"In the Backseat" as written by Win Butler, Regine Chassagne, Tim Kingsbury, Richard R Parry and William Butler....
I like the peace
In the backseat
I don't have to drive
I don't have to speak
I can watch the countryside
And I can fall asleep

My family tree's
Losing all it's leaves
Crashing towards the driver's seat
The lightning bolt made enough heat
To melt the street beneath your feet

Alice died
In the night
I've been learning to drive
My whole life
I've been learning

I like the peace
In the backseat
I don't have to drive
I don't have to speak
I can watch the countryside

Alice died
In the night
I've been learning to drive
My whole life
I've been learning how


Lyrics submitted by drinkmilk, edited by LowFatWater

"In the Backseat" as written by Win Butler, Regine Chassagne, Tim Kingsbury, Richard R Parry, William Butler

Lyrics © EMI Music Publishing

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In the Backseat song meanings
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124 Comments

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  • +5
    General Commentto me, the "backseat" is a metaphor for living a life that you are no longer in control of emotionally.

    the imagery of a family tree "losing its leaves" and the line "alice died," seemed to suggest that a family member of hers has died ( i imagine a younger sister or something). after this, the speaker in the song simply can't function and spends her life in the "backseat," letting other people make decisions for her because she simply doesnt care anymore. the fact that the speaker watches dreamily from a window while other people are "driving" her, and also the word "asleep" imply more passivity.

    as for "i've been learning to drive my whole life," maybe this traumatic event (a sibling or other family member dying) happened when she was very young and she never recovered from it. she's been gradually learning how to cope but she still isn't ready to take the wheel.

    i could be completely wrong about the details, but nevertheless this is a beautiful song.
    NightNeverSleepson December 01, 2004   Link
  • +5
    General Commentwhen i first heard this song it was kinda late at night, the day i had gotten the cd and i figured i would give it a try. i zoned out for a lot of it but this song just caught my attention, because it was the girl singing or because it was at the end of the disc., i don't know.
    you know those songs that just fit perfectly with the mood of a movie or something, the kind that just wanna make you cry or laugh or have fun along with the movie? this song can give you that feeling, without the movie itself. when it ended I was like "woah, what just happened??"
    i agree that its about possibly loss of a family member, ut i thought it was more about coming of age, perhaps reluctantly gaining responsibility, but not shirking it because she doesnt care.
    i have no real evidence for that, its just what i thought about the lyrics. when i first heard it. maybe just the fact that she says "I've been learning to drive" as if she has known that this was coming, and doesnt want to grow up or take on some certain position or responsibility, but knows that she will have to sometime soon, because suddenly the "leaves" of her family are falling; perhaps a kind of loss of innocence thing.
    but its weird that the song itself makes me happy but its idea is so depressing...
    wannabelleon January 17, 2005   Link
  • +4
    General Commentholy crap, holy crap. this song is like, oh my lord. when i first heard it, and she sand "i've been learning to drive my whole life..." i was like....so consumed! with.... i dont know what! i got chills and my heart palpitated and i couldn't breathe and i wanted to cry but knew i must'nt. it is simply a song, no need to get ridiculous.

    but ah, this song demonstrates what i love most about music--- it's ability to stop me dead in my tracks.
    ieatseedson November 01, 2004   Link
  • +4
    General CommentFirst, everyone should go out and purchase the actual album, because it is one of the best of 2004. Also, you learn alot about the band in the inner pamphlet. It isn't the normal Jewel case insert... it looks identical to a funeral program. In it you read "When family members kept dying they (Arcade Fire) realized that they should call their record 'Funeral.'" Also, the album is dedicated in memory of 9 individuals. Two of which bear the last name 'Chassagne' and one is named 'Alice.' Regine Chassagne is the female vocalist for Arcade Fire. So now I come to the song meaning, it is about the death of Regine's mother Alice. The backseat is a metaphor for control in her life. She used to always have someone (the driver) to look up to in her life, and didn't necessarily have to make any tough decisions on her own. Now, with the death of her mother, she has "crashed into the driver's seat" and now needs to take control of her own life. Her entire life, she's been learning how to mature and be independent, and now she's almost forced to grow up. But hey, what do I know? Your guess is as good as mine. Spread the word, these guys rock. See them live and you'll know what I'm talking about.

    P.S. Anyone care to explain "the lightening bolt made enough heat to melt the street beneath your feet"
    bfleetyon February 10, 2005   Link
  • +4
    General CommentThis music it's about Regine's mom (called Alice) who died in the year that were producing the album funeral. Regine never learned to drive, ok. Her mother was very ill in the hospital, so, Regine needed to go to hospital urgently. Even without know drive, she took the family's car and was driving to the hospital. But in the midle of the way, her mother died in the hospital. Yes, it's very sadly DDD8



    (PS: sorry of my bad english. I'm brazilian, er...)
    dedagson May 05, 2010   Link
  • +3
    General CommentThink about it: everybody over the age of 20 is expected to drive, but remember when you were a kid and your parents drove you everywhere? I like the peace in the backseat.
    MaxWasHereon December 30, 2004   Link
  • +2
    General CommentAnd in this music don't have the line "Oh, Norah!". It's just "oh oh oh", just vocal sounds LOL
    dedagson May 05, 2010   Link
  • +1
    General CommentKinda what wannabelle said. I think the family member who passed on in the song was someone she was heavily influenced by and/or had played a major role in her life. The line about learning to drive is learning to live with out this family member as she grew up and became more independant. In this song, she misses the role that person played in her life, remembering fondly the passiveness of when that person influenced or played the role in her life. At the end, she realizes she must learn to live with out.
    room101on January 23, 2005   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI can't wait to see these guys at Coachella. This song is really sad. I think everyone is right about the metaphors...the lightning bolt line might be like something happening unexpectedly (like a death) and all of a sudden you don't have the support of the street beneath you...something like that. All I know is that her voice is beautiful.
    incubus4everon February 15, 2005   Link
  • +1
    My InterpretationI think the song is either about losing an older sibling or parent and being forced to take responsibility and "grow up." The concept of driving kind of reminds me of taking control of your own life. Perhaps she never had to take responsibility and drive before, and she enjoyed being in the "backseat" so much but was ready to take responsibility when this "Alice" died, hence the lines "crashing towards the driver's seat" and "I've been learning to drive all my life."

    I think it could also be, in a more literal sense, about a newfound anxiety of driving due to a traumatic accident in which someone very close was lost. The "I've been learning to drive my whole life" would represent her disbelief while the part about the lightning bolt hitting the street might be what caused the accident.
    Lovelaceon November 22, 2009   Link

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