The End of the Tour is the last song (track twenty) on They Might Be Giants' seminal 1994 album John Henry. This is one of They Might Be Giants' signature songs, delivered with a sad tone. Above, TheBooBooKitty offers an excellent interpretation of the lyrics to this song, but, like many They Might Be Giants songs, this song is open to other interpretations.

This song is about the death of the supposed grunge/alternative scene after the death of Kurt Cobain. It's a song about how the meaning of music can destroy lives, and about bandwagoning onto a particular musical trend. Let's take a look.

There's a girl with a crown and a scepter who's on WLSD

This girl is Courtney Love. Take a look at the cover of Hole's early 1994 album Live Through This, which depicts Courtney in a crown and holding a scepter. She also had a very public drug addiction problem at the time, which is noted here by the LSD reference.

and she says that the scene isn't what it's been
and she's thinking of going home
That it's old and it's totally over now
and it's old and it's over, it's over now
and it's over, it's over, it's over now

After her husband Kurt Cobain killed himself in 1994, Courtney became a critic of the music industry as a business. She appeared on a great number of radio shows (again, see the first line) to speak out against the business, especially when they were churning out imitation "grunge" and "alternative" stuff by the truckload at the time.

I can see myself
at the end of the tour
when the road disappears
if there's any more people around when the tour runs aground
and if you're still around
then we'll meet at the end of the tour

Depending on how you think of it, the "tour" can represent either the alternative music scene in general at the time or, more specifically, Lollapalooza.

The engagements are booked through the end of the world
so we'll meet at the end of the tour

This is a directed shot at the music industry, which often puts artists under tight collars that they can never seem to get out of. "The engagements are booked through the end of the world" basically points to the fact that musicians often have to tour incessantly and make tons of media appearances under direction from their label, and with a nonstop life like that, it seems to go on forever and ever without end.

Never to part since the day we met out on Interstate 91
I was bent metal you were a flaming wreck when we kissed at the overpass

Interstate 91 refers to the year 1991, when Nirvana's album Nevermind was released and tossed the mainstream music industry on its ear. They Might Be Giants played some dates on Lollapalooza in 1991 and likely met Kurt and Courtney there.

I was sailing along with the people driving themselves to distraction inside me
then came a knock on the door
which was odd
and the picture abruptly changed

Suddenly, this underground group of bands from Seattle were major stars. The first line indicates how they sang songs about angst, then the world came knocking in lines two and three, and that changed everything in line four.

This was the vehicle these were the people
you opened the door and expelled all the people
This was the vehicle these were the people
you opened the door and expelled all the people
This was the vehicle these were the people
You let them go

Kurt couldn't deal with the pressure of all these bandwagon fans and killed himself... he let loose the pain inside of him.

At the end of the tour when the road disappears
if there's any more people around when the tour runs aground
and if you're still around then we'll meet at the end of the tour
The engagements are booked through the end of the world
So we'll meet at the end of the tour

This chorus takes on a different tone than the first one. I think that the band is saying that they will see Kurt in the afterlife or when the fans jump off the bandwagon.

and we're never gonna tour again
No, we're never gonna tour again

The group doesn't want to see more people die; music isn't worth losing lives over.

Here's the song in summary: This song is an ode to Kurt Cobain. The group hears Courtney Love on the radio complaining about how the music is dying, and it makes them reflect on what has happened both in their careers and in mainstream music as a whole over the last few years. They conclude that it is a great tragedy when simply making music brings so much pressure on a person that they can't live any more, and so they decide that the value of human life is more than the value of music. A very eloquent song, don't you think?

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