A gorgeously cryptic song. Here's what I've gathered so far: the hospital patient has lost his leg ("[the] feeling [has] ended in [the] leg") while trying to "conquer" Montana in some way (perhaps literally conquering it, perhaps trying to cross the huge state), a goal he has had for several years - maybe his entire lifetime. However, while sitting in his hospital bed, the man looks down at what's left of his leg, and realizes the sort of "rounded" edge would fit perfectly into the dent ("the round part [is] just the way you would expect"). He realizes that he tried so hard to conquer the state that he ended up losing his leg, isn't that enough? ("Montana was really just a leg.") He is so overjoyed by this supposedly simple discovery that he believes he can die happy ("A leg, now I get it. I'll tell the person next to me and then haul off and die," "I can finally go," among others). - Rhinoceros Rex 22:51, October 18, 2004
Interpretations schmerpretations. As someone who's spent enough time in the hospital on painkillers, I can confirm that 'revelations' like this, and other similarly bizarre thought processes, are a standard part of that subtly surreal and mind-warping environment. Gullible 00:12, October 29, 2004
I'd always seen an old man, confused, lonely, anonymous, maybe getting a little senile, in a row of beds in a nursing home. He is worried about dying, afraid to let go of life, thinking there must be one more important thing to do. Part of this wrapping up his life includes worrying what his last words might be.
So his mind kind of makes something up. I agree that if you're on hospital meds, you can slip a cog and think that you've had a really brilliant insight when you haven't. (Probably true of me with this interpretation, even without medication.) In his confusion, he thinks, "Oh! Montana is really just a leg." That must be the important thing, the nifty last words I can have - must tell the stranger next to me, so my final important thing isn't lost. I mean, when you are dying, part of what you fear is loss of yourself, and the loss of time to do something meaningful.
This is quite a sad song, but human and existentially funny, if you think about it. I wanted to have an orderly go over, pat him on the shoulder, and say, "It's okay, Mr. Johnson, Montana really _is_ just like a leg; I won't forget."
~Christina Miller 15:27, October 29, 2004
- I thought that Montana was about a dying man who had lost feeling and memory of his leg and wanted to remember that sensation before his death. Of course, we could never really know what exactly it would feel like to have another random body part, and so he may have just given the state name Montana to what it might feel like. Then, one day lying in his hospital bed, he starting feeling the nerves coming down his leg, slowly feeling what the leg was inch by inch ("And it started with a feeling that ended in a leg" and discovered it felt like what he should have a assumed it to feel like (like his other leg-- "was really just a leg," "just the way you would expect"). And now that he remembers/knows what his leg feels like, which is all he really cared about, he can die happy. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 188.8.131.52 (talk • contribs) 02:23, 26 April 2005
- When I hear this song, I picture a lonely old man spending his last months of his life in a hospital bed. Maybe he's going a bit insane, but he realized something that can finally let him rest in peace. This realization can mean anything (As Linnell said "Montana is a leg" doesn't mean anything really), but he can finally die, which is the end of the song, realizing that he died with peace inside of himself. Kinda sad when you think about it... but it's a great song. Yaaay state names! =D --Lemita 15:55, 9 May 2006 (CDT)
- My theory, expanding upon the above, is that "Montana is a leg" is this old man's 'meaning of life'. Assuming that the meaning of life is different for each person, and no (or very few) people could fully comprehend another person's MoL, so for most people it'd sound like complete and utter nonsense or random gibberish. So an old man finds the meaning of his life, which to the rest of the world makes about as much sense as "Montana is a leg", while he himself sees everything fall into place, and can finally go peacefully. - Peter
I always pictured it as some sort of insane asylum or something, and that the person committed suicide after coming to his shocking revelation, under the reasoning that his life had reached its obvious climax. But it being a regular hospital makes sense too. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 184.108.40.206 (talk • contribs) 13:10, 14 October 2005
It's weird because whenever I hear this song, I imagine a guy in hospital with a sign that says "Severe Head Injury" Over his bed. He got hit in the head, and became um...insane. And, because he got hit so hard, he knows that he's going to die. But, before he does, he's trying to figure out that Montana was a leg. When he does figure it out, he feels that he doesn't really need to live anymore. Then he dies. - (Firefly) 22:00, 27 July 2006 (UTC)
I love this song, but I have a kind of a different idea about it which is probably not what was intended at all when it was written. To me, it sounds like it's sung by someone who has just died in a hospital. Rather than being some undetermined realization just before death, the obscure idea of "Montana being a leg" to me represents a suddenly objective view of life which happened as a result of death. As if once this person died, he was able to see his own life in a larger context. He's trying to explain this exciting new realization, as well as his feelings that his suffering is over (not needing the bed, losing the pillcups) to observers of his body in the hospital. This is impossible, and wouldn't make sense to the living people anyway, which, to me, is reinforced b the fact that the main thought of this song is the part that makes the least sense. - JoeMcDuck 13:28, October 18, 2006
Leg - Not a Leg?
Just wondering if the tremendous traveling the band undertakes might lead to a different interpretation of the lyrics. Perhaps it refers to a leg of a journey.... the band travels through Montana to get to an adjacent state. The round part, I don't know... perhaps someone may be inspired. YaDeeBucketty 09:34, 3 January 2013 (EST)
If you look at a map of America and the state of Montana, the west side looks like a face, and the eastern side is just straight, so to look at the state it is just a face and a leg. If the person singing is "delusional" as Linnell suggests, then this makes sense, except to the delusional person I guess who sees "just a leg". Paulfixter 08:17, January 8, 2014
This song is the natural conclusion of the story of the guy from "Destination Moon". His withered leg from earlier has come to dominate his thoughts so severely that everything he sees is a leg: healthy, robust, thick with muscles. Sort of like if you turned Montana on its side it would look a little like a tree stump, or maybe a hearty leg. He's so consumed by this theory that it drowns out everything else in his life, so that his final words are simply "Montana was a leg!!!!" --MisterMe (talk) 13:27, 29 June 2020 (EDT)