"When I Fall" as written by and Steven/robertson Page....
I look straight in the window, try not to look below
Pretend I'm not up here, I try counting sheep
The sheep seem to shower off this office tower
Its Nine-point-eight straight down I can't stop my knees

I wish I could fly
From this building
From this wall
And if I should try
Would you catch me if I fall?

My hands clench the squeegee, my secular rosary
Hang on to your wallet, hang on to your rings
I can't look below me, or something might throw me
I curse at the windstorms that October brings

I look in the boardroom; a modern pharaoh's tomb
I'd gladly swap places, if they care to dive
They're lined up at the window, peer down into limbo
They're frightened of jumping, in case they survive

I wish I could step from this scaffold
Onto soft green pastures, shopping malls, or bed
With my family and my pastor and my grandfather who's Dead

I look straight in the mirror, I watch it come clearer
I look like a painter, behind all the grease
But paintings creating, and I'm just erasing
A crystal-clear canvas is my masterpiece

I wish I could fly
From this building
From this wall
And if I should try
Would you catch me if I fall?

I wish I could fly
From this building
From this wall
And if I should try
Would you catch me if I fall?
When I fall
When I fall
When I fall
When I


Lyrics submitted by ojms

"When I Fall" as written by Steven Page Ed Robertson

Lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc.

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When I Fall song meanings
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  • +5
    General CommentI think the song also has as much to do with immortality as it does suicide. I think the window washer is lamenting that he will leave no legacy. Even a crappy painter will most likely have SOMEONE save one of his or her paintings. The window washer feels he will leave nothing. A hundred years from now no one will know he even existed. But the Painter lives on...if not on some gallery wall for the masses to worship, at least in the closet of some old lady's house or in a thrift store with a $2.00 tag on it. Further on...some other person might buy it just for the frame...take it home and fall in love with it.

    On a more dorky note, I love the 9.8 straight down. I wonder how few people actually get that. 9.8 meters per second2 is the acceleration of a falling body due to gravity. Gotta love BNL for remembering that tidbit from high school physics.
    Kwazyon February 19, 2005   Link
  • +2
    General Commentwow, so for school I wrote a paper on this song, and I pretty much tore it apart and I think i may have figured out its meaning. I won't go too far into it, because i would have to basically just rewrite my essay online, but basically:

    the scaffolding is a metaphor for a purgatory: the stage between heaven and hell, where people have to earn their way into heaven, and he is trying to earn his way to immortality on earth--or "earning his way into heaven"--as seen in the last verse as he says that his masterpiece is a crystal clear canvas...if that made any sense

    Also--"my hands clench the squeegee, my secular rosary"--from this phrase I figured that since a rosary is a string of beads in which every bead repents for a sin, and secular means not relating to the church--this phrase means that every window he washes (*squeegees*) is like another prayer he is repenting, and he wishes to make himself a better person, but it isnt getting him anywhere because he is just cleaning windows.

    He also mentions his notion of heaven "green pastures...his family, grandpa etc"

    So after explaining that and some other stuff that im too lazy to post, i came to the conclusion that this man is a metaphor for the everyday person who just wants answers, to be immortalized and to have a better home life (ex. how he says he wants to be with his family in heaven)

    i actually enjoyed writing this paper...weird
    Sweet Marieon January 09, 2006   Link
  • +2
    General CommentThis is an interesting song. To me the situation in it, i.e., window washing, insn't a metaphor for anything, but i think that his fear of falling is meant to be ironic. It's like a lion tamer who is allergic to cats.

    And I think that the transition from "if i fall" to "when i fall" is important. the washer has given up struggling with fate, his kismet is to fall off his scaffold and die.

    "would you catch me if I fall?"

    They're frightened of jumping, in case they survive

    I wish I could step from this scaffold
    Onto soft green pastures, shopping malls, or bed
    With my family and my pastor and my grandfather who's dead

    the window washer hopes that when he falls, god will "catch" him, I.E., take him to heaven

    I agree with Catheriniks, it is pretty unbelievable the range of maturity, or immaturity, that these guys produce.
    Bandieon February 20, 2007   Link
  • +1
    General Commentthe window washer is contemplating suicide. it'd be so easy, but he doesn't want to die. He likes life, just not his life. He'd "gladly swap places" with the business men in the building. in last verse, the window represents his life. living a life, "creating," is art, and "just erasing" would not be a feat or accomplishment, but a work of art destroyed.
    wrionon July 22, 2002   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI agree that it's about a window washer, but I don't think he's suicidal (or depressed) at all. If he were, he wouldn't be afraid of falling, and there are a lot of lines that indicate that he is.

    I also think maybe there's a metaphorical aspect to the song, about the uncertainty and danger of non-traditional career choices (ie, musician), versus the men in the boardroom. Some choices may be less secure, with the danger of falling/failing, but at least in that case you're happy. I believe the narrator IS happy, and that's a contrast to the boardroom people who want to die. ("They're frightened of jumping, in case they survive.")

