"I Know" as written by Jonathan M. Morant and Elgin B. Lumpkin....
So be it, I'm your crowbar
If that's what I am so far
Until you get out of this mess
And I will pretend
That I don't know of your sins
Until you are ready to confess
But all the time, all the time
I'll know, I'll know

And you can use my skin
To bury your secrets in
And I will settle you down
And at my own suggestion
I will ask no questions
While I do my thing in the background
But all the time all the time
I'll know I'll know

Baby-I can't help you out,
While she's still around
For the time being,
I'm being patient
And amidst this bitterness
If you'll just consider this
Even if it don't make sense
All the time give it time
And when the crowd becomes your burden
And you've early closed your curtains,
I'll wait by the backstage door
While you try to find
The lines to speak your mind
And pry it open, hoping for a encore
And if it gets too late, for me to wait
For you to find you love me, and tell me so
It's ok, don't need to say it


Lyrics submitted by SNYder

"I Know" as written by Fiona Apple Maggart

Lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

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I Know song meanings
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63 Comments

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  • +5
    General Commentfor me, it's about a girl who's in love with her guy friend. they get along so well and have this amazing chemistry, but he's with someone else. i think the guy is also having relationship problems, but can't seem to break off things with his girlfriend. the girl listens to her guy friend with all his relationship problems, she's there for him and really cares about him. however, she can't tell him how she feels about him yet. she's waiting for him to realize that he loves her too and wants to be with her.

    talk about a love triangle.
    untilrecentlyon October 16, 2009   Link
  • +3
    General Commentthis song is one of my favorite fiona songs, personally, it means alot to me. its just an awesome song.
    woofagoofaon January 07, 2002   Link
  • +3
    General CommentI agree with everyone else...this song has such an ethereal quality to it, it's hard to find a word to perfectly describe it.

    My interpretation of the song is that Fiona (or whomever is the speaker) is involved in some sort of a love triangle...being the "other woman" so to speak. She knows that the guy loves her, and that in the end they will be together, but also she knows that she will have to be patient until her man realizes this and can confess and come to grips with the situation.

    It's a really sweet song, in my opinion. I don't see how people think it as being a sad song.
    fumblingaroundon June 09, 2002   Link
  • +3
    General CommentFrom Fiona Apple, an interview:

    "I know"....waaasa...a song..that...I wrote fooorrr my boyfriend, or a guy that I was starting to see...

    We were both at this place in our lives where everything was changing, and, it again! This stuff happens coming from....one word. Um..Cuz...this guy was going through, um, a lot of changes in his life and he just met me. He referred to me one day that I'm his crowbar cuz it was getting him out of--it was changing his life in a certain way and he was in this one place but, with the crowbar the door was opening and he was going into another place...(deep breath) Aaaand as soon as he said, "You're my crowbar"...my...my mind went "So Far," (giggle, smirk) and you know! I wrote a song..um..so...there...ya go...
    SketchesOfSpainon November 29, 2007   Link
  • +3
    My InterpretationI think it's about unrequited love. "I can't help you out, while she's still around" -- maybe she's in love with a guy who's in love with another girl? That's how it appears to me... a very sad and horrible position to be in. Fiona did an amazing job, as always, expressing her grief in this beautiful song, both the lyrics and the vocals scream melancholy.
    maggotseatingmuffinson May 25, 2010   Link
  • +2
    General CommentBasically, she is in love with a guy who already has a girlfriend. She knows that he is hiding his feelings for her and can't show them properly until he breaks up with his girlfriend. But meanwhile, Fiona is his real confident and is the one who truly makes him feel happy.
    luckylib14on March 20, 2008   Link
  • +2
    General CommentI'd like to add to my earlier comments. I've listened to this song so many more times, and it is beautiful, in it's own dark way. I'm still really surprised that there are people interpreting this song as a happy love song... and even MORE surprised that some are thinking that Fiona is the primary relationship, and is being cheated on. We must examine the lyrics AS A WHOLE, and not pull bits and pieces out of it that fit what we might like it to mean.

    Here we go....

