sort form Submissions:
The Fratellis – Jeannie Nitro Lyrics 5 years ago
@[toktam:5524] "tell the time" is right, "avant-garde" was a necessary change. Fixed a couple other things (I have liner notes) as well, but the lyrics should be right at this point.

Hozier – Foreigner's God Lyrics 5 years ago

All character traits a human being can possess can be phrased, and manifested, in positive and negative ways. Pride/arrogance, insight/lies, ardor/possessiveness, etc etc.

A theoretical "perfect creature," or perfect human in the gnostic sense, would both know and manifest all of their character traits in the positive sense at all times, hence becoming innocent and negating the stain of original sin.

The woman here knows who she is, and acts it. The speaker does not, hence the dissonance and tragedy of the song.

Hozier – Arsonist's Lullaby Lyrics 5 years ago
Which is basically what you said, now that I've re-read. Not all here today, apologies. xD

But yeah, I don't expect most people to get most things anymore. People latch onto what they can understand, there's nothing really wrong with that.

Hozier – Arsonist's Lullaby Lyrics 5 years ago
@[lubah10204:4559] Eh, I actually think it's great that people hear his stuff, even if they don't understand what they're listening to. I've liked so much music that got nowhere, and a couple who had One Unexpected Hit -- the ones with hits kept making music longer, are still listened to as much as they were before that One Hit, and actually get picked up on by younger generations. The others either fizzled out into obscurity, or worked very hard and very long to build their fanbase to living-wage levels.

It's great it's been easier for him, it's just not how it usually works. At least not this early in his career.

Hozier – Foreigner's God Lyrics 5 years ago
I'm killed by the poetic meter of this lyric. The stresses evoke the rumble crash rumble rumble crash of a thunderstorm, and it is gorgeous.

The song is about the uncertainty, isolation, and loneliness he feels upon abandoning the Catholic Church, and the culture it created. It also condemns the notion of original sin, and elevates sex to a religious experience.

It posits that the people claiming to speak for God are liars aiming to enslave the majority of humanity with the motive of their own financial gain. It points out religion's corruption of sex from a pure and innocent to a shameful and vulgar act. It admits the confusion inherent in not having solid rules to follow. It laments the difficulty of rooting out cultural hangover. It condemns the abuse of human beings advocated by religion, and aims to escape it.

Line-by-line with accurate lyrics, for anyone interested in the details:

She moved with shameless wonder,
The perfect creature rarely seen,
Since some liar brought the thunder,
When the land was godless and free.

"Shameless wonder" evokes Genesis 2:25, in which Adam and Eve, innocent in the Garden, did not feel shame in being naked.

The "thunder" is the thunder, or voice of God, above Moses on Mount Sinai before he brought down the Ten Commandments (Exodus 19).

Men being "free" before the revelation makes one consider that the Israelites were then fleeing slavery from the Egyptians, but managed to be enslaved by God (or Moses, the "liar"), before reaching their destination.

The Israelites were commanded to wait at the foot of the mountain in celibacy for three days before Moses brought down the Ten Commandments. This contrasts with the guiltless, innocent sexuality of Adam and Eve in the Garden.

It is implied that sex was shameless and innocent before God, or Moses, started telling people what to do.

"The perfect creature rarely seen" is perfect because she is shameless, and filled with wonder, by her own sexuality. She can innocently have sex, and be sexual: A rarity after Christianity.

Her eyes look sharp and steady,
Into the empty parts of me,
But still my heart is heavy,
With the hate of some other man's beliefs.

"Empty parts" because his foundational education and upbringing were removed, leaving nothing upon which to build his identity.

What can be seen by her "sharp and steady", incisive and fearless eyes is his despair at the hatred caused by the beliefs he has abandoned.

"Some other man" is markedly dismissive, driving home the falseness of Christian beliefs, as well as divorcing the speaker from those beliefs.

Always a well dressed fraud,
Who wouldn't spare the rod,
Never for me.

Spare the rod, spoil the child (Proverbs 13:24). The person administering the beatings being well-dressed contrasts the poverty advocated in the Bible, demonstrating his true aim and his fraudulent nature.

"Never for me" divorces the speaker from all of it. There is also a play on the religious never sparing him from verbal beatings for his behavior.

Screaming the name of a foreigner's god,
The purest expression of grief.

This after the last verse always makes me smile, because I can't help thinking about the scene in the Blues Brothers where they're getting beaten by the nun for swearing... and can't stop blaspheming as she's doing it, because it hurts, and people cry out when it hurts.

And I'm sure that's exactly what he's talking about.

His heart is heavy, he cries out in pain, and when he does so it's in the name of a god that is not his own: Jesus Christ. A very natural, very bitter irony, especially when it's the societal effects of that lie you're lamenting.

God is a "foreigner's god" for two reasons. First, because it's the God of the Israelites, the Church just stole and warped it. Secondly, because the precepts of the Catholic Church was rejected by the speaker, and he has become a foreigner to his prevailing culture by doing so.

Wondering who I copy,
Mustering some tender charm,
She feels no control of her body,
She feels no safety in my arms.

The last two lines here, "no control", "no safety", reference the institutionalized repression of women and rape culture, respectively.

Those who accept our current culture and its religious basis continue acting as proscribed, and continue propagating those ills.

He wonders who he copies because he's not doing that, he's trying to muster a "tender charm" instead of the traditional violence, but he lacks a template to "copy".

I've no language left to say it,
But all I do is quake to her,
Breaking if I try convey it,
The broken love I make to her.

In Exodus 19, the voice of God was quite literally the thunderstorm itself. God spoke without words and language. Likewise, here the speaker is quaking and breaking: wordless, divine, primal.

It elevates the act of lovemaking by conflating it with the manifestation of God that preceded human codification.

All that I've been taught,
And every word I've got,
Is foreign to me.

"Who told you that you were naked?" Genesis 3:11. Not God, he was just the storm. It was the liar who brought the thunder.

Getting back to the storm is getting back to the divine.

Hozier – Work Song Lyrics 5 years ago
@[runnergirl123:4272] I trusted the lyrics here. And yes, I agree entirely.

Hozier – In the Woods Somewhere Lyrics 5 years ago
@[rainbow777:4067] No particularly good reason, I just know I tend to err towards too-dark interpretations. Even with Hozier, which is saying something.

You made me a bit more comfortable with my own thoughts though. Thank you for that. <3

Hozier – In the Woods Somewhere Lyrics 5 years ago
@[rainbow777:4052] Not confused, that was my assessment as well. It's just gnaws at me because it's a really unique situation to find a fox in, given the very traditional, literary setting, which means it has to be important. And it makes it harder to get other solutions to the puzzle to work, and I reeeally want something else to work. xD

Hozier – In the Woods Somewhere Lyrics 5 years ago
@[rainbow777:4049] It could be about something as simple as infidelity. Particularly with moons being changeable and running towards a woman's voice (not the one he prays to). He could be clutching his life (freedom from committment, independence) as he runs scared in the woods and gets lost.

The fleeing something he's too afraid to look at, that is capable of rendering a faerie-tale fox into genuine lameness nags at me though.

Escapism and the damage it causes is such a persistent trope in Hozier's work. Along with a handful of other things. So that being tied to his inability to get "out of the woods" seems right to me, but we can use people/fantasy for that as much as anything else.

I read Pinocchio for the first time after I wrote this interp, and at one point in it (immediately after a debate concerning whether Pinocchio was alive or dead, entertainingly) he's sick on a bed, unwilling to take medication from his female benefactor, because he's more afraid of the cure than his own mortal illness. I feel like there's something of that in here, too.

Sorry. My brain's a spiderweb, and not a prettily structured one.

Hozier – In the Woods Somewhere Lyrics 5 years ago
@[rainbow777:4041] Thank you. I'm actually skeptical of some of my own fine details at this point. The overarcing theme and traditional analysis of the symbolism I have more faith in than previously, but the specific application feels less necessary. Haven't connected all the details as well as I want to though. Again, I do appreciate knowing that people read my interpretations and don't think I'm completely bonkers. :)

The Fratellis – Stacie Anne Lyrics 5 years ago
I hate these cunts from London they don’t try enough
They think they’re mental cause they’ve tried harder stuff
But they’re just rich kids yes, all in a fuckin mess

Makes me smile every single time I hear this song.

