Manhattan – The Urban Odyssey of Melancholic Revelry

You can view the lyrics, alternate interprations and sheet music for Kings of Leon's Manhattan at
Article Contents:
  1. Music Video
  2. Lyrics
  3. Song Meaning
  4. The Dance of Day and Night: Unveiling the Rhythms of Existence
  5. Beyond Traditional Paths: Kings of Leon’s Urban Bohemia
  6. The Hunter Motif: A Metaphor for Desire and Conquest
  7. A Skyline’s Promise: The Unattainable Permanently Etched in Memory
  8. Eternal Journey: The Path That Never Ends


I like to dance all night
It summons the day
That’s how I play
Yeah that’s how I play

I said who are you
No matter who you are
So we dance all night
And dance all day

I say
I say

We’re gonna fuel the fire
We’re gonna stoke it up
We’re gonna sip this wine
And pass the cup

Who needs avenues
Who needs reservoirs
We’re gonna show this town
How to kiss these stars

I say
I say

I’m on a hunt to kill
I’m gonna skin the hide
A yelp and scream
And away I ride

I’ll never top this view
I’ll never fall aground
It’s all for you
For what you found

I say
I say
I say
I say

It’s gonna take your hand
It’s gonna drive you home
It’s gonna keep on, keep on, keep on
And then forever roam

Full Lyrics

Kings of Leon’s ‘Manhattan’ is an aural tapestry, rich with the twang of guitar strings and the drawl of Caleb Followill’s distinctive vocals. Not merely a song, but an exploration into the depths of nocturnal adventures and the complexities of human connection, ‘Manhattan’ paints a mosaic of urban sprawling life with swift, broad strokes.

Drenched in a soundscape that spells both elegance and disenchantment, this track from their 2008 album ‘Only by the Night’ captures the inherent paradox of New York’s glittering gloom. It’s a tribute to a metropolis and a chronicle of the eternal quest for something that’s always just out of reach, nestled in the neon-lit labyrinth of the city that never sleeps.

The Dance of Day and Night: Unveiling the Rhythms of Existence

‘I like to dance all night; it summons the day. That’s how I play.’ Through these opening lines, Kings of Leon divulge the escapism found in rhythmic motion, where dancing becomes a ritual to beckon forth another sunrise. It suggests a kinetic defiance against the passage of time, each beat resisting the inevitable dawn.

The song captures that frenetic energy of Manhattan’s nightlife, where one might find themselves amidst strangers who, for a brief moment, seem like the only people in the universe. As they jive through the velvet curtains of night, boundaries blur, uniting them in their temporal refuge from the world outside.

Beyond Traditional Paths: Kings of Leon’s Urban Bohemia

Escaping the usual haunts, the lyrics ‘Who needs avenues, who needs reservoirs’ evokes a strong disinterest in the conventional city offerings. The band invokes a sense of communal elevation, where they, along with a collective ‘we’, are ‘gonna show this town how to kiss these stars.’

Such lines are perhaps a sardonic salute to New York’s iconic sites—avenues and reservoirs—that are usually swarmed with those seeking the city’s heart. Yet here, Kings of Leon prefer to ignore such tracks, instead pointing upwards and outwards, aiming to transcend the cityscapes to touch the metaphysical.

The Hunter Motif: A Metaphor for Desire and Conquest

Caleb Followill’s growling declaration, ‘I’m on a hunt to kill, I’m gonna skin the hide,’ stands stark and primal in a song laced with longing. It portrays an almost predatorial need to capture and possess the inexpressible essences of the city.

While these lines might initially conjure images of violence, it becomes clear that the ‘hunt’ is for something much more ethereal. It’s a pursuit of experience, of emotion, of those fleeting moments that define city life; once they’re captured, they’re skinned, worn, and internalized as part of the self.

A Skyline’s Promise: The Unattainable Permanently Etched in Memory

The recognition ‘I’ll never top this view, I’ll never fall aground’ speaks to the inexhaustible allure of Manhattan’s skyline, always offering more than one could possibly grasp. There is acceptance of a certain wilful Sisyphean struggle—an ever-repeating journey of reaching for a pinnacle, with every conquest, only revealing a higher peak.

This could also serve as a metaphor for aspiration and achievement, especially in a city that is as much a symbol of dreams as it is of dreamers. The majesty of Manhattan is not just in its architecture but in the reminder that human aspiration knows no bounds and that there is beauty in the quest itself.

Eternal Journey: The Path That Never Ends

In the final refrain, ‘It’s gonna take your hand, it’s gonna drive you home, it’s gonna keep on, keep on, keep on, and then forever roam,’ the song fuses the idea of a never-ending quest with a sense of inevitable return. The lyrics juxtapose the notion of being lead, possibly a spiritual guiding force, with the idea of aimlessly wandering.

This clever play amplifies the human condition within the urban expanse—a tension between seeking meaning (or home) and embracing the eternal journey that is life itself, captured in the metaphorical roaming of the streets and souls of Manhattan. It is here that Kings of Leon locate both the heartache and the beauty of existence.

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