The Lumineers chatting on Australian radio station triple j say this is actually about the move the singer made from New York to Denver, Colorado, with the hope of musical success: "it's just about a...
(Ho hey, ho hey)

(Ho) I been trying to do it right
(Hey) I been living a lonely life
(Ho) I been sleepin' here instead
(Hey) I been sleepin' in my bed
(Ho) I been sleepin' in my bed (Hey ho)

(Ho) So show me family
(Hey) All the blood that I will bleed
(Ho) I don't know where I belong
(Hey) I don't know where I went wrong
(Ho) But I can write a song (Hey)

I belong with you, you belong with me, you're my sweetheart
I belong with you, you belong with me, you're my sweet' (Ho)

(Hey, ho hey)

(Ho) I don't think you're right for him
(Hey) Think of what it might have been if we
(Ho) Took a bus to Chinatown
(Hey) I'd be standin' on canal (Ho) and Bowery (Hey)
(Ho) She'd be standin' next to me (Hey)

I belong with you, you belong with me, you're my sweetheart
I belong with you, you belong with me, you're my sweetheart

Love we, need it now
Let's hope, for some
'Cause oh, we're bleedin' out

I belong with you, you belong with me, you're my sweetheart
I belong with you, you belong with me, you're my sweet' (Ho hey, ho hey)


Lyrics submitted by hearthatsongagain, edited by dreamorph, Yazardshir, TyBentrim

"Ho Hey" as written by R. Swenson M. Ray

Lyrics © PLASMATICS MEDIA LLC.

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Ho Hey song meanings
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44 Comments

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  • +15
    General CommentFor me, this song isn't about a love lost, but a love that never happened. Maybe its just me and my experiences affecting my interpretation of this song, but to me its about a guy who treats this girl right and loves her the way she should be loved, but she doesn't reciprocate those feelings (I been trying to do it right / I been living a lonely life / I been sleeping in my bed.....). Despite him doing right by her this whole time and all the things he does for her, he's gotten no where. He's done everything right, so he can't understand how she doesn't reciprocate his feelings. (All the blood that I will bleed / I don't know where I belong / I don't know where I went wrong). There's another guy and he's probably not a good person and doesn't treat her well, but she stays with him anyway. If she would have gone out with him things would have been different, things would have been so much better. (I don't think you're right for him / think of what might have been / if we took a bus to China Town). She's his sweet heart and always will be and they belong together in his mind, but she never realizes it for herself.

    Maybe I'm just reading this in terms of my own life because what I described happened to me. The only difference is I ended up with the girl in the end. :).
    nlukenon August 18, 2012   Link
  • +11
    General CommentThis song is about unrequited love. He has been dumped by his girl or "sweetheart". He tries to tell her (or convince her) that he's trying to be a better man , "I've been trying to do it right". He says, "I been living a lonely life" (He's lonely). He's depressed about their break-up "I've been sleeping in my bed". Besides the chorus, this the only statement in the entire song that he repeats twice. By repeating it twice, he is emphasizing his point. As if he's saying to her, did you mean me? I can't even get out of bed because I'm so depressed about our breakup.

    So show me family
    All the blood that I will bleed
    I don't know where I belong
    I don't know where I went wrong
    But I can write a song

    "So show me family", he's cynically saying to her, show me your allegiance or loyalty to me. He saying I was faithful to you but you left me and that's not what families are supposed to do to one another. It’s a ‘blood is thicker than water’ kind of mentality. He says, "show me..All the blood that I will bleed" meaning show me how long and how much I will have to suffer from this breakup. He's asking her, how long are you going to leave me because I'm going to keep "bleeding" (or suffering) until you return. He states, "I don't know where I belong" meaning that without her he doesn't know where else he fits in, which implies that life without her has lost all meaning to him. He refers to the first stanza by stating, "I don't know what I did wrong" echoing the statement, "I've been trying to do it right". Basically, he's asking what did I do that was so wrong that you feel the need to leave me?

    I belong with you, you belong with me
    You're my sweetheart
    I belong with you, you belong with me
    You're my sweet

    He is asking her to listen to reason, "I belong with you and you belong with me because you're my sweetheart." The term "sweetheart" is a term of endearment often used by people when referring to a childhood or long term relationship. This term indicates that his feelings towards her run deeper than they would towards just casual girlfriend. He views her as a long term romance.