I went to an upper middle class high school. Drugs permeated the place. Mostly weed, but everything was accessible from someone-or-other. Usually it was kids who got things from their siblings in college, but there was one guy who everyone talked about in hushed tones.

He "wasn't afraid" to go to the bad side of town and score directly. Which got him better profit margins, and more awed respect than I thought those kids were capable of.

Anyone who tried hard drugs got talked about in similar tones of awed terror and respect, like they'd done something Really Dangerous even if they were careful as mice.

Several years later I lived in rural hell across from a house from which, I found after moving in, you could acquire prettymuch anything you wanted.

One day there were two 17- or 18-year-old kids on the front porch. They nervously fiddled with their backpacks, looked around behind them, waited tapping their feet with vaguely troubled expressions on their faces.

I just smirked. It was so clearly their first rodeo. It's a safe bet that they went home, impressed with their courage and street smarts for having done something that... is just a part of everyday life for anyone who isn't privileged enough to be shielded from it.

Hozier – Take Me to Church Lyrics 5 years ago
Does anyone else think "drain the whole sea" is a play on "plenty of fish in the sea"? In the sense that all the other opportunities and potential lovers are being sacrificed for the sake of one's current devotion. Particularly with "something shiny", like a wedding ring, being the next step.

I'd kinda like it if the song was deliberately alluding to two religious services that are practically unavoidable even in secular life: funerals and weddings.

Hozier – Jackie and Wilson Lyrics 5 years ago
@[mrjoejangles:3556] Yup. Found that out later, facepalmed, wished I could edit these. Thanks for commenting about it. :)

Hozier – Take Me to Church Lyrics 5 years ago
@[Viarbetarna:3411] "I was born sick, but I love it" is a Christopher Hitchens quote. It's meant to point out the absurdity and harmfulness of original sin, particularly when combined with moral strictures. It hit me with the gay/sickness link as well, but if you know the source it gets a lot less homosexualy charged.

You can connect it to your own experiences -- the song is meant to encompass that -- but I don't think it was specifically written about homosexuality.

Personally, as a bi female I've felt more shaming/prejudice when I simply acted openly and shamelessly sexual than when I dated or went out with members of my own gender, but experiences vary.

Hozier – Jackie and Wilson Lyrics 5 years ago
@[marycb:3037] Ran into a Hozier quote yesterday and thought of you.

"I found the experience of falling in love or being in love was a death, a death of everything. You kind of watch yourself die in a wonderful way, and you experience for the briefest moment – if you see yourself for a moment through their eyes – everything you believed about yourself gone. In a death-and-rebirth sense."

Hozier – Cherry Wine Lyrics 5 years ago

Old enough that my being old shows on the internet? xD

30, since you asked.

Hozier – Cherry Wine Lyrics 5 years ago

I'm relaxed. It's cool. *shifty eyes*

And yeah, I guess people perceive it that way. It's just wrong. One of the great things about the song and the voice it's speaking from, really. Trying to break that down.

The terminology's just from psychology. I'm a nerd on several fronts, and that's one of them. I'm unaware of whether or not anyone else has applied that phenomenon to domestic violence (I've only researched that, specifically, a moderate amount), but yeah.

Anyway. It's a great song, I actually loved you sharing your experiences, and I love (/hate?) hearing about people feeling and really getting this song in a meaningful, personal way.


Hozier – Cherry Wine Lyrics 5 years ago

How on Earth does being a man mean abuse is the result of weakness? I do not understand. Are you saying you should've hurled abuse back to "put her in her place"? Are you saying that men are somehow more capable of taking care of themselves and leaving a relationship than women?

I can't imagine you mean either of those. But I can't think of any justification that works.

To me, it looks like you're just trying to blame yourself, because that's what you were taught to do for the entire relationship. And that's not on you.

Everyone learns from what they experience, and how they act and think is molded by those experiences. Intermittent reinforcement, in particular, is an extremely reliable way to get consistent behavior from human beings -- and that's exactly what abusive relationships provide.

It could've happened to anyone. There's nothing shameful or weak in having psychology that responds like an ordinary human being to the stimuli presented.

Do not shame yourself. Just don't. You're not weak, you're just human.

We all fall into one bear trap or another. You got out of yours.

Elliott Smith – King's Crossing Lyrics 5 years ago
It's a hell of a role if you can keep it alive
But I don't care if I fuck up
I'm going on a date with a rich white lady
Ain't life great?

When fucking up means dying, and you still can't bring yourself to give a shit. Cuts like a knife. <3

Hozier – Jackie and Wilson Lyrics 5 years ago
@[fili82:2106] Oh, that line's where people are getting art references in this song from. I was actually confused about that.
That line... isn't actually correct in these lyrics though. (Wish my corrections would go through, but of course not.) The booklet says, "start digging up the yard for what's left of me in our little vignette" in that section -- it's just part of the Osiris bit.
Essentially agree with you about everything else though, and you're so nicely concise!

Hozier – Cherry Wine Lyrics 5 years ago
I don't understand why so many are hesitant to interpret this song literally. Physical abuse doesn't happen in a vacuum, and in practice tends to exist primarily to punctuate and reinforce emotional abuse. Sure, there are probably full-on batter-fests, but my understanding (and experience) of reality is that domestic abuse is generally a lot more subtle and nuanced than that.

This song, in particular, pulls back so much of my childhood.

Her eyes and words are so icy,
Oh but she burns
Like rum on the fire,
Hot and fast and angry
As she can be,
I walk my days on a wire.

For me, this evokes a painfully specific facial expression. Tiny pupils, slightly narrowed eyes, straight lips, reddening skin, and a very direct and tense stare with the head angled slightly downwards. Complete, unequivocal anger paired with intolerant indignation. That moment when someone is so frustrated, so passionately angry that they are already instinctively moving into stances only suited to physical altercations.
The victim treads very carefully, but they're on a wire, often deliberately provided with physically impossible expectations to ensure failure. And at the slightest misstep, that passionate and fiery anger is there.

It looks ugly, but it's clean,
Oh Mama, don't fuss over me.

An abuser would never do anything to the abused that the abused wouldn't attempt to hide or dismiss upon being asked about it. Lots of things accomplish that goal, from very gradually increasing violence to threats to actual love on the battered party's side.

The way she tells me I'm hers and she is mine,
Open hand or closed fist would be fine...
The blood is rare, and sweet as cherry wine.

Batterers tend to see people as objects, possessions rather than as human beings with individual wills. They can do what they want, but the beaten party cannot. The abused must listen very precisely, an obedient servant, or their means of enforcing compliance, physical violence, will come out. The looming threat ensures compliance, their complete possession of their property.
Meanwhile, battered parties tend to see being beaten as a sign of love. The passion of the anger is interpreted as indicative of exactly how much, how passionately their abuser cares about them.
The really terrible thing about this is that with enough exposure, if an abused person is attempting a relationship with someone who isn't abusive, they tend to interpret the lack of cutting words and beatings as apathy -- as a lack of love on the part of their lover. Hence, it's very specifically getting hit and abused and "corrected" that makes battered people know that they're loved, that their abuser's heart is theirs. They couldn't feel so angry, so passionate about their failures if they didn't really, really love them.

Calls of guilty fall on me,
All while she stains
The sheets of some other,
Thrown at me so powerfully,
Just like she throws with the arm of her brother.

Let me make the illustration being given here a little more explicit:
"You've been sleeping around, haven't you? You asshole."
"Me? No, you're the one who's been sleeping around. I have proof."
"Well, if you weren't such a shitty lover, maybe I wouldn't need to fuck other guys!"

Name-calling, accusations, shaming, and blaming. Typical tools of emotional abuse, all being demonstrated here. They're powerful, and are generally applied very liberally in abusive relationships.
The goal is to create doubt and confusion in the mind of the battered person, make them think that even though they're the ones being abused, they provoke it, they deserve it, and they aren't good enough to find anyone who would treat them better.
By this method, the batterer can be assured that his property is safely within his possession, too confused and damaged to try to flee his or her control.
Generally speaking, physical abuse is infrequent even in physically abusive relationships, if only because it's hard to hide from outsiders. Most of it's insults, accusations, and other methods of psychological and/or sexual control.

But I want it, it's a crime
That she's not around most of the time.

