This song was originally released in the United States by Crowded House, on their self-titled album. First released in December 1986, the single finally reached #2 on the Billboard singles charts in February 1987, marking Crowded House's biggest hit in the United States. The original version featured a strong male vocalist. Also, in late 1988, the song was covered by Paul Young, who had great success with the number in the United Kingdom.

In a surprisingly timely move, early 2003 saw the release of a cover of this Crowded House classic by the band Sixpence None The Richer on their album Divine Discontent. Featuring a female vocalist, whose vocal style contrasts greatly with the original, this song takes on a new edge in a new day.

There is freedom within
there is freedom without
Try to catch the deluge in a paper cup
There's a battle ahead, many battles are lost
But you'll never see the end of the road
While you're traveling with me

Hey now, hey now
Don't dream it's over
Hey now, hey now
When the world comes in
They come, they come
To build a wall between us
We know they won't win

Now I'm towing my car, there's a hole in the roof
My possessionsThe Unabomber's Manifestoare causing me suspicion but there's no proof
In the paper today tales of war and of waste
But you turn right over to the T.V. page

Hey now, hey now
Don't dream it's over
Hey now, hey now
When the world comes in
They come, they come
To build a wall between us
We know they won't win

Now I'm walking again to the beat of a drum
And I'm counting the steps to the door of your heart
Only shadows ahead barely clearing the roof
Get to know the feeling of liberation and relief

Hey now, hey now
Don't dream it's over
Hey now, hey now
When the world comes in
They come, they come
To build a wall between us
Don't ever let them win

Interpretation & Commentary:
This is one of those songs that is written so that each listener can have a separate and distinct interpretation of it, perhaps different with each listen. Originally, the song was (likely) about lovers on the opposite sides of the Berlin Wall, although that comment in and of itself is subject to debate (and comments from Crowded House seem to alternately agree and disagree with that assessment, see footnote).

But what does it mean today?

I think this song is about lovers who have strongly different beliefs in a time of rampant political and social change; today's America, for example.

Let's tear the song apart from this perspective:

There is freedom within
there is freedom without


Freedom is simply a fact of life, whether others wish to have it or not. We are all autonomous individuals who can make choices and decisions for ourselves.

Try to catch the deluge in a paper cup

The "deluge" is the crying out for change among the people, where the "paper cup" is a force to push down this change. This is clearly illustrated by the fact that on February 25, 2003, the executive branch of the United States government referred to two million protestors in the streets as a "focus group".

There's a battle ahead, many battles are lost

Something has got to change, but that doesn't necessarily mean that there will be a success in bringing about this change.

But you'll never see the end of the road
While you're traveling with me


Don't trust entirely in the perspective of others. Make up your own mind, and find the end of the road yourself.

Hey now, hey now
Don't dream it's over


The "dream" is the dream that is America: a land of freedom and opportunity for all with a government that respects the desire and will of the people. That dream is over; the government now refers to its citizenry as a focus group, thus distinguishing the government not as a representation of the people, but as its own entity who may take "focus groups" of the populace into account.

Hey now, hey now
When the world comes in


Ideas that aren't part of the dream are now coming into the picture. Greed, corruption, and other such factors come to mind. For that matter, it also refers to the fact that other nations are now finally opposing this corrupted power. France and Germany, allies of the United States in recent times, are speaking out loudly against current actions.

They come, they come
To build a wall between us


These ideas "grow up" and become institutions of separation and division among the people.

We know they won't win

But we still believe in the dream, at least in concept.

Now I'm towing my car, there's a hole in the roof

Perhaps the modern world isn't everything it is cracked up to be.

My possessionsThe Unabomber's Manifestoare causing me suspicion but there's no proof

The government is inherently suspicious of the people. For example, recent telecommunication acts allow for widespread wiretapping at will for the government's use.

In the paper today tales of war and of waste
But you turn right over to the T.V. page


This is quite straightforward; the average members of the populace are complacent even as things fall down around them.

Now I'm walking again to the beat of a drum
And I'm counting the steps to the door of your heart


The revolution has begun, but it may not have necessarily reached the heart of most Americans.

Only shadows ahead barely clearing the roof
Get to know the feeling of liberation and relief


The changes ahead may not be easy and the path may not be clear, but we will be free.

Perhaps most telling and most important to this song is the line that closes it:

Don't ever let them win

It ends with a command, to not let those who would dominate your thoughts or cloud your mind or restrict your freedoms dominate you.


Footnote: Crowded House themselves have delivered several different explanations as to the meaning of this song. One story has it being about lovers on opposite sides of the Berlin Wall, another story having it be about drug addiction, and others in various print and audio publications. None of the above are likely true; as always, it is up to the interpretation of the reader.

Log in or registerto write something here or to contact authors.