"Empty" as written by and James Shaw Emily Haines....
There was no way out, the only way out was to give in
There was no way out, the only way out was to give in
How I love to give in

Here no one sleeps, one lays up while the other lies down
Where no one sleeps, one lays up while the other lies down
Ask the line on your face what the line on your hand meant
We couldn't see what was coming

Shake your head it's empty
Shake your hips move your feet
Shake your head it's empty
Shake your hips move your feet

I'm so glad that I'm an island now

Sickness was fixing me some
Coughed out my heart in the last stall
Now that the damage is done
I never miss it at all


Lyrics submitted by public, edited by gifoverit, antnn

"Empty" as written by James Shaw Emily Haines

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Empty song meanings
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  • +5
    General Commentthis song gives me mixed emotions, the guitar is uplifting, but the words and melody are very depressing. i also love how it starts off with that hollow sound of air and then ends with that same sound, it makes you wonder for a second if there was ever any sound in between... if you know what i mean.
    dustybreezeon June 19, 2008   Link
  • +4
    General Commenthow has anyone not noticed that the best part of the lyrics on wrong on here? it's WHEN THERES NO WAY OUT, not THERE WAS NO WAY OUT

    when there's no way out, the only way out is to give in

    that's the best part of the song.
    nuumbon July 04, 2007   Link
  • +2
    General Commentgoollogo has the closest idea. In my mind it's about everyone and how they conform "There was no way out, the only way out was to give in" meaning you need to fit into a personality or style and from the chorus it sounds like a mosh pitt or concert of some sort where all the brainless "empty" headed conformer fill the room. The line near the end "I'm so glad that I'm an island now." is saying how she useto be one of them. now shes not and happy about it.
    oh dang i havent got to see 'em live!
    never_forgot_iton June 24, 2006   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI think the "shake your head it's empty" means how people will go along with what the crowd is doing without thinking, like how when they hear a cool song they'll dance and shake their heads to the music without thinking about the lyrics. When I first listened to this song, it always made me want to shake my head, the guitar and Emily's voice are just so perfect, but when she gets to that line, I wondered what she meant and it made me stop and think for a moment. The last verse also made me think of an eating disorder, but it could be a disorder on so many levels. When she mentions coughing her heart out and not missing it at all, it makes me think about how people will just give up their opinions, emotions, and what they stand for just to go with the flow. Then after this, the person has no regrets, which surprises them.
    rustpheonixon September 04, 2006   Link
  • +1
    General Commentthis song makes me want to scream and cry at the same time
    kate272on February 23, 2007   Link
  • +1
    General Commenti think the people who are saying it is about an eating disorder are putting too strict confines on the song. It (IMO, obviously I can't know for sure) seems to be about general conformity and going with the flow without thinking for oneself. A lot of the lyrics seem to pertain to listening to music though. "Shake your head its empty" - kind of even mocking listeners of that very song.
    alabaster12on October 08, 2007   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI agree with epicfail. I think it's possibly about a drug addiction.

    "There was no way out, the only way out was to give in" could reference extreme cravings for a drug. Withdrawl is so painful and strong that the only way to escape from it is to take more of the drug (give in).

    "Here no one sleeps, one lays up while the other lies down"
    might mean experiencing the drug's high. Being in a euphoric, relaxed state, but never actually being able to sleep.

    "Ask the line on your face what the line on your hand meant"
    I personally view this line as a discredit to the "art" of palmistry and other methods of fortune telling. The line is implying that the future can only be viewed by looking back on it when you're older and have actually lived through it. In other words, there is no way of knowing exactly what will happen until it has already happened.

    "I'm so glad that I'm an island now" could mean the character is happy to be disconnected from reality when using drugs. (as an island is isolated from a main body of land)

    "Coughed out my heart in the last stall
    Now that the damage is done
    I never miss it at all "
    To me, this means that the character's drug addiction has taken away who they used to be and everything they used to love. And once they're high, they don't even miss it either.
    xxMegon November 13, 2007   Link
  • +1
    My InterpretationIn its broadest sense, this is a song about self-harm. A lyricist worth her salt--and Haines IS--will often write layered verse open to multiple interpretations. Thus, the lyrics include language that is suggestive of various forms of self-injury, such as drug addiction, bulimia, and conformity to the point of self-denial, but can't be reduced to a simple commentary on any one of those things. Instead, "Empty" uses clever metaphors and double entendres to reflect a more general theme about the ways in which hurting people damage themselves.

    The interpretation Haines offers, as provided by jomayo112, is both revelatory and deliberately vague. Her exhortation to "not freak out" in the face of uncontrollable, unforeseen events--essentially, to "empty" your mind and live in the moment--certainly explains the almost jaded resignation that permeates lines like "Ask the line on your face/What the line on your hand meant./We couldn't see/What was coming." But, notably, Haines also refuses to be specific about HOW one might "freak out" and what might trigger this kind of episode, leaving the listener to decide whether the singer is suffering from a failed relationship, a band break-up, a drug habit, an eating disorder, or whatever traumatic circumstance you may want to infer. The common thread here is that all of these responses to stress lead to self-inflicted harm, an intentional deadening to emotional pain that leaves one numb or "empty."

    Whatever Haines might want us to believe about her life-affirming intentions, this is an unequivocally sad song. Perhaps, in retrospect, having worked through whatever problems inspired it, she can now reinterpret it as a hopeful embrace of the future. But the alternately melancholic and aggressive chords and passive, alienated lyrics do NOT imply that the singer is in a healthy, positive frame of mind. Rather, the song tells the story of a tragic individual who feels that there is "no way out but to give in," who, in fact, "love[s] to give in," denying and betraying herself because it's so much easier than maintaining her physical or emotional integrity. Her gesture of defiance, symbolized by a vigorous shake of the head, is also her coping mechanism–to "empty" herself, to isolate herself (i.e., become an "island"), to "cough up [her] heart" and flush it away like a piece of trash, and to ultimately convince herself that she "never miss[es] it at all." This intentional emotional deadening, this denial of the thoughts and feelings that make her who she is (her "heart"), is the very worst kind of self-harm. Whether she accomplishes this concretely by getting high, throwing up, leaving a boyfriend, caving to peer pressure, or whatnot isn't really the point. The last, haunting strains of music fade away as we contemplate this empty shell of a person. A celebratory song about acceptance it's not! If anything, it's a chilling reminder of the danger of sacrificing the most precious part of ourselves to anyone or anything.
    LyricallyInclinedon May 06, 2009   Link
  • +1
    General CommentSickness was fixing me some
    Carved out my heart in the last stall
    Now that the damage is done
    I never miss it at all

    I always thought the last few lines of the song went like that which would make so much more sense. If you carve out your heart in a bathroom stall like it was your love to say and give than lose it like it was as if as nothing. Now that the loss of love is gone and hence 'the damage is done' and to bring in her solo lyrics 'nothing is golden' she would rather feeling emotionless empathy towards what she lost in a love than face the shame and pain of it's reality. She is only further emphasizing the conditional trait of so many who resort, including herself, to drugs and various other deterrents that deprive emotional connection to the consequences and realities of their lives and actions. Like us all, we'd instinctively rather face away than succumb to the shame of out actions or addictions. It only, in this one set of lyrics, is the collection and tendency to culminate in thought the point of her title 'empty'. Emptiness is a trait we can all relate to. My explanation just tends to get more specific.
    neoisgod9on March 13, 2010   Link
  • +1
    General CommentAsk the line on your face what the line on your hand meant...

    fanfuckingtastic line.
    mochi_keion February 11, 2011   Link

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