Lucky Man- Emerson, Lake & Palmer: Meaning, Lyrics, Analysis


Oooh, what a lucky man he was…

Luck is one of the most under-appreciated forces that guides every aspect of our life—both good and bad. Nothing is a bigger turn off than hearing someone say, “I don’t believe in luck”. Luck is so pervasive that not even morality can escape it. Would you steal if you were starving? Of course you would. Most of us were born into a situation where food is abundant enough to not have to steal.

Have you ever been distracted while driving? Probably. The only difference between most of us and those who have committed vehicular manslaughter is dumb luck. We are considered “better people” for something we have no control over. That is, no other car or person was in our way during the time we were distracted.

Emerson, Lake, Palmer

The ”Lucky Man” in Emerson, Lake & Palmer’s hit is also susceptible to the whims of luck. One day he is a good-looking, able-bodied man who is bedding tons of women. The next, he is in a war (that he had no say in) getting shot at. Alas, his good luck runs out, and is struck with a lethal bullet. Had it been a windy day, perhaps the bullet would have drifted an inch to the left to a non-lethal area of his body. But it didn’t, and now he is dead.

moog synthesizer
moog synthesizer

What really makes the song is the moog synthesizer outro—it really is one of the great solos in rock. Interestingly it was not planned. That was just Emerson messing around on his Moog and his producer put that improvisation straight onto the record. The sound is so unique that they were unable to recreate it on tours, so they just stopped trying. Lucky.

Lucky Man Lyrics
Emerson, Lake & Palmer

The harmonies are strong and warm, but a lot of the depth of sound is created by overdubbing. But it still sounds great. You may also like Lake’s work in King Crimson.

Lucky Man Lyrics

He had white horses
And ladies by the score
All dressed in satin
And waiting by the door

Oooh, what a lucky man he was
Oooh, what a lucky man he was

White lace and feathers
They made up his bed
A gold covered mattress
On which he was laid

Oooh, what a lucky man he was
Oooh, what a lucky man he was

He went to fight wars
For his country and his king
Of his honour and his glory
The people would sing

Oooh, what a lucky man he was
Oooh, what a lucky man he was

A bullet had found him
His blood ran as he cried
No money could save him
So he laid down and he died

Oooh, what a lucky man he was
Oooh, what a lucky man he was

written by Greg Lake



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