So many different kinds of people Trying to be the same "No way," baby He said Baby, baby, there's no way If we could start again Well, who knows Have we really changed? Some say we have Reflecting our past Who can say? Who can say? Races are run Some people win Some people always have to lose Oooh, yeah Tell me I'm wrong I can't believe you We tried a thousand times before Rained on reasons Kept us believing That there might still be more Races are run Some people win Some people always have to lose Oooh, yeah Races are run Some people win Some people always have to lose Oooh, yeah Races are run Some people win Some people always have to lose Oooh, yeah
This song is my least favorite on the album - it really seems to drag. But as for its meaning, I've heard this one is about Stevie's feelings towards her former band Fritz after she and Lindsey left it in order to form Buckingham Nicks. There were a lot of hard feelings about that, as it broke up the group, and I'm sure Stevie and Lindsey felt guilty about leaving their friends in the lurch, so to speak, in order to pursue fame and fortune without them. Here she tries to explain it: Fritz wasn't original enough. They were just "trying to be the same." Lindsey made it clear: He said, "baby, there's no way" for all of them to make it together, so she and Lindsey had to leave. Her ex-bandmates may think Lindsey and Stevie have changed and "gone Hollywood" on them, become selfish glory seekers who don't care about their friends. Stevie admits that maybe she has changed a little bit, but that doesn't matter in the grand scheme of things... it wouldn't change the facts.
The other members of Fritz tell her and Lindsey they're wrong, Fritz CAN make it if they'd just stick with it. She says, "No, we've tried a thousand times before" and it wasn't happening. Perhaps out of loyalty Stevie and Lindsey hoped "there might still be more" to Fritz's chances but after a while they had to face facts and take the opportunity without letting Fritz drag them down.
The chorus is a harsh fact of life - in life, there's two kinds of people in this world - winners, losers (Thanks Lindsey!). It's not nice and it's not fun, but Stevie and Lindsey have a chance to win, and they're not going to give it up. Instead, Stevie chooses this philosophical way to ease her guilt.
FRITZ BANDMEMBER JAVIER PACHECO speculates:
Fritz did not suffer from lack of "originality," we were the innocent victims of our lying, conniving booking agent who wanted to continue to exert control over the group by bringing us to his turf (Los Angeles) to sign with a management team there. He made us believe that this was our best chance at success while keeping from us the revelation that Bill Graham had shown interest in the group. As a native of the San Francisco Bay Area I resisted this move to the values of Tinseltown but was out-voted by my peers. This drove a wedge between us. There were also other issues that separated us (which I have gone over at length in the Penguin Q&A) but this was the most serious one. In 1970 Fritz music was way beyond the commercial limitations imposed by the Hollywood recording establishment. This was my greatest concern at the time--I was adamant. How do you fashion a group whose music is inspired by the Dead and the Airplane to suddenly turn into the Monkees? Originality had little to do with the break-up of Fritz. It was a question of empathy (or lack thereof). And was this a "race" to begin with?
Agree totally with your assessment of the song's meaning and intent. As an ex-Fritz member it really hurt when I first heard the recording. Memories of the demise were still fresh on my mind.
Basically, in a material world, yes, there are losers and winners. But "so many people have to lose"? That's what the Social Darwinists (as embodied in the Republican Party) believe about life! I don't think Stevie is a Social Darwinist. Stevie once said something in the late 70s that was even more poignant; she was talking about the loneliness she felt during the Grammys, being alone, without Lindsey. She said "You can't win for all the losing." There, she touched a spiritual nerve. There are more important things to "win" or "lose" than material advancement. There are things that makes us feel wealthy that have nothing to do with money, or fame. In the grander scheme of things, there are people working out issues on this plane that they didn't resolve in prior lifehoods. Therefore, we are all in a process of growth, or non-growth, of development or stifled growth, of expansion or contraction.
I don't believe any more that there are merely winners and losers, just people working at different levels--those who take advantage of opportunities, and people who are not yet ready when those opportunities come along. But the universe is pitching opportunities to us all the time--it's up to us to recognize this and ride the waves as they come along, or not.
Want to speculate on "Races Are Run"? E-mail me and I'll post your comments.