It's not
What you thought
When you first began it
You got
What you want
Now you can hardly stand it though
By now you know

It's not going to stop
It's not going to stop
It's not going to stop
'Til you wise up

You're sure
There's a cure
And you have finally found it
You think
One drink
Will shrink you 'til you're underground
And living down

But it's not going to stop
It's not going to stop
It's not going to stop
'Til you wise up

Prepare a list of what you need
Before you sign away the deed

'Cause it's not going to stop
It's not going to stop
It's not going to stop
'Til you wise up

No, it's not going to stop
'Til you wise up
No, it's not going to stop
So just, give up


Lyrics submitted by shut

Wise Up Lyrics as written by Aimee Mann

Lyrics © Downtown Music Publishing

Lyrics powered by LyricFind

Wise Up song meanings
Add Your Thoughts

33 Comments

sort form View by:
  • +10
    Song Meaning

    This song struck a deep chord with me the first time I heard it.

    For me, it was a simple yet chilling reminder, that your conscience will keep gnawing at you, if you refuse to "wise up".

    That you must learn and grow from the choices you make in life.

    That no self-indulgence will help you escape the consequences of your actions or lack thereof.

    That before it's too late, you have got to figure out what you need in your life (in order to be at peace), otherwise, your list of regrets is "not going to stop" growing longer and longer.

    That you must "give up" the delusion that the disquiet you feel is "going to stop".

    Because the only solution is to "wise up".

    Therein lies the Solace your Soul ultimately seeks.

    feel free to comment on my interpretation, thanks.

    c0smicl0gicon September 04, 2009   Link
  • +6
    General Comment

    This song is beautiful out of context, and even more meaningful embedded in the text of the film "Magnolia." In the film, it plays a part much like the chorus in a great Greek tragic play.

    When watching the film, pay attention to what character is singing what lyric: it shows the characters purpose and motive. It is very telling, for example, that they pan on the young quiz kid during the final lyric: "So just... give up." The youngest character with the most innocence and naivete is actually the one that knows the answers.

    In this song, it's one of the cases where giving up is the optimistic, not pessimistic, thing to do. All the characters in the film need to give up one way or another--give up their pride, give up their walls, give up their lies, give up misplaced love. Then again, isn't that sound advice for anyone?

    A beautiful song to listen to on it's own, extremely relatable to anyone. But put it in the context of the film, and it's pure music & movie magic. Two art forms coming together and making a masterpiece.

    bertrandeon June 20, 2002   Link
  • +3
    Song Meaning

    How about this for how the meaning of the song applies to the movie Magnolia: All the main characters in Magnolia have been subject to some form of child abuse by their parents -either sexual or emotional (abuse of trust/abandonment etc). Their lives are now significantly impacted by the consequences of this (mainly low self-esteem, self-hatred, feeling of worthlessness). They have been seeking various ways or achievements to make themselves feel better which turn out to not repair the problem.
    But its actually not going to stop until until they wise up and accept that there is nothing wrong with them, but the problem is their parents previous treatment of them. So "just give up" trying to protect them or deny the harm they did, and learn to like yourself again. Hence the last line of the song is actually ending on a postive and optimistic note.

    whatsthematterhereon April 26, 2010   Link
  • +2
    General Comment

    One of the most perfect songs I've ever heard, and still gives me goosebumps after years of listening. To me it's about how we as humans like to deny our addictions and bad habits and try to justify them to ourselves, regardless of the consequences ("it's not going to stop 'til you wise up"). I agree with above comments that when she says to just "give up", that it's the obvious antidote to our addictions but easier said than done. This song is featured on the Jerry Mcguire soundtrack from 1996 so it wasn't written specifically for Magnolia, but it fits perfectly.

    tybeeson April 18, 2006   Link
  • +1
    General Comment

    bertrande said it so well--thank you from a fellow "Magnolia" fan.

