I wake up fine and dandy
But then by the time I find it handy
To rip my heart apart and start
Planning my crash landing
I go up, up, up, up, up to the ceiling
Then I feel my soul start leaving
Like an old man's hair receding

I'm pleading, "Please, oh please!"
On my knees repeatedly asking
Why it's got to be like this
Is this living free?
I don't wanna be the one
To have the son's blood on my hands
I'll tell the moon
Take this weapon, forged in darkness
Some see a pen, I see harpoon

I'll stay awake
'Cause the dark's not taking prisoners tonight

Why am I not scared in the morning?
I don't hear those voices calling
I must have kicked them out
I must have kicked them out

I swear I heard demons yelling
Those crazy words they were spelling
They told me I was gone
They told me I was gone

But I tell 'em
Why won't you let me go
Do I threaten all your plans?
I'm insignificant

Please tell 'em
You have no plans for me
I will set my soul on fire
What have I become?
I'll tell 'em

On the eve of a day that's forgotten and fake
As the trees, they await, and clouds anticipate
The start of a day when we put on our face
A mask that portrays that we don't need grace
On the eve of a day that is bigger than us
But we open our eyes, 'cause we're told that we must
And the trees wave their arms and the clouds try to plead
Desperately yelling, "There's something we need!"
I'm not free, I asked forgiveness three times
Same amount that I denied, I three-time MVP'd this crime
I'm afraid to tell you who I adore
Won't tell you who I'm singing towards
Metaphorically, I'm a whore, and that's denial number four

I'll stay awake
'Cause the dark's not taking prisoners tonight

Why am I not scared in the morning?
I don't hear those voices calling
I must have kicked them out
I must have kicked them out

I swear I heard demons yelling
Those crazy words they were spelling
They told me I was gone
They told me I was gone

But I'll tell 'em
Why won't you let me go?
Do I threaten all your plans?
I'm insignificant

Please tell 'em
You have no plans for me
I will set my soul on fire
What have I become?

I'll tell them
You have no plans for me
I will set my soul on fire
What have I become?

I'll tell them
I'll tell them
I'll tell them
I'll tell them

Please tell them
You have no plans for me
I will set my soul on fire
What have I become?

I'm sorry.


Lyrics submitted by bookhouseboy23, edited by Skoobasteve24, djmojo21

Ode to Sleep song meanings
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11 Comments

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  • +20
    My InterpretationOK, so I heard Tyler say in an interview that this song IS Twenty One Pilots. That it summarizes who they are. I thought… hmm… really? And after looking at they lyrics, I'm going to take a guess at why he said that...

    As anyone who knows their lyrics has figured out, Tyler has been tormented by negative thoughts and even thoughts of suicide. In Christian imagery, and several of their songs, these "evil thoughts" are represented by demons (whether you believe them to be true demons or just psychological attacks from a darkness within). And in Christian belief, demons attack those that they see as a threat.

    This song is basically saying - hey, maybe Tyler is being attacked because he is a threat - because he has the capacity/means to be an instrument of good (through his pen / the band's music). There's a purpose for him on this earth.

    And in the song, he's crying out to a higher power (God) saying, "Aaaah!! Why? I don't want this on my shoulders! I don't want this purpose! I don't want this pen! Tell the demons you have no plans for me! I don't want to do this! This isn't the freedom you promised!"

    And in the end, he tells God that he's "sorry." He realizes the plans that God has for him, to be a mouthpiece of hope - to encourage young people to think, and to survive, and to live. And that's why this song is so important to Twenty One Pilots.

    (And as others have said, the three denials (echoing the story of Peter) and the fourth denial about "not telling" whom he's singing toward (God/higher power) is something with which he struggles. He doesn't want to sing and write songs and perform for money and fame ("whore") - he wants to fulfill his purpose.)

    That's my interpretation. Not sure I got it right, but if I'm even close (and I think I am), then it's just another reason to love this band.
    Moonbeam86on August 18, 2014   Link
  • +9
    My Interpretation"Ode to Sleep" is one of my favorite songs lyrically from twenty one pilots (who happens to be my favorite band of the last decade) and admittedly one of the most difficult to interpret. The song is deeper that what most believe. I think the following is pretty close, but I'm sure I may have missed some nuances or gotten it wrong in some places.

    The lyrical genius of Tyler Joseph portrays a torrid struggle between voices of darkness and the songwriter's struggle to overcome the darkness. The song is girded in spirituality and the voices that are attempting to overcome his mind are in fact demons or even Satan. The song also happens to be all over the map musically, which I feel adds to this struggle and to the song's uniqueness.

