pick up steam

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piraña utria

Senior Member
Spanish - Colombian with Caribbean nuanc
Hi again, my friends.

This is another expression that I’ve run into Sheryl Crow’s interview (RD February’s Edition, page 110):

I never feared before, like the end of the world for my son, the kind of chaos he’ll have to live through if we don’t pick up steam here

What does “pick up steam” mean in this context?

I’d really appreciate your answers,
 
  • Linguist301

    Senior Member
    Armenian & English
    Hi

    Basically, "picking up steam" means to "start doing better", "start to have more success" or just generally "to start being more effective".

    If this isn't much help, would you be able to provide more context please? For example, what exactly could they be trying to be more effective at?
     

    piraña utria

    Senior Member
    Spanish - Colombian with Caribbean nuanc
    Hi

    Basically, "picking up steam" means to "start doing better", "start to have more success" or just generally "to start being more effective".

    If this isn't much help, would you be able to provide more context please? For example, what exactly could they be trying to be more effective at?
    Hi Linguist:

    I think there's no significant context in this case, but I'm going to show both answer and question:

    RD/ And does it scare you when that happens (She's been talking about her fears and thoughts on a probable recurring cancer).

    Crow/No. I've finally found an unshakable peace because I don't fear death, but there are things I fear that I never feared before...

    I supposed based on your point that she's refering to the way as she faces her fears, is it right?

    Regards,
     
    Last edited:

    Linguist301

    Senior Member
    Armenian & English
    Hi Pirana

    I don't think it's about facing her fears as much, as it is maybe something to do with a lapse or something... a period where perhaps she couldn't spend enough time with her son... or her son has been having trouble in his personal/academic life and Crow thinks this needs to be improved so he doesn't "live through the chaos" that she mentions.

    It's difficult, and maybe there's no right or wrong... it's open to interpretation, but I'm pretty sure it's something to do with her (and her son) needing to start being more effective at something after her cancer (maybe).
     

    Aardvark01

    Senior Member
    British English (Midlands)
    I grew up in a town which still has steam trains. Every weekend the sound can be heard all across the town of the steam pressure building up sufficiently to pull the train and carriages away from the platform. You can hear them pick up steam as they gain momentum.

    Similarly when you have a serious illness it can be hard to regain the momentum of your former life.
     
    Last edited:

    Linguist301

    Senior Member
    Armenian & English
    I grew up in a town which still has steam trains. Every weekend the sound can be heard all across the town of the steam pressure building up sufficiently to pull the train and carriages away from the platform. You can hear them pick up steam as they gain momentum.
    That's a good example, but what's your opinion about what exactly it could be referring to in this context?
     

    piraña utria

    Senior Member
    Spanish - Colombian with Caribbean nuanc
    Hi Pirana

    I don't think it's about facing her fears as much, as it is maybe something to do with a lapse or something... a period where perhaps she couldn't spend enough time with her son... or her son has been having trouble in his personal/academic life and Crow thinks this needs to be improved so he doesn't "live through the chaos" that she mentions.

    It's difficult, and maybe there's no right or wrong... it's open to interpretation, but I'm pretty sure it's something to do with her (and her son) needing to start being more effective at something after her cancer :tick:(maybe).
    Hi Ling:

    This is a good one; in fact, from my own point of view, the interview is not a good sample of clarity.:D

    Thanks a lot, though I'd really appreciate other answers.

    Regards,
     

    johndot

    Senior Member
    English - England
    My immediate thoughts were along these lines*:

    Sheryl Crow is not (now) afraid of the cancer, nor of death itself, but she is frightened by the prospect of her son’s future life if the powers-that-be don’t get their act together and coordinate strategies for remedying the world’s ills.

    The analogy with steam locomotion is a good one; governments must stoke the furnaces to boil the water to create the steam to build the pressure to push the pistons to turn the wheels ever faster, and get on track* to save the world.

    * No puns intended.
     
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