"On the Radio" as written by and Regina Spektor....
This is how it works
It feels a little worse
Than when we drove our hearse
Right through that screaming crowd
While laughing up a storm
Until we were just bone
Until it got so warm
That none of us could sleep
And all the Styrofoam
Began to melt away
We tried to find some worms
To aid in the decay
But none of them were home
Inside their catacomb
A million ancient bees
Began to sting our knees
While we were on our knees
Praying that disease
Would leave the ones we love
And never come again

On the radio
We heard November Rain
That solo's really long
But it's a pretty song
We listened to it twice
'Cause the DJ was asleep

This is how it works
You're young until you're not
You love until you don't
You try until you can't
You laugh until you cry
You cry until you laugh
And everyone must breathe
Until their dying breath

No, this is how it works
You peer inside yourself
You take the things you like
And try to love the things you took
And then you take that love you made
And stick it into some
Someone else's heart
Pumping someone else's blood
And walking arm in arm
You hope it don't get harmed
But even if it does
You'll just do it all again

And on the radio
You hear November Rain
That solo's awful long
But it's a good refrain
You listen to it twice
'Cause the DJ is asleep
On the radio
(Oh, oh, oh)
On the radio
On the radio, uh oh
On the radio, uh oh
On the radio, uh oh
On the radio


Lyrics submitted by Airyca

"On the Radio" as written by Regina Spektor

Lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

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On the Radio song meanings
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  • +6
    General CommentHere’s my interpretation, although it is just one of my many. As with all ReSpekt songs, it takes on new meanings depending on where you are in life, what you need. This song is helping get through a rough period in my life right now, because of the message and gentle way of giving it- in complete childlike innocence.

    ‘This is how it works
    It feels a little worse
    Than when we drove our hearse
    Right through that screaming crowd
    While laughing up a storm
    Until we were just bone
    Until it got so warm
    That none of us could sleep’

    Okay, this is life; it can sometimes feel like we are driving our own death through a crowd full of screaming, laughing people. It can be mortifying, painful and hard, so much so that it’s as though we are naked in front of that crowd, to an extent where even our bare skin feels like it has been ripped of us. Yet even with this brash nakedness, we still get 'hot under the collar' and heated over it, so much so, that we literally lose sleep over it. She says 'us' not me, because she’s saying this happens to everyone, not just you, or me.

    ‘Then all the Styrofoam
    Began to melt away
    We tried to find some worms
    To aid in the decay
    But none of them were home
    Inside their catacomb
    A million ancient bees
    Began to sting our knees’

    Okay I think this bit can really be interpreted more or less two ways, I’ll choose one for now:
    when all the Styrofoam, all the fakeness, everything we wrap around us to make us seem like we cant be damaged, to protect ourselves, begins to fall away, when feel closer to people, we look to them to help us. Yet sometimes, we just can’t find them, an instead we get stung by these ancient bees, these ‘negatives’ that are so common, they have got to be ancient by now. I think saying that the knees are stung is like saying, yes it hurts, but it’s such an absurd place, such silly things we get upset from.


    ‘While we were on our knees
    Praying that disease
    Would leave the ones we love
    And never come again’

    Yet with all our personal hurt, we know inside how much we’d crush that pain, just to protect the ones we love from the real devastation that happens in our world.


    ‘And on the radio
    We heard November rain
    The solo's really long
    But it's a pretty song
    We listened to it twice
    Cause the dj was asleep’

    I think someone else posted this and it was the inspiration for this interpretation, but sometimes in life there are situations where we have no control, all we can do is sit back, listen, and even if it’s long, or hard, you find the beauty.

    ‘This is how it works
    You’re young until you're not
    You love until you don't
    You try until you can't
    You laugh until you cry
    You cry until you laugh
    And everyone must breathe
    Until their dying breath’

    This is just a simple message: you are until you are no longer. Keep doing, until you can’t do no more.
    This made me understand how little control I have over things, but how everyone is like that in the end, so we must put everything into whatever we do, until we cant anymore, and then once we can no longer ‘cry’ and we ‘laugh’ instead, we have no choice but to ‘laugh’ until we can ‘cry’ again, or anything else. (Substitute cry/laugh for absolutely anything in life.) And also- in the end, we all die, so just breathe (live life! Carpe diem!) Until then

    ‘This is how it works
    You peer inside yourself
    You take the things you like
    And try to love the things you took
    And then you take that love you made
    And stick it into some--
    Someone else's heart
    Pumping someone else's blood’

    Everyone likes this part. Ever heard that what you hate in others you hate in yourself? Well, I think it’s the same the other way around. A love between two people is based on both valuing both’s virtues. Love is made of an extreme mutual acceptance of the very essence of a person, and it forms a bridge between the two which allows each to cross over to either side. This can teach you many things: 1) you have to love/value yourself to be able to fully love/value another person 2) being loved by another person makes you love yourself even if you don’t 3) understanding who you are and who the other person is tells you a lot about how to love 4) we know the building of a bridge doesn’t happen over night- it takes man power and effort, here is a good place to remember that
    I like how this part is quite a literary palindrome (I think I just made that up). If you think of it backwards and forwards it means the same thing in effect. Inside/pumping blood, take the things you like/stick into someone, love the things/love you made.
    Think broadly. What is the other person here doing, backward? Taking in something cherished. In an opposite way. Just theorising here, but you get my drift.


