"Breaking Down" as written by and James Ellis Ford Florence Leontine Mary Welch....
All alone it was always there you see
And even on my own
It was always standing next to me
I can see it coming from the edge of the room
Creeping in the streetlight holding my hand in the pale gloom
Can you see it coming now?

Ah-ah, ah-ah I think I'm breaking down again
Ah-ah, ah-ah I think I'm breaking down

All alone even when I was a child
I've always known there was something to be frightened of
I can see it coming from the edge of the room
Creeping in the streetlight holding my hand in the pale gloom
Can you see it coming now?

Ah-ah, ah-ah I think I'm breaking down again
Ah-ah, ah-ah I think I'm breaking down

All alone on the edge of sleep
My old familiar friend
Comes and lies down next to me
And I can see it coming from the edge of the room
Smiling in the streetlight even with my eyes shut tight
I still see it coming now

Ah-ah, ah-ah I think I'm breaking down again
Ah-ah, ah-ah I think I'm breaking down again
Ah-ah, ah-ah I think I'm breaking down again
Ah-ah, ah-ah I think I'm breaking down


Lyrics submitted by llscience

"Breaking Down" as written by Florence Leontine Mary Welch James Ellis Ford

Lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc., Universal Music Publishing Group

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Breaking Down song meanings
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20 Comments

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  • +12
    General CommentI agree it's about depression - how once you've been there it's always there in the background ("creeping in the streetlight") and you never know when it's going to come back again.

    Flo says about the song: "That was one of those songs that I just started humming and then the words came out. Often, I won’t know what I’m going to sing about until I actually step up to record, and you just have to follow this freeflowing train of thought -- these images of fear that you have as a child, something in the room, something for a child to fear, and then as an adult, that being there too as a creeping depression. It’s something quite sinister, but also something quite familiar. And I guess I just wanted to try and take that and turn it on its head, and make it something beautiful and uplifting as maybe a way to tackle it. It’s one of those sad songs with happy tunes."
    missmeon November 26, 2011   Link
  • +9
    General CommentI love this song. It has a generally upbeat feel to it, which contrasts with the theme of either loneliness or depression. I like the upbeat feel because it's like it's saying-- it doesn't matter the circumstance, it doesn't matter if I'm having fun, or if I feel OK, inevitably the loneliness and depression will creep back in.
    alison8711on November 02, 2011   Link
  • +5
    General CommentThe line, "My old familiar friend comes down and lies next to me", referring to her depression getting worse even when she tries to cure it (even with my eyes shut tight), is such a heartbreaking part of the song because she doesn't want to be depressed, but it's still there; it's always been there. For those who have been depressed, you can relate to the song when you feel the insidious depressed feelings arise out of you and feel there is nothing you can do.
    ucs806on January 29, 2012   Link
  • +3
    My InterpretationI feel the song deals with addiction and relapse. Hear me out. this is my first post btw.... Addiction is lonely and relapse is very depressing but oh so comforting. it's like an old familiar friend coming lying next to you. even when youre completely alone. Even as a child she may have dealt with addiction but more like the monster it truly is (from an addicted parent). She'd always known there was something to be frightened of. And now as an adult who is "breaking down", even with her eyes shut tight she feels that old familiar "friend" ("sting" in the words of Trent Reznor and J. Cash), coming and lying down next to her. True it may not be her addiction, heroin addiction or addiction at all, and this is all speculation but, I thought it was a more insightful explanation than "being lonely".
    lookiepooon January 31, 2012   Link
  • +3
    My InterpretationI think this song is about death and how it always lies in wait, as a child you fear it but as you become old you accept it. The lyrics, "I think I'm breaking down again," imply she is struggling to accept the concept that death cannot be avoided, and so she runs blindly from it. But, as she grows older she sees it is always in wait until eventually she is very old and welcomes it's embrace. In the final verse the lyrics, "My old familiar friend comes and lies down next to me," shows she's finally stopped running, and realizes there was nothing to fear all along. Perhaps the final chorus is her regretting that she wasted her time running and fearing the unknown, when she could have had a better life... But that's just the story I think the song is telling, probably not the real meaning but ah well.
    QueenNyxon December 30, 2012   Link
  • +2
    Song MeaningShe's most likely speaking of loneliness.

    "All alone
    On the edge of sleep
    My old familiar friend
    Comes and lies down next to me...
    Oh, I think I'm breaking down again"

    It's happened before, she's always known it will always be there and creep up on her




    sdrosario1on October 22, 2011   Link
  • +2
    General CommentThis song makes me think of psychosis. Like schizophrenia or something. I think the speaker is aware of her delusions, but that doesn't make them any less real for her.

    Or she's seeing something supernatural. But that's just a pet theory, not the real one I'm going with.
    StuffandNonsenseon November 02, 2011   Link
  • +2
    General Commentjust got her CD today...its really good and im listening to all the songs and wow i must say all the songs are my favorite im so glad i finally found a singer whoae songs, in my opinion all have something good to offer. :)way to go florence & the machine!
    tay620on November 04, 2011   Link
  • +2
    General CommentIt comes across as depression or loneliness and the vocals contrast with the music beautifully, the parts when she sings "I can see it coming from the edge of the room..... can you see it coming now" it's like a half-hearted fanfare in the vocals as if she sees hope but realises there is no point and "breaks down again". The fact that the lyrics change at the end seems pretty significant "Smiling in the streetlight .... I can see it coming now" suggests that she has tried to rid of this loneliness/depression and has failed and she realises she is doomed to it again "My old familiar friend" may say that she's had this feeling before and knows it well, also the music calms down here and becomes more placid this could suggest that she has lost hope. the last two lines are sung higher and louder like a shout showing complete frustration and anger possibly at herself for letting herself break down or it could be the beginning of the breakdown it's self....

    Wow I just kind of kept going didn't I. sorry it's such a long comment :D
    Flibbertiggebeton December 16, 2011   Link
  • +2
    My InterpretationOkay, if you've seen "Spirited Away" by Miyazaki, you know the "spirits" with black bodies and glowing eyes? That's what this song makes me picture. I picture Florence as a child with a spooky looking imaginary friend walking towards her from the corner of her dark room or from the streetlamp that she can see from out her window. She's lonely and sad. She has a breakdown, and her imaginary friend visits her. Even though he scares her a little, she's comforted by him.
    By the age of adulthood, the dark figure can't be shut out and now she has to deal with it forever. I think that it's a metaphor for accepting her loneliness. Because, it comforts and scares her at the same time, and she sadly knows that it's true.
    rellSDFon December 03, 2012   Link

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