"To Be Alone" as written by and Andrew Hozier Byrne....
Never feel too good in crowds,
With folks around
When they're playing
The anthems of rape culture loud,
Crude and proud
Creatures baying
All I've ever done is hide
From our times
When you're near me
Honey, when you kill the lights
And kiss my eyes
I feel like a person for a moment of my life

But you don't know what hell you put me through
To have someone kiss the skin that crawls from you
To feel your weight in arms I'd never use
It's the god that heroin prays to

It feels good, girl, it feels good
It feels good, girl, it feels good
It feels good, girl, it feels good
Oh to be alone with you

There are questions I can't ask
Now at last
The worst is over
See the way you hold yourself
Reel against
Your body's borders
I know that you hate this place
Not a trace
Of me would argue
Honey, we should run away
Oh someday
Our baby and her momma
And the damaged love she make

But I don't know what else that I would give
Than try to kiss the skin that crawls from you
Then feel your weight in arms I'd never use
It's the god that heroin prays to

It feels good, girl, it feels good
It feels good, girl, it feels good
It feels good, girl, it feels good
Oh to be alone with you

It feels good, girl, it feels good
It feels good, girl, it feels good
It feels good, girl, it feels good
Oh to be alone with you


Lyrics submitted by basser, edited by randy11242, teaspill

"To Be Alone" as written by Andrew Hozier Byrne Junior Kimbrough

Lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

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To Be Alone song meanings
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  • +5
    General Comment"You don't know what hell you put me through
    To have someone kiss the skin that crawls from you"

    Such great writing.
    Aquarius121on November 05, 2014   Link
  • +4
    My InterpretationThis song is surprisingly ambiguous. The reading I'm going to give is far from the only possible interpretation, but hopefully the reasons I prefer it will become clear as I go through the song.

    Never feel too good in crowds,
    With folks around, when they're playing,
    The anthems of rape culture loud,
    Crude and proud creatures baying.

    All I've ever done is hide,
    From our times when you're near me,
    Honey, when you kill the lights,
    And kiss my eyes,
    I feel like a person for a moment of my life.

    Disliking people being jackasses ("baying"), and responding with a desire for escapism ("hide").
    While he's with his lover, the exposing light of the world is darkened, his eyes are kissed, and he doesn't have to see the lewd and cruel actions of his fellow man any longer.
    For the brief moment of time that he doesn't see the disgusting aspects of human behavior, he can feel like a part of the human race ("like a person"), rather than his prior state of revolted alienation.

    You don't know what hell you put me through,
    To have someone kiss the skin that crawls from you,
    To feel your weight in arms I'd never use,
    It's the God that heroin prays to...

    It feels good, girl it feels good,
    It feels good, it feels good,
    It feels good, girl it feels good,
    Oh, to be alone with you.

    While having sex, if foreplay and teasing are protracted, the desire for consummation can become intense enough to produce actual, physical pain ("hell", "skin that crawls from you", reading "from" as "because of"). The "kiss" is likely a euphemism for the release of intercourse. After orgasm, one tends to feel lethargic, satiated, and disinclined to do much other than hold one's partner ("your weight in arms I'd never use").
    For a heroin addict, waiting too long between indulgences produces emotional turmoil, intense cravings, and a good deal of physical discomfort, including skin that quite literally feels like it's crawling off of one's body ("hell", "skin that crawls"). The "kiss" here would be the act of using the drug. While high, one tends to feel lethargic, satiated, and disinclined to move ("arms I'd never use"), a heroin user also quite literally feels like one's limbs are heavy while high ("to feel your weight").
    Having sex and using heroin are being set up as parallel, possibly even equivalent, experiences.

    There are questions I can't ask,
    Now at last the worst is over,
    See the way you hold yourself,
    Reel against your body's borders.

    In this reading, one of the two lovers is a heroin addict.
    Now, when an addict says they need enough opiates to "hold" them, what they mean is that they intend to use enough to keep the physical sickness away, but not enough to be high. My understanding is that's still an uncomfortable state, but it at least keeps them from vomiting all over the floor and lets them function.
    He doesn't ask what she's doing, or why, as she's getting and using drugs. "The worst", the sickness, is over when she uses. "See the way you hold yourself,/Reel against your body's borders" can be taken here to indicate she's used much more than she'd need to just hold herself, she is reeling.
    There's a nice bit of punning if one presumes this interpretation: Instead of having him hold her, she is "hold[ing] herself" by taking drugs, and gaining the pleasure that physical interaction could bring alone instead of with him.

    I know that you hate this place,
    Not a trace of me would argue,
    Honey, we should run away, someday,
    Our baby and her momma and the damaged love she makes.

