Anna Nalick: Breathe (2 AM) Meaning
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Breathe (2 AM) Lyrics
"Can you help me unravel my latest mistake?,
I don't love him. Winter just wasn't my season"
Yeah we walk through the doors, so accusing their eyes
Like they have any right at all to...
silvertaurus Feb 7th, 2006 2:41pm report
This song was one of those that simple made an impact on me and I couldn't stop thinking about it and trying to find information! Here's what I have found and/or thought so far:
First stanza: This one is probably the most open to interpretation. I've read about abortion after a break-up, and also the role of alcohol. I think you could take this in a lot of directions. A friend could have been out at a bar and gotten drunk, broke up with a boyfriend or somebody she went out with for a possible one-night stand once she realized she didn't want to go through with it. If she came to bail her friend out and took her drunk/sobbing from a bar everyone might look at them like the girl was a slut or something but they were all their to pick up dates also. Winter could be the age of somebody, the season, or (heck) the color scheme of the clothing she was wearing. Even Anna Nalik says that when she reads through this song the meaning changes for her as well. I can definitely see the interpretation of the abortion clinic, but this really doesn't mesh well with 2am, unless the action took place later. If this is the case, then this could make a very good deal of sense in relation to abortion.
In the Fort Bliss stanza, this seems pretty simply about a guy who is an alcoholic. I think it touches the listener because she pulls away the mask of the alcoholic and unveils the vulnerable little boy underneath it all. According to Anna during an interview , this is based on an actual man from the base of Fort Bliss, who is now married and has a child. He's 24 as of 2006. In the stanza he is clearly lonely and life has lost much meaning. His 21st birthday is "just a day" and his companion he speaks to is his flask of alcohol.
Now, the "end of this tunnel" stanza is one I think some people have trouble wrapping their minds around. You shout to yourself and the world that there is a light at each end of this tunnel because you know you can not turn back and if you did you'd just make the same mistakes all over again. You have to convince yourself that there is a purpose and a light that you're working toward, because to think otherwise is too scary and lonely and filled with meaninglessness. However, you note, Anna is not the one saying that the light is there--the lost person is saying it, is shouting it because he/she needs to believe it.
This is the verse that I think ties in the most to the chorus--(hourglass glued, cars on a cable). It is pretty clear that this is a fatalistic song. However, fatalism isn't so bad. It is saying that life isn't pretty and that if we look at ourselves and the world around us, it seems that everyone is trapped on a path that they simply middle through the best they can. She wants to empathize with them and share the common human experience of not really knowing if there is any meaning to anything. However, we deal with it, breathe, and support each other without judging. And, maybe Anna had to put these fears on paper herself--of whether or not life had any true meaning, so they would stop devouring her.
The nice thing is Anna says in all her interviews that she wants people to make what they'd like from her songs, and that their meaning changes even for her. Sooooo, here's my personal take based on my own psyche:
To me this song has deep Buddhist meaning. The concept that the only way to be liberated is to give up desire and wanting, and to accept that you have no control. That within this is a deeply liberating simplicity ("breathe"). It is also fundamental to not judge, and to support others in this path. Even the concept of the tunnel and moving forward....that we must move forward because to go back is to make the same mistakes and our goal is to live past them sot hat our soul is purged and grows and becomes more liberated. Some of us have trouble accepting that our lives are like an hourglass gled down or a train that is forever stuck to its track. Buddhism teaches to accept it and to let go, which is the only way to rise above it. Of course, this is my personal reading, and I can not prove in any way that this is what she intended. If you know something of Buddhism, maybe this is useful to you. If not, just ignore this part and look to the rest of the interpretation.
anonymous Aug 1st, 2005 8:39am report
At first, all of the interpretations seemed to fit well, and they still do, but there was something in the song that still made me think.
"Cause these words are my diary, screaming out loud
And I know that you'll use them, however you want to"
I think that she layed out the guidelines, about how time isn't something we can turn back, etc, but wanted each person to get what they could out of the song to fit their life.
Maybe someone who has had an abortion would look at it like 'Wow, that is what it is about!' Another person, say, in a support group for drug addiction would look at it and say 'that's me' as well. I dunno, I just think there isn't a specific meaning, just that each person is supposed to see the song as a way to view events in their life.
xxkissthefloorxx Oct 10th, 2005 10:46pm report
I think that most of the other interpretations were good, but I don't think it's specifically about abortion, or drug addiction (although the "bars close at 2 am" thing was good! made me think.)
I think Anna just wants you to kind of put her lyrics into YOUR own meaning, by thinking about your own experiences. Hence the part, "'cause these words are my diary screaming out loud (meaning she's telling you about HER) and I know that you'll use them however you want to.." (meaning, YOU put the words into your own experiences.