    "I wake up fine and dandy
    But then by the time I find it handy
    To rip my heart apart and start
    Planning my crash landing
    I go up to the ceiling
    Then I feel my soul start leaving
    Like an old man's hair receding"

    He starts his days well, but inevitably as his day progresses he begins on a self-destructive path toward hopelessness, giving up, and perhaps taking his life. Later lyrics seem to indicated he may also be struggling with guilt over his hypocritical thoughts and actions that betray his faith and beliefs [in God and Christ] but more on this later. However, just as he's "planning [his] crash landing" - taking himself out - he is brought "up to the ceiling" and "feels his soul start leaving" as God brings him back into a healthier state of mind. I'll admit I am somewhat unsure of the meaning of this verse, but I think my interpretation fits well with the struggle portrayed by the rest of the song.

    "I'm pleading, "Please, oh please!"
    On my knees repeatedly asking
    Why it's got to be like this
    Is this living free?
    I don't wanna be the one
    To have the sons blood on my hands"

    During this time with God as he reflects on his failure to live the way he wants to - the way God desires that he live - he pleads with God asking why he has to continue to struggle in his fight against hopelessness and sin and the forces that continue to seem to ensnare him and tell him to give up. "Is this living free?" Obviously not. Additionally, the songwriter does not want to be a hypocrite by continuing to sin and nail holes into the wrists of his Savior ("I don't wanna be the one to have the son's blood on my hands") and the son he is referring to is Christ, the son of God. Christ shed his blood to atone for the sins of man (or for those who believe depending on your theology). The songwriter is in turmoil because he knows he is hurting the his Savior and not living in the freedom that is meant for him.

    At this point, I believe the songwriter begins to transition into a new, more hopeful thought process. My favorite lyric in this song is "I'll stay awake 'cause the dark's not taking prisoners tonight." This phrase could have one of several meanings: he will choose to physically stay alive and not allow the enemy to take his life; he will choose to stay spiritually awake and vigilant in his struggle against what the evil voices are telling him to do, and thus not be taken prisoner; or perhaps he's simply referring to staying awake.

    "Why am I not scared in the morning?
    I don't hear those voices calling
    I must have kicked them out
    I must have kicked them out

    I swear I heard demons yelling
    Those crazy words they were spelling
    They told me I was gone
    They told me I was gone"

    At some point during the night, after his decision to "stay awake," the songwriter seems to have squelched the voices of the demons that were speaking "crazy words" into his brain, telling him he "was gone" - that it was hopeless, he was done for, and that he might as well give up (and perhaps take his life).

    "But I'll tell 'em
    Why won't you let me go
    Do I threaten all your plans?
    I'm insignificant"

    He inquires of the demons why they continue to torment him, as he sees himself as ultimately insignificant in the kingdom of God and that his life will not threaten the plans of the enemy (to lead people away from God). Why does he not see himself as a threat? Because following, during the bridge, he clearly states that his witness for God and Christ is nonexistent because he is afraid to tell others who he adores.

    "I'm not free, I asked forgiveness three times
    Same amount that I denied, I three-time MVP'd this crime
    I'm afraid to tell you who I adore
    Won't tell you who I'm singing towards
    Metaphorically, I'm a whore, and that's denial number four"

    This passage is clearly a reference to the three time denial of Christ by Peter in the New Testament of the Bible. The songwriter has denied Christ because, as I said before, he is afraid to tell others who he adores and who he's singing towards. The bridge also has some other great lines in it. "The start of a day when we put on our face a mask that portrays that we don't need grace" alludes our bad habit of pretending we're without fault (sin) and we don't need the undeserved favor of God. "On the eve of a day that is bigger than us" I believe means that our lives are not about us, but instead about how God uses us in His grand story. "And the trees wave their arms and the clouds try to plead desperately yelling, "There's something we need!" - Creation pleads with us that we need help - that we need a Savior from ourselves and from the lying voices of the enemy that tell us to give up.

    "Please tell 'em
    You have no plans for me
    I will set my soul on fire
    What have I become?"

    At this point, he even asks of God to tell Satan or the demons that he has no significance and that God has no plans for him in God's kingdom. This is clearly part of the demon's lies that the songwriter has been believing about himself. This is the turmoil. This is the struggle. I believe the lyrics "I will set my soul on fire" means he is so deep in despair that he desires to destroy his soul. In his hypocrisy and denials of God he asks "what have I become?"

    "I'm sorry"

    It's pretty clear here, if you buy into my interpretation of this song, the songwriter is apologizing to God.

