"Magic Doors" as written by and Beth Gibbons John Baggott....
I can't deny what I've become
I'm just emotionally undone
I can't deny, I can't be someone else
When I have tried to find the words
To describe this sense absurd
Try to resist my thoughts but I can't lie

I'm losing myself
My desire I can't hide
No reason am I for

I can't divide or hide from me
I don't know who I'm meant to be
I guess it's just the person that I am
Often I've dreamt that I don't wade
Enjoy the gift of my mistake
But yet again I'm wrong, and I confess

I'm losing myself
My desire I can't hide
No reason am I for

I'm losing myself
My desire I can't hide
No reason am I for


Lyrics submitted by myzterons

"Magic Doors" as written by Geoffrey Paul Barrow Beth Gibbons

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Magic Doors song meanings
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  • +4
    My InterpretationI don't know why so many people say it has something to do with sexual orientation. Or maybe its just me, cause I'm not a native speaker so I might be just not getting smth.
    Personally I always thought the song is about depression so deep that you have suicidal thoughts revolving in your head.

    The first words are actually a perfect illustration for depression: "I can't deny what I've become, I'm just emotionally undone, I can't deny, I can't be someone else". When you're depressed, you only feel what a mess you are, unable to feel any other emotions. We all wear different masks and act in differnrt ways with different people, but you don't have enough emotional strength for that when you've got depression.

    All the lines describe depressive feeling so well, and these words - "Try to resist my thoughts
    But I can't lie" - for me it was like "I know that suicide is wrong but I can't lie to myself that there's something worth living for here". And after that "often I've dreamt that I don't wait,
    enjoy the gift of my mistake" - suicide is wrong - a mistake - but she desires the death so much that dying is a pleasure.

    Well, probably everyone just hears what they want to hear :)
    Annikkaon May 27, 2012   Link
  • +2
    General CommentBe true to yourself!

    Or else you'll shamble through life lost, confused, purposeless--like one of the walking dead (hence the deadlined EKG tone we hear at the start).
    Anarchitecton March 20, 2008   Link
  • +2
    General CommentTrying to avoid going too deep into Beth's personal life, I think this song has to do with the struggle of a different sexual choice. Damned if you do, damned if you don't.
    myzteronson March 20, 2008   Link
  • +2
    General CommentHmm, the more I think about it, the more that seems plausible. And not just for this song, but the whole album. I don't want to sound too presumptuous either, but the album's preoccupation with self-identity, true desires, and guilt makes me wonder if it could all be about a struggle of sexual orientation.

    Food for thought.
    Anarchitecton March 21, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI agree with you wholeheartedly, that's the same impression I got as well. The hints we were given in songs like Elysium seem to have gotten a lot more concrete.
    myzteronson March 21, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General CommentOh and btw, it's not really an EKG flatline tone, it's a TV signal tone.
    myzteronson March 21, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General Commentlove the remix of this song. :)
    minutemanon April 07, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General CommentDoes anybody else hear the "Happy Together" vibe of this song?
    This song is about the constant struggle with oneself's emotions - insecurities, let downs, not finding your place in life.
    I have the feeling Beth's lyrics are rarely autobiographical. Rather, I like to think of her as a story-teller. Or just European.
    Either way, love her lyrics!
    stentorianon May 02, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThe music is amazing, the lyrics are as well.
    wow, is just SO amazing and perfect.


    This song arouses me.
    alomaxrawwron July 11, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General CommentOk I'm going to do a bit of an essay here. Probably for absolutely no point but I don't have anywhere else to post my reflections on Portishead so I may as well do it here..

    looking at this song, and having listened to pretty much all the Portishead songs there are, I've noticed a lot of instances of words such as "denial", and "disguise." As well as songs with a more obvious homosexual context if you wanted to call it that, such as Glory Box and The Rip, Magic doors and Elysium seem to indicate that...well..there's a certain preoccupation here.

    i'll quote THIS interview kotinetti.suomi.net/heikki.hietala/Articles/… which was written recently after Portishead released their first album. Beth doesn't usually get interviewed so it's interesting that this article manages to get some anecdotes directly from her.

    The article says "While her lyrics and plaintive cigarettes-and-black-coffee vocals reflect the series of failed relationships and dead-end career
    moves that led her to Bristol, her pessimism is so unrelenting that some have speculated she must have suffered some
    horrendous trauma.

    "I wasn't sexually abused," Gibbons says, dispensing with the usual explanation. "I have divorced parents, which didn't help, but
    I don't like it when I blame things on my parents." Barrow has never asked Gibbons why her lyrics are so melancholy and
    thinks it's a subject "best left alone." "

    Ok..and also add on this, from several years later, where the interviewer says "I was watching the new Jon Savage Joy Division documentary the other day and there's this moment where they interview the band and say, "With all the lyrics he was writing and singing, did you ever worry about Ian? "And of course they hadn't paid any attention! Third is sometimes incredibly bleak, lyrically. Did you ever feel the need to check if Beth was all right?
    "

    So..of course there's an issue preoccupying Beth. And I have reason to believe that the issue is denial of sexuality. In Elysium the lyrics mention "how I despise myself." Not so much denial, but as if Beth KNOWS that she's gay but hates herself for it. There aren't enough interviews with her, or information on her for us to be able to confirm it properly, but if you ask me Beth being gay seems far more likely than her being straight. I am gay myself and I can identify with a lot of these feelings.
    With Elysium;
    "No one has said what the truth should be
    And no one decided that I'd feel this way
    If you felt as I
    Would you betray yourself"
    So..she's sort of saying..well..it's not MY fault that I've got these feelings, but if you were like me, would you hide it too? It doesn't make it any easier for me to deal with.

    Magic doors, in a way seems like a bit of a sequel to Elysium. And this, with The Rip, with Beth's most obvious reference to possible lesbianism (the song's about a woman, "I realise that love flows", "will I follow?") etc..it seems as if Beth is a little more resolved, more at peace with her sexual orientation than she had been in the past. In this, instead of "you can't deny" it's "I can't deny" as if she's finally prepared to admit it.
    "Try to resist my thoughts
    But I can't lie"
    She's realised that pretending for so long wasn't going to do anything and she may as well accept it.
    "I can't divide or hide from me
    I don't know who I'm meant to be
    I guess it's just the person that I am"
    I know from experience that even if you are brought up in a very accepting environment etc, homosexuality isn't exactly easy. It makes life just that much harder, and coming to terms with how you feel and the fact that you feel so different from everyone else and the feeling that no one understands you..well..I appreciate that that can take some time. But this song it indicates that she's getting closer.

    yes, this is just my theories, you can dismiss them as crackpot if you want, and absolutely no disrespect to Beth meant at all. I don't see why being considered gay should be an insult anyway? I do think she's dropped us a LOT of clues though. And in a way, I think that the sort of feeling of denial and alienation and feeling separate from everyone else, instead of the possibility of her being molested, is far more likely to have fuelled the bleakness of her lyrics, for like the rolling stone interview says, they're a bit TOO bleak to just be normal depression.

    In short: I think it's highly probable Beth is LGBT. That's what fuels the conflict in her lyrics. This song just illustrates it.

    Thankyou for reading :)
    louisagiffardon April 28, 2009   Link

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