According to the Bitter Sweet Symphony Songfacts, the lyrics are a somber look at the ennui of everyday life: "You're a slave to money, then you die."
"Bitter Sweet Symphony" samples an obscure orchestral version of The Last Time , a 1965 song by The Rolling Stones . This was recorded before they got permission from the Stones to use the riff, so the Verve had to sign away most of the royalties from this in…
'Cause it's a bittersweet symphony, this life
Try to make ends meet
You're a slave to money then you die
I'll take you down the only road I've ever been down