"Ode To My Family" as written by Dolores Mary O'riordan and Noel Hogan....
Understand the things I say
Don't turn away from me
Cause I spent half my life out there
You wouldn't disagree
Do you see me, do you see
Do you like me. Do you like me standing there
Do you notice, do you know
Do you see me, do you see me
Does anyone care

Unhappiness, where's when I was young
And we didn't give a damn
'Cause we were raised
To see life as fun and take it if we can
My mother, my mother she hold me
Did she hold me, when I was out there
My father, my father, he liked me
Oh he liked me, does anyone care

Understand what I've become
It wasn't my design
And people everywhere think
Something better than I am
But I miss you. I miss
'Cause you liked it. I liked it
When I was out there
Do you know this, do you know
You did not find me, you did not find
Does anyone care

Unhappiness was when I was young
And we didn't give a damn
'Cause we were raised
To see life as fun and take it if we can
My mother, my mother she hold me
Did she hold me, when I was out there
My father, my father, he liked me
Oh me liked me, does anyone care

Does anyone care

Lyrics submitted by Novartza, edited by iamkmello

"Ode to My Family" as written by Dolores Mary O'riordan Noel Anthony Hogan

Lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc., Universal Music Publishing Group

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Ode To My Family song meanings
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  • +14
    General CommentI thought the meaning of this song was very different from what was already posted.

    I think it's about how she's grown up and gone out into the world to see that it was quite different to the one she knew as a kid. She learned it wasn't the happy and fun life she had as a little kid. However, when she was out in the world she remembered and still felt the love her mother and father had for her but nobody cared in the real world.

    Now, shes come back as someone weathered by the world and her family might have a hard time realizing what shes become.

    I think the songs a great description of a caring childhood but contrasted against a very tough and careless world that can change even the very person youve become. Then you realize youve become one of those people and your parents dont know you as the little kid they used to hold. Quite a sad song about loneliness even in the eyes of family.
    Smartripon March 13, 2006   Link
  • +4
    General CommentI always saw it completely different to you all. I figured she was singing about how her family cared about her but that no body cares about happy stories. A lot musicians sing about how there fathers abused them or their mothers hated them etc and people with a caring family background are considered boring. She say's things like my father liked me, why does that have to be about her being molested, why couldn't it simply be that she had a good relationship with her Dad and she wants to tell the world. So I'd say its more about the entertainment industries preoccupation with negative stories.
    Jess4don April 03, 2006   Link
  • +3
    General CommentMy interpretation:

    Dolores talks about how she felt abandonned by her family once she left home. "Out there" would probably refers to the world outside Ireland. She asks a lot of questions because she feels they don't know her anymore; they only see what she's become but it wasn't what she wanted.

    "Unhappiness where's when I was young
    And we didn't give a damn"

    I think that unhappiness is the present state; how she feels now. The rest of the sentence is how she regrets her childhood because she was free and loved. Notice how she said "Did she hold me ,when I was out there" which means that her mother held her when she was still there. So I don't think she was treated badly by her family when she was young. "My father, my father, he liked me Oh he liked me" I saw some of you interpreted that she was abused but I don't think so; I think she's once again saying that his feelings towards her changed. She might also be regretting that he only liked her and not loved her.

    "Does anyone care?" shows how she feels alone out there and that she misses them.
    ~Epiphanyon June 07, 2007   Link
  • +2
    General CommentThis song Just reminds me so much about my home life, how both my parents were extremely neglectful as I was growing up, and they never noticed me, and now I have grown into a "Stable Adult" Without any help from them. I used to go into my room, and blast this and sit there and cry....just listening to it over and over again. I was pathetic, but I have loved this band since I was 7 years old. ANd now I'm 19! Time flies eh?
    pinkfuzzybunnyon November 07, 2004   Link
  • +1
    General CommentThese lines seem to be under question....
    "Unhappiness where's when I was young
    And we didn't give a damn
    'Cause we were raised
    To see life as fun and take it if we can"
    ...heres how I view those lines...
    "Unhappiness"(right now)
    "where as"(she's comparing the current state of unhappiness to a different state of happiness which was when she was young and didn't have any concerns because children are raised to have fun and enjoy life while they can)
    "And we didn't give a damn
    'Cause we were raised
    To see life as fun and take it if we can"
    SunDevilon October 07, 2006   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI'm pretty sure that part of the issue is incorrect lyrics. She's Irish so her pronunciation is going to be a bit different. I always heard the beginning of the chorus as "and happiness" but it comes out sounding like "an happiness" which sounds like "unhappiness" which would make no sense in that context.

    And to brightestfirefly and others: how did you get molestation from "he liked me?" that is a huge, not to mention twisted, leap that again doesn't make sense in context. She just said that they were raised to see life as fun etc. I think that that line is beautiful in its simplicity, that her father liked her as a person, which speaks to a really healthy father-daughter relationship as a child. The "does anyone care" part seems to speak to the constant focus on negativity in today's world and her wondering if her happy childhood holds any meaning to others outside her family. Also prostitution from "do you like me standing there" really? again so quick to jump on the worst-case scenario bandwagon and again makes no sense given the context.

