"Dilate" as written by and Ani Difranco....
Life used to be life-like
Now it's more like show biz
I wake up in the night
And I don't know where the bathroom is
And I don't know what town I'm in
Or what sky I am under
And I wake up in the darkness
I don't have the will anymore to wonder
And everyone has a skeleton
A closet to keep it in
And you're mine
Every song has a you
A you that the singer sings to
And you're it this time
Baby, you're it this time

When I need to wipe my face
I use the back of my hand
And I like to take up space
Just because I can
And I use my dress
To wipe up my drink
You know, I care less and less
What people think
And you are so lame
You always disappoint me
It's kinda like our running joke
But it's really not funny
I just want you to live up to
The image of you I create
I see you and I'm so unsatisfied
I see you and I dilate

So I'll walk the plank
Yeah, I'll jump with a smile
If I'm gonna go down
I'm gonna do it with style
And you won't see me surrender
You won't hear me confess
'Cause you've left me with nothing
But I've worked with less
And I learn every room long enough
To make it to the door
And then I hear it click shut behind me
And every key works differently
And I forget every time
And the forgetting defines me
Yeah, that's what defines me

And when I say, "you sucked my brain out"
The english translation
Is "I am in love with you"
And it is no fun
But I don't use words like love
'Cause words like that don't matter
But don't look so offended
You know, you should be flattered
And I wake up in the night
In some big hotel bed
My hands grope for the light
My hands grope for my head
The world is my oyster
You know, the road is my home
And I know that I'm better
I'm better, I'm better
Off alone

Lyrics submitted by aur0ra

"Dilate" as written by Ani Difranco


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Dilate song meanings
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  • +2
    General CommentWhat I don't get is why so many people responding to this song take it to be angry. To me, it speaks more to an introspection. The lyrics that, if read straight from a page without Ani's guitar or voice to color them, could seem resentful, are delivered, if anything, indifferently when she actually sings them: "You've left me with nothing, but I've worked with less", exempli gratia. All the times I've seen her perform live, all the recordings I've heard of this song, her tone doesn't convey anger or hatred when she sings this verse. If anything, she seems to be trivializing the fact that the person she's singing to has either literally or figuratively desolated her. This song speaks more to a sense of loneliness to me. It may have a bitter, ironic edge, but the core of the emotion itself seems a barrenness in my opinion.

    Confer: "Not A Pretty Girl": "I am not an angry girl, but it seems like I've got everyone fooled, Every time I say something they find hard to hear, they chalk it up to my anger, never to their own fear."

    I don't think Ani would ever identify a single song of hers as coming solely from one, broad, ambiguous emotion. Her narrative voice is usually quite intimate and nuanced.

    Also, I think this song has less to do with the "man" everyone likes to identify (Ani's bisexual: yes, much of the album Dilate was purportedly inspired by a relationship she had with a man, but you CANNOT whitewash or pigeon-hole an artist like Ani) and more to do with Ani's own internal turmoil: "And I just want to you to live up to the image of you I create, I see you and I'm so unsatisfied, I see you and I dilate." This line speaks more to Ani's awareness of the fact that she's created an ideal of what a romantic partner "should" be. She's recognizing a disconnect of her inner narrative and external reality.

    I see this song more as her coming to terms with the fact that reality is never going to live up to her expectations; she concludes that she's "… better off alone." Not that she's better off with another "man", or with a woman, or with anyone else, or with someone who can fulfill her romantic ideal, or with the ideal itself: alone.
    sumeragi_sluton November 29, 2007   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI always look at this song as Ani using her life on the road as a metaphor for her relationships. Life on the road is a completely evolving, always different at each turn and she sees her relationships as being the same while wishing for some kind of stability.

    "every key works differently and i forget everytime"

    btw/ i love playing this song on guitar (to bad i can't sing it). Her dropping the low E string down to an A to form an amazing resonating, strong bass note ... i love it.

    This is a beautiful song.
    Hedgeson June 04, 2004   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI never understood this stanza until now-
    "i learn every room long enough
    to make it to the door
    and then i hear it click shut behind me
    and every key works differently
    and i forget every time
    and the forgetting defines me
    that's what defines me"

    it's about thinking things will be different and ignoring past experiences to hope things will be different, but they aren't. forgetting is her way of making the same mistake over and over again.

    i have had this cd for a while and it's gotten me through a few breakups, but by far- this breakup has helped me understand this stanza the most.

    this song is so fucking beautiful.
    rachiecakieson July 26, 2005   Link
  • +1
    General CommentThis is such an amazing, empowering song. She's trying to get over a man she knows was bad for her - she knows she's stronger than being hung up on him.
    I especially love the lines:

    "and you are so lame , you know
    you always disappoint me
    it's kinda like our running joke
    but it's really not funny
    i just want you to live up to
    the image of you i create
    i see you and i'm so unsatisfied
    i see you and i dilate"

    I feel that, completely. It's so easy to be in love with someone, but you're not quite sure why, because they always let you down. They don't live up to the perfect image you have of them in your head.
    missmeon December 11, 2006   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI think the lyric "i see you and i'm so unsatisfied
    i see you and i dilate", might have meaning to the science of attraction. Because apparently when you like someone, and they might not know it, but your pupils will dilate in even lighting, so you can get a better focus on the object of your affection.
    And its actually true.

    Though it could be taken as a drug term to, and maybe its like the person she likes is like a drug to her, and seeing them is like a high. Yet the more she see that person, the more she realises they aren't what she was looking for, so therefore her drug isn't satisfying her anymore...

    I think its a combination of those two meanings really, but thats just me.
    MurryHamon July 23, 2008   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI would suggest that, as Ani sings it, Dilate refers to the lack of excitement that this person/lifestyle/character trait gives her. When put into an exciting/stressful situation, our heart rate rises and we get tunnel vision. When this subsides, our eyes "dilate", as MurryHam described. That is to say, as situations become less adverse, our eyes dilate.
    Bledaon August 21, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General Commenti love this song. its one of my favorites by ani. the lyrcs are just amazing.
    bleedmedryon May 15, 2002   Link
  • 0
    General Comment"so i'll walk the plank
    yeah, i'll jump with a smile
    if i'm gonna go down
    i'm gonna do it with style
    and you won't see me surrender
    you won't hear me confess
    'cause you've left me with nothing
    but i've worked with less"
    that gets me everytime i lissin to it.
    Lusyphuron June 04, 2002   Link
  • 0
    General Comment*but don't look so offended, you know you should be flattered.*
    sara_rachelon July 18, 2002   Link
  • 0
    General Commenti always wanna sing this song to my ex.
    OhMyFuNkyStaRzon July 30, 2002   Link

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