"That Year" as written by Brandi M. Carlile, Timothy Jay Hanseroth and Phillip John Hanseroth....
I must have been sleeping, I must have been drinking,
I haven't been dreaming about you for years. there was a sharp
Turn and a sunburn I was too cool for high school that year.

Must have have been new years. no one invited you,
Took things too far but I missed you and your antics.
You were lonesome and blue-eyed and so special to us.

You could have taken a long break
Instead of a long drop from a high place.
Ten years I never spoke your name.
Now it feels good to say it. your my friend again.

Said he forgave you, I said I hated you,
He was the bigger man, I was sixteen.
All the innocence it took well I guess
You finally made the year book.
That year.
That year.

You should have taken a long break instead of a long drop,
Instead of a leap of faith, ten years I never spoke your name.
Now it feels good to say that your my friend again.
Your my friend again.

I was angry, I was a baptist, I was a daughter, I was wrong.


Lyrics submitted by tracy_rathbun

"That Year" as written by Phillip John Hanseroth Brandi M. Carlile

Lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc.

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That Year song meanings
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  • +5
    General CommentI saw her perform this song back in October and when she played this everyone was silent. She mentioned before she played it that when she was 16, a friend of hers from high school killed himself and she hated him for it. Now she finally forgives him for it after all of this time and she can finally say that they are friends again.

    It is heartbreaking, for sure.
    I can't wait for this to be on a record.
    insult_to_injuryon January 02, 2008   Link
  • +1
    General CommentThis song is the reason I made an account on this website.

    I think that what Brandi Carlile does with this song is so amazing, so powerful... she should go down in the record books for this one.

    It is a story of love, loss, guilt, anger, and forgiveness. Brandi alludes in her lines that her group of friends distances themselves from the lonely character the year of his/her suicide. "There was a sharp turn and a sunburn / i was too cool for highschool that year". A sharp turn in their relationship; perhaps while Brandi makes time for more fun events with her friends like spending time in the sun, at the beach, etc.

    Things become bad for our character shortly after. Lonely and outcast, he/she suffers the horrible feeling of exclusion during a new years party that Brandi was invited too. "Must have been New Years / No one invited you/ you took things too far but i/ missed you and your antics/ you were lonesome and / blue eyed and / so special to us". Brandi suffers from the guilt of acting like a shallow teenager (the way that teenagers are supposed to act) and not allowing herself to be seen with her friend at this event. The use of the word 'antics' automatically implants an image of strange and abnormal behavior; this is a subtle technique used by songwriters to indirectly paint a picture. The resulting suicide ("you took things too far") haunted her for years.

    The next few verses are mostly self explanatory. She sings that her friend should have taken a break from life to figure out their problems with depression instead of resorting to suicide. Brandi implies with her normative statement "You should have taken a long break instead of a / high drop from a tall place" that our character's actions were completely selfish. Brandi's anger prevents her from speaking her friends name for ten years.

    The climax of the song is her acceptance of her friends fate, and her forgiveness of his/her actions.

    She has a disagreement after our character's suicide with one of their mutual friends. "Said he forgave you / I said I hated you". She is making amends with her dead friend by saying, "He was the bigger man / I was sixteen". She knows she made a mistake being angry with him/her for so long.

    "All the innocence it took for / you to finally make your year book that year." Suicide is a good story to draw sympathy in a high school year book, but Brandi alludes that the cost ('all the innocence') of her friend was too great.

    The last line is her final apology to her friend for being so rigid in her decision to be angry. "I was angry / I was a baptist / I was a daughter / I was wrong." Her feelings of anger were drawn from her belief that her friend's actions were selfish and unwarranted. By referring to herself as a baptist, she further explains her reasoning for being angry, as suicide is forbidden in Christianity (one goes to hell if they commit suicide). "I was a daughter" is her way of explaining her inability to look past her religion and forgive her friend. Most likely her father is a devout Christian and harshly impressed his beliefs upon our songwriter. And the ultimate apology comes at the end with her admission of guilt, "I was wrong."


    This song is absolutely beautiful. Brandi Carlile's voice has the ability to paint such beautiful scenery, despite the bleak and depressing narrative. It conjures feelings of peace, harmony, and happiness. I am captivated by this artist.
    LyricMonkeyon August 16, 2010   Link
  • +1
    My Interpretation"I must have been sleeping, I must have been drinking,
    I haven't been dreaming about you for years. there was a sharp
    Turn and a sunburn I was too cool for high school that year."

    To me this says Brandi (assuming this she's supposed to be the 'I') spent her time in oblivion, that she didn't begin to notice the warning signs about her friend. she must have begun to remember about her friend again, that she's tried her best to forget her friend and hasn't dreamt about him/her in so long every since the suicide. She remembers that huge turn that happened in her high school year and that pain like a sunburn that is inflicted on her that year.



