Ben Folds Five: Brick Meaning
Song Released: 1998
I throw some clothes on in the dark
The smell of cold
Car seat is freezing
The world is sleeping
I am numb
Up the stairs to the apartment
She is balled up on the couch
Her mom and dad went down to...
When Ben was in high school his girlfriend and he had an abortion. Ben Folds himself said that the song is simply about the whole experience and the emotions he and his girlfriend felt. He also makes it a point to say that he wrote the lyrics with no intentions of making any sort of political statement, or any statement about abortion, the song is just about how he felt because it was a very sad time for him.
Her parents didn't know that their daughter had the abortion "Her mom and dad went down to Charlotte they're not home to find us out." However, the girlfriend was so upset that her parents could tell something had happened; "As weeks went by it showed that she was not fine..." So eventually Ben was over at their home and the Father got him to confess to what they had hidden: "They told me son it's time to tell the truth She broke down and I broke down
Cause I was tired of lying"
The song ends with an account of how alone that the two felt post-abortion and their sadness. "Driving home to her apartment
For the moment we're alone / She's alone I'm alone / Now I know it"
So that's what the song is about.
anonymous Dec 11th 2006, 13:49 report
This song is about a masonry expert who falls in love with a brick. He gets in a wreck with a frozen car seat, and throws some clothes on once he hits the lake, then he drowns. Off the coast, he heads nowhere. Its really beautiful because it goes so far in depth of describing the loneliness of a mason worker. Its not sick to love bricks. Its just natural. At least that's what it means to me. Either that or an abortion.
anonymous Jun 1st 2012, 03:02 report
i feel sorry for the girl now...with a song written about her abortion
anonymous Oct 13th 2010, 20:53 report
You aren't allowed to have anyone in the room with you when you have an abortion.. from my experience.. so i'm thinking that's why he is pacing in the parking lot, not because he doesn't want to be in there with her
anonymous Jul 2nd 2010, 14:02 report
The song doesnt need much interpretation for me as it is also a similar life experience. Two weeks before Christmas,2002, my wife and I had an abortion as we didnt want any more kids. The emotions felt in the song are exactly what we felt. We fought about it alot because I didnt think it was mine but she insisted it was. Seven years later I found out I was right that she had had and affair and that was the end of the marriage but for those 7 years I felt like I was drowning slowly.
anonymous Feb 16th 2009, 13:25 report
Really good interpretations on this page. One thing I haven't seen regarding this line:
"to sell some gifts that I got"
Keep in mind they WERE going to have a baby. Maybe they got gifts for the baby. Now, with the baby gone, he sells the gifts.
Although he didn't tell this story from any kind of political point of view, I hope that someone considering abortion would hear this song and think twice. Having an abortion is a life altering decision ... as is having a baby.
BicycleThief14 Nov 17th 2008, 23:36 report
I agree completely with the Top-Rated interpretation.
I do, however, have something to add.
This is a story about a moment of realization.
The first half of the song goes thru all of his feelings. Anxiety, fear, and guilt. Ben cares for this girl. He's not in the room with her during the procedure because he doesn't want to be, but because she doesn't want him there. Despite this, he's out buying her flowers. This is when it becomes clear. He changes tone mid-verse.
"Can't you see it's not me you're dying for?"
It's a re-evaluation of the couple's situation. This has nothing to do with death in its literal form- the abortion. It's his recognition of the fact that the woman he loved wasn't getting rid of the child because she wasn't ready to have one, but, in fact, because she didn't love him.
The story continues, but now with a sense of despair with his own epiphany.
"You're alone, and I'm alone... AND NOW I KNOW IT."
anonymous Nov 2nd 2008, 21:27 report
I found this interpretation and find it to be a very good one.
Some lyric interpretation:
"Now that I have found someone
I'm feeling more alone
Then I ever have before
She's a brick and I'm drowning slowly
This is the main symbol in this song: the brick and drowning. "She" refers to the girlfriend. Just imagine yourself underwater, running out of air, and trying to resurface... all the while carrying a brick. A little hard, eh? This is how Ben Folds Five meant it, that the girlfriend is dragging him down. Another good twist on this is this: one lifeguard certification test is to retrieve a brick from underwater. Could it be that the guy in the song wasn't ready for this kind of responsibility and commitment, just like a beginning lifeguard wouldn't be ready for that test?
