Go ahead push your luck
Find out how much love the world can hold
Once upon a time I had control and reined my soul in tight

Well the whole truth
Is like the story of a wave unfurled
But I held the evil of the world
So I stopped the tide froze it up from inside
And it felt like
A winter machine that you go through and then
You catch your breath and winter starts again
And everyone else is spring bound

And when I chose to live
There was no joy it's just a line I crossed
It wasn't worth the pain my death would cost
So I was not lost or found
And if I was to sleep

I knew my family had more truth to tell
And so I traveled down a whispering well
To know myself through them

Growing up my mom had a room full of books
And hid away in there
Her father raging down a spiral stair
Till he found someone, most days his son

And sometimes I think
My father, too, is a refugee
I know they tried to keep their pain from me
They could not see what it was for
But now I'm sleeping fine

Sometimes the truth is like a second chance
I am the daughter of a great romance
And they are the children of the war

Well, the sun rose
With so many colors it nearly broke my heart
It worked me over like a work of art
And I was a part of all that

So go ahead push your luck
Say what it is you gotta say to me
We will push on into that mystery
And it will push right back
And there are worse things than that
'Cause for every price
And every penance that I could think of
It's better to have fallen in love
Than never to have fallen at all

'Cause when you live in a world
Well it gets in to who you thought you'd be
And now I laugh at how the world changed me
I think life chose me
After all

Lyrics submitted by aur0ra

After All Lyrics as written by Dar Williams

Lyrics © BMG Rights Management

Lyrics powered by LyricFind

After All song meanings
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  • +3
    General CommentThis song is about recovering from major depression. About trying to fight the chaos of life by trying to control things and isolating from life. I think "I chose to live" has double meaning. It is recognizing the selfishness in suicide, but I think it also means choosing to recover and live life fully.

    The family stuff is a lot about how you inherit your ways of thinking from your parents. Although parents try to protect you from the pain they have had in their life, they still teach you coping mechanisms that may not all be positive. It's important to understand them in understanding yourself. "Children of the war" has double meaning. Her parents were probably literally children during WWII, but it also refers to "the war inside", battling emotional issues like anxiety and depression.

    It ends with a very positive message that its important to experience life, take some chances. There will be disappointments, but it'll be worth it. Embrace the chaos of life.
    darfon June 04, 2006   Link
  • +3
    General CommentI'm really sorry if this is going to be a sad note to all the above (very kind and truly lovely) comments, but when the album came out I sent a copy to my elder brother and when speaking of it shortly after he singled out After All as the song which he felt was exceptional.
    I hadn't really understood the song, or, at that time, my brother's feelings in connecting with it.
    Sadly things got terribly bad for him and the following year he took his life, on Valentines' Day.

    Although I had been a great fan of Dar's music for many years before, it is only since losing my brother, and remembering his words, that I have truly felt where the song comes from. It is exceptional.

    I'm sorry for any sadness and hope it is ok to add such a comment.
    Much love to all those fighting depression.
    Take care
    stewartjon December 31, 2009   Link
  • +2
    General CommentI had an interesting experience with that song recently, without fully realizing what it was about. I caught the references to life/death, but misunderstanding words had me thinking it was a story of someone else, like in Alleluia or I Had No Right.

    I had longstanding plans with my best friend to see DW in concert last week, since she's a mutual favorite. But I've been "frozen" since escaping the suicidal side of depression in mid-06, so I had to push myself to show up rather than just sit in my house.

    The first song she did was After All, played note-perfect solo with all the energy of an entire band. I was so overwhelmed by the beauty and power of her talent -- up there all alone, singing/moving playing as if she had ten people backing her up -- that I couldn't stay emotionally frozen. (I tried, as I started tearing up and had always opted to 'freeze' rather than let that happen in public.)

    By the end of the song, I felt like perhaps I could 'fix' my life, and well before the show was over, I was making plans for the first time in several years. I've had a few overemotional moments since then, but it hasn't gone away yet, either. (I don't think that I would have gotten that had she started with something else, as the words did make a big difference, and I might have automatically blocked her voice out emotionally by the time After All came around otherwise.)
    moggymaniaon February 04, 2007   Link
  • +2
    General CommentThis is probably the best, most beautiful, and most accurate portrayal of depression, and recovery from depression, that I've ever heard.
    heartprivon November 12, 2012   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI think you're both right.

    To me, this is about getting over bad suicidal thoughts, possibly because of a relationship that she just broke up from or just because she's trying to control everything and finding it out of her control. It wouldn't surprise me that she has a song about getting over depression, just look at The House That Pain Built and What Do You Hear In These Sounds? for other examples of this theme in her life. In her early twenties Dar was diagnoised with clinical depression and credits her recovery for the emotional depth a lot of her songs carry.

