"Do What You Have To Do" as written by and Ramin Djawadi....
What ravages of spirit
Conjured this tempestuous rage
Created you a monster
Broken by the rules of love
And fate has led you through it
You do what you have to do
And fate has led you through it
You do what you have to do

And I have the sense to recognize that
I don't know how to let you go

Every moment marked
With apparitions of your soul
I'm ever swiftly moving
Trying to escape this desire
The yearning to be near you
I do what I have to do
The yearning to be near you
I do what I have to do

And I have the sense to recognize that
I don't know how to let you go
I don't know how to let you go

A glowing ember
Burning hot
And burning slow
Deep within I'm shaken by the violence
Of existing for only you

I know I can't be with you
I do what I have to do
I know I can't be with you
I do what I have to do

And I have sense to recognize but
I don't know how to let you go
I don't know how to let you go
(I don't know how to let you go)


Lyrics submitted by kevin, edited by cwcheung

"Do What You Have to Do" as written by Colleen Wolstenholme Sarah Mclachlan

Lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

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Do What You Have To Do song meanings
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  • +4
    General CommentI don't think anyone's picked up on it yet, but here it is. This song is Dido and Aeneas. There are nearly direct quotes from the Aeneid in here. I would know, too, I translated four books of it. For those of you not knowing this classic, lemme give you all a brief synopsis. Aeneas is a survivor of Troy, he's prophecised to go and find a city, but Juno is trying to stop him. Along the way, after Juno tosses him over the seas with a storm, Aeneas winds up shipwrecked in Carthage, where the Phoenician Dido is buildng a city. Dido is a strong woman leader, she has escaped her brother Pygmalion, after he killed her husband Sychaeus. Dido is not supposed to marry again, but after hearing the lost Trojan King's story, she falls in love. He stays there wiith her, they fall in love and spend a night in a cave avoiding a storm, and begin to live together. The gods step in at this point, and Aeneas, in order to fulfill the prophecy, must leave to go found a city. He is "led by fate", a phrase repeated in the Aeneid, and he would be punished by the gods for not leaving. She is heart-broken and begs him to stay. When he does not, she begins to plan her suicide. Her suicide happens in the center of the city, where she runs herself through with Aeneas's sword, then lays upon a funeral pyre, burning, and dies.

    Now to the lyric. "What ravages of spirit/ conjured this temptuous rage" is right our of book 1 of the Aeneid. It talks about the anger of the spirits and the fate of the man, Aeneas. "And fate has led you through it" is there as well, "fato profugus," in latin. "Apparitions of your soul" is something that happens in the Aeneid, after Aeneas leaves dido, and she dreams him. "trying to escape this desire" surely refers to Dido longing for Aeneas and trying to forget him. The verse beginning with "a glowing ember" is one of the parts that really convinces me. They talk about Dido burning as if embers inside of her were hot and burning with this desire for him (that's partially the gods doing) and it also foreshadows her death upon the pyre.

    That's what this song is, a love song and a suicide song.
    Eccentricityon June 21, 2005   Link
  • +4
    My InterpretationI have read several comments and respect them. I think this song is about lost love, and the vulnerability of admitting to the loved one that there has been a betrayal of neglect, which hurts so much, because it is foreign to the essence of pure love. Sarah is singing about the travails of recognizing that the loved one has neglected and harmed the subject, and doesn't seem to care. However, it's important for the subject to communicate the depth of the damage. The subject is ambushed by the neglect, and doesn't know how to cope with it, yet feels it's important to convey the pain. Moving on is not ideal, but also a recognition that the love interest of the subject has already done so, but failed to consider the feelings or damage of the subject, by neglecting to share.

    This is a very sad song, brilliantly written and sung to express the heartbreak that is the theme.
    PleinlyStatedon February 07, 2011   Link
  • +3
    General CommentHmm. I think everyone here has touched on the meaning, but to me it's a little different. I feel like it's about her being so completely in love with someone that just isn't able to give her the same kind of love back. Whether it be because he doesn't feel the same, or because he isn't able to admit to that strong of a feeling. Perhaps she refers to him as a monster, because she can't believe he would be so cruel as to deny such a true love. She tries endlessly to do what he wants her to do, to leave it be, but she can't escape her own heart and the truth of the situation. The depth of the love shakes her to the core. Knowing that she won't be able to let this love go, scares her to death and leaves her burning in torment. At least this is what I percieve...perhaps I just know that torment all too well.
    WinterOnyxon May 13, 2004   Link
  • +3
    General CommentThis song is so profound and so beautifully written and sung by Sara one of my favorite singer/song writers. I can relate to this song because I had an experience of forbidden love. I had to do what I had to do and leave this person and his friendship. It was the most difficult thing to get over. It took a long time to get over this person but time does heal. Unfortunately I thought I was over this person after not seeing him for more than 10 years and we recently saw each other at a sort of reunion. My forbidden love was so happy to see me and hugged me with so much sentiment. Since that day I cannot get over him and the feelings I had for this person resurfaced. Now I must try and get over him once more. It's a very painful process and her lyrics describe this so succinctly. I cannot stop crying it hurts so much.
    aztecgoldon October 06, 2012   Link
  • +2
    General Commenteveryone talks about this song, and says 'she's in a relationship that she does not want to get out of.' with love, there is no want. she instead, can't get out of it. true love never comes to an end, though that does not limit you to only loving one person. but with sarah, she's on step ahead of us all. she 'has the sense to recognize' that she does not know how to let this person go, unlike most who are thrown blindly into a maze of feeling we know as love. like she says 'every moment marked with apparitions of your soul', the scars of love remain. always.
    thetowncrieron June 04, 2003   Link
  • +2
    General CommentI've lost one of my best friends to breast cancer and this song brings back all of the memories of our conversations of realizing that she would die. When she did die, I wasn't coping well and didn't know how to let her go. But this song keeps a part of her with me. She (Sarah) mentions "glowing embers" and being "skaken" and not being able to be together, so we must go on and do what we have to do. She would defintely want me to go on, but after3 years, I still don't know how to let her go. But Sarah also explains that "fate has led you through it" so maybe it's destined to be this way. But I'm surely shaken by the violence of losing her and do what I have to do to move on. Nevertheless, she's always the glowing ember in my heart.... every single day and I still haven't learned how to let her go after these years that have gone by. She's a BEAUTIFUL person, inside and out and will always be... forever!
    GekOpMuziekon March 18, 2005   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI think it's about not being able to get over a relationship that is over. The person keeps thinking about the other person, even though he/she knows that he/she should move on with life.
    papillonon April 28, 2002   Link
  • +1
    General Commentdoes anyone else see this song as being about an abusive relationship?
    aleahyon January 02, 2005   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI know i can't be with you i do what i have to do: its like she loves someone but knows that its not good for them to be together i totally relate to this song
    halo_cutieon March 01, 2005   Link
  • +1
    General CommentThis is an absolutly amazing song. It basically describes my situation. Theres someone I really want to be with but i cant, and i still do know how to let go.
    foolishloveon July 26, 2005   Link

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