The song “High Hopes” is an “autobiographical observation on the present, wrapped inside recollections of Gilmour’s childhood past” according to the book “Echoes” by Cliff Jones.
According to the aforementioned book, the song is meant to “evoke a sense of mourning for the loss of idealism and childhood innocence. Gilmour…was plagued by the sense that the optimism of youth was so often sacrificed to the brutal reality of life as an adult. The song tells of how ambition and desire can cloud your enjoyment of life, friendship, and happiness.”
pink floyd high hopes lyrics meaning
The lyrics speak of the things one may have gained and lost in life, written from Gilmour’s autobiographic perspective. Gilmour has said that the song is more about his early days, and leaving his hometown behind, than about the seeds of division supposedly planted in Pink Floyd’s early days.
If you listen closely to the lyrics, you can see the central theme of the song. It’s about how are you become old and start looking back at the life you had when you were young in your childhood.
I found an interesting interpretation by a fan in one of the forums.
This song is about the difference between our human experience and our true nature, to which we will be returning as one being very soon.
“Beyond the horizon of the place, we lived when we were young
In a world of magnets and miracles
Our thoughts strayed constantly and without boundary
The ringing of the division bell had begun”
When we were children, we were still very close to our true nature, which is our conscious experience, in which we are guided magnetically (literally). We still have access to our conscious experience, but as soon as thoughts entered our minds when we were children, and we were taught concepts and ideas about our reality, they started to replace our true reality with an artificial one: a reality that only exists in the mind.
This is “the ringing of the division bell”. It’s our world of duality. Yin and Yang. Everything has a counterpart in this divided world. However, in reality, we never have been separated from one another, except for in the mind only. When we were babies, we experienced everything as one, but this was (temporarily) undone by everything we have been taught to believe in.
“There was a ragged band that followed in our footsteps
Running before times took our dreams away
Leaving the myriad small creatures trying to tie us to the ground
To a life consumed by slow decay”
The illusion of time is what is keeping us all captive. We truly have become “slaves of the clock”. But time is only a human invention, based on the rotations of our solar system, while our whole solar system is a projection of light- and soundwaves to begin with. So we are all being held captive by an illusion that only we ourselves hold onto mental slavery.
The “myriad small creatures” are all the petty, daily trivialities that we keep ourselves busy with, and that distracts us from what we really are. Succumbing to the trance of our illusory world, our collective soul – split up in the mirror images that we are as humans – keep running in circles, and sentences us to a life “consumed by slow decay”, because we will never break out of the karmic life for as long as we keep believing in our illusory world. Also, see “Wish you were here” for vivid symbolism about this predicament.
“The grass was greener
The light was brighter
When friends surrounded
The nights of wonder”
When we break out of the illusion of separation, our collective soul will reunite again, the way it once was before our division became reality. This is what is known as “paradise”.
“Looking beyond the embers of bridges glowing behind us
To a glimpse of how green it was on the other side
Steps taken forwards but sleepwalking back again
Dragged by the force of some sleeping tide
At a higher altitude with flag unfurled
We reached the dizzy heights of that dreamed of world”
We can never go back. Our physical reality is a running program that evolves, no matter what we do, simply because we are not in control. Life is in control. As individuals, we can only be consciously aware of what is going on, but we will always be guided to do whatever it is we do, no matter what thoughts may arise about those actions. There is only one outcome in reality, but there are many different illusory outcomes within our thought structures.
The “glowing embers” are a reference to what is going to happen to this world and our human forms. It will most likely be destroyed in nuclear warfare that will have its center in the Middle East (the United States are already well on their way with this). Armageddon it is.
But this is a good thing because it’s part of the program. This world has turned into a disaster. Everything’s torn apart. Individualism is all-pervasive and unity will never come about by playing the game of this world. We all have been able to witness that the game of this world only leads to greed, poverty, war, murder, crime, disease, abuse. In short: sin. And quite a bit of it. Nevertheless, we are in love with this world (“how green it was on the other side”), but still we have to burn this bridge to evolve.
All this while, we have been taking steps forward but also reverting to many mistakes. This is all part of our inner tide, that is guiding us through life. The moon (which is also responsible for real-life tides) seems to play a big part in our mind-dominated world. References to the moon are recurring in Pink Floyd’s music, but none so much as in “Dark Side of the Moon”. Check out “Brain Damage” for revealing clues about our current path as humanity, and Syd Barret’s visionary prophecy.
Despite all of this, we will reach the heights of our dream of the world. This is the huge change in consciousness that is already happening around the world. People are waking from the dream, and becoming more conscious with every turn of our solar system. This is at “a higher altitude” because we will then have shed our “human skin”, and collectively ascended as the higher beings that we really are. This is the unification that is our next step in evolution.
“Encumbered forever by desire and ambition
There’s a hunger still unsatisfied
Our weary eyes still stray to the horizon
Though down this road we’ve been so many times”
We have now been given a glimpse of our next stage as one united being, but as long as we individually keep being “encumbered by desire and ambition”, we will only perpetuate this fool’s game. We will keep trying to satisfy a hunger that cannot be satisfied. Eventually, all of us get worn out by the game of life, that can never be won by playing it. We should know this, because we’ve been “down this road so many times”. This is because you and I are not separate from any other human being that ever lived, now lives, or yet has to live. We are constantly re-spawned in this karmic game, and all of us have to begin over and over again, learning everything we have learned, and then unlearning everything we ever learned to evolve into higher, spiritual beings.
The game of life is the endless river.
But we will transcend the game altogether, and reach the other side.
pink floyd high hopes lyrics
The lyrics focus on the imagination of children and the path taken to achieve dreams. The musical recording they created.
It talks about something beyond the horizon in a place of magnets and miracles, with magnets alluding to their various amplifiers and recording devices and miracles alluding to the music. That is where they ran to before time could tie them down. They left behind the small creatures, those without the vision to see beyond the everyday world.
The division bell is the school bell sending children to their individual rooms/desks. When the last bell rang, I take it that they would run down the causeway to the cut, a cut is where a hill was cut down perhaps by the river. This is a place that children would go to. It is not a place for adults, as they are now, and he wonders if children still dream.
The ragged band was early friends or fans.
They reached the place beyond the horizon but it is not where they are currently; they burned those bridges, so to speak, and it was a better place; without it, life seems nothing more than a slow decay and a desire to go back.
The flag is the pride of their achievement. The accomplishment made everything better and it is still something they could achieve, it is an endless river. Rivers give things momentum and make things light and easy. They are an endless source of energy, for the industry.
This song contrasts their phenomenal success as a group and the smallness of the world they escaped from.