"They weren't there" as written by and Missy Higgins....
You breathed infinity into my world
And time was lost up in a cloud and in a whirl.
We dug a hole in the cool grey earth and lay there for the night.
Then you said, "wait for me we'll fly the wind,
We'll grow old and you'll be stronger without him" but oh,
Now my world is at your feet. I was lost and I was found,
But I was alive and now I've drowned.
So now I will be waiting for the world to hear my song
So they can tell me I was wrong...

But they weren't there beneath your stare,
And they weren't stripped 'till they were bare of
Any bindings from the world outside that room.
And they weren't taken by the hand
And led through fields of naked land
Where any pre-conceived ideas were blown away
So I couldn't say "no".

You sighed and I was lost in you, weeks could've past for all I knew.
You were there blanket of the over-world and so I couldn't say,
I wouldn't say "no". But they all said, "you're too young to even know,
Just don't let it grow and you'll be stronger without him"
But oh, now, my world is at your feet. I was lost and I was found,
But I was alive and now I've drowned.
So now I will be waiting for the world to hear my song
So they can tell me I was wrong

But they weren't there beneath your stare,
And they weren't stripped 'till they were bare
Of any bindings from the world outside that room.
And they weren't taken by the hand and led through fields
Of naked land where any pre-conceived ideas were blown away

But they weren't there beneath your stare,
And they weren't stripped 'till they were bare
Of any bindings from the world outside that room.
And they weren't taken by the hand and led through fields
Of naked land where any pre-conceived ideas were blown away
So I couldn't say "no".


Lyrics submitted by AgathaKavka

"They Weren't There" as written by Melissa Higgins

Lyrics © WORDS & MUSIC A DIV OF BIG DEAL MUSIC LLC

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They weren't there song meanings
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  • +2
    General CommentIve read an interview and apparently this song is about a girl sleeping with someone for the first time - "I couldnt say, i wouldnt say no"- and then falling in love with them, but everyones telling her she's too young to be in love and she shouldnt be with him. But then the song changes to her perspective and she defends herself by saying "they werent there beneath his stare" and she's trying to explain the spell he had over her. When she was with him she was stripped from everything - all her troubles and worries, he made her feel free. Obviously the songs written after they have broken up and theres a real feeling of desperation and sadness to it, she's waiting to tell the world her story but she knows everyone will say "i told you so"
    Rizoon July 07, 2005   Link
  • +2
    General CommentI think this song is so powerful. to me this song has always been about a first relationship that was also destructive. i relate this song in absolutely every way to my first relationship. everyone tells her the relationship is wrong but she says "they werent there beneath your stare, they werent stripped til they were bare"--"they werent taken by the hand, led through fields of naked land, where any pre-conceived ideas were blown away-and i couldnt say no" i think its a strong description of what a new and destructive relationship feels like. when it is new to you, advice from others who may be more experiences doesnt matter. they arent feeling what you are feeling NOW. they cant possibly understand what is holding you there. they werent just introduced to giving your all to someone, secrets, flaws, everything, for the first time and wanting to keep that person around. they werent the ones being manipulated with sweet words and promises all so new while so naaive and trusting. i think "led through fields of naked land could or could not literally refer to sex. i think in one way it could just mean the same as being stripped bare--emotionally giving everything. but since i think its about a first relationship and from experience with one i also think it could mean losing your virginity to your first love. love and sex together all as a new experience can absolutely attach you to someone completely. "pre-concieved ideas" being to me, the feelings you have towards relationships before you actually experience one yourself. thinking beforehand that you would be smart about it, leave if it hurt, know when you are being decieved. then it happens, and its all just a whirl of emotions and usually its a lot harder to be smart than you always thought it would be. its about being absolutely lost in love and the hold it takes on you. how she says that "weeks couldve passed for all i knew" perfectly describes how love completely consumes you, nothing else matters. but in my opinion this song definately gives off that this relationship went wrong and ended badly. because she says "i was alive and now ive drowned" and also that she will be waiting for the world to say i told you so.
    eeeelizabethhon October 29, 2011   Link
  • +1
    General Commenti think its about another girl too.
    when i saw her in concert, she said it was about a "forbidden" night she spent with someone.
    she didnt say guy, she said "someone"

    the only time it mentions "him" is when the person she was spending the night with said "wait for me we'll fly the wind,
    we'll grow old and you'll be stronger without him""

    "you're too young to even know"
    lindamichelle1on August 26, 2007   Link
  • +1
    General Commentthis song doesn't have anything to do with sex.
    i don't think it even has something to do with a boy.
    i think this is a song about her falling inlove with a girl.
    she simply feels that it would be looked down on by everyone else,
    but she's trying to explain to them how she feels.
    she doesn't care what they have to say,
    because 'they weren't there'.
    chaaaneLon December 06, 2007   Link
  • +1
    General Commentfrom what missy's supposedly said on stage and in an interview with the magazine "Cherie," I do think this song is about a girl -- though it could easily be about a guy I suppose.

