Roundabout – Unraveling the Lyrical Labyrinth of Prog Rock’s Iconic Tune


You can view the lyrics, alternate interprations and sheet music for Yes's Roundabout at Lyrics.org.
Article Contents:
  1. Music Video
  2. Lyrics
  3. Song Meaning
  4. The Poetic Puzzle of Prog Rock Prowess
  5. Circles of Life: Navigating the ‘Roundabout’
  6. A Voyage Through Memory and Time
  7. The Cosmic Dance Between Man and Nature
  8. Eclipsing the Literal: The Hidden Meaning Beneath

Lyrics

I’ll be the roundabout
The words will make you out ‘n’ out
I spend the day your way
Call it morning driving through the sound of
In and out the valley

The music dance and sing
They make the children really ring
I spend the day your way
Call it morning driving through the sound of
In and out the valley

In and around the lake
Mountains come out of the sky and they stand there
One mile over we’ll be there and we’ll see you
Ten true summers we’ll be there and laughing too
Twenty four before my love you’ll see
I’ll be there with you

I will remember you
Your silhouette will charge the view
Of distant atmosphere
Call it morning driving through the sound of
Even in the valley

In and around the lake
Mountains come out of the sky and they stand there
One mile over we’ll be there and we’ll see you
Ten true summers we’ll be there and laughing too
Twenty four before my love you’ll see
I’ll be there with you

Along the drifting cloud
The eagle searching down on the land
Catching the swirling wind
The sailor sees the rim of the land
The eagle’s dancing wings
Create as weather spins out of hand

Go closer hold the land
Feel partly no more than grains of sand
We stand to lose all time
A thousand answers by in our hand
Next to your deeper fears
We stand surrounded by million years

I’ll be the roundabout
The words will make you out ‘n’ out
I’ll be the roundabout
The words will make you out ‘n’ out

In and around the lake
Mountains come out of the sky and they stand there
Twenty four before my love and I’ll be there

I’ll be the roundabout
The words will make you out ‘n’ out
You spend the day your way
Call it morning driving through the sound of
In and out the valley

In and around the lake
Mountains come out of the sky and they stand there
One mile over we’ll be there and we’ll see you
Ten true summers we’ll be there and laughing too
Twenty four before my love you’ll see
I’ll be there with you

Full Lyrics

The 1971 hit ‘Roundabout’ by progressive rock band Yes is a track that embodies the complexity and artistry of the genre. With a melodic potency paired with cryptic lyrics that lend themselves to countless interpretations, ‘Roundabout’ has remained a subject of fascination for fans and critics alike for decades.

Yet beyond its enigmatic verses and dynamic structure lies a tapestry of themes and messages, interwoven with the very fabric of human experience, perception, and existence. Here, we delve into the essence of ‘Roundabout”s storytelling, mining the depths for the hidden significances beneath its swirling melodies and intricate harmonies.

The Poetic Puzzle of Prog Rock Prowess

To embark on the interpretation of ‘Roundabout’ is to undertake a voyage through Yes’s mastery of progressive rock’s potential for mythic storytelling. The lyrics serve as a labyrinthine puzzle, where listeners navigate through vivid imagery and a cascade of emotions, guided by the band’s musical virtuosity.

Each verse, characterized by its own unique narrative tapestry, operates not merely as a component of the song’s story, but as a microcosm of thought and sensation, enticing the listener to unravel the strands of meaning woven by lead vocalist Jon Anderson’s ethereal delivery.

Circles of Life: Navigating the ‘Roundabout’

At its heart, the recurring theme of the ’roundabout’ symbolises the cyclical nature of life’s journey – an endless loop of experiences, memories, and the human capacity for joy and sorrow. The words ‘out ‘n’ out’ suggest an emergence into clarity or an understanding, an awakening through the repetitive motion of life’s roundabouts.

Metaphorically, the song traverses literal and figurative landscapes, moving from the tranquility of the valley to the commanding presence of the mountains, perhaps hinting at life’s oscillating fortunes and the quest to find equilibrium amidst its ups and downs.

A Voyage Through Memory and Time

With references to ‘ten true summers’ and ‘twenty four before my love you’ll see’, Yes anchors their abstract storytelling in the concrete framework of time. These lines are reflective of the keen human awareness of temporal passage, evoking nostalgia for the past and anticipation for the future.

The passage of time in ‘Roundabout’ is not passive; it is charged with the promise of reunion and shared joy. The reassurance ‘I’ll be there with you’ speaks to the perennial human desire for connection, transcending temporal and spatial divisions.

The Cosmic Dance Between Man and Nature

Sailing beyond the temporal, the lyrics of ‘Roundabout’ juxtapose man’s endeavors with natural forces. The eagle and the sailor, emblems of freedom and exploration, are set against a canvas of drifting clouds and swirling winds, encapsulating the eternal interplay between humanity and the greater cosmos.

This dance yields a recognition of our scale in the universal order: ‘Feel partly no more than grains of sand.’ It’s a humbling reminder of human fragility and the limits of our dominion in the expanse of geological time and the elemental forces of nature.

Eclipsing the Literal: The Hidden Meaning Beneath

While surface readings of ‘Roundabout’ might lead one to think of it as a poetic depiction of landscapes and love, peering deeper reveals an esoteric layer rooted in existential musing. The lines ‘We stand surrounded by a million years’ and ‘A thousand answers by in our hand’ confront the listener with the vastness of existence and the pursuit of knowledge and truth.

Indeed, ‘Roundabout’ may be deciphered as a journey not just through the physical world, but through the mind and soul – a roundabout through the metaphysical realms, where the destinations are enlightenment, self-awareness, and the understanding that love, in its many forms, is both the journey and the destination.

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