    Part of the beauty and genius of Tyler's lyrics is that although they have a deep spiritual meaning (in this case Christian), they can also be interpreted in many different ways, making his heartfelt and honest lyrics that deal with real problems accessible to so many.

    |-/
    djmojo21on August 18, 2014   Link
  • +3
    My InterpretationI've always felt like this song represents Tyler's mind at war (referenced in 'Migraine'). His mind is always tripping over itself, he is always thinking deeply, whether good or bad. He is a slave to himself, trapped by his inability to be mentally calm. And when once in a while when he is free, and when his mind has calmed he is lost and doesnt know what to do, "Why am I not scared in the morning?
    I don't hear those voices calling
    I must have kicked them out"
    This is my person interpretation, probably cause i feel the same as this, maybe its just a personal connection, but everyone interprets the lyrics different.
    atenae257on September 12, 2014   Link
  • +2
    My InterpretationThis song seems to be the basic cry of an insomniac. It beautifully portrays the intense struggle one finds himself in once he lies down for sleep. You start to think about everything that has gone wrong, but most of all the wrongs you caused. Mind racing and "demons yelling", one also finds himself in the perfect position to write, as there is rarely another time when an insomniac's mind will bring forth as much information as when said person is attempting to sleep. However, once the writing begins, it is hard to stop in time to get the amount of sleep you were aiming for, therefore placing anxiety on the fulfillment of priorities, such as work. It is at this moment that the decision is made to stay awake. The "dark" can't take prisoners that don't sleep.
    pacman212on July 04, 2013   Link
  • +1
    General CommentThe part where it says "I'm not free, I asked forgiveness three times
    Same amount that I denied," reminds me of around John 21:16, when Jesus asks peter "Do you love me?" three times because Peter denied him three times.
    maggie321011on May 03, 2016   Link
  • +1
    My OpinionI think in order to truly understand Ode to Sleep, you need to look not just at the lyrics, but the song itself. The title "Ode to Sleep" may represent how Tyler's mind is not at rest. The melody frequently changes throughout the song, and that may represent how rapidly Tyler thinks and how many thoughts he can have in his mind because he is such a deep and thoughtful person.
    I wake up fine and dandy
    But by the time I find it handy
    To rip my heart apart and start
    Planning my crash landing
    I go up to the ceiling
    And I feel my soul start leaving
    Like an old mans hair receding
    I think this stanza could be interpreted in a few different ways. One way is that he wakes up fine, but then the "demons" get to him and he begins to feel suicidal (hence: ripping his heart apart and planning his crash landing) but then God saves him from the demons. However, I think ripping his heart apart and planning his crash landing could also mean simply writing a song. I know it may sound odd but hear me out on this. "Ripping his heart apart" may mean exposing his heart and showing it in songs he writes, and planning his crash landing may be the effects of spending too much time thinking negatively, (letting the demons in). When he talks about going up to the ceiling and feeling his soul leaving, that may refer to writer's block because so much of his music expresses how he feels agonized by the demons in his mind and if he does not feel agonized, he can't really write about it, and feeling his soul leaving may be about how he fears he may lose his depth and ability to write so deeply. This song, in a way, is an internal fight inside of Tyler's mind about how he feels he must choose between happiness and fulfillment (his ability to write music the way he does).
    I'm pleading "Please, oh, please."
    On my knees repeatedly asking
    Why it's got to be like this
    Is this living free?
    I don't wanna be the one
    To have the sons blood on my hands
    I'll tell the moon
    Take this weapon, forged in darkness
    Some see a pen, I see a harpoon
    In addition to being an internal fight, this song is also, in my opinion, a prayer. He is telling God that he does not think he is cut out for the plans God has for him to write music about the darkness in people's lives and attempt to bring them out of it, and that he doesn't want to have so much of God's faith, because that makes him a target to the demons, who in Christian faith attack anyone they find threatening to them (represented by his agonizing thoughts). It is also a contradiction to what he said at first about how he feels his soul leaving.
    I'll stay awake
    Cause the dark's not taking prisoners tonight
    Why am I not scared in the morning?
    I don't hear those voices calling
    I must have kicked them out
    Another contradiction. Now he feels happy and free again.
    I swear I heard demons yelling
    Those crazy words they were spelling
    They told me I was gone
    Now, looking back, fear may be beginning to creep back into his mind again. Another contradiction.
    I tell 'em
    Why won't you let me go?
    Do I threaten all your plans?
    I'm insignificant
    Now, he feels that he would rather truly be insignificant than have to suffer through being tortured by the demons. He tries to tell the demons that he is not a threat to them so that they might leave him alone.
    Please tell them
    You have no plans for me
    I will set my soul on fire
    What have I become?
    I'll tell 'em
    At the beginning of this stanza, Tyler is talking to God, begging Him to tell the demons to leave him alone by saying he is not a threat. At this point of the song, Tyler is saying that he would be willing to destroy his soul (the part of him that allows him to make the music he does) just so the demons will leave him alone. The last two lines are him talking to himself. He asks himself what he has become, what the demons and songwriting have caused him to become. When he says "I'll tell 'em", he's become impatient with God, so he wants to take matters into his own hands.
    On the eve of a day that's forgotten and fake
    As the trees, they await and clouds anticipate
    The start of a day when we put on our face,
    A mask that portrays that we don't need grace,
    On the eve of a day that is bigger than us,
    But we open our eyes 'cause we're told that we must,
    And the trees wave their arms and the clouds try to plead,
    Desperately yelling there's something we need,
    I'm not free, I asked forgiveness three times,
    Same amount that I denied, I three-time mvp'ed this crime,
    I'm afraid to tell you who I adore, won't tell you who I'm singing towards,
    Metaphorically I'm a whore, and that's denial number four.
    The "day" may be referring to Good Friday (the day in Christian faith where Jesus died on the cross for everyone's sin) because he is talking about how the "masks" we're an attempt to hide the fact that Christian people felt lost without Jesus, and nature is begging for Him back. I think he felt it necessary to add this to the song because that may be how he currently felt, lost and alone and he felt that God was not by his side. Then, he begins talking about his own faith, and how he asked for forgiveness three times but also denied his faith three times, that may be an explanation for why he feels he is not as powerful against the demons as he could be. However, he also says he does not want to recognize God as the person he is singing about in his songs. I think when he says he's a whore, he means that he is not willing to show his faith, because a whore can mean someone who does not show loyalty or faith to anyone in particular, and because he calls that another denial of his faith.
    What have I become?
    I'm sorry.
    At the end of the song, Tyler figures that he may also be to blame for what he feels, and his apology may be to himself, to God, or to anyone he knows. He is sorry because he let the demons change him so much that he may have lost sight of who he was before.
    Ode to Sleep is personally one of my favorite songs by Twenty Øne Piløts because of how clever it is all around.
    caratexon July 01, 2016   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThis song is about a mans struggles as a follower of God to trust in his forgiveness.