    I think the meaning is about starting to fall for someone else after just getting out of another long and/or tumultuous relationship. That's the "him" part -- the new lover is telling her it's okay, you can forget and move on. It's what you need to do.

    But the new lover is someone the world in general would likely not approve of (hence why I also agree the new lover is a woman) -- "the world ...can tell me I was wrong." ... but they can't conceive what we really mean to each other. They're not there to see it. And then "you're too young to even know, just don't let it grow..." i think regards the new relationship and how most people would believe the narrator is too young to really understand how she feels about this new person (and likely about being in love with another woman - though she knows otherwise).

    I love this song, and we each interpret based on our own personal lives, so just my idea.
    cserrion May 09, 2008   Link
  • +1
    General Commentok... When I first heard this song I simply enjoyed it's melody.. and I really love this song or I wouldn't have analyzed it.
    Just an opinion, but as you read into the lyrics a bit more it sounds like she's speaking to both a male and female.

    "You breathed infinity into my world
    and time was lost up in a cloud and in a whirl.
    We dug a hole in the cool grey earth and lay there for the night."

    -As someone mentioned in a previous post, seeing her in concert, she refers to having a a 1-night stand with "someone" -

    In the next few verses she talks about someone telling her "you'll grow stronger without him" .. sounds like something a female friend would say to another female friend or a family member to another family member to "comfort/nurture" them.

    "I'll be waiting for the world to hear my song...
    so they can tell me I was wrong"

    -knowing society doesn't look too favorably on homosexuality-

    "But they weren't there beneath your stare,
    and they weren't stripped 'till they were bare of
    any bindings from the world outside that room."

    -she's trying to say that she's not homosexual, and that she did deeply love someone (a man), outside that room... but within the room, no one will understand what she went through... maybe an "exception to the rule"? -

    "of naked land where any pre-conceived ideas were blown away..."

    -there's the kicker, to me. "Pre-conceived ideas"? I can see how this could pertain to a man's intentions (involving sex and whatnot)... but even more plausible, given the delicacy of the song (melody & longing lyrics), could easily be seen as pre-conceived ideas about what she did with someone that was within "that room"... Whoever it was, they relieved her mind about the man she was deeply hurt by and longing for, and at that point, gender was no longer a factor.-

    "you're too young to even know,
    just don't let it grow and you'll be stronger without him"

    -People are telling her she's too young to even know what she wants, don't grow in love again (whether it be with a man, but especially not with another female - because then the world "they can tell" her she "was wrong")-

    Finally, the struggle.

    "so I couldn't say "no"."

    -She is obviously fighting/struggling... yes, this one could relate to sex as well, but considering the previous lines, I think it pertains to her decision. She is telling the world, since they weren't there to experience what she felt within that room... they wouldn't understand.. she "couldn't say, wouldn't say no." even though, in her mind she knew that society would view it as something of a Taboo, something not looked favorably upon. Whoever it was, this new love, would change her mind and effect her in such a way that in her painful state, how could she "say no"?-

    This song could easily be abouta bunch of things, as many people mentioned: new love, sex, or curiousity. Given the weight, and harsh judgement she relates to the 3rd party ("They"), however, leads me to believe that the song is primarily fitting of someone who was bi-curious explaining how she had an experience with someone of the same gender, not expecting it, in an attempt to heal the wounds caused by the man she was in love with.

    SunshineGirl27on June 08, 2009   Link
  • +1
    General CommentThis is one of my favourite Missy songs. And I agree with most people on here in thinking that it is about a forbidden relationship of some sort. And I’m going to interpret it as a forbidden relationship with a girl, but it can easily be about any sort of forbidden relationship ie: older person, younger person, person that your parents/friends disapprove of based on any other reason and etc.
    But here’s my interpretation:
    You breathed infinity into my world
    - The first line makes it clear that whatever happened had some sort of profound affect and may have changed the narrator indefinitely

    Then you said, "wait for me we'll fly the wind,
    we'll grow old and you'll be stronger without him"
    - This sounds like something someone younger would say, it just seems dramatic and intense (growing old and being together forever), so this kind of makes me think that both the narrator and this girl are younger idk maybe teenagers. Anyways it seems as though the girl has liked the narrator for some time now, again in reference to the growing old together comment. So even though people have said that Missy said at a concert that it was about a one night stand, I think it was a one sided one night stand if that makes sense :P . Like the girl has liked the narrator for so long and she had always wanted to get intimate with her but the narrator never had such a strong desire for the girl until this night.

