I was staring at the sky, just lookin' for a star
To pray on or wish on or something like that
I was havin' a sweet fix of a daydream of a boy
Whose reality, I knew, was a hopeless to be had
But then the dove of hope began its downward slope
And I believed for a moment that my chances were approaching to be grabbed
But as it came down near, so did a weary tear
I thought it was a bird but it was just a paper bag

Hunger hurts and I want him so bad, oh, it kills
'Cause I know I'm a mess he don't wanna clean up
I got to fold 'cause these hands are too shaky to hold
Hunger hurts but starvin' works when it costs
Too much to love

And I went crazy again today, lookin' for a strand to climb
Lookin' for a little hope
Baby said he couldn't stay, wouldn't put his lips to mine
And a fail to kiss is a fail to cope
I said honey, I don't feel so good, don't feel justified
Come on, put a little love here in my void
He said it's all in your head and I said so's everything but he didn't get it
I thought he was a man but he was just a little boy

Hunger hurts and I want him so bad, oh, it kills
'Cause I know I'm a mess he don't wanna clean up
I got to fold 'cause these hands are too shaky to hold
Hunger hurts but starvin' works when it costs
Too much to love

Hunger hurts but I want him so bad, oh, it kills
'Cause I know I'm a mess that he don't wanna clean up
I got to fold because these hands are just too shaky to hold
Hunger hurts but starvin' works when it costs
Too much to love

Hunger hurts but I want him so bad, oh, it kills
Because I know that I'm a mess that he don't wanna clean up
I got to fold because these hands are just too shaky to hold
Hunger hurts but starvin', it works when it costs
Too much to love


Lyrics submitted by SNYder

Paper Bag song meanings
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131 Comments

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  • +3
    General CommentFrom Fiona Apple's mouth herself, during an interview:

    "with paper bag, I was in my fathers car - we were driving to the grocery store.

    and this is an idea of how long it takes me to deal with writing a song - this was, during the first album and i was miserable. (very cute laugh) and it was a saturday and me and my dad were driving to the grocery store - i was sitting, sulking...and I looked up into the sky and I saw this white dove! And I thought - I used to have terrible problem with uh, everything was a symbol to me...everything I saw meant life or death! And I look up in the sky sulking and I see this white dove, and think "OH! i--okay, Everythings going to be okay! White dove!" and I swung into this great high! and.... the dove started falling of course and...and it was a plastic bag! Just Trrraaaasssh...And so of course I just -dropped- again...and that stuck into my head and later on I was like - "Oh, the rule of my life! It always looks like its going to be great but its just a damned plastic bag..." and...you know, I made it a paper bag because paper sounds better (;P she giggles)"
    SketchesOfSpainon November 29, 2007   Link
  • +3
    My InterpretationProbably one of my favorite lines in this song is:

    "He said, 'It's all in your head,' and I said, 'So's everything,' but he didn't get it."

    I've read a few interpretations of what this line could mean. I think this guy is accusing her of over-thinking and being overly dramatic about the problems she has. So he claims that it's all in her head and there's no real basis to her thoughts/feelings about the situation. But when she says, "So's everything," she's referring to... well... everything! It's a philisophical interpretation. Everything in the world, technically, is in our heads. That's all we know. We don't have the ability to jump into another person's head and hear what they are thinking at any given moment and look at the world from their perspective (unless of course you're like Wayne Hoffman, but let's not count him right now :). So Fiona saying that the world around us is completely determined by our own perceptions of the world and not someone else's. He doesn't understand her perspective so he tells her that it's all in her head, while she tries to tell him that everything is in her head so what he said doesn't help her at all. It's her turning point of realizing that as bad as she wants to be with him, they are on two completely different pages.

    I LOVE Fiona. She laces her lyrics with awesomeness.
    cremedepoison March 27, 2009   Link
  • +2
    General Comment"Paper Bag" isn't just about dissapointment; it's about realizing how your faults could hurt someone else. What she's trying to get across, at least in my opinion, is that after taking a good hard look at who she really is, she's got too many unresolved issues to place the burden of dealing with them on someone who might have potential (or, another take, on someone in the past that she has yet to get ovcer). So rather than drag someone into her messed up life, she starves out love all-together.
    toasteeon June 16, 2002   Link
  • +2
    My Interpretationit does seem to be about a budding relationship that just isn't working. In the first part, she is daydreaming and longing for him. She knows, in reality, he isn't really hers but she keeps hoping that she can reach out and grasp him. She thought she was grabbing a bird and almost getting the relationship with him she wants, but it was actually just trash.

    In the second verse, it's all coming to a boiling point. The lack is driving her crazy but she is trying to give everything to find any tiny bit to build upon. He is not giving anything though. It is eating at her inside and making her feel unfulfilled and sick. She finally asks him to give her something, anything to make the uneasiness go away but he tells her she's over reacting. She finally snaps back but he doesn't even notice that. It's then that she realizes he isn't the man she hoped he was, he is just a sad little boy.

    And in the choruses, it just sums up that she is would do anything to have him. The hunger pains for him are killing her. But she knows he doesn't want to put in the time or energy to help her get herself together. She is folding her hands because they keep shaking but I think the poker term also applies. She's "folding her cards" and giving up on him too. She's hungry for him and his love, but she is starving herself and denying herself both of those things to get over him. It hurts a lot, but she knows that it's better then being in this situation with him.
    Cutcopyon February 26, 2012   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI didn't understand this song at first, and I had to have a friend explain it to me. She said that this song is about disapointment... disappointment over a guy. She thought "it was a bird, but it was just a paper bag". She thought that this guy was going to be this wonderful perfect dude.. but it turns out that he's "Just a paper bag". Not exceptional or wonderful at all. Not a man, but a "little boy".
    anna118kon March 13, 2002   Link
  • +1
    General Comment"i'm a mess he don't want to clean up" - he was so quick to give up on her because of her problems, like FeyTH said, he proved he wasn't worth it because he wasn't "man" enough to help her, his love was immature like a "little boy".
    sonuvagoonon June 22, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI agree with Anna, but I also think that this guy has given up on her. "I'm a mess he don't wanna clean up" And, despite the hunger for him, she realizes now that he isn't all that, otherwise he wouldn't have given up on her.
    FeyTHon April 14, 2002   Link
  • 0
    General Commentthese are some awesome lyrics, fiona can really belt them out
    watchmefallon April 19, 2002   Link
  • 0
    General CommentYeah. I agree with anna too. I love this song, it's one of her best... And it really means alot to me lyrics-wise 'cos theres this guy.... but thats another long story.
    siren86on May 03, 2002   Link
  • 0
    General Commentyep, i agree with anna...and maybe she was dissapointed in him 'cause she expected much more of him..."i'm a mess he don't wanna clean up..." like he was too immature to understand what the relationship...i don't know i kinda confused my self...:)
    rockstar001on May 08, 2002   Link

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