"Lesson Learned" as written by and Ray Lamontagne....
Well, the truth it fell so heavy
Like a hammer through the room
That I could choose another over her
You always said I was an actor, baby
Guess in truth you thought me just amateur

That you never saw the signs
That you never lost your grip
Oh, come on now
That's such a childish claim
Now I wear the brand of traitor
Don't it seem a bit absurd
When it's clear I was so obviously framed
When it's clear I was so obviously framed

Now you act so surprised
To hear what you already know
And all you really had to do was ask
I'd have told you straight away
All those lies were true
And all that was false was fact

Now you hold me close and hard
But I was like a statue at most
Refusing to acknowledge you'd been hurt
Now you're clawing at my throat
And you're crying, "all is lost"
But your tears they felt so hot upon my shirt
But your tears they felt so hot upon my shirt

Well, the truth it fell so heavy
Like a hammer through the room
That I could choose another over her
You always said I was an actor, baby
Guess in truth you thought me just amateur

Was it you who told me once
Now looking back it seems surreal
That all our mistakes are merely grist for the mill
So why is it now after I had my fill
Would you steal from me the sorrow that I've earned
Shall we call this a lesson learned?
Shall we call this a lesson learned?


Lyrics submitted by cristinaish

"Lesson Learned" as written by Ray Lamontagne

Lyrics © BMG RIGHTS MANAGEMENT US, LLC

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Lesson Learned song meanings
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33 Comments

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  • +4
    General CommentFirst of all I just want to say I think this song is absolutely brilliant, and the fact that he allows his audience to come up with their own interpretations makes it all the more magical. This song hit home for me, and I think many others. I believe we've all been with someone, or at least witnessed other relationships, where someone refuses to play any role other than the victim.

    To me, the lines in the song which imply that he has been unfaithful are merely sarcastic. It seems he was in a relationship with this girl, who either constantly accused him of cheating, or constantly predicted it. Almost anyone who has been with someone like this knows it can be completely annoying and a surefire way to push someone away. The more she pushed, the more his feelings strayed. The more she clung and accused,and treated him badly, the stronger he got.

    So finally, after all she has put him through, he moves on and basically says, "You're surprised?" He "wears the brand of traitor" because she is of course the "victim," but he no longer cares.

    I've been in a relationship like this, where no matter how hard you try to convince someone you love them and you would never treat them badly, they refuse to believe it, and in turn treat YOU badly. And unfortunately, when you walk away for your own sanity, you're the bad guy.

    I love the end...
    "was it you who told me once,
    now looking back it seems so real,
    that all our mistakes are merely grist for the mill?
    so why is it now after I've had my fill,
    would you steal from me the sorrow that I've earned?"
    - as if he's saying..."really? after all you've put me through, YOU'RE gonna cry? YOU'RE gonna make me the bad guy?" its just brilliant!
    gnugenton September 21, 2011   Link
  • +3
    General CommentYou guys are misinterpreting the key element of this song.

    He was in love with this woman but isn't anymore. And the reason? She was jealous and suspicious of him all the time, and he finally got tired of not being believed.

    And he acted the part of the coward: rather than walking away from her, he cheated on her and she found out. But the point of the song is, his betrayal was predicated by loving a woman who didn't know how to trust him.

    Lesson learned?
    highlow21on February 22, 2012   Link
  • +2
    General CommentWell, here's my take, after listening to this song on repeat for three months and crying myself to sleep over it. This is not a self-projection, but I had a lot of time to mull over it.

    I think that it's a combination of everything that's been said so far, and then a little more. When he is still innocent, she accuses him of cheating on her, becomes clingy and paranoid--frankly, unbearable. He responds with resentment and vindictiveness, angry and feeling stifled. He falls out with her forever and, in the process, allows himself to become interested in someone else.

    When he leaves her, she's shocked, and feels betrayed because he does have someone with whom he's interested.

    But he's lost all the love he'll ever have for her, and frankly he just doesn't care any more. His resentment has swallowed him whole.
    Pelicanson September 23, 2007   Link
  • +2
    General CommentI think it's about a couple who have stayed in a relationship because they were both hanging on to the emotional appeal of how their relationship used to be, even though the relationship had long been doomed. I think he cheated on her, & stayed with her because he needed that emotional connection that sometimes sex can't give you. Think about it...why do people cheat, yet stay with the person they cheated on? They want someone to adore them...they need the ego fill & the peace of mind that comes from knowing that person will be "there" for them, as opposed to having someone who just immediately takes their clothes off whenever you see them & doesn't ask about your day, or let you talk about yourself.

