"You Were a Kindness" as written by and Matthew D. Berninger Aaron B. Dessner....
I was in a fog, I didn't notice everything
Was coming all apart inside of me
There wasn't anyway for anyone to settle in
You made a slow disaster out of me
There's a radiant darkness upon us
I don't want you to worry
I was careful but nothing is harmless
Baby, you better hurry

You were a kindness when I was a stranger
But I wouldn't ask for what I didn't need
Everything's weird and we're always in danger
Why would you shatter somebody like me?

It doesn't work that way
Wanting not to want you won't make it so
It doesn't work that way
Don't leave me here alone


I'll do what I can to be a confident wreck
Can't feel this way forever, I mean
There wasn't any way for anyone to settle in
You made a slow disaster out of me
There's a radiant darkness upon us
But I don't want you to worry
I was careful but nothing is harmless
Baby, you better hurry

You were a kindness when I was a stranger
But I wouldn't ask for what I didn't need
Everything's weird and we're always in danger
Why would you shatter somebody like

It doesn't work that way
Wanting not to want you doesn't make it so
It doesn't work that way
Don't leave me here alone
It doesn't work that way
Wanting not to want you doesn't make it so
It doesn't work that way
Don't leave me here alone


Lyrics submitted by Deklewa, edited by ktlynn

You Were a Kindness song meanings
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  • +6
    General CommentI never listened to the lyrics closely in this song before... I never realized how true it was. I just went through this damn situation. This line in particular:

    "I'll do what I can to be a confident wreck
    can't feel this way forever, I mean"

    Is very striking, along with this:

    "wanting not to want you won't make it so"

    It hurts just listening to it. There was this girl that I knew for awhile, that I somewhat randomly got to know better through weekly lunches set up by a mutual friend. I liked her after awhile, but I got the feeling I wasn't going to be with her, so I tried to shut it all down. The problem was, she did like me and I saw it more and more, and soon enough I felt like I needed her. I was pretty stressed and busy at the time, and I didn't realize that I was running myself into the ground. She seemed like such a kindness, like the only way to make everything better. It was like she was the only way for me to have any meaning, to have anything besides emptiness. But she had an abusive boyfriend once, and she got freaked out by something she thought I did, and that was it. She never told me why she went cold on me until way later, and by then I was coming apart completely. She went from liking me and being such a bright spot to lying and avoiding me, and I was shattered completely.

    She was very kind when she finally told me the truth, but it was too late because there was no way for me to stop wanting her, and she no longer wanted me in the slightest. Just black and white like that, over something I never actually did. I feel terrible that something happened to her in the past, but she ended up being something I simply had no way to deal with. I've been feeling better, but I'm no more than a confident wreck. I never got a real chance with girl I felt like I was in love with. I'm not an emotional guy, and love and affection have never been something I'm very forward about, but everything was different with her. And ever since it really has felt like I got left alone, even though I know it's not true.

    Anyways, I almost broke down listening to this song and actually paying attention to the lyrics, so I felt compelled to rant a little bit. I doubt anyone will ever read this anyways
    maill112on August 06, 2012   Link
  • +2
    General CommentAmong the many things I love about The National is that you can interpret their songs in so many different ways. Even songs that at their face seem to be about romantic love can resonate on another level based on the individual. Personally, this song could not capture more perfectly the way that I feel as an adult female trying to navigate life and love and fears and guardedness after growing up with an abusive father. Do I think that this is 'the' meaning of the song? Not at all. But it's my meaning and it's what has kept me listening to this on loop for 6 months. I love that The National provides such depth and emotion in their music, while still leaving listeners with enough space to place their own context into the song, to give it their own meaning and significance.
    birdonawireon April 13, 2011   Link
  • +1
    General CommentOk, seriously. These guys need to stop using my life as fodder for their songs. It's getting kind of creepy. Amazing song though, the soundtrack to my life lately.
    h2theizzoon August 19, 2010   Link
  • +1
    My InterpretationThis song just came up on shuffle and I couldn't believe how fitting the lyrics are with what I'm going through right now. I agree with birdonawire that their songs can be interpreted in so many ways.

    My interpretation is basically what is happening to me - At a time in your life where you're so completely unavailable and coming apart at the seams when someone steps in even though you have no capacity to handle them. In the end they find a way into your life and wind up adding to the mess, leaving you more broken.

    "why would you shatter somebody like me" and "It doesn't work that way / wanting not to want you doesn't make it so" just get me everytime I hear this song.

    They're such a talented band.
    sparrowson July 12, 2011   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI interpret the lyrics to fit a situation of my own. I think that it is about losing someone you loved so intensely when you were young (possibly a first love) but still loving them as you feel that they were your one. It is about having to live life without them and the pain you feel (for me, we broke up because we went to college)

    "I was in a fog, I didn't notice everything
    Was coming all apart inside of me"
    This to me is about being so in love that you don't realise how deeply attached and perhaps dependant upon your love you have become. It hurts the most when you lose this.

    "I'll do what I can to be a confident wreck
    Can't feel this way forever, I mean"
    It's about living with the pain of knowing you lost someone that you loved so much. Possibly your soulmate. And hoping that it will one day pass.

    I think the other lyrics are reasonably self explanatory to this meaning.
    glitt3ron September 07, 2012   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThere are just so many great lines in here.

    "You made a slow disaster out of me" ... "I was careful but nothing is harmless" ... "You were a kindness when I was a stranger"

    It's got that poetic simplicity to it
    Way_AEon September 20, 2010   Link
  • 0
    General Commentfinally it fits.
    ireallylikebagelson October 06, 2010   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI <3 The National.... Simple as that haha
    Augustburnsredforeveron July 13, 2011   Link

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