    "Must have have been new years. no one invited you,
    Took things too far but I missed you and your antics.
    You were lonesome and blue-eyed and so special to us."
    there must have been some kind of new years party--maybe one of those high school big parties where everyone is invited, yet her friend wasn't invited. her friend took things to far, meaning that's when her friend committed suicide. 'i missed you and your antics' make me think of her friend before the friend began to feel depressed, before that year, how her friend must have been one of those pranksters people, something like that. the next line is self explanatory, her friend was lonesome seeing as Brandi began with her new crew in all the high school parties.


    "You could have taken a long break
    Instead of a long drop from a high place.
    Ten years I never spoke your name.
    Now it feels good to say it. your my friend again."
    Her friend should have just stopped and thought, not been impulsive. should have just taken a break and take a breath and relax, instead of jumping off to his/her death from a high place (reading it literally) or maybe even her friend began with drugs and such things that dropped her friend in life, ruining his/her life. for ten years brandi felt this anger towards her friend for having done this, to having hurt her so badly by it. and now at last, she has forgiven her friend.

    "Daddy Said he forgave you, I said I hated you,
    You was the bigger man, I was sixteen.
    All the innocence it took well I guess
    You finally made the year book.
    That year.
    That year."
    Her dad even forgave her friend...or from this line it could've even been a relative of hers. A brother/sister/cousin/etc. but still she hated her friend for it. her friend was the bigger man, she was just a 16 year old. in the next line, i get the impression that her friend was never that cool kid, or the kid who no one knew about. that year when her friend finally died, her friend finally made the yearbook, as in finally a mention of that friend in it. you know how yearbooks have the best couple and such? those kind of things, her friend was excluded in, and now that her friend made the decision to commit suicide they actually mentioned them for once.


    "You should have taken a long break instead of a long drop,
    Instead of a leap of faith, ten years I never spoke your name.
    Now it feels good to say that your my friend again.
    Your my friend again."
    'instead of a leap of faith' still confuses me. i'd say that this might have to do religion? once you killed yourself off, you'd be in heaven and finally in peace. her friend hoped for that peace in heaven at last, but it was just a leap of faith.

    "I was angry, I was a baptist, I was a daughter, I was wrong."
    i was angry, that's pretty self explanatory, she was angry at her friend for a long time for what he/she did. i was a baptist, i don't know much of that religion, but they might be against suicide/whatever her friend did, hence influencing how she thought it was horrible. i was a daughter, not sure, the line about her dad might have to do with it, she didn't agree with him to forgive her friend. i was wrong, all her thoughts were wrong.
    and the 'was' in it all means...well...she was, she's changed and loves her friend again.
    mybeautifulzombieon October 25, 2011   Link
  • 0
    General Commenti saw her perform this song at the house of blues in San Diego...can I just say, she is absolutely incredible. i think everytime i hear another song from her, my love for her voice grows. she has so much conviction and pride and heart for what she does. anyway, this song is simply gorgeous.
    socalqton November 29, 2007   Link
  • 0
    My InterpretationInsult to Injury- Thanks for the insight. Good to know. The last line is my favorite- "I was angry, I was a Baptist. I was a daughter, I was wrong." Could be interpreted as very cutting, but the way she sings it sounds so innocent. I'm going to see her in a couple of weeks at Arlene Schnitzer Hall. Can't wait!!
    origiroon October 12, 2009   Link
  • 0
    Song MeaningSaw her perform @ THE FILLMORE and both tune and lyrics haunt me weeks later. Like insult_to_injury said: Brandi wrote this as an angry teen who hid behind simple denial(s) to mask her confusion over her friend's choice to commit suicide. That last line that origiro pointed out is my favorite. Cuts me to the core.
    sexAFTERsixon November 02, 2009   Link
  • 0
    General Commentare these lyrics from a live version pre-album? they're definitely not accurate (it's tit for tat i know, but definitely not accurate).
    eoinon March 13, 2010   Link
  • 0
    General CommentYes, the posted lyrics are pre-album/sometimes live version. The yearbook part is different on the album
    nikole115on March 31, 2010   Link
  • 0
    General CommentSaw her perform in Dallas in early March. This was the best song I have ever seen performed. It was absolutely amazing. Everyone in the audience was completely silent and just was at total peace. Everyone in the audience was wiping their eyes as well.

    It's definitely about one of her best friends in high school that committed suicide, and she was really angry about it and didn't even want to think about him because she was so pissed off at him rather than making peace with him and forgiving him which she says at the end of the song that she did, "now it feels good to say that your my friend again. your my friend again."
    tjones1209on April 19, 2010   Link
  • 0
    General CommentIn the album notes in the vinyl: Phil Hanseroth - Absolutely nothing ... (i found that awesome, he didn't do anything, but wanted his name on the credits of such a beautiful song)
    ryanalbertjohnomaron May 05, 2010   Link

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