AntiEgo's Interpretaion: Stuck In A Hick Town.
This one's fairly obvious: the narrator wants to leave the small community where he was raised. He sees it as a dead end place, but he isn't doing much to reach his goal of leaving.
An observation from various slang dictionaries about the use of "cabbage": in the UK, cabbage implies a braindead, vegitative state. In New Brunswick and Maine, cabbage is interchangable with "to steal" or "to highly desire". It is interesting that both meanings can fit the song.
It should also be noted that there is a "Cabbagetown" in Atlanta. It's a very depressed area that has yet to undergo any sort of urban renewel.
The "Old Granddad" and "Uncle Jack" (i.e. Jack Daniels) are both probably references to whiskey, so there's an element of alcoholism in this song. Perhaps "Cabbagetown" is just a metaphor for the alcoholism the singer can't escape. Incidentally, "Time and Tide are one thing..." doesn't have to be a contradiction. "Time and Tide" is an archaic expression that preserves the Old English word "tid," which means "time." So, in that sense, time and tide are one thing, and it's fair to say that few people understand that. Then again, I'm probably reading way too much into that... --MasterChivo
I think this song is about the above things (dead-end town, alcoholism) but also depression and...Bestretchedly, philosophy. In philosophy, Cabbagetown would be the view that everything is how it is...Plain, depressing...Generally cabbagelike.
There are so many big ideas / We could talk about / But nothing that gets said / Gets us out of Cabbagetown
Nothing this person thinks or talks about, however "big" or revolutionary isn't going to get them out of their depression, or this person's discussions/thoughts on philosophy always go in circles and don't end up anywhere important or new, all thoughts start from and lead back to Cabbagetown.
Time and tide are one thing and I will leave and I'll return both are meaning that everything is cyclical, or always comes back to where it started, as the tide does, and this happens invariably. Time is the same thing as the tide, they both act the same, things (situations, thoughts) return to how they were before in time, change again, return again.
Oh, and another thing for the term "cabbage" ...In Discordianism, cabbages are unenlightened people, people who "don't get it" and aren't very mentally stimulating...("There are so many big ideas we could talk about...")
First off, you must appreciate what the protagonist is doing: he is sitting on a porch. This, at least for me, paints a picture of idleness; he is not a very active or productive protagonist. This is supported by the bus going by, a symbol that most likely illuminates the escape from Cabbagetown; he misses his escape by sitting on a porch simply talking about potential ways to leave Cabbagetown. Also, the protagonist is very pessimistic, a characteristic most certainly acquired in consequence of his idleness; he doesn’t believe there is a way out of Cabbagetown.
So what is Cabbagetown? Well, judging from the conversations with his relatives, it is most likely a place of sorrow. Exploring further, if you appreciate motivations for alcoholism, it is also a place of poverty.
It is clear then why he wishes to leave. But, plainly, he doesn’t actively attempt to leave. And even when he eventual will leave, he only thinks that he will return to Cabbagetown. When he says “I will leave, and I’ll return,” he is saying that he will one day return to the place of sorrow and poverty; he knows that he will inevitably be as be as unsuccessful as his old granddad and his uncle Jack.
Now, let us explore the granddad and Uncle Jack. Falling into the sea is most likely a reference to death. Appreciating that, it can then be understood that “tide” is one’s death. It is also important to note that he says, "tide and time are one thing.” By labeling the two as one event, he indiscriminately appreciates the two as the same. Indeed, death is as inevitable as the passing of time. With his granddad’s only words being this phrase, we can see that he is very pessimistic, just like his grandson. Why try when you are just going to die. Likewise, Uncle Jack is also a very poor influence on his nephew. Obviously, he is an alcoholic. And as an alcoholic, he can provide no knowledge to his nephew; he can only try to talk to his nephew, not actually say anything. He serves as nothing more then vindication that poverty and sorrow attaches itself to alcoholism.
Plainly, we are presented with a very idle and pessimistic protagonist that is certain he will one day return to a life of poverty and sorrow, even after he has one day escaped it.
Before I address a theme to the piece, I should first address the meaning of the dog. The protagonist talks to the dog about thinking about himself. Although this may not makes sense, it is actually quite simple. The dog is the personification of his own mind. This personification is actually the best thing for him to talk, or, in other words, he can only talk to himself about whatever it is he wants to talk about. This can be easily understood when one appreciates the granddad and the uncle—the dog, his mind, is more thought exacerbation than either of these two. But why would Granddad or Uncle Jack be the persons he would talk to if there exists others that he could instead talk to? Well, one explanation is that everyone in Cabbagetown is exactly the same; everyone is diseased in the world of poverty and sorrow—the Cabbagetown.
So, the song illuminates the futility of one’s existence when enslavement in poverty, and the impossibility of its expungement when it was fated to you through another.
The narrator wants to leave a stale town where nothing happens. "Talking to my dog about talking to myself." Talking to a pet is one thing that bespeaks a lack of interesting things to do, and talking to your pet about talking to yourself (Which is even more pointless and boring,) says that there is a complete lack of activity there, that even when he's idly doing nothing and just thinking he has nothing to think about. "Granddad fell into the sea and said that tide and time are the same thing" I think that it means that the tide of the sea is the same thing as time, that the granddad also had the notion of leaving cabbage town but fell into an ocean of time and ended up letting all of his time go by without ever leaving, and now he's just stuck in history.