"The Background" as written by and Stephan/cadogan Jenkins....
Everything is quiet, Since you're not around,
And I live in the numbness now.
In the background.
I do the things we did before,
I walk Haight Street to the store,
And they say where's that crazy girl?

You don't get drunk on red wine, and fight no more,
'Cause I don't see you anymore,
Since the hospital,
But the plans I make still have you in them,
Then you come swimming into view,
And I'm hanging on your words like I always used to do,
The words they use so lightly, I only feel for you,
I only know this because I carry you around,
In the background.

Words they come and memories all repeat,
I lift your head while,
They change the hospital sheets,
I would never lie to you, No
I would never lie to you, No
I felt you long after we were through.
And the plans I make still have you in them,
Cause you come swimming into view,
And I'm hanging on your words like I always used to do,
The words they use so lightly, I only feel for you,
I only know this because I carry you around,
In the background.


Lyrics submitted by Mopnugget

"The Background" as written by Stephan/cadogan Jenkins

Lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, BMG RIGHTS MANAGEMENT US, LLC, THE BICYCLE MUSIC COMPANY

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The Background song meanings
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  • +4
    General Comment"Let me put it this way: Have you ever felt like your life was in high gear, and you were right in the moment, and you were happy, and rolling into some glorious unknown future? And then have that all taken away? And then lived in sort of the post-period of that high? That's what it's like to live in the background." ~Stephan Jenkins, Third Eye Blind frontman
    jzier3ebon July 18, 2002   Link
  • +2
    General CommentOK, so I'm a huge 3eb fan, and there are so so so so many songs to choose from, but this is deffinantly one of my favorites, the only song by 3eb that I love more than this one is God of Wine. This song is about someone that the speaker really loved- leaving him for unknown reasons, i dont actually think she died, but something happened between them that makes things unresolvable. He wishes there were something he could do to change the way things are between the two of them, he wishes that he could have her back, but he knows that he can not. Though still when he sees her, or thinks about her, he rembers exactly how much she means to him and wishes things were different, because no matter what, he will always love her.
    fanatical3ebchicon April 20, 2002   Link
  • +2
    General CommentHow can you ever get tired of listening to this album
    Wi1d0903on July 27, 2002   Link
  • +2
    General CommentBeautiful song... simply put.
    We all have that one person we are always going to think about and remember... and regardless of why and how that relationship faded(it doesn't even have to be one of a romantic sort), you are going to hold it in a certain light, and find yourself daydreaming about life that may've happened if you still were as close to this person as you once were. So to an extent, you're making plans hoping that somehow they'll be there, if only in your mind... (I'm very guilty of this... dwelling and overanalyzing and hoping and planning JUST IN CASE)and you rememveer things you used to do, and words you exchanged... and you feel them, feel that you still "Get them" even though you're through. And theyre always there... in the background.

    Just a beautiful song.
    Heartstrongon April 18, 2007   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI read this quote once from Stephan that I just had to find again...

    "Background" is about .... Let me put it this way: Have you ever felt like your life was in high gear, and you were right in the moment, and you were happy, and rolling into some glorious unknown future ? And then have that all taken away? And .. then lived in sort of the post-period of that high? That's what it's like to live in the background."

    This song may be about one specific situation, but it can also relate to any time you felt like everything was right and you were yourself and with people who really loved you...and then to suddenly not have that anymore. very hard to deal with. you feel like you are half-living for a while b/c of whatever/whoever/a time period you are missing so much.
    justlikeheaven05on April 28, 2008   Link
  • +1
    General CommentThe singer describes life after the incident much like it was before, but there's a hollowness to it, which you get in both the words and the vocal tone. Stephen's voice is a distant wailing echo, coming to you from another time and another place. You learn that during and shortly after the incident, the singer is still there, guiding another through the pain, and is still deeply in love with the other. Even though all this is "in the background", it slowly takes over his mind, filling it with memories, both sad and happy. Suddenly, a wall of sound as the band takes off, and you begin to realize that this person isn't just in the background anymore, they're all the singer can think about. As the sound dies down, the singer sadly begins to realize that it's not her in the background.

    It's him.

    And there's nothing he can do about it.
    Bologneron June 02, 2009   Link
  • +1
    Song MeaningThis song has haunted me for almost a decade now. It helped me immensely the first time I (thought I) had my heart broken, and now it seems even more poignant now that I know what REAL heartbreak is. This album made me a life-long fan of 3EB, and as such I find it difficult to compare their songs to anyone else's out of sheer reverence. However, I see parallels between this song and James Blunts "Goodbye My Lover". Both are frighteningly accurate descriptions of the despair and hollow numbness that remains after love is lost. For any reason. "Goodbye" made me listen even closer to "The Background", and I realized that interpreting the specific details of the song aren't really necessary. Its not important if its a mental hospital, or if she was in a coma etc, what really matters is the emotion that everyone clearly feels when they hear this song. And that is clearly forlorn despair, and eternal regret. Nevertheless no true fan can go without sharing their theory.

    To me its obvious that she is not dead, the switch between past and present tense indicates that he is swearing NOW that he would never lie to her (which shows intent and action),and that he loves her NOW. He also say he felt her after they were through, so the relationship ended. Period. Its also clear that he feels responsible for her parting, either because he did something, or perhaps didnt support her when he needed to (which is less likely as he indicates he was at her side in the hospital). I would be inclined to agree that she suffered from some kind of substance abuse, however the only real indication is the reference to red wine, which is clearly applicable to them both. This leads me to believe that the hospital is both the reason and location of the breakup. What could have occurred there to separate this carefree couple and drive this wild girl to never speak to him again after she leaves that place. The best fit for me would be an abortion that she didn't want.

    This is why we find the speaker living in the shade of his former life. He thinks he keeps her memory in the back of his mind, but as a result of the passion he still feels for her, and the regret he has for his actions, that is where his consciousness resides, in that unreality. This is indicated by his deferral to familiar routines, and delusions/hope that they still have a future together.
    Calelon November 29, 2009   Link
  • +1
    General CommentHere's my take. Obviously about a guy and the girl he lost. But my difference is that they were in love and broke up, probably over something stupid. THEN...something happens to her bad enough to be in the hospital and i think she is in a coma. This brings him back to her and he feels the sting of having someone that he loves in such shape knowing she probably won't make it and that he should never have left her in the first place. he is probably feeling guilty, wanting to change the past and now all he has are memories. the ones that play over and over in your mind as you carry on with the rest of your life. hence, in the background.
    wankmanon November 04, 2010   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI definitely agree with the whole "girl being dead/ in a coma" theory, especially "I lift your head, while they change the hospital sheets/ I don't see you anymore/ Since the hospital" part. This is one of the stand-out songs on the album for me, and probably my favorite non-single. I love 3eb!
    NirvanaKOLStrokesfantasticon July 14, 2011   Link
  • 0
    General Commentthis song is so touching.. the first time I heard it, I didn't take much to the melody.. but it grew on me, and is now one of my favourite songs - I wish I knew the deeper meaning of the lyrics.. what I've come to is that it's about a guy, whose girl friend must've gotten seriously hurt and put in the hospital, seemingly unable to contact with him.. either a coma or death. So he was so dependant on this girl in the past, that he doesn't know what to do with himself anymore, he can't work without her.

    write to me with your views or comments at akerman@oncable.dk - I would love to discuss this song!
    saracon January 11, 2002   Link

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