Barenaked Ladies: When I Fall Meaning
When I Fall Lyrics
Pretend I’m not up here, try counting sheep
But the sheep seem to shower off this office tower
Nine-point-eight straight down I can’t stop my knees.
I wish I could fly
anonymous May 31st 2011, 23:31 report
This, in my opinion, is one of the greatest songs to have ever been written. I believe this song is literally about a window washer who is afraid of heights. Everyday he finds his workplace to be dangerous and wants to be in the comfort of his home with his family. At the same time, the glass in front of him reveals a juxtaposition between two opposite elements on opposing sides. He sees his reflection as a dirty house painter in contrast to the successful businessmen on the other side. The sight of the two elements together spark a desire to become successful. This means there are two things that he values highly: family and success. Every day, this man looks through the glass at what he aspires to become. He sees his goal right before his eyes, yet no matter how close he tries to get, he's blocked off by an unseen wall (the glass). The glass represents the challenges and obstacles in the way of his success. He knows the path to success is risky; he wonders if his family will be there if he fails, thus he'd have at least one item of high value.
This is my interpretation of the song. I'm not sure if this is the meaning as the Barenaked Ladies intended; however, I believe this song is very inspirational, and as such it is one of my favourite songs.
anonymous Apr 13th 2010, 01:10 report
This song begins with a literal idea and then explores it metaphorically. A acrophobic window washer would probably hate his job: "i want to fly from this building". But flying implies the possibility of falling, so now we've got the idea of taking chances - in love, for instance ("would you catch me if i fall?"). The board members suggest how sometimes we fear failure more than death itself, but fear itself can be a tomb already.
Stepping off the scaffold suggests wishing that things were different. (I don't see a suicide metaphor here, because who wants to end up in a shopping mall when they die? On the other hand, a scaffold is also where the doomed are executed by hanging, so that could be taken as a metaphor for a dead-end life).
Painting suggests that he'd rather be doing something more creative with his life - but perhaps cleaning the mirror to see himself more clearly is the first step.
This interpretation has been marked as poor. view anyway
anonymous Aug 17th 2007, 13:45 report
This song is about a window washer who's afraid of heights, he doesn't contemplate suicide. The line is "its 9.8 straight down, I can't stop my knees"
he knows that if he falls, hell die, and he's scared of falling. It just reinforces his fear of heights.
The part about the pastor and his dead grandfather:
"I wish I could step from this scaffold, on to soft green pastures, shopping, malls, or a bed with my family, and my pastor, and my grandfather who's dead"
That just means he wishes he could be anywhere but where he is
because he hates his job, but knows he has to provide for his family
Incidentally, there was a book inspired by this song, called When I Fall.
anonymous Aug 28th 2006, 11:09 report
The 9.8 is the acceleration due to gravity if one were to "fall"
anonymous Jan 7th 2006, 14:06 report
There's also hints of suicidal thoughts in this song, as referenced in the bridge, the thought of jumping hits him (9.8 straight down) along with being able to see his dead pastor and grandfather in the afterlife.
anonymous May 31st 2005, 15:54 report
The song is written from the point of view of a window washer doing his daily routine scrubbing a skyscraper. He's scared of heights and fed up with his job and his life and is longing for more.
He starts to daydream about being one of the suits inside the boardroom, knowing that although it's not much better, he hates his current situation so much, he'd still love to switch places.
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