearnings while contemplating society’s collective journey towards a metaphorical ‘heaven.’

A Carnal Cry: Satisfying Earthly Desires

While ‘It Ain’t Easy’ reflects the lofty ambition of reaching heavenly heights, the song also grounds itself in a rough-hewn sensuality. The third verse dives into the visceral with ‘satisfaction’ as the pivot. These lines blur the division between the sacred climb and the hedonistic tumble, a nod to the complex interplay of spiritual and carnal drives.

The ‘hoochie koochie woman’ calling ‘from inside’ penetrates the otherwise masculine journey, introducing a feminine force that is both empowering and disruptive. Bowie’s portrayal of desire as an internal summons adds a layer of psychological depth to the track, weaving the baser aspects of the human condition into his ascent’s tapestry.

Memorable Lines: Verses that Echo Beyond the Song

‘Then you jump back down to the rooftops / Look out over the town / Think about all of the strange things circulating round’: these lyrics capture the tension between the pinnacle and the mundane, where the protagonist’s heightened perspective is met with the chaotic intricacies of human existence below.

It’s this acknowledgment of the ‘strange things circulating’—a Bowie-esque allusion to life’s oddities and complexities—that embeds a lasting philosophical reflection within the song’s seemingly simple stanzas. Bowie fans and music lovers alike often find themselves returning to these lines for their poetic encapsulation of the struggle between one’s worldly experiences and inner aspirations.

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