    Whatever. You've got to respect any band that can successfully allude to the rate of acceleration due to gravity in a song. :)
    gravity_defianton September 19, 2004   Link
  • +1
    General CommentVerse 1 - The first verse in my opinion sets the stage of who the character is and the character's struggle. He is especially troubled by gravity, the difficulty of life... he wants levity, but gravity brings him down. He tries to get it off his mind, but ultimately, gravity and the circumstances of his life bring him down literally and figuratively. He is near his victory, or God, or something higher than himself, but refuses to accept that against his own good.

    Chorus: The character wishes gravity and his life, as it were, weren't real, or that they were different, that he could literally fly away or change it without the consequences, and then he thinks about trying it, about changing things and wonders if God, fate, a loved one, or some other force would catch him tried to do so and failed. He struggles with his faith in the totality of existence. He wants to give up, seeing little to no hope and release himself and wants someone or something as his safety net as he is burdened by life and its gravity. He feels that he needs help, but he doesn't know where to go or if circumstances will afford him a safety net and in any event refuses to accept it. The wind is trying to blow him off the building, but he stands strong. Life is trying to beat him to the ground, but he stands strong.

    Verse 2:

    The character considers religion and worshiping false idols, the wrong things, things that he thought he wanted, using his squeegee as an example of displacing the wrong things with his center, which is either faith or spirituality or simply happiness. Maybe he works too hard, perhaps he dwells on things. He has a demon and a monkey on his back. He begins to question his life, what he has done with it, and how he has misplaced his faith in the grand scheme of things. He decides to hang on to what he has and try to defeat his demons. He knows that if he thinks about it, he may do the unthinkable, and that life is trying its hardest to get him to do it. He knows to stay positive and not look down on life.
    No matter what the winds of life throw at him, he can't do anything but complain about it, and that's getting him nowhere

    Verse 3:
    He looks through the window at what he sees, and that is good people who have sold their souls and become imprisoned in their life of wealth and opulence, which is a tomb, a shell, a prison. He considers what it would be like to be them, and in a way wishes that he could walk a mile in their shoes so that he may have what they have in terms of worldly possessions,, and he wonders if they would like to walk a mile in his, to struggle as he has, and if their life is parallel to his by its own right in terms of being a struggle. He reaches the realization that they struggle in their own way, and that life/gravity is pulling them down and they share much of the same strife by their own right. He is on the outside looking in, which gives him insight into the state of things. He says that while they want to give into the urge and give way to gravity and life and uncertainty by taking or changing their lives or some other action, they fear that that will land them right back where they are, which is their own personal hell. They are who they are. They may have lost their souls earning their money or living their life, and if they jump or change the state of things, their souls may not find peace in the afterlife or the next phase of their life because what you do in this life or phase of our life goes or stays with you to the afterlife or the next phase to an extent as you cannot change your soul, so their souls will survive, even if their life or a certain phase is over is over, and their souls will have to deal with what they did in the now.

    Verse 4 - the actor wishes he could give up or change his life or cicumstances into something that he thinks that wants it to be, and wishes he didn't live a life so lonely. He sees himself in the world alone, and wonders if his loved ones are in the afterlife. Something is holding him up, and he doesn't want to trust it, be it faith, God, fate, etc. He wishes he could deny what is supporting him from gravity, but knows deep down that it is not his time. and that he is being held up for a reason. He is closer to the truth than he has ever been, but refuses to accept it. He could be alone in life, or feel alone, and want to be with someone who cares, someone familiar to him.

    Verse 5 - The actor looks within himself and at himself through his own eyes in a new way, and reaches the conclusion that he is the master of his own life to an extent, that he paints his future, and that despite all the things that are against it being the way he thinks that he wants it to be, life, and as it would be, circumstances, are constantly changing. He might be his own worst enemy and his own toughest critic, but there is always new hope, you can always start over. It's never too late. Everything is in his mind and totally up to him with just a little help from the scaffold. This realization is incredible comfort to him.

    Amazing.
    lewddachrison August 27, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI'm pretty sure It's from a window washer's POV up on the scafolding reflecting oh his life. Unique way of putting it. Leave it to BNL to fit the word "squeegee" in a otherwise searious, meaningful song. (:
    Lissy Ratzon April 09, 2002   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI disagree somewhat. I believe that the person is genuinely depressed about his life. He talks about how useless it is in the last verse, where the only purpose of his life is to destroy. And if nothing else, it is simply a yearning for someone to catch him, to give him purpose. For example, "if I fall" vs. "when I fall."

    Either way, it is a masterpiece of a song itself, and literally their best one. It is a perfect "I'm depressed" song.
    ck_phoenixon August 19, 2002   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThis is a great BNL's song! I listen to it everytime I'm depressed and it always makes me feel better.
    remmay231on March 18, 2003   Link
  • 0
    General Commentyou know, you listen to this song and you can scarcely believe these same guys also wrote "if i had 1,000,000 dollars" and "one week."
    this song is incredible and introspective - an amazing insight into depression.
    catherinekson April 01, 2003   Link

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