"Turning Tables" as written by Adele Laurie Blue Adkins and Ryan B. Tedder....
Close enough to start a war
All that I have is on the floor
God only knows what we're fighting for
All that I say, you always say more

I can't keep up with your turning tables
Under your thumb, I can't breathe

So I won't let you close enough to hurt me
No, I won't ask you, you to just desert me
I can't give you, what you think you gave me
It's time to say goodbye to turning tables
To turning tables

Under haunted skies I see you
Where love is lost, your ghost is found
I braved a hundred storms to leave you
As hard as you try, no I will never be knocked down

I can't keep up with your turning tables
Under your thumb, I can't breathe

So I won't let you close enough to hurt me, no
I won't ask you, you to just desert me
I can't give you, what you think you gave me
It's time to say goodbye to turning tables
Turning tables

Next time I'll be braver
I'll be my own savior
When the thunder calls for me
Next time I'll be braver
I'll be my own savior
Standing on my own two feet

I won't let you close enough to hurt me, no
I won't ask you, you to just desert me
I can't give you, what you think you gave me
It's time to say goodbye to turning tables
To turning tables
Turning tables, yeah
Turning oh


Lyrics submitted by photocopied_heart, edited by elishevarose

"Turning Tables" as written by Adele Laurie Blue Adkins, Ryan B. Tedder

Lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

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Turning Tables song meanings
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33 Comments

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  • +8
    General CommentI really like your opinions on this song. It's absolutely beautiful and definitely one of my favorites.

    Personally, I think that it could as simple as someone who was always there for her. No matter how hard she tries to keep this person in her life he or she is never there. The line "Next time I'll be braver, I'll be my own savior." says that to me. She might have always gone to this person whenever she had a bad day, needed a friend to talk to, or when she really needed someone to save her. As time passes, their friendship has faded away and the person is no longer there. And every time she calls on him or her, they turn the tables around and make the situation worse.

    I think that this song her way of saying that she has finally figured out that the person is no longer there for her and it's time for her to move on and not let him or her close, or give him or her the chance to desert her. ("So I won't let you close enough to hurt me. No, I won't ask you, you to just desert me.")
    btmm09on March 10, 2011   Link
  • +6
    My InterpretationMy humble interpretation of this song is that it's about ending an unstable and emotionally draining relationship, not necessarily an abusive one. I also get a sense that while leaving was the right thing to do, it wasn't necessarily what the person wanted to do because there was still a lot of love in the relationship. Also, a table represents something that is solid in structure and something that can hold things securely but when you turn a table around, this once solid structure becomes unreliable and becomes completely the opposite of stability. I especially love the line that goes "Next time I'll be braver, I'll be my own savior". From this line, I also get the sense that the lesson learned from this experience was that when you enter a relationship, you can't expect the other person to give you the happiness and stability that you seek. You need to provide those things for yourself on your own.
    Annee5on April 21, 2011   Link
  • +3
    Lyric Correction(PLEASE IGNORE MY PREVIOUS POST) I think that some of the lyrics are wrong. If you listen to Adele live at La Cigale in Paris it is clear what she is saying-- youtube.com/…

    [I have capitalized all changes below]

    Close enough to start a war,
    All that I have is on the floor.
    God only knows what we're fighting for,
    all that I say, you always say more.

    I can't keep up with your turning tables.
    Under your thumb, I can't breathe.

    So I won't let you close enough to hurt me.
    No, I won't RESCUE you to just desert me.
    I can't give you THE HEART you think you gave me.
    It's time to say goodbye to turning tables,
    To turning tables.

    Under HAUNTED skies I see YOU, ooh
    where love is lost, your ghost is found.
    I BRAVED a hundred storms to leave you.
    As hard as you try, no I will never be knocked down.

    I can't keep up with your turning tables.
    Under your thumb, I can't breathe.

    So I won't let you close enough to hurt me, no.

    I won't RESCUE you to just desert me.
    I can't give you THE HEART you think you gave me.
    It's time to say goodbye to turning tables,
    Turning tables.

    Next time I'll be braver,
    I'll be my own savior.
    WHEN THE THUNDER CALLS FOR ME,
    Next time I'll be braver,
    I'll be my own savior,
    Standing on MY OWN two feet.