    "So be it, I’m your crowbar
    If that’s what I am so far
    Until you get out of this mess"

    A crowbar is something used to pry... she's his crowbar, and he's using her to pry himself, or try to, out of his main relationship (wife?). (But, there's another aspect. See the bottom.) The "so far" also implies that this has probably not been going on for that long, or that she's let it go on for too long. "Until you get out of this mess" refers to the love triangle... and she has the hope and probably expectation that he's going to pry ("crowbar") himself out of his main relationship. (But again, see bottom.)


    "And I will pretend
    That I don’t know of your sins
    Until you are ready to confess "

    These lines, I feel, are probably the only ones that could conceivably allow for an interpretation that the singer is the primary relationship and is the one being cheated on. But... has anyone reading this ever been cheated on? If you know someone's cheating on you, do you wait around until they confess? F@$k no!!! Most people would have to confront the cheater, immediately, and (probably) angrily.

    So what do those three lines mean in a song about the singer being "the other woman," the affair, the one he's cheating WITH and not ON? They mean more with respect to what I bring up at the bottom, but...) my take: she's not going to make him talk about his dilemma until he has or is about to break off his primary relationship, and come to her (singer). Anyone who's ever been in a love triangle (this is where I'd raise my hand ;-) knows of the incredibly dangerous and powerful role that guilt plays in the psyche of the person doing the cheating and lying. The cheater and the lover generally avoid the topic of the cheater's sins. She's content with that, and will be, unless he brings it up... at least UNTIL he confesses, (leaves the main relationship, that is), and then they'll deal with any residual guilt or trust issues.

    "But all the time, all the time
    I’ll know, I’ll know"

    What "she'll know," or actually is trying to convince herself to know, is that he really loves her (the singer), or, at least, she so desperately needs to believe that it's so. LISTEN to the melancholy and doubt in her voice, especially in these lines. Is that a confident "I'll know." She's actually not so sure. It's painful... much too painful... which equals denial. This is also a place to make reference to the fact that, at the very end of the song, after the typical "don't need to say it" line, she DOES NOT say "I'll know." It's left out, intentionnaly, and the whole thing feels unresolved. She obviously does NOT "know" what she'd like to know and believe.

    "And you can use my skin
    To bury secrets in
    And I will settle you down"

    Another picture of her being used as his crowbar. He has anxiety over the situation. (He at least has SOME conscience, thankfully.) He's sharing secrets with the singer, discussing his dilemma, and possibly (as cheaters often do) falsely reassuring her that he's going to leave the primary relationship to be with her. He wouldn't be sharing secrets with the singer if that person were his main relationship, especially if, as is necessary under that interpretation, he has not yet "confessed" to the singer.

    "And at my own suggestion,
    I will ask no questions
    While I do my thing in the background"

    Again, she's not going to bring it up. Doing her thing in the "background"... this is not something a primary partner would do or settle for when she knows he's cheating. That interpretation, to me, is just incorrect. "Background" implies secondary. Foreground is primary. The singer wants to assume he's trying to take care of leaving his main relationship ("until you get out of this mess"), and she's waiting patiently for this to happen... BUT, she has enough doubts about this that she's afraid to ask, hence the "at my own suggestion I will ask no quations." She wants so badly to avoid the pain that will come when and if she accepts that it is NOT TRUE that he loves her most, and NOT TRUE that he will leave the main relationship.

    "But all the time, all the time
    I’ll know, I’ll know"

    Denial. She wants to mean those words. She needs to know. Listen to the way the line is sung. She does NOT know. It could even go a step further, and the "I'll know" means she knows he'll never leave his wife / girlfriend to be with her. Also, again, note the absence of "I'll know" at the very end. This has some interesting implications. (See the bottom!!)

    "Baby-I can’t help you out, while she’s still around
    So for the time being, I’m being patient"

    The singer is patiently waiting for him to leave the primary relationship. Again, these lyrics could make sense even with the interpretation that the singer is the one being cheated on... true... but again, in my experience, someone being cheated on doesn't wait patiently, so while that interpretation may fit some of the lines while they're looked at in small chunks, it just doesn't fit the TOTALITY of the lyrics.

