"What I Am" as written by Edie Arlisa Brickell, Kenneth Neil Withrow, John Bradley Houser, John Walter Bush and Brandon Aly....
I'm not aware of too many things
I know what I know if you know what I mean
Philosophy is the talk on a cereal box
Religion is the smile on a dog

I'm not aware of too many things
I know what I know if you know what I mean
Choke me in the shallow water
Before I get too deep

What I am is what I am
Are you what you are - or what?

I'm not aware of too many things
I know what I know if you know what I mean
Philosophy is a walk on the slippery rocks
Religion is a light in the fog

I'm not aware of too many things
I know what I know if you know what I mean
Choke me in the shallow water
Before I get too deep

What I am is what I am
Are you what you are - or what?
Don't let me get too deep


Lyrics submitted by Hosimosi, edited by bigwillie

"What I Am" as written by Edie Arlisa Brickell Brandon Aly

Lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

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What I Am song meanings
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  • +7
    General CommentShe's making light of philosophy and religion in this song. She thinks they demonstrate a pretense of depth, but in reality offer nothing of value to her. Thus, she expresses her contempt for them by trivializing them with metaphors of silly nonsense (philosophy is as insignificant as cereal box text; religion is as meaningless as a smile on a dog). She'd rather be choked than wade into the so-called deep waters of philosophy and religion.

    She continues to poke at philosophy, which is deeply concerned with the question of being, by utilizing two tautologies ("I know what I know" and "Are you what you are?"). She also plays on the philosophical theme of being with her title "What I am."

    In essence, she's saying "I am what I am" and that's as far as I want to go with all of this philisophical nonsense. She is taking an anti-philosophy and anti-religious stand in this song, poking fun at both, being content with her comparative shallowness.
    Turboshearon May 10, 2012   Link
  • +3
    General CommentPersonally, I believe this song isn't suppose to have a meaning.
    Adiaj98on December 10, 2011   Link
  • +2
    General CommentAhhhh! To EVERYONE who THINKS they are CERTAIN that the lyrics here are printed incorrectly, I am holding in my hands the official CD of Shooting Rubberbands at the Stars. Inside the cover, which also appears to be handwritten on by Edie herself, the lyrics CLEARLY say "CHOKE me in the shallow water." Sorry, but just had to clear that up!! You are the wrong ones!!! So please stop acting all condescending about it when you haven't even done your homework.
    RH1997foreveron February 18, 2011   Link
  • +1
    My InterpretationI agree 100% with "Turboshear" (and also agree with GreenDay and Solipsizzl)

    Edie is commenting on how "deep" philosophy and religion SEEM to be, but it's all BS and a waste of time.

    Philosophy is about as meaningful as what's printed on a cereal box - and the basis of philosophy is slippery at best (because there is no solid basis for most philosophies - it's all just human beings rambling about what they think they know is true)

    Religion is an illusion - what you think you see/know isn't REALLY theer at all (like a smile you THINK you see on a dog - but dogs don't smile)

    I have always thought that the next lyric about religion was: "Religion is a LIE in the fog"
    But even if the correct word is "light", I think Edie is obviously being sarcastic (based on the rest of the song)

    As others have noted, Edie is saying that she prefers to keep things light and not get "too deep" ("choke me in the shallow waters before I get too deep" -- ie, "let me stay shallow in my ideas/thoughts/beliefs because it's nicer, it's easier and the 'deep waters' of philosophy and religion don't have anything more meaningful to offer over the shallow waters")

    She says that she only knows what she knows - which isn't too much, but it's enough - so why bother pondering too deeply?

    I think if you were to reasearch Edie (and her personal life) you'd get a better idea of whether she uses this song as support or criticism for philosophy and religion. I think it is clear which direction she intended to go with this song.

    anawilsonon May 15, 2013   Link
  • 0
    General Comment"Choke me in the shallow water"

    eh? Could someone enlighten me and tell me what the heck she means? Cuz I give up.....
    theMaxxon July 23, 2002   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThat lyric puzzled me in the 1980's until I heard her in an interview. She wasn't commenting on the song lyric but she was commenting that her personality was one that wasn't into thinking "deep" and wanted to keep things simple. I figure that lyric says just that...I'd rather die now than try to figure it all out. What I am is a simple saying...why figure it out?!
    susanlprinceon August 15, 2002   Link
  • 0
    General CommentYeah, I always thought it was "shove me," too. This is a really great song, though.
    Navigatoron August 31, 2002   Link
  • 0
    General Commenti can remeber being about 3 years old and listening to this in the car with my mom and giggling at the mention of a cereal box and a smiling dog. excellent.
    marlyshmarlyon March 08, 2003   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI've always liked this song. "What I am is what I am, are you what you are or what?" In other words, she doesn't pretend to be something she isn't.. It's also about keeping life simple, and uncomplicated, I think.
    bloodybitchon June 30, 2003   Link
  • 0
    General CommentWe have to do a project on this song at school, and I can NOT figure out what it means to me! It dosen't mean anything (to me at least). I have to write a page...

    Is it about individuality? I don't know...
    Trillium07on October 05, 2004   Link

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