    "I'm afraid to tell you who I adore
    Won't tell you who I'm singing towards
    Metaphorically, I'm a whore, and that's denial number four"

    This line he is saying that he is afraid to tell people that he believes in God, and that his lyrics are directed towards Him. By whore it is ment currupt and he is currupt and a hyporcrite by not singing what he believes. Which makes denial number for, anothe denail as related to the 3 denials of Peter in the bible.
    JtWalkInForthon March 20, 2014   Link
  • 0
    My Interpretationhe's talking about his faith in god and trying escape his sinful life {the voices tell him to sin)
    recklessson June 21, 2014   Link
  • 0
    My InterpretationAs I seen a lot of religious interpretations (not sayin' that is wrong to do so), I would like to see it from the other side.
    I find this song amazing in a lot of ways. First of all, the music is amazing. It creates an instant of catharsis in which you can feel the struggle. And above all, there's the lyrics.
    As a human, you wake up every morning trying to enjoy the brand new day. You wake up fine and dandy, but then by the time you find it handy. If you have somehow consider suicidal thoughts, you may know the war that every feeling battles in your head. But then here it comes the incredible thing that i find about this lyrics: the Sun and the Moon. The Sun, in most cultures, is the father; the Moon is the mother. And I think he is (Tyler) somehow dissapointing them by choosing the music for a job. (He has explained in some interiews that he was no genius in school so his parents tried to put in sports so he got some scholarship)
    So this could mean that he tries to sleep fine at night, but the unsecure future that he has it's somehow troubling his mind. And believe me, that can scares you the shit out.
    Then it cames "the morning", which is when you see the light, a way out: music.
    So he will tell them get off me, "do I threaten all your plans?", cause the orthodox way of life is suposed to get into some regular job and then die. But Tyler won't. He wants to set his soul on fire, to let the music be his way of life.
    The next verse is pretty much a christian statement, considering all the references to the Bible. So I won't talk much about it. Tyler is obviously a religious guy.
    So the last verse, in which he keeps trying to explain why he doesn't make any much difference in the dayly life, but he wants to live his life on fire, and the "I'm sorry" part, as many of you have considered as a petition for God, I disagree.
    As I said before, he's sorry for not being what his parents wants him to be.
    Last but not least, if we consider the name of the song "Ode to Sleep", we can assure that now he can sleep better, knowing that he is living the life he wants to live. We may say, he's living the morning.
    carlos1020on September 24, 2015   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI think this song is his struggle with depression and/or suicidal thoughts. On one hand you have this evil person trying to take over his body. Then you have this other side that is trying to push back these thoughts and regain control of his body and mind.

    The way he tells this story is what really gets me. It's like you are watch this epic tale of how one man struggles to regain a quality of life where he controls what his mind thinks and sees.
    joseph1035on January 16, 2016   Link

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