    "And amidst this bitterness
    If you’ll just consider this-even if it don’t make sense
    All the time-give it time"

    Very vague. (Less vague if you... you guessed it... see the bottom!! ;-) The singer's bitter, feels used (as his crowbar), and is asking him to consider that he really does love her. (Because, remember, she wants to believe in his love for her enough that she'll sing "All this time, I'll know"), but this is the first explicit hint that she really is NOT sure.


    "And when the crowd becomes your burden
    And you’ve early closed your curtains,
    I’ll wait by the backstage door
    While you try to find the lines to speak your mind
    And pry it open, hoping for an encore"


    The most important and revealing lines in the song. She's sharing more and more of the painful truth as the story unfolds. Anyway, obviously, he's performing... juggling in a sense... and also must do some talking to his main girlfriend / wife, too. The singer is at the backstage door, waiting (again, a secondary role), so... who's the man's audience? Who's he performing for? It's his main relationship (girlfriend, wife?) and all the TONS of people and things that come with such a relationship. The lines he must try to find, the singer thinks, are the lines to end the primary relationship. But, here's the "bottom" I've been referring to.....

    A new aspect arises, as a subtle confession by the singer, and illuminates and clarifies some of the earlier lyrics too. As he's "on stage," he's using the crowbar, the singer, to "pry open" his primary relationship, and.... "hoping for an encore"... ..... WHAT?..... whoa. We must now ask, is the "performer," the man, wanting actually to mend his primary relationship, i.e.,create the encore for the audience (the audience being, obviously, that main relationship.) The singer is slowly confronting her doubts about his love and his intentions to leave the main relationship, and is recognizing that she's been partially hopeful, partially delusional, and is starting to admit that he really DOES NOT love her. What "I'll know" means, then, is that she knows he doesn't really love her, but now, also, that he'll probably remain with or go back to, or wants to go back to, his main girlfriend / wife.

    And now, some of the earlier lyrics make more sense, or have a richer, fuller, meaning. ("Amidst this bitterness," "even if it don't make sense, give it time," especially.) Especially reconsider "And I will pretend, That I don’t know of your sins, Until you are ready to confess." Is it that his SIN is that his true intentions are NOT to leave his primary relationship, despite what he's telling the singer? They both know of his primary sin (cheating), so there's nothing to confess there... but realizing this new aspect, and considering the singer's admitted bitterness, what he must "confess" is that he will not leave his wife / girlfriend for her. And the singer's avoiding acceptance of this, at least until his confession. Interesting. Makes the song even more brilliant.

    "And if it gets too late, for me to wait
    For you to find you love me, and tell me so
    It’s ok, don’t need to say it. "

    There's no "I'll know" here, where there normally would have been. She certainly no longer "knows" that he loves her, and by not saying the "I'll know" here, the singer indicates that she's having a lot of trouble accepting what she really DOES know, deep down, as the truth: he'll never leave the other woman for her.

    This is not a happy love song. It's about a mess... a train-wreck of a relationship... TWO relationships... and a man who wants to continue having fun with the lover (use her skin, to bury secrets in....), telling the lover that they'll be together someday. Happy? Does the singer SOUND happy, or like someone who's having doubts and a lot of trouble accepting reality? And listen to the music; it is DARK, and almost even sounds like a funeral dirge or something. (Some chords and musical phrases are even nearly identical to those in Chopin's famous funeral march.) To me, it seems obvious that this is a type of funeral march... something is dying or has died... and that something is the singer's belief that he might actually love her and leave his relationship to be with her. There is a longing in her voice, even from the beginning of the song. She is hurt. She no longer knows, and, in listening to the first set of "I'll know" 's, probably never did.
    scottp1182002on June 26, 2008   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI think it is a sad love song... I think the speaker is in a relationship where he or she is giving her all but the person isn't giving back. "Baby-I can’t help you out, while she’s still around So for the time being, I’m being patient And amidst this bitterness" SO yeah, this song is a little too real for me but I still love it
    ChrissyTinaon January 25, 2002   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI always thought of it as two poeple who have known each other for a very long time, perhaps most of their lives...she has been there through his relationships, and he for hers and each others problems...and now he is a mess, she knows its really her only that understands him and loves him and can help him, like no one else, and knows he loves her also, but didnt realize (or acknowledged) it yet, so she is waiting for him to do so, because once he does and breaks off some current realationship ,then they can make it happen and she can help him...
    Jasmine21on September 18, 2008   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI enjoy scott's interpretation and prefer it.

