"The Couch" as written by Alanis Nadine Morissette and Glen Ballard....
You hadn't seen your father in such a long time
He died in the arms of his lover how dare he
Your mother never left the house
She never married anyone else you took it upon yourself to console her

You reminded her so much of your father
So you were banished and you wonder why you're so hypersensitive
And why you can't trust anyone but us
But then how can I begin to forgive her so many years under bridges with dirty water
She was foolish and selfish and cowardly if you ask me

I don't know where to begin in all of my 50 odd years
I have been silently suffering and adapting perpetuating and enduring
Who are you younger generation to tell me that I have unresolved problems
Not many examples of fruits of this type of excruciating labor

How can you just throw words around like grieve and heal and mourn
I feel fine we may not have been born as awake as you were
It was much harder in those days we had paper routes uphill both ways
We went from school to a job to a wife to instant parenthood

I walked into his office I felt so self-conscious on the couch
He was sitting down across from me he was writing down his hypothesis I don't know
I've got a loving supportive wife who doesn't know how involved she should get
You say his interjecting was him just calling me on my shit?

Just the other day my sweet daughter I was driving past 203 I walked up the stars in my minds eyes
I remember how they would creak loudly
She was only responsive with a drink he was only responsive by photo
I was only trying to be the best big brother I could

I've walked sometimes confused sometimes ready to crack open wide
Sometimes indignant sometimes raw
Can you imagine I pay him 75 dollars an hour sometimes
It feels like highway robbery
And sometimes it's peanuts
I wish it could last a couple more hours

So here we both are battling similar demons (not coincidentally)
You see in getting beyond knowing it solely intellectually you're not relinquishing your majestry
You are wise you are warm you are courageous you are big
And I love you more now than I ever have in my whole life


Lyrics submitted by Lamia

"The Couch" as written by Alanis Nadine Morissette Glen Ballard

Lyrics © Peermusic Publishing, Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Universal Music Publishing Group, THE BICYCLE MUSIC COMPANY

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The Couch song meanings
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21 Comments

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  • +2
    My InterpretationGod..I can't believe it's been years and I still love this song...

    It is mos def about sitting with a shrink and alternates between first the shrink, her dad and then Alanis at the end. Who knows, they could have had a group session.

    The first line is the shrink or Alanis talking to the Alanis's dad telling him about his childhood. If you've ever been to a therapist, that's what you do; we are who we are because of past experiences. "You hadn't seen your father in such a long time, he died in the arms of his lover, how dare he. Your mother never left the house, she never married anyone, as you took it upon yourself to console her." So we're getting into an issue of a boy having to take on the role of husband and a support for his mother at a young age (later we learn that she was an alcoholic too, so that sucks). No doubt, he probably had been in this role for some time as "you hadn't seen your father in such a long time" shows us that his dad wasn't there much. She took out her anguish and anger on him because he looked like his dad. God, already such an effed up childhood: "You reminded her so much of your father so you were banished and you wonder why you're so hypersensitive and why you can't trust anyone but us?"

    Now the dad talks: "But how...can I begin to forgive her so many years under bridges with dirty water, she was foolish, and selfish, and cowardly if you asked me." He needs to forgive her to be able to let go and he knows this. "I don't know where to begin in all of my 50-odd years I have been silently suffering and adapting, perpetuating, and enduring. Who are you younger generation to tell me that I have unresolved problems, not many examples of fruits of this type of excruciating labor" He's been around for awhile, and he's lived this long with this baggage so what difference does it make if he sees a shrink to realize it? Am I going to reap some reward for going through all of my personal details with you?
    The dad continues to talk about the shrink "terminology" like grieve and heal and mourn. Which leads me to believe that Alanis pushed her father to see a shrink because maybe his mother (her grandmother) died recently and he didn't show any emotion whatsoever?
    "I feel fine we, may not have been born as awake as you were.
    It was much harder in those days we had paper routes uphill both ways
    We went from school to a job to a wife to instant parenthood"
    He's giving excuses.."I'm fine..that's just the way it was back then." And probably using the term "awake" sarcastically (that's just my take).