    She's just used. He says, "I know that you hate this place". Consider how the song begins: Voicing a desire for escapism. Now consider the proposed equivalence between sex and drugs: They are both methods of escaping unpleasant realities. He concludes that in spite of sex being available, she clearly needs another escape, because she just used one.
    Hence, he points out that they both "hate" and need to escape "this place". Positing them both escaping together offers her another escape, as well as allowing him to continue to share something (their need to escape) with her while she's escaping him (by getting high). This while voicing a desire to find a place or time when neither of them will need to run away anymore.
    Another little ambiguity: There's no conjunction between the last two lines of this verse. It could be read as him acknowledging that he needs to run away from or with his lover and child. (I err towards with, but I like the pall of doubt the absence grants the line.)

    But I don't know what else that I would do,
    Than try to kiss the skin that crawls from you,
    Than feel your weight in arms I'd never use,
    It's the God that heroin prays to...

    The differences between this verse and the previous iteration are huge. Instead of being kissed, he is now "try[ing]" to kiss her. Instead of being in a hell that will soon be ameliorated, he is uncertain what he should do ("I don't know what else"). Helplessly, he tries to kiss her skin. But her skin's already crawling from her: a withdrawal symptom this time, rather than the pleasantly painful sensation of the first iteration. "To feel your weight in arms I'd never use" I read here as "to hold you with my arms even though I can't use them to make you feel better".

    It feels good, girl it feels good,
    It feels good, it feels good,
    It feels good, girl it feels good,
    Oh, to be alone with you.

    One of the reasons I like this interpretation is that it allows for so many ways to be alone.
    When they're alone together, they're apart from the rest of the world.
    When she's using, she's alone because she's escaped even from him. At that point, he tries not to be alone by focusing on what they share even when she's high: A desire to escape and hide from the world.
    When she's withdrawing at the end, she's even more alone, because she's in a hell he isn't experiencing. At that point, he is finally inescapably alone, because she is suffering, completely disconnected from him, and there is nothing he can do. All the connections are broken, one by one.

    It's pretty.
    teaspillon February 11, 2015   Link
  • +2
    General CommentI think everyone who has commented this far has missed the entirety of this song... It is about rape. I can't decide if it's him, her, or them both that have been victims. But it is clear. In the beginning he is talking about being in crowds and how uncomfortable it is. How the rape culture is loud and proud. Do you ever pay attention to how our culture so nonchalantly talks and jokes about rape? How that crude word is thrown about? It is unsettling. And victims/survivors, whatever, every time the word hits their ears or it is brought about in tv shows or whatever, it stings and brings up memories. Flashbacks. Causes their skin to crawl. For them to draw in again. Want to escape. Run away. Get away.... Because no where is safe. It takes so long to trust someone again and that's where this couple is getting to. They turn the lights off, because when they're on it's uncomfortable. And she kisses his eyes-- not his lips. Because they're learning to build that trust again. They're learning together. But for that moment when she is able to kiss him, he feels normal. He feels safe in his own skin with that little bit of intimacy. OR if she is the one who was the victim, perhaps the mere fact that she was willing to kiss him and give him any kind of intimate touch meant the world to him. It felt "normal" for a single moment. And that feels good. It's like ecstasy. And now he wants more. But he's cautious.

    And the questions he can't ask-- you don't ask a victim about what happened, how it felt, what goes through their mind.. You just can't ask those things... But the worst is over now, they're finally making some progress of getting back to "normal" with each other. And he knows that she hates this place, she doesn't feel safe, so he's willing to run away with her and start somewhere new that doesn't have these bad memories attached to it. And someday he can see her finally being able to have a child with him. One day. That she may always be damaged but that she'll still be able to love.

    And the weight in arms that I would never use-- she doesn't allow him to touch her. But he wants to hold her in his arms after he kisses her. But she doesn't allow these things-- otherwise it would send her back into those memories. But he takes what he can, to have her show any type of physical touch feels good.

    Anyway. That's my take on it.
    _Gaia_on August 04, 2015   Link
  • +1
    My InterpretationSometimes when you inject pharmaceuticals it makes your arms feel numb or "heavy". Kinda hard to describe but that's what it makes me think of.
    Stormy1982on February 09, 2015   Link
  • +1
    General CommentIt does seem like this song is probably about drug use. But when I first heard this song I missed the drug references, so I have a different interpretation.

    "Never feel too good in crowds, with folks around, when they're playing
    The anthems of rape culture loud, crude and proud creatures baying
    All I've ever done is hide, from our times, when you're near me"

    He hates being in crowds when they are playing songs that promote rape culture. He hides from "our times" (rape culture) when his girlfriend is near him - because his girlfriend has been raped. He hates that society potentially plays a hand in the violence women face. This bothers him and keeps him up at night.