"I want it," because he wants to become good enough for her, because he deserves it, because it means she loves him. "It's a crime," battery is a crime, so he shouldn't want it. But wait! He can't let himself think ill of her! So it has to turn into it being a "crime" that she's not around more -- something he causes by not being good enough for her. Typical domestic violence victim thought process, right there. Internalized guilt, self-policing, and all.

Her fight and fury is fiery,
Oh but she loves
Like sleep to the freezing,
Sweet and right and merciful,
I'm all but washed in the tide of her breathing.

This verse is so sensual it literally takes my breath away. But, um, I guess that's not really relevant.
Sleep to the freezing is obviously referencing dying of hypothermia. And to be crass: Once you've died, you're not freezing any longer. It killed you, but in an extremely equivocal sense it's a blessing and release.
It's also worth noting that in lying down and accepting the notion of freezing to death, the act of being frozen is completed and epitomized. You're only truly freezing, truly frozen when it's killed you.
Likewise, the pure pleasure of the sex and the love is, I think, being presented as the culmination of the abuse as well as the release from it.

And it's worth it, it's divine,
And I can have this some of the time.

One of the things people don't realize about abusive relationships is that they can be extremely pleasant a lot of the time. Easy and simple, because the abused has cues to follow, which provides harmony (there's only one person making decisions, but if your self-esteem has been battered down long enough, you don't want to be an individual anyway).
In addition, the abused wouldn't have stuck through the early stages of abuse if there weren't things they liked and needed in their partner, and those reasons to stay tend to persist.
Love justifies tolerating a lot of things. Particularly when you no longer know how to live any other way.

A lot of the time, I'm pretty sure I don't want to know how he hits so close to home.

Hozier – Arsonist's Lullaby Lyrics 6 years ago
He's referencing Plato again.

First some background, so I can talk about it more easily:

Socrates was kind of a problem. Prior to his lifetime, Greek life was relatively straightforward. Gods told you what was right and wrong in an unabashedly arbitrary manner. In obeying one, you were almost certain to piss off another, and it would probably bite you at some point. But that was how things worked: You picked your allegiance and listened to one of many conflicting branches of morality that were determined by various gods in the sky (or people who spoke for them). That was virtue.

Kinda like with modern religions, or any system presented to govern human behavior, like laws.

Socrates came in and started asking questions, encouraging people to think about their points of view and form their own moral conscience, divorced from the arbitrariness of the prior system. He corrupted the youth by encouraging them to think and make up their own minds about the nature of right and wrong, rather than blindly following any of the accepted, previously extant paths.

So they killed him, quite logically, for blasphemy.

Plato wrote about Socrates' defense against these charges in The Apology. Within it, you can find him speaking of his daemon:

"I have a divine or spiritual sign which Meletus has ridiculed in his deposition. This began when I was a child. It is a voice, and whenever it speaks it turns me away from something I am about to do, but it never encourages me to do anything." (31d)

And later:

"At all previous times my familiar prophetic power, my spiritual manifestation, frequently opposed me, even in small matters, when I was about to do something wrong" (40a)

And again:

"it is impossible that my familiar sign did not oppose me if I was not about to do what was right." (40c)

Calling it a conscience is, in my opinion, modernizing the concept too much, but it is essentially an internal, inborn voice that allows someone to perform behaviors that are just, right, and beneficial, by dissuading destructive or even incidentally harmful actions.

In light of all of that, I think this song is being written from a literal arsonist's perspective.

The first verse very clearly references a Socratic daemon. A voice that sang of good things and works, and screamed at bad ones, but still allowed the child to choose to do whatever he liked. It was just a warning.
Unlike for Socrates, that voice died for the speaker. Without the ability to distinguish between right and wrong, he could not genuinely choose to perform either right or wrong actions. (It's demonstrably absurd to imagine that a man can choose to Do Good when he has no way of seeing what Good is.) He was, instead, compelled by whatever moved him most.

The second verse introduces what moved him most: Fire.
This could've been anything, but I find the choice especially interesting given that fire is the fundamental foundation of society (just like Socrates is the foundation of Western philosophy and even, to a large degree, religion). Human beings have always gathered around it, watched it burn, exchanged stories next to it. And that's not even mentioning the practical benefits of facilitating warmth, light, and cooked food.
It's actually a sensible choice of worship, a decent barometer for right and wrong, in spite of its ability to destroy.

The third verse is interesting, and harder in a lot of ways.
Gasoline, obviously, accelerates a fire, and an arsonist would use it to light other things on fire. In this case, he mistakenly thinks the gasoline is on him. This could be implying two different things: First, that he fears he's going to light himself on fire, destroy himself. Second, that he mistakenly think others would be able to smell the gasoline and discover he's a criminal. Maybe both are intended.
In either case, "something would always rule" the arsonist -- even if he destroys himself, he cannot stop. Even if others detect his illegal and destructive acts, he cannot stop. And at least as a sixteen-year-old, he hasn't actually gotten gasoline on him, so he does not yet have to worry about those consequences.

In the fourth verse he finds something that he thinks will transfix him more than fire, and get him to stop lighting them, but the shift from fire to romance was not accomplished successfully. He couldn't feel peace without burning things down, so he burnt the romance away as well.

The chorus can be read however one likes, really. The arsonist has accepted his fire, both its beauty and its destruction. He knows it's all that he has, because nothing else to guide him has felt true since he lost his daemon. Now he only has a demon, a criminal compulsion. And because he can't and won't leave it, he seeks only to minimize the destruction it causes.

Relating a criminal, an arsonist, to Socrates, also a criminal, and poking at what it means to know goodness and be good is absolutely brilliant. This song really pointedly questions whether law and religion have any value, or whether we should instead be motivated by what genuinely moves us. It asks whether a man should be blamed for doing things generally considered evil, partially by appealing to the frequency with which institutionalized thought makes errors in its own determinations of what it means to be good or evil.

And then there's the title: Arsonist's Lullaby. Why is it a lullaby? Because it's how the arsonist gets himself to sleep at night. It's the perspective that excuses behavior that destroys not only the world around him, but himself. The lyric justifies destructive behavior, the title calls out the lies.

How is this guy on the radio?

Hozier – Angel of Small Death & the Codeine Scene Lyrics 6 years ago
God, the title's a reference to patron saints (and angels). Now I have to sit and think more.

Hozier – Angel of Small Death & the Codeine Scene Lyrics 6 years ago
@[marycb:1753] It's been a long time since I've found someone with lyrics I can really do this with as well, and I love it. But I unabashedly bought the album for the liner notes -- which I've done with bands before, but very rarely.

Hozier – Angel of Small Death & the Codeine Scene Lyrics 6 years ago
@marycbon I see what you mean now. xD

Yeah, I've always read it as the subject of the song being both the Angel of the Codeine Scene and the Angel of Small Death.

As far as being the Angel of the Codeine scene... that's what the people in the scene go around worshipping, really. Opiates tend to start small and get more intense as they grow, and I feel like that progression is a lot of what's being pointed out. Little by little, they progress to harder and harder iterations. Like practicing rituals to learn to be a better religious person. Tiny steps to be a better person, or in this case a more addicted person.

And the Angel of Small Death feels like wordplay to me. Small death obviously references orgasmic pleasure, but there's something else. There's an Elliott Smith line that talks about heroin that goes, "A little less than a human being, a little less than a happy high, a little less than a suicide," and it just rattles around my head whenever I hear this song. Basically, heroin addiction as being a half-life (which, now that I think about it, Hozier's referenced while talking about Sedated), somewhere between being alive and dead, a small death.

I hope that's coherent?

Hozier – Angel of Small Death & the Codeine Scene Lyrics 6 years ago
@[marycb:1751] It was never really a translation, honestly. When I try to figure out What A Song Is About it's more of a process of ripping it apart, cross-referencing, and reassembling it to see if it still stands than any process of trying to make disparate things fit. If there are missing pieces I tend to just let things fall down and approach from another angle. (Yeah, I love a lot of songs where I will outright admit I don't know entirely what they're about.)

For this song, I basically started with the premise of, "Okay, this song's about a woman. What do we know about her?"

And then I assembled a list:

Her arms are wide open and readily available.
She's sordid, and/or surrounded by sordid things.
Her breath is sweet.
She says mean things.
Her hair is straw blonde.
Her arms are hard and lean.

Which was all fine.

Next, it was "How does she interact with people?"