Notice how in the first paragraph, she never exactly says anything about abortion or drugs or alcohol, she's kind of just "help me unravel my latest mistake" by saying "insert your experience here". It's kind of confusing, but that's how I see it.
anonymous Oct 14th, 10:59pm report
"You're all here for the very same reason" - Maybe this pair of people could have walked into church looking for a little compassion and understanding. They met with scowls / scorn from the congregation and the girls(?) reminded themselves that the others were also there in search of redemption and forgiveness, no matter how hypocritical they might act. I'm surprised no one thought of this. Doesn't anyone go to church anymore?? Maybe I'm on the wrong board...
anonymous Sep 20th, 9:47pm report
I think this song is about Anna Nalick herself. "2 am and she calls me cuz I'm still awake. Can you help me unravel my latest mistake. I dont love him. Winter just wasn't my season." Everyone is saying a friend calls her and Anna helps her but I think her friend is the one who helps Anna out. Its not clear in that stanza. Next i do think its about having an abortion.
The chorus is pretty self explanitory. And the Ft Bliss guy is possibly the guy who became an alcoholic after the abortion.
Anna even says she would like to hold him but will just sing about it.
Lastly she basically is screaming in the last stanza these are HER experiences by say "these words are my diary screaming outloud."
Then she says "i know you will use them however uou want to." Meaning we will interpret it our own way.
What an amazing song!!!!
anonymous Feb 28th, 2013 2:12pm report
I think that the part with the cars on a cable,ect. is saying how she feels so controlled and the hourglass represents time, and it's glued to the table because you can't stop or change time. Its just there. She seems pretty troubled,I mean,she's still awake at 2 am. "There's a light at each end of this tunnel you're in,"
Think about it,tunnels are dangerous,you can get lost and never get out. She's saying that there is an exit.
anonymous Feb 8th, 2013 2:51am report
I personally believe that this song is just amazing! To me it's about how you move foreword and just have to let go of it all. Sometimes life treats you like shit! I spent my birthday with a concussion. So this song just tells me that sometimes bad things happen but it's not the end of the world and that people are jerks, you can't stay in the past.
anonymous Oct 2nd, 2012 10:26pm report
here is my interpretation..
i think what the song tries to tell us is anna had a friend and she called her at 2am telling her the whole story of how she made a mistake and winter symbolize sadness cause her friend didn't love the guy she's with right now cause she's currently in love with someone else.the boy who has a "beautiful smile". and she's stuck in a situation where a guy loves her but she loves another guy . a different guy. and so she's confused and seeking for her friend's advice. It's as if your friend called you saying all these stuff and you're telling her to breathe . take it easy. slow down think carefully. and breathe - get out of the situation cause it's a big mistake. something like that. cause, once you made another mistake, you can never bring it back. Anna is telling her to follow her heart so she could breathe again. breakfree. like that. very free spirited advice, eh?
anonymous Sep 30th, 2012 9:01am report
"2AM and she calls me cause I'm still awake, can you help me unravel my latest mistake? I don't love him, winter just wasn't my season." - A friend has been having sexual relations with a man she doesn't love, her mistake is becoming pregnant.
"We walk through the doors, so accusing their eyes, like they have any right at all to criticize. Hypocrites, you're all here for the very same reason." - They walk into the abortion clinic, and get dirty looks from everyone there, even though they are all their to 'fix a mistake' too.
[Chorus] - You can't undo what's been done. You will always remember it. So you have to take everything moment by moment, and breathe.
Next is another example of making a mistake, but this time it is about alcoholism. The man hasn't been sober for over a year, and it has consumed him so much that he talks "down to the flask in his fist".
Anna then says how seeing all of this is keeping he mind busy, because "at 2am she's still awake writing a song. If she gets it all down on paper it's no longer inside of her, threatening her life" . Yoda means what she had seen has affected her deeply. She feels for the people making these mistakes. This song makes her feel "naked", exposed, because people could interpret it in many ways. Maybe people would call her a murderer, for abortion. Maybe she'd be called an alcoholic. But she'd just take her own advice, put her head in her hands, and breathe.
anonymous Sep 4th, 2012 9:04am report
People! A young woman can have a mistake that has nothing to do with an unwanted pregnancy. In fact, there is absolutely nothing to indicate pregnancy or abortion is the issue here - not a thing.
This song is about Alcoholics anonymous. The singer is the sponsor. The caller is realizing she’s not ready for a relationship and using her sponsor for support and to talk about her problems. People starting out in AA aren't supposed to be in relationships until they are healthy. The caller acknowledges she wasn't ready to love someone.
