Counting Stars is from OneRepublic's third studio album, Native, which was released in 2013...
Lately I been, I been losing sleep
Dreaming 'bout the things that we could be
But baby I been, I been prayin' hard
Said no more counting dollars
We'll be counting stars
Yeah, we'll be counting stars

I see this life
Like a swinging vine
Swing my heart across the line
In my faces flashing signs
Seek it out and ye shall find
The old, but I'm not that old
Young, but I'm not that bold
And I don't think the world is sold
I'm just doing what we're told
I, feel something so right
But doing the wrong thing
I, feel something so wrong
But doing the right thing
I could lie, could lie, could lie
Everything that kills me makes me feel alive

Lately I been, I been losing sleep
Dreaming 'bout the things that we could be
Baby I been, I been prayin' hard
Said no more counting dollars
We'll be counting stars
Lately I been, I been losing sleep
Dreaming 'bout the things that we could be
But baby I been, I been prayin' hard
Said no more counting dollars
We'll be, we'll be counting stars

I feel the love
And I feel it burn
Down this river every turn
Hope is a four letter word
Make that money
Watch it burn
Old, but I'm not that old
Young, but I'm not that bold
And I don't think the world is sold
I'm just doing what we're told
I, feel something so wrong
But doing the right thing
I could lie, could lie, could lie
Everything that drowns me makes me wanna fly

Lately I been, I been losing sleep
Dreaming about the things that we could be
Baby I been, I been prayin' hard
Said no more counting dollars
We'll be counting stars
Lately I been, I been losing sleep
Dreaming 'bout the things that we could be
But baby I been, I been prayin' hard
Said no more counting dollars
We'll be, we'll be counting stars

Take that money and watch it burn
Sink in the river the lessons I learned

Take that money and watch it burn
Sink in the river the lessons I learned

Take that money and watch it burn
Sink in the river the lessons I learned

Take that money and watch it burn
Sink in the river the lessons I learned

Everything that kills me makes me feel alive

Lately I been, I been losing sleep
Dreaming 'bout the things that we could be
Baby I been, I been prayin' hard
Said no more counting dollars
We'll be counting stars
Lately I been, I been losing sleep
Dreaming 'bout the things that we could be
Baby I been, I been prayin' hard
Said no more counting dollars
We'll be, we'll be counting stars

(Take that money and watch it burn)
(Sink in the river the lessons I learned)

(Take that money and watch it burn)
(Sink in the river the lessons I learned)

(Take that money and watch it burn)
(Sink in the river the lessons I learned)

(Take that money and watch it burn)
(Sink in the river the lessons I learned)


Lyrics submitted by SongMeanings, edited by zackfairthepuppy, lylylove, 21Minute, hghg, Sheep0007, peanutleah9, Pocketkid2, Johann4u

"Counting Stars" as written by Ryan Tedder

Lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

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Counting Stars song meanings
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70 Comments

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  • +20
    My OpinionRyan Fedder recently said on TheVoice he wrote this song about the money problems he and his wife had when they were first married. He worked a lot of jobs and he always told her one day they would have money to burn and would never have to worry about bills, they'd be counting stars.
    siren7000on October 31, 2013   Link
  • +11
    General CommentLove reading everyone's interpretations - keep them coming.

    The lead singer said Native was inspired by how people choose to spend their time on Earth. Put very simply, I think this song is about how some people spend their lives chasing coin instead of what really matters to them. Of course, there is much more to it, but I think that's what it boils down to.
    frozoneifyon September 07, 2013   Link
  • +6
    My InterpretationMy idea is that this song is about doing drugs or smoking. In this, the speaker is working hard, finding a solid job, etc. but falls into depression and resorts to body-damaging hobbies.

    "No more counting money, we'll be counting stars"
    This sounds like he is giving up on trying so hard to support himself, and just resorting to taking life as it is, smoking to forget it all.

    "Everything that kills me makes me feel alive."
    Smoking slowly eats at your lungs, common knowledge, but also makes you forget and feel happy and therefore this line.
    Jenoiron June 04, 2013   Link
  • +6
    My InterpretationI think this song is about the lifestyle the autor is living.

    He's in a busy relationship where the both of them are so worried about the money, paying the bills and stuff, that they forget to simply live life and appreciate the things it offers. Therefore:

    "Lately I been, I been losing sleep
    Dreaming 'bout the things that we could be
    Baby I been, I been prayin' hard
    Said no more counting dollars
    We'll be counting stars
    Yeah, we'll be counting stars"

    He talks about the conduct people, including him, are living these days: not what they wish they could do, but what they're made to do, what they're forced. And it's probably about unnecessary work, rules and manners imposed by society.

    "And I don't think the world is sold
    I'm just doing what we're told"

    Complementing the commentary above, he wants to free himself from those fake rules which are made only to keep people under control, under the 'normal' way of living.

    "I, feel something so right
    But doing the wrong thing
    I, feel something so wrong
    But doing the right thing"

    In the verse "Everything that kills me makes me feel alive" he talks about drugs, and when I say drugs it's not only drinking and smoking, also these things, but it can be anything. For example, adrenaline, gambling, love, etc.

    "Everything that drowns me makes me wanna fly". Here he talks about those things we are not allowed to do and because of that we are stirred up to do them. It's better because it's forbidden. Or when you want to prove something to someone who doesn't have faith in your capacity.

    "Take that money and watch it burn
    Sink in the river the lessons are learned"

    In this part he says that the money he was referring to earlier will disappear quickly, it won't last forever, it's ephemeral. And you will truly learn the lesson when you go through a tough situation.
    Morfinon June 19, 2013   Link
  • +5
    General CommentRyan has explained how he got the idea for this song.