She's connected to the codeine scene.
People love and abuse her, or are loved and abused by her.
She makes people feel disowned, devoted, and frozen.
She makes people feel alone and like themself.
She makes people run to her.
She makes people passively accept the unacceptable.
She makes people feel more human.
She gets people hooked.
People sacrifice their hearts to her, and she keeps them as offerings.
She's connected to fields somehow.
She does something that is bloody and raw, but sweet.
She produces a lack of discipline and confusion in people.
She harms people.
She removes people's judgement and higher reasoning skills.

And at that point I basically went, "How on Earth does this line up with sex?" and couldn't get it to work (the fields, blood, and associations with being alone and still were particularly problematic for me). So I looked at the song for other options. Given an opiate was already mentioned as being important, I went through and tested my lists with that as a possibility for who the woman/angel being talked about was. It worked, so I looked at the song to see how it fit. Then an active narrative fell out, which I wasn't even expecting to happen, so I summarily rammed my head into a desk.

Sorry so long, but I find people tend to be confused by my thought processes unless I'm really explicit and cover all the steps.

Hozier – Angel of Small Death & the Codeine Scene Lyrics 6 years ago
@[marycb:1732] I'm American actually, I just find marginalized/maligned groups and their differences in different cultures fascinating, so I know a lot of things I really, really shouldn't.

Hozier – To Be Alone Lyrics 6 years ago
This song is surprisingly ambiguous. The reading I'm going to give is far from the only possible interpretation, but hopefully the reasons I prefer it will become clear as I go through the song.

Never feel too good in crowds,
With folks around, when they're playing,
The anthems of rape culture loud,
Crude and proud creatures baying.

All I've ever done is hide,
From our times when you're near me,
Honey, when you kill the lights,
And kiss my eyes,
I feel like a person for a moment of my life.

Disliking people being jackasses ("baying"), and responding with a desire for escapism ("hide").
While he's with his lover, the exposing light of the world is darkened, his eyes are kissed, and he doesn't have to see the lewd and cruel actions of his fellow man any longer.
For the brief moment of time that he doesn't see the disgusting aspects of human behavior, he can feel like a part of the human race ("like a person"), rather than his prior state of revolted alienation.

You don't know what hell you put me through,
To have someone kiss the skin that crawls from you,
To feel your weight in arms I'd never use,
It's the God that heroin prays to...

It feels good, girl it feels good,
It feels good, it feels good,
It feels good, girl it feels good,
Oh, to be alone with you.

While having sex, if foreplay and teasing are protracted, the desire for consummation can become intense enough to produce actual, physical pain ("hell", "skin that crawls from you", reading "from" as "because of"). The "kiss" is likely a euphemism for the release of intercourse. After orgasm, one tends to feel lethargic, satiated, and disinclined to do much other than hold one's partner ("your weight in arms I'd never use").
For a heroin addict, waiting too long between indulgences produces emotional turmoil, intense cravings, and a good deal of physical discomfort, including skin that quite literally feels like it's crawling off of one's body ("hell", "skin that crawls"). The "kiss" here would be the act of using the drug. While high, one tends to feel lethargic, satiated, and disinclined to move ("arms I'd never use"), a heroin user also quite literally feels like one's limbs are heavy while high ("to feel your weight").
Having sex and using heroin are being set up as parallel, possibly even equivalent, experiences.

There are questions I can't ask,
Now at last the worst is over,
See the way you hold yourself,
Reel against your body's borders.

In this reading, one of the two lovers is a heroin addict.
Now, when an addict says they need enough opiates to "hold" them, what they mean is that they intend to use enough to keep the physical sickness away, but not enough to be high. My understanding is that's still an uncomfortable state, but it at least keeps them from vomiting all over the floor and lets them function.
He doesn't ask what she's doing, or why, as she's getting and using drugs. "The worst", the sickness, is over when she uses. "See the way you hold yourself,/Reel against your body's borders" can be taken here to indicate she's used much more than she'd need to just hold herself, she is reeling.
There's a nice bit of punning if one presumes this interpretation: Instead of having him hold her, she is "hold[ing] herself" by taking drugs, and gaining the pleasure that physical interaction could bring alone instead of with him.

I know that you hate this place,
Not a trace of me would argue,
Honey, we should run away, someday,
Our baby and her momma and the damaged love she makes.

She's just used. He says, "I know that you hate this place". Consider how the song begins: Voicing a desire for escapism. Now consider the proposed equivalence between sex and drugs: They are both methods of escaping unpleasant realities. He concludes that in spite of sex being available, she clearly needs another escape, because she just used one.
Hence, he points out that they both "hate" and need to escape "this place". Positing them both escaping together offers her another escape, as well as allowing him to continue to share something (their need to escape) with her while she's escaping him (by getting high). This while voicing a desire to find a place or time when neither of them will need to run away anymore.
Another little ambiguity: There's no conjunction between the last two lines of this verse. It could be read as him acknowledging that he needs to run away from or with his lover and child. (I err towards with, but I like the pall of doubt the absence grants the line.)

But I don't know what else that I would do,
Than try to kiss the skin that crawls from you,
Than feel your weight in arms I'd never use,
It's the God that heroin prays to...

The differences between this verse and the previous iteration are huge. Instead of being kissed, he is now "try[ing]" to kiss her. Instead of being in a hell that will soon be ameliorated, he is uncertain what he should do ("I don't know what else"). Helplessly, he tries to kiss her skin. But her skin's already crawling from her: a withdrawal symptom this time, rather than the pleasantly painful sensation of the first iteration. "To feel your weight in arms I'd never use" I read here as "to hold you with my arms even though I can't use them to make you feel better".

It feels good, girl it feels good,
It feels good, it feels good,
It feels good, girl it feels good,
Oh, to be alone with you.

One of the reasons I like this interpretation is that it allows for so many ways to be alone.
When they're alone together, they're apart from the rest of the world.
When she's using, she's alone because she's escaped even from him. At that point, he tries not to be alone by focusing on what they share even when she's high: A desire to escape and hide from the world.
When she's withdrawing at the end, she's even more alone, because she's in a hell he isn't experiencing. At that point, he is finally inescapably alone, because she is suffering, completely disconnected from him, and there is nothing he can do. All the connections are broken, one by one.

It's pretty.

Hozier – Run Lyrics 6 years ago
Hozier, in Birmingham at The Institute on 23/01/15: "[James Joyce] famously had a quote about Ireland in which he lovingly said [...] that Ireland is the sow that eats its farrow. And so it's the pig that eats her young, which I think he meant that in a loving way, but this next song is kind of about that, I suppose."

I've never read Joyce, but that still helps a lot of pieces fall together.

Charles Stewart Parnell and Kitty O'Shea are the love that needs to be covered, because it was an adulterous affair. Which just points to the thrust of the song being the destructive nature of love, if for no other reason than because people aren't willing to tolerate it.

Pushes that it goes down to the land and sea destroying each other, particularly when they form a union as well. Animals eating their young as an image of love/destruction also.

Very nice. Though today I'm mostly just amused by the consumption pun with the bleeding lungs and hungry sow.

Hozier – Take Me to Church Lyrics 6 years ago
@[42:1620] steps Oh, the whole sacrifice segment is clearly referencing paganism. It's a parallel to the church references. It's one of the things that points out that the song isn't the attack on the Church a lot of people like to hear it as, it's more of a criticism of organized religion throughout history and the positing of alternate, better objects of worship.
Among other things, but the song's big on nuances.
(And yes, I'd be willing to put money on the fact that knife rhyming was part of why the line's there. Guy's improved his writing already, even though everyone's obsessed with this song.)

Hozier – Take Me to Church Lyrics 6 years ago
@[42:1618] steps Oh, the deathless death bit I caught, it was just the line afterwards that had me squinting. But that sort of -- no -- it's definitely what's intended. That's all.
The Osiris thing is only really relevant here because his dismembered penis wound up being what produced the Nile with his semen, hence his dismemberment and death itself leading to life. Just another level, and not even really explicitly mentioned in this song, so ignore my obtuse link-making. It just helped confirm the interpretation for me by making one more click of, "Oh yeah, that *is* how he thinks, brilliant."
Sorry for the rambles, I just get entirely too excited when things click. xD

Hozier – Take Me to Church Lyrics 6 years ago
@[42:1606] steps I've been wondering how on Earth the reference to actual death made sense in the context of sex, and I really like your interpretation. Especially given he's referenced the Osiris myth elsewhere, which really focuses on the life from death thing, and. Yes. Just yes. Thank you!