Like a cable car, life goes on at a steady pace. You can’t stop it or jump to another life or another time in your life. It’s continuous and you can’t jump into another one that’s not alcoholic. People in AA often discuss how they either get better or they die drinking, which is the hourglass they are up against. You can’t go back and do things over. Alcoholics have a lot of regret.
The latest mistake is a relapse or the fact that the caller hooked up when she should have waited a year into her recovery to be in a relationship. I’m really thinking it was more about the relationship and the doors they walked through were to an AA meeting. If it was a relapse, the AA members would be much more understanding to the alcoholic than they would be to someone who didn’t follow the guidelines they lay out. The singer points out they are all alcoholics and they aren’t any different.
The singer finds herself wanting a relationship. The young man is new, so the singer puts him first by leaving him alone and writing about it instead. The tunnel of recovery is very hard work and she is advocating to keep going ahead with it. She is full of emotions and she puts them in a song to release them. It makes her feel exposed, but she can’t sleep. It’s a compulsion, like drinking. It’s likely part of her recovery to write, sing and create. She gives up control of her song, which is very personal to her. Music is probably her higher power.
ClubSodaWithLime Aug 22nd, 2012 8:03pm report
I think this is about leaving an abusive relationship. I read "walking through the door", and "the accusing eyes" as walking into the hospital to seek treatment for domestic abuse. We live in a society where we blame the victim, even when we are one too ("hypocrits, we're all here for the same reason"). 2am ERs are filled with domestic violence victims.
The "light at the end of the tunnel" and being just as far in as you'll ever be out talks about the process we must go through to leave an abusive relationship where it's scary to continue on through the rough part of fighting and leaving, and fearing for your life if he comes after you. But if you turn around and stay, you'll be abused again.
The "hourglass glued to the table" talks about how time will pass. We can't call a time out. What are we going to do? What decision are we going to make right now, with our life? Time is passing, we can't stop it. Are we going to stay, or are we going to move on with our lives? Either way, our time will be up one day.
In talking about how beautiful the boy is when he smiles and how she wants to hold him, but maybe she'll just sing about it, she's talking about how hard it is to stay away from an abuser that we love. She's recognizing what a beautiful person he can be, but he's an alcoholic, and she recognizes it's healtier for herself to stay away from him and just sing about it.
The comment about how these words are her diary screaming out loud, which can be used against her, is again referring to how our society blames the victim. We blame ourselves. And we protect the abuser, who we also love, by keeping it all a secret.
Abusive relationships are all about isolation. The abuser isolates us. But in this song, she has a someone else going through this also. My take is that the singer has been through and left an abusive relationship (I think this because she's just singing about the boy rather than holding him) and now she is helping someone else ("she" at the beginning) leave an abusive relationship.
anonymous Apr 23rd, 2012 4:07pm report
I look at this song as having the same drive as "Piano Man" by Billy Joel.
It is a series if vignettes of folks who feel overwhelmed by their circumstances, and Anna's advice is to accept the consequences of their actions, cowboy up and live it down. Time will heal the wounds and regret is a poor way to spend the limited time we have available.
Alcoholism? Abortion? Why be so trite?
The friend called because the she knew narrator would be awake... because she is a songwriter that works at night (see last stanza). She wanted help coping with a disintegrating relationship... probably because the guy was much older (winter just wasn't her season).
It does not matter who was walking through the door or to where. No one inside has standing to criticize because they are there, too. Hence, don't waste your life worrying about the opinions of those who don't matter.
I've been in the military and loved it. I wish I was still there. On the other hand, if a young soldier does not fit the usual demographic there can be a bit of alienation. I know I felt it in spades. One universally accepted social activity is drinking. If you can't find another way to fit in then the drink becomes your only item in your social toolbox and can carry you away. I think this kid is just realizing this and is on the brink of becoming himself again.
So far, we have quite the list of beatitudes. Friends can support you in times of trouble. Judge not and never mind the judgement of others. Realizing you have a problem is the first step in solving it.
After all, time moves in one direction and the past can not be undone, so hold your head in your hands (endure) breathe (recover - stand up), and carry on. Going forward may have problems, but going back just revisits problems we've already survived.
Finally, the artist has these lessons for us. She has something to say that she feels is important to express, so she must get her thoughts expressed before her heart bursts. All the while, she understands that no matter how honest she is with her thoughts and feelings, she knows and accepts that the sharing can not be a perfect communication. hence some people will hear all sorts of dark political crap and some will see the song as an uplifting anthology of the strength of the human spirit.