    ‘And walking arm in arm
    You hope it don't get harmed
    But even if it does
    You’ll just do it all again’

    Again, you just do whatever is right in your life. If it’s walking arm in arm, or if it’s going to school, having a job, writing a novel, standing up for what you believe in. Yet all we can do is hope it doesn’t end, or get ruined — and if it does- then do it all again, not necessarily the same thing, but IT, living life, new adventures.

    ‘On the radio
    You hear November rain
    That solo's awful long
    But it's a nice refrain
    You listen to it twice
    Cause the dj is asleep’

    Maybe it sounds like I’m over reaching, but if you’ve read till here, you evidently see some value in what I’ve put- hope you’ve learnt something!
    savixxon May 02, 2011   Link
  • +6
    My InterpretationI think this song is about figuring out what life is all about.
    The first verse, is about being young, careless, angry and maybe even confused. It's kind of about a bunch of different things because at first you don't really know what life is about and you don't care until someone you love is dying and that's when you start really caring.
    The second verse is when she gets to a point where she seems to have thought more about it and thinks she's figured out the meaning of life. The second verse is basically saying that life is what it is and there's nothing you can do about it all you do is live it. Sometimes it's happy and sometimes it's sad. You just take what you get, do your best and go with it and that is what life is all about (atleast that's what she's figured out at this point)
    The third verse she says "No this is how it works!" She's finally figured out the real meaning and purpose of life and it is love. You love something or someone and then you share that love with someone else and hope that they learn to love the same way you did and even if they don't you'll still keep loving and passing on that love.

    That's what this song means to me at least.
    ipyaliaon May 24, 2012   Link
  • +4
    General CommentThis is the song that made me a Regina Spektor fan.
    Way_AEon June 02, 2006   Link
  • +4
    General Comment"this is how it works
    you're young until you're not
    you love until you don't
    you try until you can't
    you laugh until you cry
    you cry until you laugh
    and everyone must breathe
    until their dying breath"

    that part makes me think & feel a lot. it's like - things are the way they are. sometimes, you don't have control over things. you can only do so much.

    that message is kind of repeated when she talks about the song being on the radio twice in a row because the DJ fell asleep. all you can do is listen to it over again.
    shirtsleeveson August 22, 2006   Link
  • +3
    General CommentThe first few stanzas have references to dying and being cremated or being buried. I have this mental image of two happy ghosts laughing at their funerals....
    sheela_lon December 28, 2006   Link
  • +2
    General CommentHonestly, I am completely and totally enthralled by this song.

    Every aspect is perfect: the phrasing, the lyrics, you name it. This song is incredible.

    In my opinion, the first verse definitely references death and the journey into the afterlife. The talk constant talk about heat and melting reminds me of cremation, hence the line "until we were just bone." She also references the fact that worms are an important aspect of the decay of the buried human body.

    I'm not entirely sure what to think about the million ancient bees line. Maybe it's a reference to the sins of their lives? If anyone has a good idea about that, it would be much appreciated.

    Overall, brilliant song and brilliant performer. Regina continues to amaze me.
    halfpintlemonon March 06, 2007   Link
  • +2
    General CommentThis song hit me right in the gut the first time I heard it. Such a perfect sentiment at just the right moment.

    It was the day before we had to put my childhood dog to sleep and I was having a great day. I had just gotten a raise and had a talk with the boss about plans for the future, which were coming along exactly as I hoped. Driving home from work on this beautiful, sunny day, I was doing my best to ignore the sadness waiting just under the surface, when this song came on a mix CD that a friend gave me.

    The words and melody hit me like a ton of bricks. It wasn't long before I broke down and just started crying. I had been shutting out the reality of losing one of my best friends and the pain that comes along with it. The song beautifully mixes the pain of death and loss with hope for the future and love of life.

    I wish I was half the wrtiter Regina is so I could properly express the impact this song has had on me.
    darkmusicmanon March 31, 2007   Link
  • +2
    General CommentShe is a genious with the voice of an angel...
    ILoveReginaon August 16, 2009   Link
  • +2
    General CommentI get this message: those little things in life hurt us over and over again, but we engage in them anyway. we live and face dilemmas, but also learn to forget regret. it truly is a beautiful song with suck great meaning. regina is amazing!
    novemberoad123on March 23, 2010   Link
  • +2
    General Comment"This is how it works you peer inside yourself, you take the things you like and try to love the things you took, and then you take that love you made and stick it into some--someone else's heart, pumping someone else's blood, and walking in arm in arm and you hope it don't get harmed but even if it does, you'll just do it all again"

    LOVE this part!
    TheCranberriesLoveron April 29, 2010   Link

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