    I won't let you close enough to hurt me, no.
    I won't RESCUE you to just desert me.
    I can't give you THE HEART you think you gave me.
    It's time to say goodbye to turning tables.
    To turning tables,
    Turning tables, yeah,
    Turning, ooh.
    almostaliceon June 13, 2011   Link
  • +2
    General CommentThis seems to be about a very volatile, and possibly abusive, relationship. Basically he's a bit of a sociopath in saying that he's been this fantastic boyfriend and "giving" her everything. He blames everything on her and every time they argue (about whatever, it's always over nothing), he turns the tables back on her, so she always loses. Since she can't match his supposed contribution to the relationship, she is abused, whether verbally, emotionally, or physically, so she decides to leave on her own. And in the next relationship she gets into a bad relationship, she'll be braver and get out before things get to that point, instead of asking the guy break up with her.
    alix2468on January 27, 2011   Link
  • +2
    General CommentAdele said in an interview that this song came to fruition after she was explaining her relationship with this guy by saying "He's always fucking turning the tables on me," and Ryan Tedder (who helped her write the song,) said that he really liked the phrase (turning tables.)

    So it's not about a physically abusive relationship, the guy wasn't literally turning tables over, but he was always oscillating violently between moods, and the relationship was really just unstable.
    kevinweekson March 30, 2011   Link
  • +2
    General CommentThe first time I heard this song, it spoke volumes to me. I feel like it was written for me. I feel very strongly that this is about a psychologically abusive relationship. Close enough to start a war, all that I have is on the floor. The tension is high, she has reached her breaking point and has given all that she has and has nothing left. God only knows what we are fighting for, all that I say, you always say more. Things have gotten so complicated and messy, it's impossible to pinpoint what all the fighting is about, but it doesn't matter what she says, he always has to one up her, he's always right. He controls her, she can no longer breathe under his control and she can't deal with the volatility, his constant flip flopping of emotions, his turning the tables on her to make it her fault. She has left him, and has made sure he cannot get close enough to hurt her, but as messed up as he was with her, he's even more lost without her, but she won't rescue him, because as soon as she does, he will only desert her emotionally, he will give her nothing. She no longer has the love to give that he THINKS that he gave her. He is delusional, cannot see how awful he really is, he is a sociopath or narcissist. She is haunted every time she see's him, but when she does, he's only a ghost of what he once was. She went through hell to get away from him, lost friends, family,almost everything, but no matter what, she will not let him knock her down. She has learned from her mistakes and vows that next time she sees the warning signs, she will be strong and stand on her own two feet, saving herself from ending up in the same situation again. This is my life....
    BetsyJaneon October 21, 2011   Link
  • +1
    General CommentOne of my favourite songs on the new album, I love it. Excellent interpretation above me. I think that 'turning tables' is about him turning the tables on her when they're arguing, as alix says, but also makes me think of him turning tables in the literal sense. There are several things in the song that I think can be deliberately interpreted either metaphorically or literally, to mean he's either just emotionally abusive or physically violent. I especially like the "I won't let you close enough to hurt me" - she's emotionally distancing herself from the relationship, but also potentially protecting herself from his violent outbursts? Amazing song, and so catchy.
    treacheroustigeron January 30, 2011   Link
  • +1
    My OpinionFirst off, Adele is an amazing artist. Her songs come straight from the heart. This song could be interpreted in any way. I think Adele is talking about being emotionally abused. "I can't keep up with your turning tables." The guy "seduces" a woman by the way he looks and acts. Once he has her, he treats her poorly. When the woman wants to leave "It's time to say goodbye to turning tables", the guy then goes back to what he did to have her. "I won't let you close enough to hurt me. I can't give you what you think you gave me." The woman becomes more conserved and cautious. "Next time I'll be braver. I'll be my own saviour standing on my own two feet." Next time she is going be strong and leave him. She will do what makes her happy. "It's time to say goodbye to turning tables."
    liv3y0urlif3on April 19, 2012   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI feel like it's about a relationship that is off and on, and now her ex finally realizes he's made a mistake and she is now saying no, because it's a constant emotional whirlwind. However, she's sad about it, because she knows they both really do love each other, but now she needs to spend time loving herself.
    aaronplaneon August 24, 2014   Link
  • 0
    General CommentAnother gorgeous song by Adele! To me, this song is voicing past frustration with someone who could never be straight with her and was always "turning tables"....saying one thing but doing another or changing his mind and story then acting like he was consistent all along. She has had enough of his head games but learned to be stronger and because of her experience with him, no one will ever abuse her again. She distances herself emotionally and won't let him close enough to hurt her. She won't let herself care again. Next time she'll be her own savior and walk away from him or anyone like him. "I've lived a hundred storms to leave you. As hard as you try, no I will never be knocked down." His loss. He failed to manipulate her and he lost her. His abuse just made her stronger and now she is finished with him.
    RoseTeaCup1216on April 19, 2011   Link

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