I will try not to breathe
I can hold my head still with my hands at my knees
These eyes are the eyes of the old, shiver and fold

I will try not to breathe
This decision is mine
I have lived a full life
And these are the eyes that I want you to remember, oh

I need something to fly over my grave again
I need something to breathe

I will try not to burden you
I can hold these inside
I will hold my breath
Until all these shivers subside
Just look in my eyes

I will try not to worry you
I have seen things that you will never see
Leave it to memory me
I shudder to breathe

I want you to remember, oh (you will never see)
I need something to fly (something to fly)
Over my grave again (you will never see)
I need something to breathe (something to breathe)
Baby, don't shiver now
Why do you shiver? (I will see things you will never see)
I need something to fly (something to fly)
Over my grave again (I will see things you will never see)
I need something to breathe, oh, oh, oh, oh
Oh, oh, oh, oh
Oh, oh, oh, oh
Oh, oh, oh, oh
Oh, oh, oh

I will try not to worry you
I have seen things that you will never see
Leave it to memory me
Don't dare me to breathe
I want you to remember oh (you will never see)
I need something to fly (something to fly)
Over my grave again (you will never see)
I need something to breathe (something to breathe)
Baby, don't shiver now
Why do you shiver now? (I will see things you will never see)
I need something to breathe (something to breathe)
(I have seen things you will never see)
I want you to remember


Lyrics submitted by shut

Try Not to Breathe Lyrics as written by Peter Buck Bill Berry

Lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

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Try Not To Breathe song meanings
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47 Comments

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  • +5
    General Comment

    This song touched me, a long time ago, when I first heard it at my dad's house. It was only this year when he gave me his extra copy of Automatic For The Peope that I realized what the song was called. It had been haunting me for a long time.

    Unlike most of the people who have already set down what they think this song is about, I do not see the speaker as being a woman- maybe because the singer is a male, I don't know. What I do know is that I do not see the song as being about suicide either. It's about someone dying of old age, lying on their deathebed, telling their family not to worry when they die because "I have lived a full life, I have seen things that you will never see." Basically, it's his/her time, and though the family is sad, they know he's content to die, which comforts them a bit.

    EnduringChillon October 10, 2011   Link
  • +2
    General Comment

    I think the person is trying to rationalize killing themselves by saying that they have lived a full life and have seen terrible things, but they still are uneasy about actually doing something so drastic (why do you shiver).

    rockmanon January 27, 2006   Link
  • +2
    General Comment

    The song could be about suicide... But I think it's more about someone's willingness to die in general. That they've lived a full life, so don't be sad when they die, they're ready anyway.

    Brat Mojon May 28, 2006   Link
  • +2
    General Comment

    I don't think this song is about suicide at all. I think it's just about someone with a terminal illness coming to grips with the fact that they are going to die. They don't want other people to see them suffering, but they don't have the will to do themselves in either, hence the promise to simply 'try not to breathe'.

    Jeemaon September 08, 2006   Link
  • +2
    General Comment

    I agree with Jeema in that I never thought this song was about suicide, just the acceptance of death.

    "I have seen things that you will never see": I don't interpret this as terrible things, necessarily. To me this just reflects that since the speaker is older than the people she is addressing, she has lived parts of history that they will only read about and has had experiences that are no longer possible for the current generations because things have changed.

    For some reason I also pictured the speaker as a woman; no idea why.

    wildflowerfeveron October 28, 2008   Link
  • +2
    General Comment

    ncc, small correction if I may, Cobain actually did killed himself 2 years after the release of 'Automatic' 10.92. michael did write a song about him; it was on the follow up 'monster' one that's called 'let me in' if I can remember well. and not that it matters so much to relate those 2 events together I beleive but Kurt killed himself on April 5th 94. and adding to that regarding the humanity and beauty that vehiculates rem's music I don't think any song by this band could ever get a reasonably sone person to commit suicide.... so anyway this is a beautiful track, the melodies, and the words but as far as the things I've read here they seem pretty restricted in their analysis, just wanting to to see a song being about this r that. what''s the point? to me even if it could be just as plain and simple ( pointless) versions like those are just a lil too litteral making straight depictions and simplifying the all thing to some chosen subject couldn't be the best way to look at a piece of 'poetical' lyrics. even more so when it comes to lyrics like those. espacially when you know Stipe usual tricky type of lyrics and used to play with many emotional images through words. it's always easier then it seems, many lines taken apart and isolated from the rest may give this or that hint, but plain deduction to decide this is about suicide instead of trying to get the emotion behind, just a human thought, the desire to leave before the decay. to not make suffer anyne you love. (everybody hurts) to reach for something beyond, and leave all pain and disapointements behind.

    naivadaon July 07, 2007   Link
  • +2
    Song Meaning

    Suicide? Old people? Hmmmm...this song is very special for me, because it's a remembering spell. I was abused long time ago and blocked it out, completely repressed good and bad memories from the time. This song is a reflection, a song to be sung to the Self, not to somebody else. Like most awesome poets, Stipe sings to himself occassionally, and in doing so he asks the listener to become the singer and sing to their Self as well.

    mgmyers79on March 01, 2009   Link
  • +1
    General Comment

    I think this song is from the POV of someone who is already dead, and speaking back to their survivors not to worry about them.

    yogaboaton November 19, 2004   Link
  • +1
    General Comment

    It can be taken in so many ways - its completley different meanings for me, i mean its so blatently about suicide, but maybe not neccessarily about elderly people. I dunno, it reminds me of someone close 2 me (the shivers bit) for some reason, of romantic love. God knows why.

    punk_pwincesson December 16, 2004   Link
  • +1
    General Comment

    about suicide? ok, there are elements of that yes. he's SCREAMING, telling everyone that he's seen something others will not. we're too afraid to look/question. sigh. if he/she chooses to die now, then REMEMBER what you see now in my eyes. i 'know'. btw, if you are considering suicide, please read the lyrics to 'everybody hurts' first, ok? put that damn bottle/gun/knive down now. :)

    omega-alatiaon December 26, 2004   Link

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