    The track basically wrote itself, and includes some of the frontman’s favorite lines from the album, like, “Everything that kills me makes me feel alive.” He wrote the chorus — another one of his favorite lines — for anyone who loses sleep wondering how they’re going to be able to afford their rent or provide for their family.

    “A lot of time I just lay in bed awake, stressing out,” Tedder said. “Everybody does it. And I just thought, I can’t wait until I’m counting stars and not counting dollars anymore. Things will be so much better.”
    MoosieQon September 25, 2013   Link
  • +3
    My InterpretationI believe its a song talking about conflict between religion and a simple soul! What we were told is the "right" thing and what we feel is! Questioning of beliefs of our parents, and their parents too and the new age way of thinking! Kinda conflict in the mind on how to live free, and be a good person at the same time!
    Burn the money turn yourself to the stars. Live free and expand your soul!
    Brake the chains and believe in yourself, there is the heaven on earth...
    jasminakion June 28, 2013   Link
  • +3
    My OpinionI think this song's based on a couple struggling to pay their bills, or debts. As there is proof, I might as well say it. It clearly says,

    'Instead of counting dollars,
    We'll be counting stars,'

    Or maybe they're just worried about the money that they currently have. Therefore they want to forget about the struggles and supposing so, as one of the verses do say,

    'Dreaming 'bout the things that we could be,'
    'I've been prayin' hard'
    'Lately I've been losing sleep'

    It might be small clues to what gambling could reference to. Slots have three stars, putting them into a whole-three-row means a jackpot.
    They may have also lost tracks of their dreams, hurrying in drugs as 'Everything that kills me makes me feel alive,' do indicate a small proof-shot of drugs.
    As he says 'take that money watch it burn,' it could also mean that money disappears quicker than you imagine by spending things.

    Most people have swings in their lives 'I can see this life like a swinging vine' (or something like that) and if you think about you swinging on a vine, the vine may snap and it will take you a long time to hurry back up. I feel of this money-wise.

    'And I don't think the world is sold,
    I'm just doing what we're told,'

    'Sold' means that something is bought. Buying things may reason for overuse of money. This part could indicate that you shouldn't buy too many things as it could cause debts and loss of money, and 'I'm just doing what we're told,' means that somebody told him not to use money when you don't need it.

    'Everything that drowns me makes me want to fly,'

    In this part, the writer talks about things that we aren't capable to do. Flying isn't possible unless there is something to support us to fly. Things need support. For example, debts need loans or advice, bullying needs to be told, airplanes need wheels to land smoothly, astronauts need oxygen because you can't breath in space and etc.
    Flying makes you feel like you want to do it, without support. But because of that report, it is forbidden without 'support' from others, for example, it needs to be told to, needs permission before heading off.
    LynkedChaoson August 22, 2013   Link
  • +3
    Song MeaningOn "The Voice" Ryan Tedder said: "This is about my struggle to pursue music fulltime. I got married relatively young so now I'm supporting somebody else and I used to sit around thinking about I can't wait till I'm not counting every single Penny. I wanna be just chilling, counting stars."

    Having heard that and then looking at the lyrics again - I definitely get what he's saying. Making it in the music industry can be such a struggle. Not everyone gets discovered or accepted right away, it can be very hard work - on top of that there's having to pay the bills which makes you look at or "count" every Dollar and in his case also having someone else to support. He was probably getting rejected at times but didn't give up hope, looking forward to the time where the goal would be reached. And he believed in himself, saying "we'll be counting stars" as he's sure about it.

    Ryan Tedder is definitely a great songwriter. I can connect with so many of the songs.
    CarryCherryon October 22, 2013   Link
  • +2
    My InterpretationI heard this song a lot and it took me a while to catch on .. but i'm with Jenior who i saw got flagged for it? I think it's not necessarily about relationship with a drug. Or a drug habit in general.

    "Said no more counting dollars
    We'll be counting stars"
    It sounds like they are giving up on making a lot of money and have decided to use it as they get it and live a lifestyle of drug use (in their eyes freedom and happiness)

    "i feel so right doing the wrong thing,
    I feel so wrong doing the right thing."
    How a drug addict feels perfect when they are using,
    and How a user would feel so out of their skin without the drug

    "take that money, watch it burn"
    taking the money the user has and spending it one drugs... and literally watching it burn.

    "sink in the river the lessons i learned"
    they know what they're doing is a bad habit and maybe have had repercussions in the past but they are doing it anyway and ignoring the lessons they have already learned.

    "everything that kills me makes me feel alive"
    The things that make the person the happiest and feel the most alive are the very things that hurt them. This correlates perfectly to drug abuse... the euphoric feelings that come with drugs.. however the harm they do to an individuals body.
    252pirateon June 27, 2013   Link
  • +2
    My InterpretationWell for me, I get the impression that this song is about a long distance relationship.
    When he says he's been loosing sleep thinking about the things they could be, it makes me think he's just tossing and turning in bed thinking about how much more amazing their relationship would be if they were actually together.
    And he's been praying hard to see her. And no more counting dollars, as in he doesn't have enough money to go see her because he's been struggling with money problems, so he's counting stars.

    In the verses, I feel like he's contemplating the situation with himself. He sees the signs that one day he'll see her, but there's just so many things holding him back with money issues, maybe rent and debt, bills. But he's not giving up because basically what doesn't kill him makes him stronger, and he loves her too much to stop trying. And he finds himself trying to save up money to see her, when he should be worrying about his bills, which is why he feels "so right doing the wrong thing" or "so wrong doing the right thing"

    I could be completely wrong, but that's just how I interpret this song.
    Hetaliaaaon August 23, 2013   Link

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