Hozier – Jackie and Wilson Lyrics 6 years ago
I don't think this fling ever got off the ground.

"red eyes" + "swill" = liquor
"familiar swine" = people you don't know or like, but understand because you're all there for the same reason

So they met at a bar, and got along well immediately. Then the chemistry sets our protagonist daydreaming.

Hallmarks of daydreams that show up here:
Idealization: Setting her up as an Isis, "she's gonna save me".
Shifting desires: "Soothe me daily" turns into the "better yet" of "she wouldn't care". You also get phrases like "it'd be great" when he finally pegs what he'd like to do with her most.
Projecting one's own interests and experience: He imagines raising his kids with her the same way he was raised.
Fantastical and unrealistic activities: Stealing cars and becoming detectives. Not gonna happen.

The grammar itself points to the relationship being less-real than the previous and later verses, because it's conveyed purely in future tenses, whereas the song both begins and ends in present tense. That combined with the content being characteristic of a baseless, shifting fantasy clinches it for me.

When he is "cut clean from the dream" of "that night" he looks around to find her gone in the time it took him to smoke a cigarette. There's a lovely implication that it was his own inattentiveness that led to her going away. She both "[blew] in out of nowhere" and went away when he wasn't looking. He was only really present during those moments in which she was laughing through his disguises.

Really nice lyric. Very Tom Waits for the narrative.


But wait, there's more!

There are loads of Isis and Osiris references in this. It's not just the name getting thrown in for idealization's sake.

Relevant parts of the myth:

Osiris was killed, cut into hundreds of tiny pieces, and buried in that many spots all across Egypt. Subsequently Isis, his wife, grieved for him while scouring all of Egypt for the pieces. She found all of them (and in some tellings, magically created one special bit), reassembled him, and breathed life back into him. Osiris is changed by this to different degrees in every telling. Despite being brought back to life, he cannot return to his former life and activities.

A failed version of the same story is laced the whole way through this lyric. All you have to do is trace what happens to the "versions of [him]" that are repeatedly referenced.

In the beginning he's left with only a pathetic version of him: the drunkard "soul-deep" in booze. He doesn't have the energy to "pretend" to be anything else.

Then the goddess appears and gives him another option, a self he'd "rather" be: a lover.

Excited daydreaming leads into the fantasy itself resolving in escapism. Rather than anything exciting, he settles on withdrawing from the world and getting high together as the thing that'd be "great".
("Growing black irises" I'm taking as a reference to hallucinogens or pot. Regardless, the resolution of a really exciting! energy-filled! love story into wanting to lie back and watch the world burn is undeniable escapism, whether drugs are involved or not.)

While they're indulging in this shared act of escaping the world, "every version" of him is "dead and buried in the yard outside". The implication is repeating the narrative from the bar: He's killing himself, destroying who he is, and not letting himself engage with the world through his attachment to dreams and escapism.
But with her, that'd be okay. She can go around digging up his pieces and putting him back together every time. She can pull him into the world and make him live again.

But then he sees she's gone, the dream stops, and he has to work to try to dig up his own pieces. If he doesn't, he'll never connect with anyone well enough to be saved. Kinda like what we just saw an example of.

I wanted this song to be as happy as it sounds. A silly little love story. Then I read the lyric, and all I could say was, "Well, that's fucking depressing."

Manic Street Preachers – Doors Closing Slowly Lyrics 6 years ago
This might sound crazy, but I feel like this one might be autobiographical.

Realise how lonely this is?
Self-defeating oh fuck yeah
Drowned in love and false kisses
A gathering of no meaning

Love and false kisses in the setting of a large gathering brings to mind the devotional ritual of a concert.
By the end of Richey's time with the Manics, he was going out to perform, and then spending prettymuch all the rest of his time alone, either in his flat or a van while the rest of the band and the fans kept away. No matter where he was, it was loneliness, with his only real human contact being in the context of being worshiped on a stage in a meaningless display.

The shadow is the cross ok

To live in the "shadow of the cross" is to live one's life as Jesus did. Here, we have the shadow itself being the cross. The implication I pull from this is that the emulation of himself he could see in his fans was a source of guilt and pain for him, a cross he had to bear.

Judgement must be willing today

This can be read multiple ways. 1. One must be willing to do what one must, according to one's good judgement.
2. One must will one's own judgement day to come (suicide).

Silence is not sacrifice
Crucifixion is the easy life

A logical permutation of "silence is not sacrifice" is speaking is sacrifice. Pair that with the next line, and you can draw the conclusion that speaking, being open about his thoughts and life and opinions, led to his crucifixion -- and hence to his worship, and the easy life of being a rockstar.
It's also worth noting, as MBlack pointed out, that he did give up any chance for a normal life by choosing that life path. This is almost certainly one of the doors being referenced as closing in the title.

Who threw the first stone?
If the stone is you

The Manics got a decent amount of flak for encouraging their fans to be damaged -- cutting, anorexia, et al -- due to Richey being so open about matters. I think this line questions whether he may have thrown the first stone at himself simply by being open about who he was. It may also question whether he is genuinely culpable for the damage he's been accused of producing in his fans.

Forgive them forsaken
Bleeding feet an angels saviour

Both lines, once again, reference Jesus. Forgiving those who forsake him references Peter thrice-forsaking Jesus, the second line references the nativity.
Forgiving those who forsook him may reference forgiving people for leaving him alone and lonely, forgiving people for throwing metaphorical stones at him, or both.
The second line speaks more of his legitimate capacity to help the depressed/eating disordered/self-injuring fragments of the population by bringing their shared issues to light and making them feel less alone (even in the midst of his own loneliness).

Embrace to betrayal
Unarmed army salvation

The second line here is a clear reference to the Salvation Army, who were some of the very first people dedicated to getting drunks and addicts sober.
A few months before Richey was institutionalized and started working through a 12-step program, the band stopped letting him be alone with fans. I'm not inferring exactly what happened, but clearly there was some betrayal involved with letting worshipful fans get too close that would cause that to happen. It was obliquely referenced in several interviews as one of the main motivations he had to get sober.
This would be another door closing: Drugs and alcohol were removed, soundly so. This left him with the act of being worshiped exclusively from afar, in a concert setting in which he merely pretended to play guitar, by worshipful fans he would not let himself touch or get too close to, while he was actively criticized for encouraging them to emulate him, without even having the escape hatch of obliterating his mind to stop thinking about the meaningless, lonely joke of it all. (Sorry if that sentence verges on incoherence.)
If one thinks about it, this leaves very few options. He can't live a normal life, he's in a band. He can't enjoy decadent band life, he's chosen definitively to be sober and not exploit his fans.
The last doors closed, the solutions to the miseries of existence were removed. What's left? What options did he have?

Listen to the selfish ones
They are the voice of accomplishment

I'm honestly not sure how facetious this line is meant to be. On one hand, it may be legitimate advice. Richey spent his life trying, passively and obediently, both not to hurt anyone and to fulfill what people wanted and expected from him.
And what did he get for it? Nothing but flak from the media, and worship from people he may well have been damaging as much as he helped.
If he'd been selfish, maybe he could have had a normal, productive life rather than the crucifixion he found.
On the other side of the coin, accomplishment is not virtuous, and inevitably involves stomping people down and standing on the backs of other people to pull off.
Whether you aim for passive obedience or selfish accomplishment, evil gets produced, and you have to take part in it if you're going to be alive.

Rambly, I know. And quite possibly trying to pull too many nuances out of one lyric. But it does seem to encapsulate a lot of what Richey said of the world, as well as a lot of what he must have been feeling by the end.

Manic Street Preachers – Fragments Lyrics 6 years ago
Fragments fail to hold me -- I think this is meant to be literal as well as figurative. The notes, lyrics, and drawings Richey left behind cannot physically hold and comfort Nicky.
The effects fail to desert me -- a lot of the band's fame came on the back of Richey's various scandals, culminating in his disappearance itself. I think that's what he's getting at for that line.
In addition, where peace exists/where my mind resists is probably saying that if he could just accept that Richey was dead, he could be more at peace with the situation, but he can't.
Otherwise completely agree with LittleBabyNothing and everyone else here. Great job, guys.

