"Cherry Wine" as written by and Andrew Hozier Byrne....
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.

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

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.

Calls of guilty thrown at 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.

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

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

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.

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

The way she shows 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.


Lyrics submitted by YearsWasted, edited by jiho

"Cherry Wine [Live]" as written by Andrew Hozier Byrne

Lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

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Cherry Wine song meanings
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  • +13
    My InterpretationI 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.
    teaspillon February 25, 2015   Link

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