    "I walked into his office; I felt so self-conscious on the couch, he was sitting down across from me, he was writing down his 'hypothesis', I don't know. I've got a loving, supportive wife who doesn't know how involved she should get. You say his interjecting was him just calling me on my shit?"
    He's in another session now talking about the present and what's going on in his life with Alanis's mom. The dad is telling Alanis about it and asking questions. He continues talking with her "Just the other day, my sweet daughter, I was driving past 203, I walked up the stairs in my minds eye, I remember how they would creak loudly; she was only responsive with a drink, he was only responsive by photo, I was only trying to be the best big brother that I could.."
    I think he's talking about driving past the old house and remembering and finally understanding and realizing that yeah, my mom was a drunk, my dad was never there, and it was not my fault that they were that way; I just wanted to be a good big brother. He's saying this to his daughter and would probably be considered a "breakthrough."

    "I've walked sometimes confused sometimes ready to crack open wide
    Sometimes indignant sometimes raw. Can you imagine I pay him 75 dollars an hour? SometimesIt feels like highway robbery, and sometimes it's peanuts.
    I wish it could last a couple more hours"
    He uses past tense to say that before, he walked around angry and didn't know how to work through it; he just wanted to crack open because of all he had been through with his mom and family (now he realizes). And he's realizing that therapy is a good thing; sometimes indispensable, sometimes not (which is so true).

    And then it comes to Alanis who says:
    "So here we both are battling similar demons (not coincidentally)
    You see in getting beyond knowing it solely intellectually, you're not relinquishing your majestry. You are wise, you are warm, you are courageous you are big and I love you more now than I ever have in my whole life"
    She's saying do you see how your problems are my problems too? It's not coincidence; we're blood and whatever happened to you in your past affects me today. But because you know now on a deeper level about what your childhood meant and how it was affected by how you grew up, does not make you less of a man or lesser of the great man that is my father.
    Belljar84on June 17, 2013   Link
  • +1
    General CommentIt's about a 50 year-old man who is resentfully being persuaded by his daughter to start seeing a shrink.
    Letmeinon May 13, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General CommentDoes anyone know what this song is about? Please?
    nietzsche_66on June 02, 2002   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI don't really know, but I can guess. I think you should look at it as a dialouge between two people. In the first and second verse, it could be a man's daughter? talking to him. Maybe she is telling him what to do about his "unresolved problems" and he doesn't like it. He tells her what he thinks in the rest of the song. This is only a guess. Maybe he is talking to his younger sister also? This is a mixed up song, but I do believe it is a dialogue between two people, but who? I have no idea.
    Honeybeeon August 30, 2002   Link
  • 0
    General Commentit took me a while to work out what i thaught it meant but now i think i'm slightly clearer, at fist i did think it was at least two people having talking, but now i think it is just one person, an old man, reflecting back on his life to his daughter and perhaps a brother. Whatever it means, i likie the way it shows how a person has lived with pain in his life and how it has shaped him and caused psycological dammage perhaps (going to see the shrink?). I also lik the way he just seems like a typical old grouch ('who are you younger generation to tell me that i have unresolved problems',it was much harder in those days), but then also how he has his soft side ('i was only trying to be the best big brother i could', 'she was only responsive with a drink he was only responsive by photo '). It makes me think more deeply about the grouchy old men i see now!
    pabloredfoxon March 03, 2003   Link
  • 0
    General Commentyeah i thought first it woz loads of different people but then i realised it made more sense as the one person.
    StrangeInfatuationon April 26, 2003   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThis sounds biographical... but I don't know anything about her life. I just wanted to say this is one the first of her songs on SFIJ for me to memorize... I love it!!
    Angry Saron June 24, 2004   Link
  • 0
    General CommentPersonally, i think the name the couch referes to a couch in a psychiatrist’s office. and an old man is explaning to his daughter, how he explained to his doctor his problem...But whatever it means great song!!!
    suhaon December 26, 2004   Link
  • 0
    General Commentthis song touches me so much, bc it sounds so real. its not just sum made up story. It feels like she actually lived this story and we she sings it, it feels like i am living it too. Ive never felt so much emotion from one song before.
    Asheekaon January 03, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI think the song is about a man talking to a psychiatrist and trying to come to terms with his life and the kind of father he has been. In the end he makes peace with his daughter.
    goobiegetteron January 24, 2005   Link

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