The Larger Bowl

Background and Commentary

The piece is a meditation on fairness—the different fortunes and fates of people—and its lyrical structure is in the form of a pantoum, in which the second and fourth lines of each stanza are repeated as the first and third lines of the next. The lyrics were written years ago, not long after one of Neil’s African bike trips in the mid-1990s, and only shared with Alex and Geddy much later. It was only when they started Snakes & Arrows that that the lyrics made it into a song. “It must have been the right time, because, to my delight, Alex and Geddy responded to the challenge of ‘The Larger Bowl,’ and its unusual construction.”—Neil in the Game of Snakes & Arrows essay

Neil says in The Masked Rider, his 1997 travel memoir about riding his bike across Cameroon, and in “The Game of Snakes & Arrows, his essay about the album, that the phrase “the larger bowl” came to him in a feverish dream he had while riding his bike on an earlier trip through West Africa. “A song with that title wafted through a feverish, hallucinatory “dysentery dream.” Waking in a sweaty tangle of twisted sheets, I only remembered the title, but I knew I had to write that song. Make a dream come true, as it were.” The phrase then became a touchstone for him when he saw instances of unfairness: the heavier loads carried by the women than by the men, and the bullying of one boy by another over who had the bigger piece of candy.

Lyrics

If we’re so much the same like I always hear
Why such different fortunes and fates?
Some of us live in a cloud of fear
Some live behind iron gates

Why such different fortunes and fates?
Some are blessed and some are cursed
Some live behind iron gates
While others only see only the worst

Some are blessed and some are cursed
The golden one or scarred from birth
While others only see the worst
Such a lot of pain on the earth

The golden one or scarred from birth
Some things can never be changed
Such a lot of pain on this earth
It’s somehow so badly arranged

Some things can never be changed
Some reasons will never come clear
It’s somehow so badly arranged
If we’re so much the same like I always hear

Some are blessed and some are cursed
The golden one or scarred from birth
While others only see the worst
Such a lot of pain on the earth

Some are blessed and some are cursed
The golden one or scarred from birth
While others only see the worst
Such a lot of pain on the earth
Such a lot of pain on the earth

Some are blessed and some are cursed
The golden one or scarred from birth
While others only see the worst
Such a lot of pain on the earth

Some are blessed and some are cursed
The golden one or scarred from birth
While others only see the worst
Such a lot of pain on the earth

Such a lot of pain
Such a lot of pain
Such a lot of pain on the earth

Tablature

From Ultimate Guitar.

The chords are C, Am, Em, and G

Intro: C C, Am Am, Em Em…….C C, Am Am(ohohoooo)…..C C, Am Am, Em Em

|———————————————–|
|—–1—-1——1—-1—–1—1——0—3—|
|——0—-2———–2—–0—2———-0–|
|—2—–2——2—-2—–2—-2—–2——–|
|–3—–0——3—-0—–3—-0—–2—-2—-|
|—————————————–3—–|

Play that riff until he says “iron gates,” then play the same riff, except pick the first two strings and strum the rest for each chord

example:
|—0–|
|—1–|
|—0–|
|–2—|
|-3—-|
|——|

Then when he says “some are blessed and some are cursed” at 1:06
strum the chords, then just repeat everything again. You will figure it out.

Tab from Ultimate Guitar.

Tutorials

“The Larger Bowl” guitar cover

“The Larger Bowl” drum cover

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~ by rvkeeper on February 20, 2011.

 
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