"Sorrow" as written by and Matthew D. Berninger Aaron B. Dessner....
Sorrow found me when I was young,
Sorrow waited, sorrow won.
Sorrow that put me on the pills,
It's in my honey it's in my milk.
It's only about half a heart alone
On the water,
Cover me in rag and bones, sympathy.
'Cause I don't wanna get over you.
I don't wanna get over you.

Sorrows my body on the waves
Sorrows a girl inside my cage
I live in a city sorrow built
It's in my honey, it's in my milk.
It's only my half of heart alone,
On the water,
Cover me in rag and bones, sympathy.
'Cause I don't wanna get over you.
I don't wanna get over you.

It's only my half of heart alone,
On the water,
Cover me in rag and bones, sympathy.

'Cause I don't wanna get over you.

I don't wanna get over you.

Lyrics submitted by Zarlant, edited by Nostawyn, evanreyes, Jellybon3s, breadwords, MusicStuff0405, mmedling, akai_prince

"Sorrow" as written by Matthew D. Berninger Aaron B. Dessner

Lyrics © BMG Rights Management

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Sorrow song meanings
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  • +23
    General CommentI read somewhere that Matt wrote this song for Bryan Devendorf, who has suffered from clinical depression all his life. As someone who also struggles with lifelong depression, this song is spot on - it's amazing that Matt, who says he's never been depressed, could describe so accurately what depression does to a person. You really do fall in love with your own sadness, it becomes a shield that protects you from reality. Depression touches every single aspect of its victim's life. It clouds and distorts everything and rebuilds your memories and your perceptions. "I live in a city sorrow built/It's in my honey, it's in my milk." It's everywhere.
    nothingeveron September 21, 2012   Link
  • +18
    Song MeaningA song about being in love with being sad. Intense.
    200DiscChangeron May 12, 2010   Link
  • +12
    My InterpretationThis seems to be about depression and falling into a state of perpetual gloom and self-pity. A more detailed analysis follows. This is just my interpretation, and is no doubt influenced by my own experiences with feeling depressed, which I see reflected in this song.

    Verse 1:
    "Sorrow found me when I was young / Sorrow waited, sorrow won"
    The narrator first felt depressed when young, and over time he has given in to these feelings. Note that right away the narrator is personifying "sorrow" as an external entity that has overcome him, rather than something that comes from within. This is consistent with the narrator's portrayal of himself as a victim throughout the song.

    "Sorrow, they put me on the pills / It's in my honey, it's in my milk"
    A reference to clinical depression - the narrator is being medicated for his condition. The specific mention of honey and milk invokes the idea of the Biblical "promised land" for the people of Israel, a land "flowing with milk and honey". This suggests that even the narrator's happiness is infused with this feeling of melancholy.

    "Don't leave my hyper heart alone on the water / Cover me in rag and bone sympathy / 'Cause I don't wanna get over you"
    The tone shifts slightly here from a general description to a direct address, apparently to the narrator's love interest. He asks for sympathy and then states that he doesn't want to "get over" the love interest. Instead of trying to move on from a lost love, he wants to remain in his gloomy, depressed state. It seems that the narrator is "in love with being sad", as an earlier commenter put it. The use of the phrase "rag and bone" is a bit puzzling. Apparently a "rag-and-bone-man" is someone who collects unwanted household scraps (such as rags and bones) to sell to merchants. So perhaps this "rag and bone sympathy" refers to scavenged bits of kindness and/or pity that the narrator seeks.

    Verse 2:
    "Sorrow's my body on the waves / Sorrow's a girl inside my cave"
    These lines offer more metaphors for depression. I think the second line ends with "cave", not "cake", because it's closer to a rhyme with "waves" and also because it makes more sense to me. The reference to waves suggests narrator feels adrift in his sadness, at the mercy of more powerful forces. This also connects to the first line of the chorus where the narrator refers to his heart being "on the water". The "girl inside my cave" could refer to the narrator's self-enforced isolation and further emphasizes the idea of being in love with sadness, which he has chosen to portray as female. Alternatively, the cave could be the narrator's own body, suggesting a feeling of internal hollowness/emptiness and the constant presence of sadness inside of him.

    "I live in a city sorrow built / It's in my honey, it's in my milk"
    These lines suggest that the narrator is living in his own world (the "city sorrow built"), with his perceptions colored by depression. And again, the repeated line "It's in my honey, it's in my milk" suggests the idea of sweetness tinged with melancholy. The narrator is trapped in a cycle of self-pity where he is continually reinforcing his depressed mood.

    The repeated chorus reiterates the central idea of the song: "I don't wanna get over you."
    treanton December 28, 2011   Link
  • +4
    General Commentnowness.com/day/2010/5/11/…

    This is a great movie/video of Sorrow! 200DiscChanger...sounds like you are spot-on. According to Aaron Dessner, he maintains it is an honest, lighthearted portrait. "We're just goofing around," he says. "A lot of people assume that we're miserable guys and this music is dark, but actually there's quite a lot of humor in it. "Sorrow" is a sad song, but it is also a kind of weird celebration of feeling sorrow... some people like that feeling and they don't want to get rid of it."

    I love it...
    "a sad song, but it is also a kind of weird celebration of feeling sorrow"
    intheknowon May 18, 2010   Link
  • +2
    My InterpretationThis is one of my favourite tracks by The National for sure. I think this is quite obviously about depression, probably clinical depression ("Sorrow they put me on the pills"). I've always heard it as "don't leave my HYPER heart alone, on the water", possibly refering ADHD or something simialr? "Rag and bone sympathy" to me means sympathy with no real depth to it, like when you say "My dog died" or something and people always answer with "I'm so sorry", when they don't really know what you're going through or what they really should be saying... When I'm feeling sad I just want to be left alone... Just my thoughts on some of these lyrics.
    Daaanieeelon September 14, 2012   Link
  • +2
    My InterpretationI've always heard it as 'half a heart.' and to me it makes sense, because in the vine like grip of depression you can't give everything you've got to someone you love; It takes everything from you and restricts it. It also makes sense to me as 'I don't wanna get over you.' suggests that the person he loves left him, more reason to only have half a heart.
    DizzyKitsuneon April 23, 2013   Link
  • +1
    General Commentone of my favorite on the new cd. this one just kills me. the new cd is so strong - the kind that at first listen, you're not quite sure, then the second it gets better, by the fifth listen, you're just screaming, it's that good. the layers. the drums. the guitars. amazing. boxer was one that on the first go, it was magical. this one builds. it's much more seductive. i wish they were coming to houston.
    joniwebbon May 16, 2010   Link
  • +1
    General CommentThe line is "sorrow's the girl inside my cake".

    Just saw The National at the Palais in melbourne last night. They were fantastic.
    HarlemCaton January 09, 2011   Link
  • +1
    General Comment'Don't leave my hyper heart alone, on the water' is just one of my favourite lyrics ever.
    sivasivasivon February 01, 2012   Link
  • +1
    General Commentcover me in rag and bone.
    lyric is thrown in because that is matts favorite store in nyc actually brooklyn.
    the name of the store"rag and bone"
    julianf1on February 05, 2012   Link

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