    "Honey, when you kill the lights, and kiss my eyes
    I feel like a person for a moment of my life"

    Though he feels upset/angry about what happened, he feels normal again when his girlfriend turns off the lights, presumably to be intimate with him. Sex is (supposed to be) a normal, pleasurable experience - he feels like a person again.

    "But you don't know what hell you put me through
    To have someone kiss the skin that crawls from you
    To feel your weight in arms I'd never use
    It's the god that heroin prays to"

    His hell is knowing that someone assaulted her. The second line is tricky, but I think kiss means something more sexual than kiss. "the skin that crawls from you" - this makes me think the act was not consensual, and she was crawling away, begrudgingly letting it happen, whatever. Third line - It's hell for him to feel her weight and imagine someone using their arms to pin her down (he’d never use his arms). I'm not sure what to make of the fourth line in this interpretation. Maybe the rapist was on drugs, or drugged her.

    It feels good, girl, it feels good
    It feels good, girl, it feels good
    It feels good, girl, it feels good
    Oh to be alone with you

    Despite everything, he loves being alone with her and he still finds great joy and passion in their relationship.

    "There are questions I can't ask, Now at last, The worst is over
    See the way you hold yourself, Reel against, Your body's borders
    I know that you hate this place, Not a trace, Of me would argue
    Honey, we should run away, Oh someday
    Our baby and her momma, And the damaged love she make"

    He does not want to ask questions about the details of what happened to her. Though the aftermath of rape is difficult the worst (the actual assault) is over. He sees that she holds herself differently, he sees the physical and psychological toll that the rape had on her. (She reels against her body's borders - she can't get the memory out of her head, she feels dirty, she wants to break free of her body). She hates where she is - in the immediate aftermath of a personal tragedy. He hates it too. He says they should run away someday.

    When he says "our baby and her momma and the damaged love she make" - this could indicate a pregnancy? He says our baby, meaning he will care for it as his own, and her momma (his girlfriend) and the damaged love she make. (the "love" that brought the baby into the world was very damaged indeed). However, if she became pregnant after a rape that would bring a whole new element into the song that I hadn’t really thought of.

    “But I don't know what else that I would give
    Than try to kiss the skin that crawls from you
    Then feel your weight in arms I'd never use
    It's the god that heroin prays to”

    She is starting to pull away and retreat into herself. She feels tainted, unfit for a sexual relationship. He doesn’t know what to do or what to give, than to keep trying (in this case not in a forceful way).

    It feels good, girl, it feels good
    It feels good, girl, it feels good
    It feels good, girl, it feels good
    Oh to be alone with you
    freeliketheseaon June 30, 2015   Link
  • +1
    My InterpretationI don't think it has a damn thing to do with rape OR drugs. haven't you seen "Trainspotting"? at the very beginning, Ewan McGregor is talking about the PLEASURE of heroin, and how there's NOTHING else on Earth like it, better than the best sex ever by like a millionfold.

    Hozier begs to differ. "it's the god that heroin prays to" is a statement that being with his lover is so fulfilling and consuming that the PLEASURE of THAT is something to which even fucking heroin can't hold a candle.

    the references to "rape culture" and "crowds" and "hate this place" and etc are all an expression of deep dissatisfaction with a spiritually bankrupt society. "I feel like a person for a moment of my life" because we're all reduced to automatons and cogs in the machine, and when he's with his girl, instead, he feels HUMAN. so, this one is about pretty much exactly the same thing as "Take Me to Church" -- the redemptive power of erotic love -- but TMtC is an indictment of religion, and this is an indictment of materialism.

    "kiss the skin that crawls from you" is about peeling away the layers of masks and habits and identity markers to reveal one's true self, one's soul, to someone trusted, and the "questions I can't ask" are all the little confidences between intimates that are meaningless if not given freely.
    arizona103on August 09, 2015   Link
  • 0
    General CommentAnyone know what he means when he says, "Then feel your weight in arms I'd never use It's the god that heroin prays to"?
    AMusicalSoulon December 10, 2014   Link
  • 0
    My InterpretationI think it's about him and/or his girlfriend being high on heroine. "it feel good, girl, it feels good." "Then feel your weight in arms I'd never use" may refer to his girlfriend shooting up but he would never do it himself. "See the way you hold yourself Reel against Your body's borders" is the feeling she gets when she is high, which is very common for a high on opiates and/or other drugs, to feel like you are not in your own skin or need to get out of it.
    TMini423on December 13, 2014   Link

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