    & when the truth came out, he was so apathetic towards her, that he turned cruel. I think the lyrics have a very mean tone to them. But I think she was a pain in the ass first, & drove him to be a jerk.

    Well the truth it fell so heavy
    Like a hammer through the room
    That I could choose another over her

    When she found out, it was devastating that he could pick someone over her...obviously that means their relationship must have once been held in very high regards...to the point where they--& everyone who knew them as a couple--could not see them not being together.

    You always said I was an actor, baby
    Guess in truth you thought me just amateur

    He stayed with her while he cheated. His g/f would make comments saying he was an actor, yet did not catch on to the fact that he was cheating--thus he states she must have only thought he were an amateur actor, because throughout their relationship he was acting--just playing the role of a boyfriend, & she did not catch on. He's being a jerk here, mocking her. 'You thought I was an actor, well I sure fooled you by cheating on you this whole time, so you must have only thought I was an amateur actor, when really I played you & I'm the next Brad Pitt.'

    That you never saw the signs
    That you never lost your grip
    Oh, come on now
    That's such a childish claim

    Sounds to me like she was doing things that pushed him away...she lost her grip...she nagged him...she got mad over stupid things...she put him down. I think she probably questioned why he cheated, & this was his response. & she claimed to be level-headed & the perfect g/f, which he finds to be a childish claim.

    Now I wear the brand of traitor
    Don't it seem a bit absurd
    When it's clear I was so obviously framed
    When it's clear I was so obviously framed

    I think he is blaming her for him cheating...something she did to drive him to cheat.

    Now you act so surprised
    To hear what you already know
    And all you really had to do was ask
    I'd have told you straight away
    All those lies were truth
    And all that was false was fact

    She is not accepting blame, either. I think she was just a nag, & tried to change him after she was wonderful in the beginning & then turned sour once they got very close. & she tries to act like she never did anything to make him want to turn to another.


    Was it you who told me once
    Now looking back it seems so real
    That all our mistakes are merely grist for the mill

    She's the one who told him mistakes are an opportunity to learn what not to do next time.

    So why is it now after I had my fill
    That you steal from me the sorrow that I've earned

    Here he is saying he's had his fill of mistakes, branding her as a mistake, yet she takes the attention from it, she takes his sorrow that he feels for her & the way she's treated him & tries to turn it around & make him feel like he doesn't deserve to feel sad, only she does.

    Shall we call this a lesson learned?
    Shall we call this a lesson learned?

    learn from your mistakes. I know I've learned from every single mistake I've made in my relationships. That's what he uses for closure--let's just call it a lesson learned. Bottle it up & tuck it away.
    v8juiceon February 04, 2010   Link
  • +2
    Song MeaningGod i love this song! The first time I heard it this song was live at a gig and I was totally blown away by the emotion he put into it and the story he was telling with the lyrics. I was in the 3rd row from the front and could see every facial expression he was making as he sang. Listening to it live afterwards just isn't the same, but it is still my favourite Ray song.

    I also think v8juice is almost spot on, and here's why:

    "Well the truth it fell so heavy
    Like a hammer through the room
    That I could choose another over her"

    When the truth came out (that he's was seeing someone else) she acted as it if was a big shock to her.

    "You always said I was an actor, baby
    Guess in truth you thought me just amateur"

    She may have used to accuse him of cheating and of covering it up, hence the actor remark, and now the truth has emerged he can't be a very good actor, so he's just an amateur.

    "That you never saw the signs
    That you never lost your grip
    Oh, come on now
    That's such a childish claim"

    Their relationship was flawed and she is also partially to blame for the breakup. She knew that things weren't working out and to think that it is all one-sided and that everything was perfect is the "childish claim".