    HOWEVER

    I think there's a "better" interpretation here, one that's a bit more simple...

    I think that she (the singer) is still confused as to how this situation is going to resolve itself. Maybe she's delusional, but the lyrics seem to suggest that she is delivering this whole message, this whole song at once. Let's examine the lyrics all together.

    She sees herself as the crowbar ... to pry him out of his relationship (probably his wife) ... "Until you get out of this mess."

    The second stanza, she does talk about using her skin to bury secrets in and knowing of his sins... but I think she's just saying she will continue to quiet him down and comfort him as he unburdens himself.

    She then says "Baby-I can’t help you out, while she’s still around." The whole song takes place when it is still fairly early in their affair. She loves him, she'll continue giving him her body and being patient, BUT she's still laying down the law... until they're together as the primary relationship and his "wife" is out of the picture, she can't completely "help him" whether that be emotionally or what have you.

    The next line is key for this particular reading: "So for the time being, I’m being patient" This is what's happening in THE PRESENT, RIGHT NOW!... this is important, because it seems to refute any knowledge of her knowing how it's going to end. This is also why some people seem to have misreadings.. Because she's actually handling it very maturely which is why some people are fooled into thinking this is a "happy song." Because she loves him she will wait for him to decide and let things play out.

    The rest is her guessing how it may play out. But before she gets to what she thinks might happen she offers this:
    "And amidst this bitterness
    If you’ll just consider this-even if it don’t make sense
    All the time-give it time"

    To me this is her saying amidst this fucked up situation, if you'll just consider the idea -- "that you do actually love me, and do want to be with me," that I'm more than a crowbar to get you out of your thing with your wife, but actually someone you really do want to start a new life with -- then you will see that you really love me.

    Next she gets to how she thinks it may play out, and this is where I have trouble with your logic.

    "And when the crowd becomes your burden
    And you’ve early closed your curtains,
    I’ll wait by the backstage door"

    Early closed your curtains... stopped the show early... broken it off with your wife... I'll be right there... but at that point you're going to have to tell me what you feel:

    "While you try to find the lines to speak your mind
    And pry it open, hoping for an encore"

    I would say that she is still crowbar, making him confess his feelings for her... In this reading I would say she will wait until things come to a head, and if he does leave, as she hopes will happen, the "encore" is for him to start a new relationship with HER.

    "And if it gets too late, for me to wait
    For you to find you love me, and tell me so
    It’s ok, don’t need to say it."

    But she's also saying that she's not willing to wait around forever, though she is content to now. She'll walk away "if it gets to late." And even if he doesn't ever admit to loving her, she will still walk away strongly knowing that he did... (even though in this reading she still is in denial) in my opinion because why would she ask him to float around the idea that he loves her if she's so sure he does. Perhaps she feels she knows his subconscious better than he does (denial). Or perhaps it's simply clear to her that he does -- she is right there with him naked in bed as he unburdens himself-- even if he's too much of a coward or asshole or being too "nice" to her not to tell her he loves her, knowing he'll never leave his wife.

    But I do agree with you Scott... I don't think she knows. In the end she's protecting herself from a situation in which he never tells her what she so desperately wants to hear. She'd almost rather hear those words than have him leave his wife. However this bit is all conjecture.

    TO RECAP, where I don't agree with Scott's logic about "the encore." I think he's jumping around and being presumptuous.

    This reading seems to me to be a more simplified version, but one I think you may have to consider because we can't just say that we know how it's going to play out... he may very well leave his wife... and this affair's still in the somewhat early stages... but because this reading is more simple, as I said before, I don't like it... takes away a bit of the brilliance and complexity of Scott's reading... However nothing could take away from the brilliance of the song itself.
    varsnderon December 06, 2008   Link

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