how can it happen that every time
you ask us this question the answer seems like a lie
you know what we're saying and you know what it means
and it's always sincere god knows
but it never gets through to where you need

before you were born someone kicked in the door
there's no place for you here, stay back where you belong
before you were born someone kicked in the door
you are not wanted here, stay back where you belong

god damn the people who left you in pain
god damn the father without face, without name
and god damn the lovers who never showed up
and god damn the wounds that show how deep a word can cut

before you were born someone kicked in the door
there's no place for you here, stay back where you belong
before you were born someone kicked in the door
you are not wanted here, stay back where you belong

and how can it happen now that you know the cause
that nothing is changing and everything's wrong
but pain is the healing and the tears sting like alcohol
just keep on there breathing
we'll bring you down the long, long road back home

Lyrics submitted by rabidpenguin

Before You Were Born song meanings
Add Your Thoughts


sort form View by:
  • +2
    General Comment

    No comments? Wow.

    I really like this song. It captures this defiant, slightly bitter feeling perfectly, without depressing the listener.

    I heard somone once tell me it was written from the perspective of a gay man, dealing with the rejection that comes with his alternative lifestyle. It makes alot of sense, and it's an interesting theory.

    My impression was that it just speaks to most everyone. Everyone feels at one point or another that they were given a raw deal, dealt bad cards. Everyone wants to curse it all at one point or another. The last line is very uplifting, and the melody and the strong rythm section give it a posotive, motivational feel.

    great song to listen to after a bad day.

    itsALLprogramMUSICon October 12, 2004   Link
  • 0
    General Comment

    I always thought this song was written from two points of view. The verses around the chorus are from the friends of someone who's continually depressed who are trying to help while the chorus is from the viewpoint of that depressed person feeling sorry for themselves. To me, the chorus has a different sound than the rest of the song, so that further makes it seem as though it's different from the rest of the song.

    Either way, the end of the song always makes me tear up a little cause it resonates well and is uplifting.

    thejayschon September 08, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General Comment

    dear all the misconseptionists that think this is angry music:

    In their earlier years, Toad was a very angry band that sung about injustifications and made themselves heard. (see Hold Her Down) However, the tone is really more sympathetic than angry, and if you listen to it often, you'd understand. If you haven't heard it, I urge you to follow this easy two-step process

    1. listen to the song
    2. repeat step 1 until the year 200hellfreezesover.
    T_D_Phoenixon April 08, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General Comment

    Back in college (93-95) it was offered up by a friend that most of the entire FEAR album was the collective experience of Glen Phillips' girlfriend being raped, becoming pregnant and the resulting choices that ultimately destroyed the relationship. I'd like to have some confirmation of that if possible. It would explain a lot of songs...

    cesuraon January 31, 2010   Link
  • 0
    General Comment

    This song has always reminded me of my best friend, whose father left her mother when she became pregnant. My friend never met her father and the fact that he left her and her mom has effected her profoundly throughout her life. I realize that this may not specifically be what the song is about, but the words seem to match the situation.

    Yutoliaon February 20, 2011   Link
  • 0
    General Comment

    I always thought this song was about a child conceived through rape. The kicked in door, the faceless, nameless father. It seems like it would have been in a time or place that a "bastard child" would cause a huge social stigma on both the mother and child. It seems like the chorus would be the rest of the family and community who didn't understand, or even blamed the woman. The supportive verses would be the ones who saw it as the crime it is and not her fault or the child's, and tried to help them, and help the child make sense of it as he/she grew older.

    Sundaisyon February 10, 2016   Link
  • 0
    General Comment

    Interesting to me how literal people tend to take lyrics. The verse with "God damm the wounds that show how deep a word can cut" really reinforces how this applies to everyone- not just the suggested tragedy of someone who was conceived from anything unwanted-- but how EVERYONE can feel unwanted at some point given true (physical) abuse or not.

    It's about one's own demons-- are they there from the moment we are conceived, or are they manifested later on when we become real breathing human beings

    SoleilMoonStarson July 16, 2016   Link
  • 0
    My Interpretation

    I should think it obvious that at least part of the song (the part in the title and repeated over and over in the chorus) is about "before you were born", someone kicked in the door.

    The idea that this is about abortion is borne (ha ha) of a far too liberal (ha ha) interpretation.

