Bread – “The Guitar Man” Lyrics Meaning

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Written By Joanna Landrum

Joanna holds a BSc in English Literature and uses her expertise in literary analysis to uncover the deeper meaning of her favorite songs.

This song delves into the essence of what it means to be a performer—the highs and lows, the connection with the audience, and the relentless drive to play. It’s about the universal allure of musicians and the power they hold to evoke emotions and create experiences through their music. Through the lens of the guitar man, the songwriter sends a message about the passion, dedication, and often solitary journey of artists. It reflects on the intoxicating mix of admiration and loneliness that comes with a life on the road, revealing the deep-seated need to share music and the personal sacrifices made to do so.

“The Guitar Man” by Bread offers a deep dive into the heart and soul of performing artists. Let’s unravel the strings of this melody together.

“The Guitar Man” Lyrics Meaning

From the opening lines, “Who draws the crowd and plays so loud, Baby it’s the guitar man,” we’re introduced to the enigmatic figure of the guitarist, a character who possesses an almost magical ability to connect with his audience, invoking a range of emotions from love to sorrow. This opening sets the tone for a deeper exploration of the guitarist’s journey, his impact on listeners, and the personal cost of his artistry.

The chorus, “He can make you love, He can make you cry, He will bring you down, Then he’ll get you high,” emphasizes the guitar man’s emotional power through his music. It’s a testament to the influence of artists on their audiences, capable of guiding them through an emotional journey merely with the strings of a guitar. The repetition of “Somethin’ keeps him goin’ miles and miles a day to find another place to play” speaks to musicians’ relentless drive and passion. This line captures the essence of the traveling artist—constantly on the move, in search of new audiences to inspire and new experiences to fuel their creativity.

The lyrics, “Night after night who treats you right, Baby, it’s the guitar man,” underline the consistency and dedication of the musician. Despite the challenges and the solitude that comes with a life on the road, there’s a commitment to the craft and to the audience. This dedication is a double-edged sword, showcasing the love for music and performance but also hinting at the sacrifices made—personal connections, stability, and sometimes, peace of mind.

The narrative arc of the song takes a contemplative turn with, “Then you listen to the music and you like to sing along, You want to get the meaning out of each and every song.” This segment reflects the listener’s engagement, the search for understanding and connection through the artist’s work. It’s about finding a piece of oneself in the music, a universal desire to connect with something larger through art.

“Then the lights begin to flicker and the sound is getting dim, The voice begins to falter and the crowds are getting thin,” portrays the transient nature of fame and the inevitable decline of the physical and metaphorical stage lights. Yet, the guitar man’s focus remains unwavering—his primary concern is to “find another place to play.” This resilience and dedication to music, despite the fading glamour, highlight the true essence of being an artist: the love of the craft above all else.

The Story Behind “The Guitar Man”

The song encapsulates the solitude, the constant journey, and the deep-seated need to perform and connect with an audience through music. It’s inspired by the real-life observations of artists who pour their soul into their performances, often at great personal cost.

The songwriter delves into the psyche of the performer, exploring the motivations that drive them to continue despite the challenges. The relentless pursuit of the next stage, the next song, mirrors the existential quest for meaning and connection, not just for the artist but for humanity at large.

The narrative woven into “The Guitar Man” is both a tribute and a reflection. It acknowledges the sacrifices made in the name of art and the unyielding passion that fuels artists. Through the eyes of the guitar man, the songwriter invites listeners to appreciate the complexity of the creative spirit and the solitary journey undertaken by those who dedicate their lives to sharing their soul through music. The song, thus, becomes a conduit for understanding the profound connection between artist and audience, the ephemeral nature of fame, and the eternal resonance of genuine artistry.