    "Now I wear the brand of traitor
    Don't it seem a bit absurd
    When it's clear I was so obviously framed
    When it's clear I was so obviously framed"

    He finds it absurd that she is blaming him completely when she was also in the relationship and also shares responsibility for it not working out. As in the previous lines she is being childish in thinking that everything was fine whereas she knew deep down that it wasn't going to work out. He is being accused of being solely responsible for breaking them up (being the traitor) and this isn't true since their relationship was in trouble anyway - hence being framed.

    "Now you act so surprised
    To hear what you already know
    And all you really had to do was ask
    I'd have told you straight away
    All those lies were truth
    And all that was false was fact"

    Again she knew that things weren’t working out and she may have accused him previously of cheating. All the lies he told to keep the relationship going were actually true — e.g. "no I’m not having cheating" becomes "yes I was cheating". So he stayed in the relationship when he knew he should have broken up with her, and not waited until he started seeing someone else. But if she had asked him outright if they had a future together, he would have told her the truth. So basically it's easier for him to break up with her by seeing someone else than by talking about their relationship and his emotions.

    "Now you hold me close and hard
    But I was like a statue at most
    Refusing to acknowledge you'd been hurt
    Now you're clawing at my throat
    And you're crying all is lost
    But your tears they felt so hot upon my shirt
    But your tears they felt so hot upon my shirt"

    He can't share his feelings or emotions with her and acts like a statue when she is hugging him and looking for comfort. Also since she already knew that the relationship was in trouble he doesn't think she has been hurt as much as she is claiming. All he feels now are her hot tears on his shirt.

    "Was it you who told me once
    Now looking back it seems surreal
    That all our mistakes are merely grist for the mill"

    She once said that you we get something from any mistake we make, so why is this situation any different? He finds this odd that she should say one thing and then act another way.

    "So why is it now after I had my fill
    That you steal from me the sorrow that I've earned"

    He also feels sorrow at the ending of the relationship, and has had his "fill" of all the bad aspects within the relationship, but she is not acknowledging that he feels this way, so is "stealing" it from him. Basically she is acting a martyr and saying it’s all his fault and how dare he be sad too.

    Shall we call this a lesson learned?
    Shall we call this a lesson learned?

    Let’s admit our mistakes, learn from them and move on.

    cdm2008on May 06, 2010   Link
  • +1
    General Commenti agree with what Pelicans said. If you do tie everything together what Pelicans said make s perfect sense to me.
    If you read Ray wrote then read what the person said, it makes sense.
    messanger_man08on June 26, 2008   Link
  • +1
    General CommentSomeone might have already said this but...

    I get the impression that this was a relationship in which he was beat down by the woman. She was pessimistic, untrusting and treated him like less than. He was "framed" because she was constantly accusing him of wrongdoing or giving subtle hints that she didn't fully trust him and she pushed him so hard that he eventualy did betray her. Had she just trusted him he might not have felt compelled to find love and attention elsewhere.

    jdstultson June 09, 2009   Link
  • +1
    General Commenti get the feeling he's in a new relationship but still in love with someone from the past. the "cheating" everyone is describing is more of an emotional cheating because he still feels faithful to his lost love, but has been playing out love in the new relationship even though he doesn't feel it. and now the girl finds out (even though she knew from the start he had his heart broken) that he doesn't really love her, and now she's heart broken. but he can't feel sorry for her because he's heart broken too. something like that...
    crowjanieon January 02, 2010   Link
  • +1
    My InterpretationI agree that he didn't have an affair, because when I first heard this song, my own story and experience played through my head almost to the detail. Crazy!


    I had a girlfriend who had always accused me of having more than just a friendship with my close friend. So after being persecuted and denying that I could ever leave her because I truly loved her, she eventually left me broken hearted to only fall into the arms and comfort of my friend. Falling deep into the new relationship I eventually gained with my close friend, I had finally saw that I was now the "brand of a traior" because of my now revealed feelings for this friend. So after my ex tried to win me back and convince me that I was wrong, all I could do was stand back and "refuse to acknowledge she'd been hurt". Guess it really was a lesson learned.
    les25on February 11, 2010   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThe guy has had an affair, the girl find out that all she thought was the truth is now all lies, he acted it all out, been there done that, I know I'll read all the signs....
    He wears the brand of traitor and she acts suprised when he tells her the truth.....
    Typical of an affair,
    but an affair is an affair and in the end it all ends in tears, as the song suggests
    fluffer_1on October 01, 2006   Link

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