Hozier – Take Me to Church Lyrics 6 years ago
@[Banjoman74:1432] I'm not sure you understand what's being posited, though I think you asses the lyrics more accurately than most. I particularly appreciate your acknowledgement that homosexuality is no different from any other sin -- a lot of people are very happy to miss that.
You're right: The song is about idolatry and physical existence serving in the place of religious faith. Tangible objects (individual human beings, regardless of gender) are being presented as more worthy of devotion and sacrifice than religions past and present.
That's what's being espoused. You can say that gives only death: In a Christian sense, this is absolutely true. And that's what's being openly embraced.
God is great, faith is great if you can do it. I searched all my life, and even attempted that absurdist leap for years of my life. It proved unsustainable, and after a certain point I was forced to acknowledge that I am incapable of faith and devotion to a probably-fictional entity. If meaning can be found in life, in physical objects, isn't that better for those of us who cannot sustain faith than to command us to live lives of outright meaninglessness?
Finding your own meaning, your own devotion may very well not be ideal, but I can't agree that advocating that goal is "garbage". Philosopho-religious views that differ from your own are not necessarily wrong (while I do comprehend that your own views necessitate idolatry being wrong, you must also acknowledge the possibility that you may *be* the one in the wrong -- what then?).

Hozier – Angel of Small Death & the Codeine Scene Lyrics 6 years ago
I'm trolling a little, but there's a really direct and obvious way to interpret this one.

I watched the work of my kin, bold and boyful,
Toying somewhere between love and abuse,
Calling to join them, the wretched and joyful,
Shaking the wings of their terrible youth.

Lots of people fuck around with drugs when they're young and are perfectly fine. That's what the "codeine scene" is: young people who play with codeine, an over-the-counter medication in most countries, to get a little high and enhance their partying. Most of these people never do anything alone, never graduate to anything much harder, and knock it off when they stop being young and reckless.
The protagonist here acknowledges that there's danger and harm to be found here (abuse, wretched, terrible), but also pleasure and greatness (bold, boyful, love, joyful, terrible). He decides to join in the fun.

Freshly disowned, in some frozen devotion,
No more alone or myself could I be,
Lurched like a stray to the arms that were open,
No shortage of sordid, no protest from me.

Instead of finding something to enhance his partying, his having fun with others like himself, he found something that made him feel "alone" and "[him]self". Instead of shaking his wings and being active with the rest, he found a "frozen devotion", a stillness that has more of dedication, commitment, and obsession than youthful playfulness.
He took whatever he could find ("lurched like a stray to the arms that were open") that would produce that feeling, even if it was less innocent than codeine ("no shortage of sordid"). He no longer minds that he's troweling through dangerous parts of town and supporting criminals and cartels, he won't protest the guns and death, he wants what he wants.

With her sweetened breath and her tongue so mean,
She's the Angel of Small Death and the Codeine Scene.
With her straw blonde hair, her arms hard and lean,
She's the Angel of Small Death and the Codeine Scene.

Most of the heroin one finds in Britain is brown, heroin base. This is better smoked than administered in any other way (hence the sweetened breath and the straw blonde coloration). Her arms, naturally, are hard and lean like a needle.
The basic thrust of her being a cruel master that feels too enjoyable not to indulge in, as noted by most of the older interpretations here, is obvious.

Feeling more human and hooked on her flesh,
I lay my heart down with the rest at her feet,
Fresh from the fields, all fetor and fertile,
It's bloody and raw but I swear it is sweet.

He doesn't feel human, doesn't feel well without her. That's what it means to be hooked. It's the point when you can no longer abstain and feel okay. And he's reached it.
"[L]ay my heart down with the rest" points out that it can't be a person -- this Angel has transfixed and stolen the hearts of many, and she keeps them rather than cycling through people as a woman would have to do.
"Fresh from the fields" is another nod: People don't come from fields, but poppies sure do.
"It's bloody and raw", sex tends not to be, but injection-points always are.

In leash-less confusion I wander the concrete,
Wonder how better now having survived,
The jarring of judgement and reason's defeat;
The sweet heat of her breath in my mouth, I'm alive.

Punctuation is frequently very important in Hozier lyrics, and it's kind that he provides it in his liner notes.
Reason is not defeating his unhealthy attachment to a woman. Rather, his reason and judgement have been defeated, and he relies upon the "sweet heat of her breath" to live, to feel like a person again. Without it he feels dead and cold.
"Wonder how better now having survived" acknowledges that his life has been fundamentally altered in an incomprehensible and terrible way.
"[L]eash-less confusion" is a lack of self-control, the confusion implies not really understanding what he's doing, or why he's doing it, when he goes out to "wander the concrete". It isn't an active, fully-conscious decision, he just finds himself doing it, zombie-like. What he's doing as he wanders city sidewalks is trying to score. And he does so successfully, as the last line of the verse indicates. Because he's smoked the heroin he bought, he gets to feel alive at the end of the song.

It's great that people can find their own meanings in songs, it really is, but to my ears this is one of the least ambiguous things he's ever written. Maybe it's a metaphor, but the narrative feels much more intuitive if the song is read as simply personifying heroin.

Drugs shift from youthful, playful experimentation, a way to have fun, to something you ultimately need just to feel alive at all. From something you choose lightly, to something that you will do anything to get, even against your better reason and judgement, even against your own moral scruples. That's the narrative. At least as far as I can see.

Hozier – Run Lyrics 6 years ago
What I see here is a meditation on change, and particularly the changes experienced in love.

There's a parallel structure to these lyrics. The first set of verses personifies earth, and the second set personifies water. The images described are meant to illustrate the interactions and changes experienced between and within individuals as they proceed through life, interacting with the world and other humans.

It starts with images of fertility and growth, quickly followed by an acknowledgement of the inevitability of death (winter's punishing cold).

The last four lines within the first set of verses talks about twisting a bog man after marrying him. This is the pain and change of unity. A bog is a melding, a marriage of water and earth, to such a degree that it would be hard to characterize it as either state.

The passion we will later see described in water is particularly hampered, as bogs are necessarily stagnant. Water itself is twisted, stopped from acting like itself in any way, because of the love and embrace of the land. It's natural, not sinful, but it is a shame to be so shackled. Particularly as the earth has no difficulty maintaining her function and character in a bog. It is immutable and fertile as any other earth.

Now the second set of verses, the ones about water. Things are born, grow, and die in water as well, which is why water is a worthy lover for earth. They're both necessary for life, even as they're opposites in how they function. Land has weather and stability, water lacks both, for one example.

Shattering on her earth and the tears she'd weep are evoking rainfall for me. Rain being, of course, necessary for growth just as it's capable of flooding and destroying crops. It's lovely to describe it as shattering, it emphasizes the destruction of water on such an immutable surface as the earth. Again, it's the pain of unity.

Rushing to shore is obviously beach imagery, which is fascinating because it's one of the few aspects of the land that no longer supports life in a meaningful sense. The life you find there is washed up by the sea. It's one of the few places she gives up her purpose and bows to the water. It's also constantly being reformed, losing its physical structure.

And why does she bow down, why is there no life on a beach, why does it lose its shape? Because of white hands that fondle and beat her, the incessant foaming and crashing of the waves on her shores. She bows because she is both loved and hated with intensity and passion, acquiesces the tiniest bit of her shores as a concession to the passion and intensity of water. The earth, too, is changed like the water in a bog when faced with union.

Love changes people, consumes and twists them as they seek to please and control the other party in a relationship, as they both seek to form a unity rather than remain isolated individuals. There must be conflict, because perfect unity is impossible. If a unity is accomplished, as is the case with the bog man and the beach, neither party can remain entirely himself -- compromises and sublimation of self, concessions must happen.

I haven't unpacked it all. Unwrapping it slowly. But I thought I'd share what I have.

Elliott Smith – A Passing Feeling Lyrics 6 years ago
@[leadmyskeptic:1263] One of the things that always struck me about Elliott Smith's songs about addiction, in particular, was his remarkable capacity to take addiction and its agonies and make them both clear and relatable to straights.
A really quality lyric, at least to my taste, is often really about how much we, as humans, can empathize with each other even when our experiences differ.
Elliott Smith was so brilliant at that particular skill that most people will refuse to see what they're even relating to.
I've had people argue that songs can't be about drugs because that would be "shallow" for way too many artists I love. Drives me mad. You can be deep and a heroin addict at the same time, kids. A song can be deep and be about drugs simultaneously. Just like songs about any other subject can be deep or shallow, layered or straightforward.
Personally, I like artists that show me I can relate to thieves and junkies and all manner of people Different From Myself. Broadens my world.
(So somebody saw what you wrote anyway, heh.)