    I see this song as the plea to learn from your mistakes...so easily said, but not so easily done.

    driggsyon June 05, 2004   Link
  • +1
    General Comment

    i thought it was pretty clear that this song was about alcoholism. i think that because just about everyone sort of "discovered" this song through magnolia, that it seems to apply more to that context, but if you think about it more closely -- "It's not What you thought When you first began it"

    and the obvious "You're sure There's a cure And you have finally found it You think One drink Will shrink you 'til you're underground"

    i always thought this song was clearly about alcoholism. does anyone else think so?

    thalleckon December 08, 2005   Link
  • +1
    General Comment

    Um, I think alcoholism is a big part of the song. But I think it's more general than that, also considering Aimee wrote it specifically for the film.

    pink.cityon February 26, 2006   Link
  • +1
    General Comment

    Stunning, and it works really well in Magnolia, which is such an amazing film.

    missmeon June 10, 2007   Link
  • +1
    General Comment

    Also I think it's about being self-pitying and wallowing in sorrow and saying it's not going to stop till you face up to it and do something about it. it's sung at a point in the movie where they all have to do something they perhaps don't want to, or make a big decision.

    missmeon June 10, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General Comment

    Man this song is a lot like save me i think. this is also about not liking who you are. Those poeple in the movie Magnolia really were unhappy with themselves and what was around them. They just had to accept who they were and "wise up". I think that this is an incredibly hard thing to do and i think that that is why those people i the movie had so much trouble doing it. Sorry if I talked aobut the movie too much but i aimee mann is telling them all exactly what they need to do. thats why its the last and most important song in the movie.

    rainydayboyon May 14, 2002   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
Fast Car
Tracy Chapman
"Fast car" is kind of a continuation of Bruce Springsteen's "Born to Run." It has all the clawing your way to a better life, but in this case the protagonist never makes it with her love; in fact she is dragged back down by him. There is still an amazing amount of hope and will in the lyrics; and the lyrics themselve rank and easy five. If only music was stronger it would be one of those great radio songs that you hear once a week 20 years after it was released. The imagery is almost tear-jerking ("City lights lay out before us", "Speeds so fast felt like I was drunk"), and the idea of starting from nothing and just driving and working and denigrating yourself for a chance at being just above poverty, then losing in the end is just painful and inspiring at the same time.
Album art
Dreamwalker
Silent Planet
I think much like another song “Anti-Matter” (that's also on the same album as this song), this one is also is inspired by a horrifying van crash the band experienced on Nov 3, 2022. This, much like the other track, sounds like it's an extension what they shared while huddled in the wreckage, as they helped frontman Garrett Russell stem the bleeding from his head wound while he was under the temporary effects of a concussion. The track speaks of where the mind goes at the most desperate & desolate of times, when it just about slips away to all but disconnect itself, and the aftermath.
Album art
Mountain Song
Jane's Addiction
Jane's Addiction vocalist Perry Farrell gives Adam Reader some heartfelt insight into Jane’s Addiction's hard rock manifesto "Mountain Song", which was the second single from their revolutionary album Nothing's Shocking. Mountain song was first recorded in 1986 and appeared on the soundtrack to the film Dudes starring Jon Cryer. The version on Nothing's Shocking was re-recorded in 1988. "'Mountain Song' was actually about... I hate to say it but... drugs. Climbing this mountain and getting as high as you can, and then coming down that mountain," reveals Farrell. "What it feels to descend from the mountain top... not easy at all. The ascension is tough but exhilarating. Getting down is... it's a real bummer. Drugs is not for everybody obviously. For me, I wanted to experience the heights, and the lows come along with it." "There's a part - 'Cash in now honey, cash in Miss Smith.' Miss Smith is my Mother; our last name was Smith. Cashing in when she cashed in her life. So... she decided that, to her... at that time, she was desperate. Life wasn't worth it for her, that was her opinion. Some people think, never take your life, and some people find that their life isn't worth living. She was in love with my Dad, and my Dad was not faithful to her, and it broke her heart. She was very desperate and she did something that I know she regrets."
Album art
Amazing
Ed Sheeran
Ed Sheeran tells a story of unsuccessfully trying to feel “Amazing.” This track is about the being weighed down by emotional stress despite valiant attempts to find some positivity in the situation. This track was written by Ed Sheeran from the perspective of his friend. From the track, we see this person fall deeper into the negative thoughts and slide further down the path of mental torment with every lyric.
Album art
Page
Ed Sheeran
There aren’t many things that’ll hurt more than giving love a chance against your better judgement only to have your heart crushed yet again. Ed Sheeran tells such a story on “Page.” On this track, he is devastated to have lost his lover and even more saddened by the feeling that he may never move on from this.