"Human Sadness" as written by and Julian Casablancas....
Put money in my hand
And I will do the things you want me to.

Vanity, overriding wisdom,
Usually common sense.

Should I delete it,
You said you'd read it
You promised you would never ruin it with sequels,

I wake for you, on and on

Beyond all ideas of right and wrong there is a field,
I will be meeting you there.

The moon's a skull, I think it's grinning
The room is full of people now I think it's spinning

Wanted you, didn't ask for nothing.
Wait for you, on and on

And I don't need your tie, I don't need to, tired of saying it.
We don't need more talk, don't empty out your canteen on the desert floor.
Ahhh, it's all my fault

Never wanna spell it out,
I just want to say that it is all my fault,
I could never spit it out,
I don't wanna fix your tie.

Never want to say we're sad,
Thankful that we got some chance,
I know you won't get back your time,
I wish that you could take it back.

Beyond all ideas of right and wrong there is a field,
I will be meeting you there.

He wanted it more than me, I suppose
I was in a rush to wait in a line.
Now I hear echoes of my old self,
This is not the way to be.
All at once,
I lost my way.

Is it not true, the things that we did?
Come here at once and look what they did
Come here shut down and tune in tonight,
Learn the words that they teach you without you realizing it
Come here sit down and watch some TV

Mine all mine, wait your turn,
Cross my cross, slice his hand,
Not your son, not your friend, not your enemy.

I rely on the little things to get me by,
Conscience says, "I'm okay",
You don't hear what they say.
"He's not my son, search his home"
Off to war,
It's time to go hide inside.

Soft skin,
Weak chin,
Just walk me thru it, tell me what to do I'll do

Hurry hurry, that's my baby
Ohh, do what you can.

All the time he waits for me.
And now we talk from time to time,

Hits you on the head when nobody's there,
Then he says, "come here could you fix my tie?"

It's never gonna be,
To be is not the way to be.

Show me where to go, don't get angry so quickly,
Fuck depression.

Beyond all ideas of right and wrong there is a field,
I will be meeting you there

Understanding is more important than love,
If not money will always trump justice

All is lost,
I'll find my way.
So I say,
To be is not to be.
To be is not the way to be.


Lyrics submitted by jangdin

"Human Sadness" as written by Julian Casablancas

Lyrics © BMG RIGHTS MANAGEMENT US, LLC

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Human Sadness song meanings
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3 Comments

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  • +5
    General CommentThis song is fuckin' epic, and it doesn't matter what you think it means
    libertineboyon October 13, 2014   Link
  • +3
    My InterpretationI think this song is about Julian's relationship with his biological father. He's talked about the strained/bad relationship they had growing up and even into his young adulthood. He's even said recently in an interview that things are better between them now, but still not great, that he would never want to be that kind of a father to his own son, Cal.

    The quote from Rumi is sort of his mantra, a reminder to himself that even though his father treated/treats him badly that Julian can try to be a bigger man and look past his father's flaws - or maybe accept that his father hurt him/caused him to be depressed, and as a result be open to the reasons his father treated him badly. In the context of the song, the fact that he (Julian) will be meeting him (his father) suggests to me a willingness to accept and forgive.

    "Soft skin
    Weak chin
    Just walk me through it, tell me what to do I'll do it"

    *I think the first two lines here are things Julian's father said to him growing up that hurt him, and the last line is the boy Julian's inner dialogue pleading with his father to just love him, tell him what to do so that his dad will love him.

    "Wanted you
    Didn't ask for nothing
    Wait for you
    On and on"

    *Julian saying all he ever wanted was his dad to love him, nothing more.

    "I rely on the little things to get me by
    Conscience says "I'm ok"
    You don't hear what they say
    "He's not my son, search his home"
    Off to war
    It's time to go hide inside"

    *He's depressed because no matter what he does, Julian's father doesn't return his love/return it to the extent that Julian needed as a child.

    And then this emotional gulf between them is widened even further when - somehow (it's not explained in the song) - Julian's father denies him as his son. That line - "He's not my son, search his home" - is a quote and I feel like it must reference something very specific that impacted Julian and obviously he never forgot. Julian has used this songwriting technique a lot with the Strokes, building up a scene by first describing it and then throwing in pieces of dialogue heard in that scene.

    This event may have been the final straw for Julian, who realizes an emotional war with his father is inevitable and copes with this realization by withdrawing inside himself - perhaps his most defining characteristic based on the interviews he gives and his own descriptions of himself.

    "Come here at once and look what they did
    Come here shut down and tune in tonight
    Learn the words that they teach you without you realizing it
    Come here sit down and watch some tv"

    *This passage is really interesting to me. I don't know if it directly relates to his father but it definitely goes back to an old motif of Julian's about the malevolent influence of society on human beings.

    "Come here shut down and tune in tonight" & "Come here sit down and watch some tv" is reminiscent of a lot of classic dystopian literature (notably the Two Minutes Hate from 1984 and the giant wall-to-wall tv screens in Fahrenheit 451) as well as of our current society (Two Minutes Hate via Fox News/CNN and giant wall-to-wall TV screens via giant, flat-paneled, flat-screen, HD, 3D TVs).

    "Learn the words that they teach you without you realizing it" has gotta be a direct reference to Brave New World in which beliefs are distilled down into short sayings that are repeated over and over to children as they sleep. They then start to speak these phrases for themselves and believe them without ever questioning where those beliefs come from or why they believe them.

    Julian has definitely read Brave New World, the song Soma from Is This It is a reference to the soma tablets taken by characters in the book- a drug that makes you feel "happy" all the time without ever really letting you feel anything.

    Ultimately Julian says "Fuck depression...I'll find my own way" and he repeats the Rumi quote, possibly as a way to bolster his attitude about overcoming his sadness. But he's not really sure how successful he'll be at it.

    Perhaps it's his depression that pushes him to the very existential grief-induced conclusion that "To be is not to be / To be is not the way to be" - a new twist on the dialogue of another classic literature character - Hamlet - who dealt with his own father issues and twisted existential questions.
    Tourist4829on November 16, 2014   Link
  • 0
    My InterpretationThe song is about the relationship with his father and the relationship with his newborn son. Julian's father has always been distant and was never really around for him growing up. The main reason he started drinking and acting out was in an attempt to gain his father's attention but it never worked. As of now, The relationship is on slightly better terms but they still are not close. This song is Julian's acceptance that he will never have that kind of relationship with his father.

    And the second part of the song is how fatherhood has changed him and how he would never be the kind of man his father was. He is just totally in love with his son and being a father has really turned his life around. And I think that's where the acceptance comes from like just because your dad never acted like one doesn't mean that you have to do the same. So instead of trying to bend head over heels to gain his father's love and affection, He's gonna show his son the love and affection that was never shown to him and break the cycle.
    Pokemystrokeon January 05, 2017   Link

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