"I Held Her In My Arms" as written by and Gordon Gano....



I'm gnawing on the knowledge

That I have been burnt

And I'm learning things that I

Should've already learnt

Everyone I ever knew

Was so kind and coy

I was with a girl

But it felt like I was with a boy

I can't even remember

If we were lovers

Or if I just wanted to

But I held her in my arms

I held her in my arms

I held her in my arms

But it wasn't you

I will not kill

The one thing that I love

In this world of wreckage

I look above

Help me Lord

Help me understand

What it means to be a boy

What it means to be a man





Lyrics submitted by Chiisushi

"I Held Her in My Arms" as written by Gordon Gano

Lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

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I Held Her In My Arms song meanings
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16 Comments

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  • +2
    General CommentTo me, the song is about being in love with this one girl and trying to get over her by getting close to another girl physically, but knowing that it is completely meaningless. he compares the girl he held to the girl he's obsessed with but there's no comparison. he can't even remember if they had sex, probably he physically wanted sex but emotionally was distracted. i agree with palooka about the girl-boy-submission thing. the song's basically about being in love with someone and trying to get over them but knowing that everyone else just fades into the background in comparison to them.
    wilde_femmeon July 03, 2008   Link
  • +1
    General CommentLike a lot of Violent Femmes songs, it conjures up the transitional teenage feelings. It's a very deceptively simple song.
    androgybunnyon March 17, 2006   Link
  • +1
    General CommentWhile I am tempted to say that this song has a homosexual connotation, I think it's actually about a guy who is trying to convince his girlfriend that he didn't cheat on her.

    "I'm gnawing on the knowledge that I have been burnt/ And I'm learning things that I should have already learned" He realizes that his girlfriend is pissed and might break up with him.
    "Everyone I ever knew was so kind and coy" The girl was coming onto him, but he was innocent.
    "I was with a girl, but I felt like I was with a boy" His feelings for her were platonic.
    And he held her in his arms, trying to be friendly and comforting, but he didn't actually sleep with her because "It wasn't you" you being his girlfriend.
    "I would never kill the one thing that I love (etc.)" He doesn't want to hurt his girlfriend, even though he did cheat on her. He invokes God and his own naivete, trying to win his girlfriend over.

    That's my theory, not saying it's right or you're wrong.
    ShadowPotBrownieon July 30, 2010   Link
  • +1
    Song MeaningI'm not so sure any of these comments are anywhere near the mark, though "partofthiswasmine" comes close to my interpretation.

    The singer is deeply in love with a girl, but he does not know "What it means to be a boy and what it means to be a man" and so does not know how to love the girl as a man loves a woman. Thus even though "I was with a girl" he tells us that "it felt like I was with a boy." This causes the relationship to fail, leaving him to "gnaw on the knowledge that I have been burnt."

    The singer feels that this world has failed to prepare him for this situation, as "Everyone I ever knew was so kind and coy" which isn't actually helpful. He sees this earth as a "world of wreckage" where he is left to "look above" and plea "Help me, Lord, help me understand."

    The experience makes him feel that he is "learning things that I should've already learnt", that is, he could've made the relationship work if he knew how to love beforehand. This first love haunts him for the rest of his life. He continues to think about it long past the point where he "can't even remember if we were lovers, or if I just wanted to." And whenever he meets someone new, he remarks to himself, "I held her in my arms but it wasn't you."
    justin1092on June 03, 2014   Link
  • 0
    General CommentWhat does this song mean to all the other folks out there?
    bluemeon August 10, 2002   Link
  • 0
    General CommentTo me this song is pretty much perfect after a night with a cool ass girl you just met and even if things didnt end up as well as they should have, and that you found out she has a boyfreind (true story btw)its all good. Its a wellcomed change to depressing "im not sure she loves me" type of songs. Best VF song!
    shaggy_emokidon October 03, 2004   Link
  • 0
    General Commentor... trying to move on with a rebound to help you get over someone, but it doesn't quite feel right. --?
    yellowstaron October 06, 2004   Link
  • 0
    General CommentTo me it's like when you really like someone, and you have dreams about them so much that the dreams start to become real. Uh...yeah.
    americanmusicon February 03, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General CommentAll good comments, but I see this as more of a song from someone's POV who is completely hung up on someone and is trying to get over them but compares every lover to the object of their affection 'I held her in my arms but it wasn't you' . Each to their own though. Great song whoever's right!
    partofthiswasmineon March 07, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General CommentLike a lot of Violent Femmes songs, it conjures up the transitional teenage feelings.
    androgybunnyon March 17, 2006   Link

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