Scarlet Begonias – Unraveling a Psychedelic Love Affair


You can view the lyrics, alternate interprations and sheet music for Sublime's Scarlet Begonias at Lyrics.org.
Article Contents:
  1. Music Video
  2. Lyrics
  3. Song Meaning
  4. A Colorful Character Enters the Scene
  5. Synchronicity in Melody: The Hidden Meaning
  6. Echoes of Summer: A Chapter of Love and Loss
  7. Memorable Lines Etched in Psychedelic Vibes
  8. From Illusion to Enlightenment: An Enduring Legacy

Lyrics

As I was walkin’ down rub-a-dub square
Not a chill to the window but a little to the air
From another direction she was calling my eye
It could be an illusion but I might as well try
Might as well try

She had rings on her fingers and bells on her shoes
And I knew without asking she was into the blues
She wore scarlet begonias tucked into her curls
I knew right away she was not like other girls, like other girls

Well I ain’t never been right as I ain’t never been wrong
As everything works out the way it does in this song
‘Cause once in a while you get shown in the light
In the strangest of places if you look at it right

It was the summer of love and I thank the stars above
Because the women took a lovin’ over me
And just to gain her trust, I bought a microbus
Because I sold off all my personal property

A tie-tie-dyed dress, she was a psychedelic mess
We toured to the north, south, east and west
We sold some mushroom tea,
We sold some ecstasy,
We sold nitrous, opium, acid, heroin and PCP
And now I hear the police coming after me
Yes now I hear the police coming after me
The one scarlet with the flowers in her hair
She’s got the police coming after me

Well there ain’t nothing wrong with the way she moves
All scarlet begonias and a touch of the blues
And there ain’t nothin’ wrong with the love that’s in her eyes
I had to learn the hard way just to let her pass by, let her pass by
Oh just let her pass by

Full Lyrics

In the tapestry of alternative rock and ska-punk, Sublime weaves a narrative that both entrances and perplexes, a narrative that comes to a brilliant head with the ballad ‘Scarlet Begonias.’ More than just a melodic sketch, the song narrates a technicolor tale of love, freedom, and rebellious vivacity, carried forward by a Grateful Dead classic, reinterpreted with the characteristic Sublime flavor.

As listeners, we’re drawn into a heady, sun-soaked world where lawlessness is the law of the land and love is as fleeting as it is intense. ‘Scarlet Begonias’ invites us on a journey through melody and metaphor, that on the surface tells us of a bygone summer fling, but when peered into deeply, reveals the multilayered musings on existence, choice, and the eternal dance of serendipity that binds them.

A Colorful Character Enters the Scene

Our protagonist finds himself in ‘rub-a-dub square,’ a place buzzing with life, yet it is not the surroundings that draw his eye. It is the mystique of a woman, highlighted by ‘scarlet begonias tucked into her curls.’ This instantly recognizable figure becomes the catalyst for a tale that Sublime unravels with musical prowess. She’s a free spirit, an emblem of the counterculture, an icon of an era in which music is a refuge for the rebellious hearts.

It’s her attire, ‘rings on her fingers and bells on her shoes,’ that certifies her blues cred, lending clues to her personality. She’s not just an individual but an archetype of the era, a touchstone for anyone who has encountered that person who radiates music, who embodies an ethos.

Synchronicity in Melody: The Hidden Meaning

Within the ambiguity of rights and wrongs, the song extolls a deeper philosophy: ‘Well I ain’t never been right as I ain’t never been wrong.’ We’re introduced to the thematic heart of the song – relativity of perspective and experience. It isn’t about the absolute terms of correctness but about the fluidity of music and life working in tandem.

The protagonist finds enlightenment, ‘once in a while you get shown in the light in the strangest of places if you look at it right.’ The line becomes a proverbial map, guiding the listener to search for truth and beauty in the unconventional, the unexpected – the sublime.

Echoes of Summer: A Chapter of Love and Loss

The narrative shifts, detailing a whirlwind romance against the backdrop of the ‘summer of love.’ The characters dive headlong into a life removed from material possession, touring ‘to the north, south, east, and west,’ a journey that symbolizes the pursuit of love and the lengths to which one might go to keep its fire burning.

Yet, the romance proves itself to be both addictive and consuming, an escapade that fuels the fire of the law. ‘The one scarlet with the flowers in her hair / She’s got the police coming after me’ captures the inherent risks of a love that dances so close to the edge. The narrative is not just a story of a summer fling but a cautionary tale of excess and consequence.

Memorable Lines Etched in Psychedelic Vibes

‘There ain’t nothing wrong with the way she moves / All scarlet begonias and a touch of the blues.’ These lines cascade across the chorus, balancing imagery and sentiment that tie together the allure and inherent tragedy of the character. It is this dance between the beauty of the moment and the inescapable forward march of time that invests the lyric with longing and retrospection.

The culmination of experience, ‘I had to learn the hard way just to let her pass by,’ speaks to a universal struggle – the letting go of something that once seemed an immutable source of joy. This line resonates, echoing long after the last note fades, embodying the bittersweet reality of ephemeral encounters.

From Illusion to Enlightenment: An Enduring Legacy

Sublime’s ‘Scarlet Begonias’ touches upon the transitory nature of life, lacing its core message with the relativity of illusion and reality. ‘It could be an illusion but I might as well try, might as well try,’ introduces us to a philosophy of chance, of seizing the present before it fades into the annals of memory.

This timeless narrative, punctuated by turns of phrase that capture the quintessence of a generation, encapsulates the enduring legacy of Sublime. With ‘Scarlet Begonias,’ the band has seeded a garden of metaphors that bloom within the consciousness of the listener, sprouting vibrant life lessons that transcend the song’s ska-punk origins.

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