Hozier – Someone New Lyrics 6 years ago
The first bit is basically a synopsis:

Go take this the wrong way,
You knew who I was with every step that I ran to you, <- Our relationship is fine, don't get upset about this.
Only blue or black days, <- When living feels bleak.
Electing strange perfections in any stranger I choose. <- I see beauty in people (which may not even be there: "electing").

Would things be easier if there was a right way?
Honey, there is no right way. <- There are a lot of different ways to live. If everyone was the same, virtuous, did what they were supposed to, the world might be less bleak. But there are different values and priorities between people, and that's not a bad thing, even while it causes misery and strife.

And so I fall in love just a little,
Oh a little bit everyday with someone new. <- Therefore, because the misery is an inevitable product of people being different, and because no path is more valid than another, the speaker chooses to love people for their differences from himself. It's one way to escape the agony of existence.

The verses confirm this interpretation.

There's an art to life's distractions, <- When the world is miserable, distracting oneself from it is necessary.
To somehow escape the burning wait,
The art of scraping through, <- Emphasizing how hard it is to live and wait for death without doing something to escape the misery.
Some like to imagine,
The dark caress of someone else, <- Some people use fantasizing about sex as a distraction.
I guess any thrill will do. <- That's acknowledged as no better or worse than what the speaker does, just different.

And then we get an example of the process of falling in love, the distraction the speaker is talking about:

I wake at the first cringe of morning,
And my heart's already sinned,
How pure, how sweet a love, Aretha,
That you would pray for him.

Sing a Little Prayer for You woke him up in the morning, the imagery is of an alarm clock. And in that first moment of being awake he's distracted from how terrible things are by the purity and sweetness of her love for the man she's singing to. He's impressed with, falls in love with, her devotion -- largely because he doesn't have that devotion himself (he falls in love with people all the time, which is an infidelity, just an emotional one).

Hozier said somewhere, I think in the From Eden track-by-track that when one falls in love, it's often the traits that are missing in oneself that one sees in another and falls in love with. I think that's being referenced here. It's why stranger is better. It lets you fall deeper in love, be distracted more, simply because it allows you to see more traits you don't have but admire.

Hozier – Take Me to Church Lyrics 6 years ago
@[Deathlessdeath:1082] Went through all the comments just to find out if anyone else thought this. Thank you for thinking it, thank you even more for posting about it. I had the same thought. Granted, my age and my interest set basically led to me being weaned on the art of heroin addicts, so when it's there (and sometimes when it's not, probably), I see it really quickly. That, and I like finding the meanings that involve the least hoops to jump through to have a functional interpretation. If I stub my toe and something doesn't make sense, I take that as a hint that I'm probably wrong about something.
But the addiction interpretation works. Really well, actually. And it's not like Hozier hasn't broached the topic openly in at least two other songs. Even if he has to pull the, "I don't really remember what I was thinking when I wrote that" excuse for them both. He has a lot of more ambiguous songs that are more forgiving, but To Be Alone and Sedated only leave him the option of keeping mum. This song has better excuses for its existence, so naturally it's "about sexuality". He's so cagey in interviews every time he's asked what this song means, particularly if people press him for specific details, that I have to say my motivation to believe his word on the matter is very low. Particularly when he goes ahead and demonstrates almost every tell to catch a liar that I know in quick succession almost every time anyone asks about it.
But particularly in this song... Sexuality, even homosexuality, doesn't know "everybody's" disapproval. Heroin does, even heroin addicts will tell you it's a terrible thing to do.
Love and sex to the point of worship is also slightly absurd, at least if there's an illusion that it can be maintained long-term. He wrote this right after his first relationship ended (a relationship that's also referenced in a way that supports my assumptions in Arsonist's Lullaby) -- if you're already into heroin, what's going to happen when an ecstacy that was comparable (sex, love) is taken from you? You go right back to drugs, and lament ever having engaged in relationships with humans. You decide you should've worshipped the drug sooner. Period.
There are a lot of little things, a real lot of little things -- and I agree with all you've pointed out as well. I'm not writing a proper interpretation of this song either, partially because no one wants to read it anyway, but I did want to thank you for sharing and let you know you're not alone in seeing what you see.

Hozier – Someone New Lyrics 6 years ago
It's about loving people in an individual but abstract sense. It's not about sex ("don't take this the wrong way") or infidelity -- the speaker is clearly happily involved with someone already. That's half of why one only falls in love a little bit with strangers, there is no desire for physical or even deep emotional intimacy.
This song is talking about that moment you get interfacing with people who are genuinely different from you, where they say or do something that just points out *how* different they are from you. Different values and priorities, different virtues and vices. Those differences, those perfections of things you yourself Aren't, and you yourself Don't Value are what's producing love. It's an affection, a pleasant reeling, from the surprises in how different people are from each other. The depth and diversity of the race making one fall in love, just a little bit, over and over with each individual.
It also references the standard human trait of seeing the ill in people, blaming people for their vices and failings, in an attempt to distract ourselves from the difficulties of life. But it says that if we didn't do that, if we looked instead for what's good in people, we'd be better off. We should be falling in love, not condemning people for not being our *personal* ideals of perfection.
That's all.

Hozier – In the Woods Somewhere Lyrics 6 years ago
Oh. The moon. Lunacy. It's just reiterating the right/wrong thoughts dichotomy that's in the rest of the song.
I feel slow. Wish you could edit these.

Hozier – In the Woods Somewhere Lyrics 6 years ago
Okay. I'm 99% certain I know what this song's about, and it doesn't have an interpretation yet, so I'll do a write-up.

In briefest possible terms, it's about fighting a battle with oneself and losing. That's clear.

Anything more in-depth involves me applying traditional literary symbolism, and accepting the only explanation for the narrative I've found that doesn't produce inconsistencies.


My head was war,
My skin was soaked.
I called your name 'til the fever broke.

This is blunt, but I only see one thing here: Acute opiate withdrawal. The war is the question of whether the speaker should continue using drugs or stop. At this point, he's calling the name of a woman because he's using the desire to be sober with her as a reason to quit, and as a source of strength to get through the physical difficulties (fevers, sweating) involved in making that decision.

When I awoke
The moon still hung.
The night so black that the darkness hums.

The acute phase was finished, he awoke. At this point, one would expect to be seeing clearly -- perhaps for the first time in a long time, with open eyes and sobriety in hand.
The moon is in the sky, and there's an air of disappointment. It "still" hangs. The moon is a celestial body that illuminates, but exudes no light of its own. It's effectively a false god floating in the sky, something that claims to guide but, in reality, has no virtue or purpose. I'm not entirely certain, but I think this is meant to represent still having a psychological devotion to the drug in spite of having chosen not to consume it any longer. It still hangs, overbearing, the desire attempting to guide him with its false light.
A black night is symbolic of fear, confusion, sightlessness, and uncertainty. Anything could be in the blackness.
In short: He does not have the clarity of purpose or conviction he was hoping for, he is still not free of the false god that's stalking him, even though the physical sickness has abated.

I raised myself.
My legs were weak.
I prayed my mind be good to me.

Fairly straightforward. He raised himself, continued to persevere in spite of it being difficult (weak legs), and hoped his mind would treat him well -- that he could steel his will, and keep his resolve to remain on the path he chose.

An awful noise
Filled the air.
I heard a scream
In the woods somewhere.

Woods in literature are really loaded. They are frequently used explicitly to reference the unconscious mind, which fits nicely in the context of this song. They represent growth, unexpected and unforeseen changes, danger, and generally all the nice and nasty things that we don't like thinking about too often in our own heads. They can bear fruit, positive fruit, but never without struggle and confusion.
The scream is, I think, representative of the struggle and strife within the speaker's own mind. Parts of his mind that he cannot control are screaming at him -- hence it coming from within the metaphorical woods, and never being attributed to any character we see.

A woman's voice!
I quickly ran
Into the trees with empty hands.