    but oh, now my world is at your feet. I was lost and I was found,
    but I was alive and now I've drowned.
    - Now again, even though the narrator never viewed the girl as a love interest, this night it has all changed. What happened between the narrator and the girl that night was amazing and better and beyond whatever she may have imagined it to be like. Again this is with the assumption that the narrator had never thought of being intimate with a girl and even when she did she may have always thought it was maybe gross and wouldn’t live up to being as good as it actually ended up being.
    But just as quickly as it happened, the narrator seems to quickly regret it:
    “but I was alive and now I’ve drowned, so now I will be waiting for the world to hear my song so they can tell me I was wrong”. So I think the narrator is feeling very confused, on the one hand she enjoyed all that happened and wants to tell people, but on the other hand she knows that if the world here about her happiness (her song) then they will just judge her and tell her it was wrong even though they weren’t there and will never know how amazing it all felt.

    You sighed and I was lost in you, weeks could've past for all I knew.
    You were there blanket of the over-world and so I couldn't say,
    I wouldn't say "no". But they all said, "you're too young to even know,
    just don't let it grow and you'll be stronger without him"
    - So I think by this point she decided to tell people about what had occurred between her and the girl. And the response she gets is that you’re too young to even know what you like and don’t like and that this thing with the girl was just a moment of vulnerability, so even though you can’t go back and reverse it, just don’t let it (the feelings/longings) grow any further and soon enough you won’t be so vulnerable and can move on fully from your ex boyfriend.

    I think that in the end the narrator tried to listen to the advice given by “the world” and didn’t pursue the relationship with the girl and maybe that is why it was only a one night thing.
    But even though she didn’t pursue the relationship with this girl, it never left her mind (hence why the chorus is repeated until the end of the song). Her mind keeps going back to the feelings that she felt that night and she’s wondering how do they even know what she felt if “they weren’t there”. And she also keeps thinking about how she couldn’t say no when it happened and maybe if she could go back to that night she still wouldn’t say no.

    Anyways that’s my interpretation of the song and like I said you can replace the lesbian relationship with any other “forbidden relationship” and it all makes sense. I just probably interpret it strongly the way I do because I can relate to some of the themes presented in the song. I always thought I was straight until I met one girl and even though it all felt natural, I was really confused because I still liked guys.....:P and when I confided in some people, I kind of got the respond that the narrator in the song got. And I think the reason I got the response that I did was because since I still liked/like males people just assumed liking a girl was a onetime thing. They seemed to hold the view that one could only like one sex or the other with not much leeway in between. And with me being young and all, I assumed that maybe they were right and tried to ignore the feelings. But it obviously wasn’t and I eventually understood that I didn’t have to confine myself to one end of the invisible sexuality spectrum.

    This came out to be a long sermon when alls I wanted to say was that it’s a great song and I can relate to it as I’m sure many others can too :P
    jfpoofon April 15, 2012   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI love this song so much!!
    But the only think i don't get is the part where it goes:
    Then you said, "wait for me we'll fly the wind,
    we'll grow old and you'll be stronger without him"
    why would the person she is talking to, say 'him' cause i thought it was about having a relationship with someone, but her not being ready for it and the world is telling her 'told you so'
    SarahReeveon January 02, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General CommentMy personal interpretation is that maybe it's falling in love again after a bad relationship and the person is telling her to forget the one who hurt her. She repeats almost the same sentiment in the second verse but it says "they said". I don't know, maybe it's all metaphorical, but maybe the second verse is people telling her that this new guy is going to hurt her too and the whole song is just about the dependency of love, you know? When you're in love it's easy to get caught up in the moment and in the feeling and leave common sense behind... I love this song. It's so beautiful.
    letterstonoelleon April 03, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General CommentTo me this song is about having her heart broken, being lost and then finding someone new and falling in love again, but as SarahReeve said - not being ready for it - or maybe just falling in love with the wrong guy.
    She says 'I was lost and now i'm found', she was lost when she broke up with her ex and was found by her new lover, but then goes on to say 'but i was alive and now i'm drowned' implying that maybe he wasn't what she had expected and is maybe too much.
    He must of had hold of her because she says 'i couldn't say, i wouldn't say no'.
    When referring to 'they' shes referring to the rest of the world, waiting for them to judge her and tell her she was wrong or a fool - but 'they' don't understand what it was like and part of her wants them to.
    I find it a very moving, emotional and intimate song. It stirs up emotions of the times you went with someone, not being able to say no even if you wanted to and about the power people can have over you.
    tdb_bradwellon June 16, 2005   Link

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