"What If No One's Watching?" as written by and Ani Difranco....
If my life were a movie
There would be a sunset
And the camera would pan away
But the sky is just a little sister

Tagging along behind the buildings
Trying to imitate their gray
The little boys are breaking bottles
Against the sidewalk

The big boys, too
The girls are hanging out at the candy store
Pumping quarters into the phone
'Cause they don't want to go home

And I think,
What if no one's watching
What it when we're dead, we are just dead
What if it's just us down here

What if god ain't looking down
What if he's looking up instead

If my life were a movie
I would light a cigarette
And the smoke would curl around my face
Everything I do would be interesting

I'd play the good guy
In every scene
But I always feel I have to
Take a stand

And there's always someone on hand
To hate me for standing there
I always feel I have to open my mouth
And every time I do

I offend someone
Somewhere

But what
What if no one's watching
What if when we're dead, we are just dead
What if there's no time to lose

What if there's things we gotta do
Things that need to be said

You know I can't apologize
For everything I know
I mean you don't have to agree with me
But once you get me going

You better just let me go
We have to be able to criticize
What we love
Say what we have to say

'Cause if you're not trying to make something better
Then as far as I can tell
You are just in the way

I mean what
What if no one's watching
What if when we're dead
We are just dead

What if it's just us down here
What if god is just an idea
Someone put in your head

I mean what
What if no one's watching
What if no one's watching...


Lyrics submitted by aur0ra

"What If No One's Watching" as written by Ani Difranco

Lyrics © A SIDE MUSIC LLC D/B/A MODERN WORKS MUSIC PUBLISHING

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What If No One's Watching? song meanings
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8 Comments

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  • 0
    General Commentgod=he what is this refering to?
    betterthanstaron May 02, 2003   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThis song is about life in general...and Ani's been brave enough to be cynical about God and religion in general. The song says, what if no one's watching? Implying what is there is no God? As an athiest, i found myself agreeing with what Ani was saying. People have to face the truth about life whether they want to or not sometimes. I'm not sure what the first verse is on about or how it fits but the last verse is my favourite. Ani really is a talented lyricist and i like her a lot. This is a great song and very cleverly written.
    Licion October 13, 2004   Link
  • 0
    General CommentTo me this song is about not being afraid to question things-- even if in the end you decide that someone is "watching", the fact that you put thought into it and questioned it makes your belief alot more powerful, rather than "just an idea someone put in your head" .
    L-E-7on February 09, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General Commenti agree. we shouldn't be naive ... it should be okay to be cynical. there's still a lot of beauty in life..
    staceyk8on September 28, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentLici, I think the first verse and the stuff about movies fits with the idea that "no one's watching." Movies are meant to be watched, and if life was a movie, God would be the watcher. However, life sometimes lacks the meaning and glory of the movies. Instead of the "sunset" and the camera panning away, the sky is as grey as the buildings below it.

    To me, this song is about the absurdity of living your life as if you're constantly being watched by some viewer critiquing your every move. Life shouldn't consist of pre-written dialogue - what you should say and what you should do. It's ridiculous to live your life like you're some character in a movie.

    In the third stanza, it's like the singer is being ridiculed for not playing her part in life right. She's not sticking to the dialogue, not saying or doing the right things. But she doesn't care because she's living her life for herself, not for some invisible viewer.

    I don't consider this an anti-God song. It's just about the desire to live your life the same way whether or not God exists.
    comradealon December 15, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentSaying this is an anti-god song is oversimplifying it. While that is [debatably] arguable, I think it's more about "being cool." We're always worried about how we're perceived. Not just God-wise: we tend to live as if someone is constantly judging us, looking at us. We design our lives as if we're the main characters in some trippy serio-comic indie film. We design ourselves so that the audience loves us...we worry about if we're on the "right" side.

    It's a waste of time. We're so worried about being right that it doesn't matter. Living your life as if someone's watching is okay ("I'd play the good guy in every scene") but it's ridiculous. Because in the end, we have a obligation to try to make the world better...and it doesn't matter if years from now, we'll be remembered and adored, forgotten, or hated. This song is about being clear and honest and living for yourself...because living like someone's watching is a waste of time.
    powertrashon January 08, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI find this song existentialist and uplifting.

    I'm not claiming to be an existentialist myself; I'm certainly not decisive enough for that.

    Anyhow, I feel that Ani's simply suggesting that all the time we may have to enjoy this crazy cosmos is what we've got in this unpredictable lifetime. And, if that's so... we had best make the most of it because, ultimately, life is a beautiful thing and it is far too short.

    I almost giggle to hear it. It seems odd, what depresses many to even consider - the fact that there may be no God or Afterlife - I find a thrilling and liberating suggestion in the way Ani approaches it in these lyrics.

    What if no one is watching? Well we can go enjoy ourselves without worrying about a metaphysical spanking (to paraphrase the movie, Dogma) after we die if we've been slightly naughty. And, if people learned to be kind just because they wanted to make this life better for everyone and therefore were SINCERE in their kindness, as opposed to trying to earn karma or brownie points or whatever you wish to call it, than we would all likely have a much better time.
    nessa222on February 01, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI was a kid lying in my bed one night (before this song was released, I'm sure), and had just finished praying. I was a practicing Christian throughout my childhood, but this particular night was different.

    I thought hard about what I had just done (knelt and talked to myself), and got a little freaked out. I thought, as Difranco put it, "What if God is just an idea someone put in your head?" After moving through the initial shock of it, I felt like someone had just unlocked the door to a cage I'd built around myself... it was the most freeing thing I've ever felt, and she captures it in this song.
    herbivoreon November 01, 2007   Link

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