    Those seeking abortion are not "kicking in" anything unless it is a state-mandated abortion, which is rare on earth.

    The interpretation of the song being sung to a child born as a result of rape seems to be strongly implied if not stated explicitly. Rapists often, in fact, kick in the doors of their victims.

    I hear very little sympathy in this song. I hear the damning of the rapist (faceless father) but nothing approaching loving acceptance of the child, quite the opposite.

    This would seem to be a very "pro choice" song, if anything to do with abortion is intended, seeing as how the child is told "there is no place for you here", "you are not wanted here", "stay back where you belong", which in a world of self-obsessed, egotistical narcissists, is very, very true. Even the so-called "pro life" activists of this world HATE the children who are born into poverty, abuse, and neglect. Look at how they vote on issues surrounding welfare, education funding, the justice system, etc.

    This song is a song intended to make people born from circumstances from rape commit suicide. For stating such hateful thoughts and not overtly making any hopeful, loving statements for the listener, the band's song writer is an inhuman monster. It's one reason I never appreciated Toad the Wet Sprocket.

    God damn the song writer for making me wake up at two o'clock in the morning and wonder what the f--k that 90s song was about. Since I've read the lyrics, I now know. The writer hates people born of rape. He thinks they should die for the crime their faceless fathers committed. How cruel.

    CravenImageson December 17, 2018   Link
  • -1
    General Comment

    Hmmm... I guess I always thought this was about abortion (seemingly on the side of pro-Life), but perhaps I am reading too much into it:

    "before you were born, someone kicked in the door" -- paints a scene of someone "breaking" into the womb

    "there's no place here, stay back where you belong" -- an unwanted pregnancy?

    "you are not wanted here, stay back where you belong" -- further alludes to the statement above

    "god damn the father, without face, without name" -- again, this may allude to an unwanted pregnancy, and the fact that the mother is single

    "god damn the lovers, who never showed up" -- ditto

    "and how can it happen, now that you know the cause" -- perhaps they didn't use protection, even though they knew better?

    "pain is the healing and the tears sting like alcohol" -- a common procedure used in abortions is to inject alcohol into the fetus' head

    Just my interpretation, which may be wrong. Also, not saying abortion is right or wrong, so don't flame.

    Great song, regardless of the meaning. I miss TTWS.

    Jägs-dupeon January 14, 2005   Link

Add your thoughts

Log in now to tell us what you think this song means.

Don’t have an account? Create an account with SongMeanings to post comments, submit lyrics, and more. It’s super easy, we promise!

More Featured Meanings

Album art
Bron-Y-Aur Stomp
Led Zeppelin
This is about bronies. They communicate by stomping.
Album art
Gentle Hour
Yo La Tengo
This song was originally written by a guy called Peter Gutteridge. He was one of the founders of the "Dunedin Sound" a musical scene in the south of New Zealand in the early 80s. From there it was covered by "The Clean" one of the early bands of that scene (he had originally been a member of in it's early days, writing a couple of their best early songs). The Dunedin sound, and the Clean became popular on american college radio in the mid to late 80s. I guess Yo La Tengo heard that version. Great version of a great song,
Album art
When We Were Young
This is a sequel to 2001's "Reckless Abandon", and features the band looking back on their clumsy youth fondly.
Album art
Ed Sheeran
Ed Sheeran sings about missing his former partner and learning important life lessons in the process on “Punchline.” This track tells a story of battling to get rid of emotions for a former lover, whom he now realized might not have loved him the same way. He’s now caught between accepting that fact and learning life lessons from it and going back to beg her for another chance.
Album art
Ed Sheeran
“Midnight” is a song about finding a love that is so true that it provides a calming feeling through every storm. Ed Sheeran reflects on his good fortunes in landing someone with such peace and support and speaks of not fearing the dark days because he knows they’ll all end in the safety nets of her arms. “Well, good morning there / What a way to start the day / With everything laid bare,” Ed Sheeran sings in the first verse, enthusiastic to be waking up beside his woman. He apologizes for missing her calls in the second verse and promises to return them because for him, speaking to her is the most important thing. “Well, I get lost inside my head / In this chaos, you’re my calm / And I will find my feet again / ‘Cause еven the worst days of my life will always еnd / At midnight in your arms,” sings Ed Sheeran in the chorus, revelling in his good luck.