    An ode is a lyric poem often of a serious or meditative nature marked by strong feelings. She is both celebrating her happy childhood in Ireland and seeking acceptance for the person that she is today. The present tense "do you like me" contrasts with past tense "he liked me" as she asks her family to understand the person she is today. Ireland when she grew up was quite religious and conservative and people lived very simple lives. She entered a totally different world when she joined a band professionally which caused tension with her family but she's saying she hasn't forgotten where she comes from, it is still a part of her, she values the love and strong foundation her parents gave her, and yearns to go back to those days.
    penguinwithasporkon June 17, 2011   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI've heard a lot about her parents not liking her. but I'm not really convinced...she mentions her mother holding her and her father liking her. These aren't usual terminology used for neglectful parents. They are there for her at least in that manner. There is something off. Meaning the past tense of liked me. And the did she hold me when I was out there...it really suggests thatthere was something polarizing that happened in her life that caused a divide between her in her family (I believe leaving school to become a rock star was mentioned somewhere). I think this song is in large part about the difficulty of pursuing a music career against what her parents wanted from her and how it was hard for her and her family.
    robertBosson November 14, 2011   Link
  • +1
    My InterpretationThis song grabbed me at an emotional level with the way she describes the support she got from her parents.

    The singer describes her parents' love and support in a way that goes beyond the mundane and cliche. She could have said "My mother loved me. My father loved me", but instead she used words uncommonly used to describe the family's intimacy that she experienced and that she had with her mother and father. I think she accomplishes communicating the love she had for her family, elevating her family's closeness a notch beyond the trite standard "they loved me", with the words "My mother, my mother she hold me, she hold me", "My father, my father he liked me, he liked me" (best line of the song).

    The line "when I was out there" to me, means the ghettos of Ireland, where neighborhoods were impoverished, and where she spent "half her life".

    The song is about every individual who live their life "out there". But as kids, "unhappiness words" meant nothing to them because they were unaware of the circumstances of their upbringing since they knew of no other life to compare to. The only thing the kids knew was how to have fun with their friends.

    But as she and her friends aged, awareness settles in. And anyone who's still "standing there" especially the youth, has a chance to break free and rise above the situation. While some will make it ("take it if you can"), some won't, but they will be given the best chance they can have if their parents furnish their home with love. This is why she is in the fortunate situation she is in - being a successful performer - and the only thing she attributes her success to is the love and support of her family ("it wasn't my design", i.e. without my family, things would be a lot different).

    "Don't turn away"
    "Do you see me? Do you like me?"
    I think she is returning to her hometown of her early childhood and sees things others there cannot see; a differing perspective, and yet she also knows what they're going through because she's been there.

    While she has come a long way she still cherishes her origins. Although she sees strangers on the streets of her old hometown, she sees them kind of as family because she shares a common thread with these strangers.

    "Do you like me, standing there? Does anyone care?"
    Maybe she longs to share some friendly words and perhaps impart some advice to them -- beyond the trappings of success and beyond the circumstances you find yourself in, the only thing that matters is bringing up a loving family...
    clee83on July 19, 2012   Link
  • +1
    General CommentIm Irish ... we do people say this has to do with Ireland ?
    Its got nothing to do with where she's from !
    The lyrics and song is typical way Irish people sing about family life.though.
    This song is about her as a child outside playing and enjoying that like all kids try to do whatever the circumstances.
    Her mother didn't like her which is normal to have one outcast in Irish families.
    one of gets the stick!
    Her father liked her .. but Irish men didn't show affection back then and couldn't open to her problems !
    her mother held her because obviously deep down she loved her daughter but wouldn't accept the way she was on the surface
    The song goes on to now that she's grown up asking her family to understand what she has become it wasn't her design .. ie gods plan whatever she has become and she's feeling that people looked down on her .

    She was unhappy about something and people didn't find her but she was happy out there and misses her childhood
    does anyone care ?
    coolioblueon August 29, 2012   Link
  • +1
    TranslationIt isn't what she WAS saying so much as what she couldn't bring herself to say. At least while her parents are still alive to hear her sing. In the video I saw it from the start. Her mother comforted her as loud noises and people probably scared her, and the mother protected her as best she could by "holding" her. How anyone couldn't see the odd choice of words afterward is likely because no one 'wants' to think that. Her father "liked" her?? Cherished, or doted on, would describe a loving father. But being a habitual drunk tends to blind men and they don't "see straight" but often incur ire from the wife for spending their rent/food money, and the man regresses and seeks "comfort" from the obedient, meek little girl so readily available. Then as she probably faces the same "out there" but she "liked" it with cute boys, drinking, and "we didn't give a damn" because life was so tenuous they lived for the moment and to hell with the consequenses but it beat having to deal with being the corner of a sick "love" triangle. Not like the clergy would be able and willing to help."When we were young, we saw life as fun, and 'take' it if we can.."No video games, cell phones, cable tv, or maybe no tv, and unsafe to play outside without parks, malls, or other teen hangouts plus needing food and simply to survive "out there" wasn't really a FUN adventure but it was all they knew. Impoverished, very pretty, and growing up in a culture which has endured centuries of harmful superstitions, political upheaval, extreme violence and practically inbred hatred between two equally oppressive religions. " Death was as normal an occurence as any for children. Most likely raped by soldiers as is common she may have decided to at least use her "assets" to make life more bearable. Did anyone care? The million dollar question. Was there anyone who truly cared for her and about what was happening in her life? Who was there for her to talk to, or seek comfort from when her own mom couldn't find her at all? Ashamed, scared, and possibly pregnant at some point..
    I'm simply astounded by these incredibly naive, overly optimistic interpretations. What I described is most common just about everywhere in modern society these days. All thanks to the digital media constantly enticing men, and boys in puberty, to lust after and fantasize about half naked women. Thus making them unfaithful over and over till the point shame fades and true debauchery sets in. Women do not become easily aroused by seeing half naked males so no it's not the same for each gender and females suffer for this greatly! One can tell from her poignant words, and deep emotion in her tone that she wants to know how her family felt about her, and what they thought about it all if they knew..Also why did they let it happen in the first place!!
    Ondinechanon November 21, 2013   Link

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