The noise that once seemed awful now seems appealing, or at least vulnerable. In either case, it's something that compels him to run towards the voice that's been screaming at him. (To be more explicit: Cravings were screaming at him, and while they first seemed awful, it's gone on long enough that it now seems like going towards That Which Is Craved may be the right, even the virtuous decision.)
Going into the woods implies giving in to unconscious desires, rather than following the rational path.
He comes with empty hands, which implies that he is both defenseless and receptive. It's a position of weakness.

A fox it was,
He shook afraid.
I spoke no words,
No sound he made.

His bone exposed,
His hind was lame.
I raised a stone to end his pain.

Foxes are deceivers in literature, much as addictions are in life. The characters are seeing each other clearly. The speaker sees deceit where he expected to find salvation (a woman, for instance). The fox is afraid, and we see the cause of its fear: It is now known by the speaker that he does not need it, it is not the salvation he was seeking when he ran into the woods and stopped behaving rationally. It's just a lame animal, inept and senseless. He seeks to put the fox, the addiction, out of its misery and destroy it with any tool at hand.

What caused the wound?
How large the teeth?
I saw new eyes were watching me.

Hesitation. The other side of the coin. If this addiction formed, if this wounded creature had to exist within his mind to be killed, what caused it to begin with? There is an additional implication: If the cause behind the addiction is just, letting the fox live and nurturing it -- saving it from the other creature -- may be a valid and virtuous choice. He is no longer worried about the fox, but the other, deeper eyes that caused the initial wound.

The creature lunged.
I turned and ran
To save a life I didn't have.

The creature is never identified, I love that. Unlike his addiction, which he can openly acknowledge, he could not see this other, more frightening creature clearly. He chose not to, he chose to run away. And in running away, he gets lost in the woods, rather than killing his demons (the fox) and finding his way out and back to rational existence.
He flees his fears, whatever they are, and falls back into escapism. Meanwhile, escapism is not living. It's a half-life, a life that embraces illusions in a desperate gambit to flee one's fears.

Dear, in the chase
There as I flew
Forgot all prayers of joining you.

Punny. First, the sonic deer/dear bit: he has chosen to be a prey item, acknowledging that he is merely fleeing pain rather than seeking anything actively.
This segment is likely meant to be interpreted two other ways. One is as an appeal to the woman for whom he was attempting to get clean, as an apology for flying away and being unable to join her in a real, full life.
The second is a bit more base, an open acknowledgement that while he "flew," or got higher (rather than just fleeing), as he started chasing that which was truly "dear" to him, he forgot any desire he had to be among the normal, living denizens of the world.

I clutched my life
And wished it kept.
My dearest love
I'm not done yet.

His life can now be clutched, a physical object. A drug, to be explicit, is what he has in lieu of the life he'd hoped to have. He wished that the life he wanted, the life he had before the drug, could have kept, because currently the drug is all he has left.
"My dearest love/I'm not done yet," is another pairing that is probably meant in two ways.
The first, another apology to the woman for his choice.
The second, addressed to his drug, his "dearest love," acknowledging that it isn't over.

How many years
I know I'll bare,
I found something in the woods somewhere.

I don't think I actually need to clarify anything else at this point, do I?
Sad song, but lovely.
Kinda hope I've just read too much Baudelaire, but that's what I got out of it either way. Would love to hear different views.

Hozier – Work Song Lyrics 6 years ago
First thing's first: Hozier is too clever by half, and you can bet he knows it.

This is a song about love, true enough. Intensely attached, profoundly limerent love than transcends death and makes the world, the things one has to do, and even the potential of an afterlife fade into irrelevance. A love that reaches in, unquestioning, and loves, protects, and raises up the loved in spite of faults and sins and crimes.
The rhythm encourages the listener to leave it at that. Just a love song, all about the redeeming qualities of love. How it can get you through the day and save you from yourself. A traditional topic applied with a rhythm that reinforces the old-fashioned homeyness of the sentiment.

Yeah. Not quite. That's there. You're supposed to hear it, and that's been covered beautifully by multiple posters here already. But the whole story, as always with Hozier lyrics, is a bit more than that.

The first hint comes early, and is pointed out by the music itself.

"Boys workin' on empty
Is that the kinda way to face the burning heat?
I just think about my baby
I'm so full of love I could barely eat"

There you are. Getting through the day, miserable about what you have to do to earn an income, distracting oneself with thoughts of love. Then that last line, "so full of love I could barely eat." And the music pauses, the driving, worker's rhythm stops. That's a cue. You're supposed to stop and think about that line.
Is it a reference to courtly love, the lack of desire to eat that comes from intense limerence? Absolutely. But that alone would not necessitate a pause in the music, it wouldn't need to be pointed out. It wouldn't have the touch of strangeness that the pause adds to such a driving, rhythmic song.
What else could make someone not want to eat? What is he hinting at?

"There's nothing sweeter than my baby
I'd never want once from the cherry tree
'Cause my baby's sweet as can be
She give me toothaches just from kissin' me"

There's a juxtaposition here that shouldn't be missed: The nutritious, healthy sweetness one would find from a cherry (rejected), and the sickly, rot-inducing, unearthly sweetness of artificial sweets (accepted).
Another point: Unlike a cherry, the sweetness of his baby is intense enough to cause actual pain, and there is some implication that it feels sweeter for the pain it causes. There's also a bit more play in mentioning a toothache, because it would make you disinclined to eat for very physical reasons.
In summary: his love is more satisfying and sweeter than food, even as it unavoidably causes him pain.

Chorus, let's save that for the end.

Next verse:

"That's when my baby found me
I was three days on a drunken sin
I woke with her walls around me
Nothin' in her room but an empty crib"

It starts the same, this time tortured by life choices and one's own sin rather than one's economic obligations, misery abounds, and he is redeemed by love.
Then there's that fourth line again. No pause this time, the line's disturbing enough. Why is the crib empty? The most optimistic interpretation is to say that it's hope for the future, for a family, but I suspect it's meant to imply the opposite. There was potential for simple family-life, for wholesome growth, but like the cherry's nutritious sustenance, it was rejected for something sweeter, more satisfying. The crib is empty, and it will stay that way. After all, he already has his "baby."

"And I was burnin' up a fever
I didn't care much how long I lived
But I swear I thought I dreamed her
She never asked me once about the wrong I did"

A fever this time, heat from inside rather than outside. He's progressed from working outside, honestly, in the heat, to "drunken sin" and fevers. Is he making a living anymore? The statement that he doesn't care how long he lives implies he might not be. This is rock-bottom, where you want to give up. Until you remember your savoir. A fever dream. Something that will forgive you, make everything okay, love you in spite of it all. No questions, no guilt, no shame for all your sin and sickness.

"My baby never fret none
About what my hands and my body done"

The tenor of manual labor in the first verse is important here. His baby doesn't care about his work, his virtues, his effort, just as she doesn't care about his sins and vice. Hands and bodies work in both ways.

"If the Lord don't forgive me
I'd still have my baby and my babe would have me
When I was kissing on my baby"

Here he is giving up any fear of damnation and any desire for salvation, preferring instead the earthly sweetness of his love. Her forgiveness, her heaven will be the only freedom he will feel, the only thing he will have, the only thing he can consume or care about. Complete devotion for all time. Devotion that transcends virtue, sin, hope, and fear alike.

"And she put her love down soft and sweet
In the lowland plot I was free
Heaven and hell were words to me"

There is an implication that the love has to be activated in the first line here. It isn't a constant, comforting thought, but comes all at once. And then you have a grave being referenced, as if the love itself can cause death. Then what comes after death, the afterlife: It, like food and family and (likely) honest work, has been rejected.

Now the chorus:

"When, my, time comes around
Lay me gently in the cold dark earth
No grave can hold my body down
I'll crawl home to her"

It's about addiction, kids. You start out with a normal life, occasional comforting thoughts, and active desire. Then it gets worse, but at every point the drug redeems the situation, even as you give up food, honest work, health, family, your future, and ultimately your life in exchange for its embrace.
But it's a love song, a beautiful one. There is no regret, just the desire to crawl back, even when the worst comes to pass. The music itself drives it home, as it keeps going on, pushing and driving, even as more and more of the narrator's world is stripped away. Even as the world is quite literally stripped away by death. It only pauses once, and that's early on.
Not an uncommon story, but portrayed uncannily well in so many ways that I had to write about it here.

* This information can be up to 15 minutes delayed.
Back to top