    I don't think you're right for him
    Think of what it might have been if we
    Took a bus to Chinatown
    I'd be standin' on Canal and Bowery
    And she'd be standin' next to me

    She's moved on and he doesn't think "she's right" for her new man because he feels that she is only right for him. He asks her to "think of what might have been" if they had taken a bus to Chinatown". His next statement is written as though he's day dreaming, "I'd be standin' on Canal and Bowery" (a famous engagement ring store in NYC) and his sweetheart would be "standing" next to him as they picked out an engagement ring together. He's basically asking her to think about how different their lives would currently be if they had become engaged. When he states, "she'd be standing next to me", it is unclear as to whether she left him because he wouldn't propose to her when he had the chance or if she broke up with him before he had the chance to propose.

    I belong with you, you belong with me
    You're my sweetheart
    I belong with you, you belong with me
    You're my sweetheart

    Again, he is trying to convince her to see reason-we belong together.

    Love we need it now
    Let's hope for some
    Cause oh, we're bleedin' out

    He's finishing his conversation with her by saying. We both need love now. By stating," let's hope for some because we're bleedin' out", he's saying, let’s hope for some love from each other in our relationship together because we are both (bleeding) suffering and being emotionally drained in our current circumstances. Again, he reiterates, we belong together because we're "sweethearts". Note that for each stanza, the melody is played with base keys and with a slower tempo depicting his depressed state but the chorus is played with treble clef keys and at a faster tempo indicating his hopeful desire to reunite with his sweetheart.

    I belong with you, you belong with me
    You're my sweetheart
    I belong with you, you belong with me
    You're my sweet
    hollyjollyon December 12, 2012   Link
  • +4
    My InterpretationI just discovered this song a few hours ago but it speaks to me right now and I'm really moved by it. The sound of this song and the video and the musicians and the rest of their catalogue that I am exploring seem filled with joy, honesty and "truth and beauty bombs." Although there is sadness in the lyrics about some decisions regretted or roads not taken I find that in my life it speaks directly to me at a time where it is not too late to make the decisions that make for a happy ending. This entire interpretation comes from that personal perspective of mine as advice coming from the future at a timely moment.

    "I been trying to do it right
    I been living a lonely life
    I been sleepin' here instead
    I been sleepin' in my bed
    I been sleepin' in my bed"
    This sounds like a regretful lament about the dissatisfaction after choosing not to pursue a relationship, instead trying to make the smart, right or sensible decisions in life, not taking the wild leap, bowing out, waiting for the right time or for the situation or your state of mind and heart to be better. Instead of some reward for being sensible or safe or "doing it right" the singer is left feeling lonely with a missed opportunity.

    "So show me family
    All the blood that I will bleed"
    Although this may be a stretch, I can read this from my perspective as asking for an image or vision of the "family" or relationship the singer could have built with that partner, of the "blood" ties or family bonds and experiences they could have created or "bled" together... I think I may be stretching the lyrics toward where I want them to go here, but the words and connotations and imagery here are powerful even if the meaning is not as fully clear as the rest to me.

    "I don't know where I belong
    I don't know where I went wrong
    But I can write a song"
    This is much clearer to me as feeling lost after passing on this relationship, as though their place in life and sense of belonging in their own present is decreased, even though the singer cannot see which step or choice they could have made or done differently. Even with this confusion and uncertainty about what was done wrong or where to go next, the singer can still summon up their art in the form of writing a song to express what they are feeling inside their heart instead of the more rationale choices or the ideas in their head about sadness and regret.


    "I belong with you, you belong with me
    You're my sweetheart
    I belong with you, you belong with me
    You're my sweet-(Ho Hey Ho Hey)"
    In the singer's heart (and in their "art" which I see in the chorus which is the "song they can write") the confusion melts away and the misgivings or regrets are not relevant, only the pure emotional conviction that even though they chose not to be together there is a certainty that they do belong together as sweethearts.

    "I don't think you're right for him
    Think of what it might have been if we
    Took a bus to Chinatown
    I'd be standin' on Canal and Bowery
    And she'd be standin' next to me"
    I can't really improve on bellabella's excellent interpretation here about the bus to Chinatown signifying a specific instance or point in the chain of choices where the two lovers could have changed it all and gone down the road not taken, which might have brought them to Canal and Bowery (apparently the most famous place in the world to buy engagement rings) and then to a happy life together. I do love the subtle sort of caring touch I sense when the singer refrains from being directly dismissive or aggressive against the person his would-be-partner chose instead. To me saying "I don't think you're right for him" instead of something directly putting down the new partner does make it seem more like the singer is still caring for and a looking out for the partner they love and wishing for the greater happiness they could have together had they made the choice to take the "bus to Chinatown" when they had that opportunity.