"Off the coast and I'm headed nowhere"
My interpretation of this line was that the abortion is throwing him off track. 'Off the coast' meaning his life has suddenly taken a little detour, and 'headed nowhere' is him realizing that becoming a teenage father will get him nowhere in life.
"They call her name at 7:30"
'They' meaning the people at the abortion clinic.
"Then I walk down to buy her flowers
and sell some gifts that I got"
Buying her flowers is maybe the one indication in the whole song that he still cares for this girl. He is selling some gifts (Christmas gifts, remember this is the day after Christmas) to help pay for the abortion.
"Can't you see
It's not me you're dying for"
This is an interesting two lines, as it is him talking to the unborn child.
"Now she's feeling more alone
Then she ever has before"
This is where we finally learn the girl's state of mind in all this, and this indicates she's not doing too well. This girl is very upset about the abortion, and might be becoming depressed.
"They told me son its time to tell the truth
She broke down and I broke down
Cause I was tired of lying"
The parents have finally realized something was up with those two, and both of them broke down and told the truth.
"Driving home to her apartment
For the moment we're alone
Now I know it."
This is perhaps the saddest part of the song. Even though they both went through this experience, they aren't truly in it together. 'For the moment we're alone' makes you think he means that the two of them are away from everyone else, but the next two lines show that what he really meant was that she was alone, and he was alone. Despite being "alone" in the car together, they were separate. Going through this kind of experience is tough, and it helps if you're going through it together. But we finally realize they are on two totally different wavelengths, and while they may still love each other (I am assuming here that they do), they will never be as close as they were before. (thanks, Jen - Mt. Laurel, NJ)
anonymous Apr 29th 2008, 08:27 report
I think that the part where it says 'she's a brick and I'm drowning slowly' could mean that she has been strong and together like a Brick throughout the whole ordeal while he is unable to cope or is 'drowning slowly'. I don't think when they 'broke down' they were speaking to the girl's parents. I think that he didn't really want the abortion and neither did she but they both thought it was for the best and so they didn't really share their true feelings with each other. The line 'cause I was tired of lying' refers to not letting his true feelings show to his girlfriend. Throughout the whole song it shows that he is reluctant to go through with the abortion with the lines 'can't you see it's not me you're dying for' and 'I pace around the parking lot' reinforce it. His girlfriends has doubts about the abortion but goes through with it and then she has regrets and the event has a huge emotional impact on her. When the song says 'as weeks went by, I realised she was not fine' it's talking about him discovering that she was not sure about their decision. The words 'she was balled up on the couch' also indicates that she is upset or insecure when he comes to pick her up. Also, the part that says 'to sell some gifts I got' doesn't really make sense to me. If he was selling some of his Christmas presents to pay for the abortion, wouldn't he want to make sure he could get the money before she had her abortion instead of while she was at the clinic.
anonymous Dec 25th 2006, 05:49 report
The line "Can't you see, it's not me you're dying for" is pretty much his way of apologizing to the unborn child, because even though he wants the baby, he know that he and his girl cannot take care of it.
anonymous Oct 4th 2006, 14:16 report
Interesting how most feel that the "brick" is the girlfriend. I believe the brick in the song is the aborted baby. Not in a literal sense, of course, but that brick (thought) that weighs down and overcomes ben folds is his unborn child.
anonymous May 2nd 2006, 13:38 report
Another aspect of this song that nobody's pointed out which really increases the melancholie is the fact that the abortion was the 'day after christmas.' You can imagine the pain and dread they had to endure over the holidays while having to put on a show of fake happiness for family.
anonymous Jan 3rd 2006, 05:19 report
As it has been said, it is about Ben's girlfriend having an abortion. The thing is, a baby is something that can truly connect a couple, but after the abortion has taken place the couple seem distant and almost as individuals again, alone, single individuals. The lyrics tell of the male waiting in the parking lot, meaning that the woman was alone during the precedure, further indicating the seperated state of the couple and the differed reactions to the devastating situation.
anonymous Jun 7th 2004, 09:06 report
Ben Folds has said in interviews that, in fact, the lyrics were taken from his life. when his girlfriend at the time became pregnant, they (as teenagers, i believe) had an abortion performed without their parents finding out. They did, and later ben wrote a song about it and even sought out the ex-girlfriend to seek her permission. The chorus was written by a bandmate a number of years later, and seemed to fit with the lyrics ben had previously written.
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