I believe right now if I could
I would swallow you whole
I would leave only bones and teeth
We could see what was underneath
And you would be free then

Once I thought only tears could make us free
Salt wearing down to the bone
Like sand against the stone
Against the shoreline

I am friend to the undertow
I take you in, I don't let go
And now I have you

I wanted to learn all the secrets
From the edge of a knife
From the point of a needle
From a diamond
From a bullet in flight
I would be free then

I am friend to the undertow
I take you in, I don't let go
And now I have you

I wanted to see how it would feel
To be that sleek
And instead I find this hunger's
Made me weak

I believe right now if I could
I would swallow you whole
I would leave only bones and teeth
We could see what was underneath
And you would be free then

I am friend to the undertow
I take you in, I don't let go
And now I have you

I am friend to the undertow
I take you in, I don't let go
And now I have you


Lyrics submitted by Novartza

Undertow Lyrics as written by Suzanne Vega

Lyrics © Warner Chappell Music, Inc.

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Undertow song meanings
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7 Comments

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  • +2
    General Comment

    the song is about anorexia, and so that would be the group of people she's refering too. I won't go to quoting lyrics, but read the song with anorexia in mind and it becomes quite obvious.

    I actually grew up listening to this song, wondering what is was about. i suffered from anorexia as an adolescent, and going back to this song later, it made so much sense

    kemeon November 07, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General Comment

    this song is so beautiful <3<3

    rocketqueenzon March 15, 2003   Link
  • 0
    General Comment

    I'm suprised there havn't been more people commenting on this song. It's a great song, about exposing our true selves. Like the verse, "Once I thought only tears could make us free Salt wearing down to the bone Like sand against the stone Against the shoreline" suggests, only by pain and sorrow can we break out and see ourselves and others for what they truly are. She then comes to realize that once you've scraped away everything superficial, life has a different meaning. Your soul is finally free.
    Great song.

    ItsAllIWanton February 08, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General Comment

    I went to a her concert once, and before she sang this song she said something like 'This song is for a group of people, who know who they are'. Well, I dont. Does anyone here have an idea?

    bartoshekon December 04, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General Comment

    further, it's not really a hopeful song as some would suggest. it's about being pared down to nothing as you loose yourself in the disease

    kemeon November 07, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General Comment

    keme, you're right. Thanks. It does make sense now. Which, along with blood makes noise and bad wisdom, gives a very depressing view of Suzanne. I wonder.

    bartoshekon February 09, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General Comment

    To me this song speaks of a great outpouring of hatred. She's singing about someone she hates, and destroying them utterly.
    The lines "Once I thought only tears could make us free" say that at first she has turned her feeling inward and is crying about her hatred. The next verse "I wanted to learn all the secrets From the edge of a knife From the point of a needle From a diamond From a bullet in flight I would be free then" Is unmistakably violent and she's talking about how she's going to destroy this object of her hatred.

    Now maybe this is about the ravages of anorexia but the lyrics read too litreally for that to work too well, at least in my mind. They basically read "I hate you. I'm going to kill you."

    Red Octoberon February 23, 2007   Link

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Well, in my opinion this song is about being a young & maybe a little naive &/or introverted girl and finding yourself loving a man who is at first very charming, carefree & outgoing, and seems at first to be without limits, as in "There was a time you opened up every doorway you didn't mind if everything wasn't your way" then that man starts to gradually become more introverted & shows their more possessive/obsessive side to you as the relationship progresses, even while they keep up the appearance of being carefree & outgoing to everyone else, "Don't pull away that goes against what you told me I look in your eyes I realize what you've sold me is love in a vacuum" so you confront them about the way they're acting and of course they deny it, "I think you've changed but you insist that that's not true" quite possibly they are an addict of some sort, my guess would be cocaine, &/or showing very obsessive behavior towards you (early on in the video for this song we see the man hanging a picture up, it is a very large portrait of Aimee & it is prominently displayed in his/their apartment for the duration of the song), thus their "love in a vacuum", "You look so strange, so distant that you're hardly you Now I can see how you have been acting different You say it's me but I know that it isn't it's love in a vacuum" but still you are in love with them and don't want to leave them and you know that they are truly in love with you and they don't want you to leave them either, maybe they are convinced you can save them from themself, maybe they are so broken that the possibility of an overdose &/or suicide attempt is very real and you want to get through to them that their behavior not only dangerous but it is also just pissing you off and if they don't wise up they run the risk of loosing you, as in the lines "You will be lonely if you leave me alone", so you want to save them but can't get through to them due to the addiction &/or emotional problems they have, "Love in a vacuum and that's not enough love in a vacuum You will be lonely you'll be the only one who feels this way You will be lonely if you leave me alone You will be lonely you'll be the only one who feels this way it's just not enough" you want them to understand that the love they are giving you is not enough when it is filtered through the vacuum of their drug addiction &/or emotional impairment, "You will be lonely you'll be the only one who feels this way it's just not enough and just wait you will be lonely Love in a vacuum Love in a vacuum and that's not enough Love in a vacuum". 'Love In A Vacuum' for me is a hauntingly truthful acute argument on the loneliness of obsession and almost inevitable loss of love that follows people who are broken in some way or another; the obsessives, the coke heads, the drunks, addicts or the just-plain-old emotionally broken; a razor sharp, lyrically driven, deceptively poppy, yet ultimately-depressing-in-the-best-way song. Quintessential Aimee Mann.