    In the last part of the song, she's beginning to realize that there are more mysteries in life for her to find out. Though she's not exactly convinced at first (And when I chose to live/There was no joy - it's just a line I crossed/It wasn't worth the pain my death would cost/So I was not lost or found), she has a place in life and life did choose her.

    Now she can see the beauty of her life for what it is, with the bad and the good mixed together.

    Interviewer: Some of the imagery in the song is so powerful. You talk about a winter machine that you keep going through while everyone else is spring bound. Is that what the feeling was like?

    Dar: Yeah. It just kept on seeming like people could have a hard time and then get over it. I remember I, on one of the worst night, and again this is such a melodramatic sounding thing, but I remember I thought 'maybe I should just end this'. And I remember I started to write a will and I realized I didn't have enough, as I describe in the song, I didn't have enough things to give away to justify the fact that it would be so painful for people. Just the fact of my dying would be, I knew, hard. So I thought 'Okay, well I guess that means I'm going to live and maybe I should go talk to somebody'. I went to go talk to a friend of mine to finally sort of say 'this is what I'm going through'. She came out of her room in tears, grabbed my hand and said 'Your just in time!' She had just gotten into a big fight with her boyfriend and I just thought, there's just something so alive and colorful. She'd gotten into a fight, she'd told him how she felt, she stuck up for herself, she yelled, she screamed. He yelled, he screamed. She's in tears.. she just seemed to be living in color. Where as I felt frozen, as if I wasn't even daring to present enough of my real self, if that was even there, to engage in that dramatic way.

    Interviewer: Have you had any relapses or moments where you felt like you were in that level of depression or level of sadness?

    Dar: No. It turns out that I didn't. Depression was definitely a threat and I remember thinking 'uh oh, I'm depressed'. Then I would just see something. I would see a beautiful branch backlit by the sunlight or I would see a river or a kid smiling in a carraige at the supermarket and I felt myself getting very emotional. I thought, 'My Goodness, this is so weird. I'm not going to the deepest darkest place. I'm going to sadness that finds relief in the beauty of the world'.
    VampedVixenon November 07, 2004   Link
  • 0
    General CommentTo me, this song is about overcoming suicidal ideation, and the role that family plays in helping someone find the will to live.
    Mvskokeon October 07, 2002   Link
  • 0
    General CommentWow, I just joined SongMeanings.com, and I have to say I am really impressed and moved by some of the insights I see on this string.

    "After All" is a song that is absolutely dear to me, and it's so cool seeing others' insights that lead me to say, "Wow I can so relate to what you took from that!"

    As a therapist working with adolescents, I have used this song to help kids explore their depression, to derive some empathy from Dar's sharing of her own past depression, and to help kids find their own words to tell their own story.

    I find the final verse incredibly powerful. That after dealing with such anguish, choosing life over death and STILL finding no meaning, continuing to struggle, and then---life chooses her after all. The beauty around her kind of comes to her in her hour of darkness, and she finds fulfillment kind of unexpectedly.

    It's like, you don't get to choose when and how you'll come out the other side of some struggles. But you have to work, think, explore, survive, and when the time is right, healing and relief will kind of dawn on you.

    What a gem that song is, and what a special artist Dar is.
    IDanielsenon July 21, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThis is such a beautiful and moving song and always brings tears to my eyes. I can relate to it in so many ways as it feels like it could have been written to describe my own experiences. For as long as I can remember I have gone through episodes of depression but tried to keep my feelings to myself, as no one likes to be around someone who is depressed after all. The trouble with depression is it can make you do all kinds of crazy things in order to try and escape the feelings and you can end up ruining relationships and friendships in the process. This is something I have sadly done and I'll always regret my actions. Jonny, I wish I could make it up to you and turn back time. I want to tell you how sorry I am. I may not have known a lot about you but very occasionally you meet someone and it feels like you have known them before and their soul really touches you. You brought colour into my life and I want to say thanks. You have helped me more than you'll ever know. I know I have lost your friendship and I'll always feel very sad about how things ended, but I'll always keep a part of you in my heart. I wish you a long and happy life and hope you get the opportunity to fulfil your dreams x
    Ellie_morrisonon December 13, 2015   Link
  • -3
    General CommentSUCIDAL IDEATION?!?! I ask you, Mykoke, ARE YOU ON CRACK?! I think that this song is just a recap of Dar's life. It's beautiful.
    crashnburn5436on May 31, 2004   Link

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