"I See A Darkness" as written by and Will Oldham....
Well you're my friend
(It's what you told me)
And can you see
(What's inside of me)
Many times
We've been out drinking
And many times
We've shared our thoughts
But did you ever, ever notice
The kind of thoughts I got
Well you know I have a love
A love for everyone I know
And you know I have a drive
To live I won't let go
But can you see it's opposition
Comes a-rising up sometimes
That it's dreadful and position
Comes blacking in my mind

And that I see a darkness
And that I see a darkness
And that I see a darkness
And that I see a darkness
And did you know how much I love you
Is a hope that somehow you you
Can save me from this darkness

Well I hope that someday, buddy
We have peace in our lives
Together or apart
Alone or with our wives
That we can stop our whoring
And pull the smiles inside
And light it up forever
And never go to sleep
My best unbeaten brother
This isn't all I see

Oh no I see a darkness
Oh no I see a darkness
Oh no I see a darkness
Oh no I see a darkness
And did you know how much I love you
Is a hope that somehow you you
Can save me from this darkness


Lyrics submitted by cardamom

"I See a Darkness" as written by Will Oldham

Lyrics © BMG RIGHTS MANAGEMENT US, LLC

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I See A Darkness song meanings
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33 Comments

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  • +5
    General CommentAhhh, I've just heard this song for the first time. A song has not hit me this hard on first listen since Bowie's "Heroes" or VU's "Heroine". And I personally relate to this one so much more than those two, by a long shot (I can't *really* relate to the lyrics in 'Heroes' or 'Heroine', only on some metaphorical level).

    Anyway, I know exactly what Oldham/BPB means with every word on this song, and each deep piano note that accompanies every phrase in this song echoes deep within my soul.

    He's talking about depression and suicide, yes, but he's also talking about the power of friendship. When you're truly thinking about where you're life's headed or if it's headed anywhere, the only thing that can save you are your friends. If they abandon you, the darkness looms.

    Envisioning the rest of your life, you either see a happy old man (either by himself, or with a wife, with his old friends or some new ones) who's found his inner smiles to light up forever, or you see a darkness, nothing.

    When this fork in the road shows itself, the only thing that can lead you to life is companionship and love, both from your friends and from above.

    This song is about the highs that always come before and after the lows. It starts with having a love for everyone you know, then into the darkness, then it often results in effusive affection for the ones you care most about. Did you know how much I love you, my best unbeaten brother?

    This song is about how sometimes, we don't notice our friends spiraling into a place they don't want to be. We can go out and share a drink with them a bunch, but sometimes we still don't notice the kind of thoughts they got, and what they all might mean.

    This song is about how once they've found that place, only your friendships can decide your fate. Again, on the one hand, you have peace of mind. On the other, darkness.

    This song is about so much, I can't even put it into words properly, no matter how many I use. The most profound song I've ever heard. No report on the human brain could explain depression or suicidal thoughts like this.
    ka_roskoon July 05, 2008   Link
  • +3
    General CommentThis song always struck a deep chord with me. I can relate with having those dark feelings, even when your life is good and you know it, creep in and affecting you. It sometimes feels like you can't fight it; it always comes back eventually.

    I can also relate to the power of having a beer with a friend and talking about the way life is when fighting those thoughts. Sometimes it is the only thing that can give you any real perspective when they are creeping in. I've had some dark times, and my best friend has been there, and I am for him when he needs it too. I think Oldham was talking about having that friend who can "save" you from the darkness, by just being there and listening to your thoughts.
    doctorphibeson April 01, 2011   Link
  • +3
    General CommentThis song, and the whole album, really speaks to me on a level that other musicians haven't quite approached with the exception of Elliott Smith. I've been seriously depressed for as long as I can remember (around 6 or 7 years-old) and I've come to see it as both a blessing and a curse; in knowing the darkness that waits for us all one can appreciate life a little more, but at the same time, in the words of Nietzsche, "if you gaze long enough into an abyss, the abyss will gaze back into you." I haven't had a good friend to share my thoughts with in a long time, music always was and always will be my best friend.
    Memento22Morion October 09, 2011   Link
  • +2
    General CommentTo me, I See A Darkness - the song and the entire album - is about a person's struggle with depression. The character loves others, loves his life, but is overcome but doubts, darkness and thoughts of ending his life - all symptoms of depression. He hopes for help from the outside (the friend) because he is unable to shed this darkness by himself.
    interpretiveon February 26, 2006   Link
  • +1
    General CommentThis song is haunting and very pretty. Not even Johnny Cash can do it justice.
    mrtrouton April 08, 2003   Link
  • +1
    General Commentit's totally 'me-eee-eee' because he repeats the 'me-eee-eee' on the following line, 'what's inside of me-eee-eee'.

    anyway. incredible song. incredible album. pitchforkmedia finally got a review accurate.
    smallpoxon December 12, 2008   Link
  • +1
    General CommentIs it just me or does he change what he says in the chorus the second time around? Instead of "and that I see a darkness" it sounds more like "i'll know I see a darkness" ... and following on from the end of the last verse "this isn't all I see" might suggest that whatever happens in the future he knows that there's no escaping the darkness
    toaderon July 30, 2009   Link
  • +1
    General CommentOne of the best songs of arguably one of the greatest albums ever made
    theo2103on January 13, 2010   Link
  • 0
    General Commenti definitely see this song as everyone trying to do the right thing, but constantly being tempted by "darkness" it's very beautiful bonnie "prince" billy is a fuckin country God
    youeatpoopon April 11, 2004   Link
  • 0
    General Commentthis song made me weep... for many reasons...but yeah, it's powerful.
    ivegotatimebombon June 25, 2004   Link

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