"Broken" as written by Matthew Ross Armstrong and Jason D. Jones....
He's got a broken voice and a twisted smile
Guess he's been that way now for quite awhile
He's got blood on his shoes and mud on his brim
Did he do it to himself or was it done to him?

Now people say that he don't look well
But all he needs from what I can tell
Is someone to help wash away all the paint
From his purple hands before it gets too late

I saw him stand alone under a broken street light
So sincere, singing silent night
But the trees, they were full and the grass was green
It was the sweetest thing I had ever seen

He may move slow
But that don't mean he's going nowhere
He may be moving slow
But that don't mean he's going nowhere

Lyrics submitted by softasfire

"Broken" as written by Norah Jones Lee Alexander

Lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

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Broken song meanings
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  • 0
    General CommentWhy hasn't anyone posted on this song? It's one of my favorite songs by Norah Jones. I think it's about somebody who had a bad past. The rest of the world might perceive that this person isn't going anywhere in life. But their potential hasn't gone unnoticed. At least by Norah Jones..
    oldhagon April 22, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General Commentbut what the heck is she talking about with the purple paint? i love it. i'm not sure i get it.
    iladelph53on April 23, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI think the paint might signify his past. I don't know why it's purple though.
    oldhagon April 24, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI think the purple paint might be a metaphor for him dying. His body is turning purple because he is not breathing. However, she says it's paint because it could go away (it could be washed away), and he could begin to live again.
    Musica123on April 27, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General CommentIt's kinda obvious, especially after Musica123's comment. Death that isn't dead because he could, "begin to live again" blood and mud, slow-moving, etc. It sure seems like a description of the un-dead. He's standing under a BROKEN street lamp--perhaps near a graveyard? In the first verse, she wonders if he made himself that way or if someone had cursed him with undeath.

    I've been a fan of Norah Jones for a long time, and have listened to this album many times, but it wasn't until recently that I realized this song is about a zombie!

    It becomes especially obvious in the song immediately following Broken. The first line says: "'Twas Halloween and the ghosts were out"
    gr1nreaperon July 06, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI think that sometimes people go through things in life, situations or relationship or hard times in general, that leave them battered and broken, close to emotional death. Its not to say that the broken person be filled with life once again. It's definatly a possibility, but often one cant do it alone and needs the help or encouragment to come out of it. The puple paint may represent that death, one that covers the person but doesnt consume them and one that they might be freed from through "washing". The man definatly has a drive to live, for although he is going slow he is still going somewhere. The twisted smile, broken voice, blood and mud have to do with his current state and peoples perception of him.

    Just some thoughts... moe of a thought direction then a full explanation.
    thecontemplateron November 03, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI think she wrote this for all the broken men out there.

    I think the paint is representation of pain
    And the purple is physical/emotional death

    "I saw him standing alone, under a broken street light"
    She's noticing a broken man in the dark, under a broken street light (no streetlight, but she SAW, knowing that both were broken)

    So sincere ... singing silent night,
    (He really means it)

    But the trees were full ... and the grass was green,
    It was the sweetest thing I had ever seen.
    (She saw the Beauty beneath the boil. The beautiful pain.)

    He may move slow,
    But that don't mean he's going nowhere,
    He may be moving slow,
    But that don't mean he's going nowhere.
    (He is ALIVE)
    IwriteTooon December 06, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI don't think this is actually about a zombie. I think it's more about a person she knows who is thought of as useless or weird. people think he's unwell or disturbed or something. I also thought that he needed someone to wash away the pain, not paint. i think maybe they typo'd on the lyrics. but she knows him well enough to deterine that he needs someone to wash away his painful past and help him live his life instead of bugging ands critisizing him. he really tries, but he can't do it without some help. he is earnest, but a little confused. he is singing a christmas song in summer. he's moving slowly for a while, but he's still going. he has courage and hasn't stopped yet.
    shell888888on March 05, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General CommentAll this talk of paint, haha! As shell mentioned, these lyrics aren't correct in a couple of places; 'paint' should be 'pain.'
    cestmagiqueon January 11, 2009   Link
  • 0
    General Commenti had always thougt the song was about somebody with a learning disability, perhaps autism. Sometimes people with learning disabilities appear weird or strange, and many people are afraid or confused by them. To me, its norah's way of talking about a person with a learning disability in a good light, that they mean well and are pure in mind
    daniel625on January 15, 2009   Link

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