    "Love we need it now
    Let's hope for some
    Cause oh, we're bleedin' out"
    I think this reads to me in two ways:
    1. Again showing a concern for their mutual happiness, instead of just the singer's own, and claiming that being together would stop the slow pain and diminishing that stemmed from choosing to be apart.
    2. A general statement to the world at large about a need for love, and to pursue it and share it and reach for it, because the lack of love given, taken and shared is causing all of us collectively to wither and bleed out.
    dreamorphon September 30, 2012   Link
  • +4
    My OpinionThe lyrics are great. Maybe if the song wasn't titled hey ho and it wasn't sung throughout he'd be in better standing with her.
    chaidrinkeron October 07, 2012   Link
  • +3
    General CommentI'm pretty sure you could sing this to any girl that you used to have a thing with and you'd get laid. This song is awesome. I love the folk rhythm and sound and the emotions/memories it incites
    jacurdyon June 08, 2012   Link
  • +3
    General CommentI think this is the song that reconnects that perfect, blissful lost love. Just saying..
    smittyloveon August 03, 2012   Link
  • +2
    General CommentAwesome band
    nba1341on May 08, 2012   Link
  • +2
    General CommentThis song accomplishes in a short 3 minutes what every man finds himself thinking of at least once in his rosy-filtered reflections: "Maybe I should call her..."

    A confident and happy (but not without sad overtones) bargain to reunite. Very playful. Just a great song.
    poetogethron August 06, 2012   Link
  • +2
    General Commentyeah, this relationship never happened. At least not yet. He's trying to be honorable and not break up the current relationship between the girl he wants and the guy he wants out of the picture...I've been trying to do it right....I've been sleepin' here instead. Please just go ahead and ask her out...forget about that guy...she can make her own decision.
    jjjax3on August 23, 2012   Link
  • +2
    My InterpretationI think the first lines "I been trying to do it right
    I been living a lonely life
    I been sleepin' here instead
    I been sleepin' in my bed
    I been sleepin' in my bed " have double meanings. If you read the lumineers lyrics, they are often double-edged with their meanings, as in they have both figurative as well as literal meaning. This particular line, I believe, has to do with a person choosing to "do the right thing" and stop attempting to maintain a relationship with an unavailable person (perhaps they'd been having an affair? Or perhaps she ended a relationship and he has decided to respect her decision and leave her alone?) Either way, he is all alone now, and sleeping in the bed he made (if you ever hear the phrase "you made your bed, now sleep in it", or living with the consequences of his actions.

    I think the next line "So show me family
    All the blood that I will bleed
    I don't know where I belong
    I don't know where I went wrong
    But I can write a song" is his way of saying "I have no idea what went wrong here, I did what I thought was right, I am giving and giving...but maybe it isn't my place to do so..." If the relationship in question is in fact an affair (either emotional or physical or both) then this line would make sense, if he truly felt that he did no wrong, that their love was so real that to express it WAS the right thing to do, then it would explain his confusion over his reflection of it, since in the end, it made no difference. Therefore, he wouldn't know what would have been the more appropriate action. IF, however, the relationship wasn't an affair, but is in reference to a man who was trying to win an available womans attention and lost, it could be his venting of frustration over pouring out all he could for her and still being rejected.

    "I belong with you, you belong with me
    You're my sweetheart
    I belong with you, you belong with me
    You're my - " obviously, he believes the two of them belong together, yet they aren't.

    "I don't think you're right for him
    Think of what it might have been if we
    Took a bus to Chinatown
    I'd be standin' on canal, and Bowery
    And she'd be standin' next to me" Probably the most loaded part of the song. As I mentioned in another response, Canal and Bowery are where a LOT of jewelery stores are located in New York, couples from around the country go there for engagement/wedding rings. Perhaps also, this place has significant meaning to the couple. The line "if we took a bus to china town..." this is something that can only truly be understood by the writer and the person the song is about, she apparently didn't go somewhere with him in China Town, a significant enough of a decision to have been mentioned in this song. Perhaps the most pivotal decision in their relationship. Obviously, this decision lead to her being with another "him" instead of the songwriter.


    "Love we need it now
    Let's hope for some
    Cause oh, we're bleedin' out"- he includes another in his statement "we're bleeding out" rather than just saying "Im bleeding out" meaning perhaps, she is hurting too and he knows/understands it, perhaps feeling hopeless like indicated earlier in the song because he doesn't know what is appropriate or what isn't.
    bellabellaon September 21, 2012   Link

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