Either way, she'd done what she's needed to and will continue to breathe.
anonymous Mar 18th, 2012 3:12pm report
After reading all these interpretations, I'm a bit weary of my own, but this is how I read it:
She's in love with a man, or she thought she was, because she realizes one that she really isn't. She's calling a friend and telling her that she isn't in love with him but she doesn't want to hurt him by telling him, because she wants him happy. I think he has problems with drinking, and she's afraid he'll get even worse if she leaves him, and she's decided that she'll stay with him and pretend even though it's hurting her.
anonymous Feb 29th, 2012 2:41pm report
I think (thogh I haven't seen much of the video and don't know much about Anna) that it's about taking time to stop and ust appreciate the things in your life right now, and to, well, just breathe. It's a truly beautiful song. 5 stars.
anonymous Feb 8th, 2012 2:33am report
Call me crazy, but I always thought they were walking into a bar at 2 am...too many years in the East Village, I guess!
anonymous Jan 17th, 2012 1:24pm report
I think it is about when u are going through a hard time and you dont no how to deal with. When she saids no one could find the reewind button is when you made a mistake and you just want take everything back and your freaking out... so she saids cradle your head in your hands just breathe. Like just breathe it is gonna get better relax. I dont know thats i how i think about it, just cause i can relate to it. But i think people relate to it in differnt ways.
anonymous Oct 14th, 2011 10:02am report
"These mistakes you've made, you'll just make them again
If you only try turning around."
When she says TURNING AROUND it can be also interpreted as CHANGE, if one or the other is willing to CHANGE and make things better.
I have read a lot of the interpretations on here and I am shocked at the number of folks that see abortion in this. I've listened to it many times and haven't got that impression in the slightest. And there really is only one line in the song that supports that its about an abortion, and I think there are other interpretations of that one line that are better. Here goes:
I'm in recovery and I look at this song as a "recovery" song. One that I would like to hear played like in a group therapy session for addicts. My interpretation is probably more specific that was intended by the author.
"2 AM and she calls me....." This to me is just two girlfriends calling each other probably both in recovery. Who knows, it might be a sponsee calling a sponsor. Late night calls between people in recovery happen often in moments of crisis. I really think the crisis is only that this young girl has feelings for this guy in the military but is not sure that she loves him or is scared because he is also an alcoholic. The line about walking through the doors, I think is about walking into a meeting. Could be a 12-step meeting or a general support meeting or maybe a church group. Fact is, even in 12-step meetings where people are not supposed to be judgmental, they often are. They can be especially so to young women, worse yet young women going through "boy" problems even though boy problems for young women addicts often lead to relapse which can lead to death. Which is why it is still a crisis for these women. And, no matter what age, everyone in a room for addicts are all there "for the same reason," to get and stay sober. That's what makes the "old-timers'" accusing eyes so hypocritical. I also think "the doors" have some significance because meetings are often referred to as "the rooms" amongst people in recovery. And sometimes certain meeting places have specific attributes like one place I know has a long hallway that was always referred to as "the hallway." For people first coming into recovery, it is a very very long walk. Anyways, I imagine the two girls walking to a meeting to get these feelings out the next day.
The next stanza is about the "listening" woman's feelings and thoughts about the young boy. I hope he turns 21 while he's on base so he's less likely to get insanely drunk and hurt himself or others. "Just a day" These words are justifications that many alcoholics use. I'll just get drunk today and go back to meetings tomorrow like it never happened. "Ain't been sober since maybe October" His "day" turned into a lot longer than he originally intended. Believe me this happens all the time. Its happened to me. Furthermore, I think the "listening" woman also thinks the boy is attractive. He's probably attractive in that "bad boy" and "wounded-I-need-someone-to-fix-me boy" kind of way. He probably doesn't show it much but when he does smile, look out. She wants to hold him but knows that it would be an utter nightmare so she'll just sing about it. I find that line humorous.
The rest of the song are general thoughts about letting go, trusting the process, trusting God (even though He is not mentioned I hear Him in the surrendering aspect of the song) going through the tunnel and breathing. The just breathe chorus is so very important to me. When I was in treatment, I had to constantly be reminded to breathe when I was doing any type of therapy. For people with trauma, like actual PTSD, one of the first things that happen when confronted with an uncomfortable situation is to quit breathing. This is always a bad choice since breathing is what keeps us "in our bodies" and connected. People who dis-associate or "check-out," like sufferers of childhood abuse or other traumatic events, stop breathing first to help them "go away." Its a learned survival technique that is no longer useful nor needed. The author or the "listening" more experienced recovering person is reminding us to just breathe, stay present, don't check out or try to run (through addiction or trying to fix this sick boy or any other kind of way). Just breathe. Just breathe.
And the following line: "There's a light at each end of this tunnel,
You shout 'cause you're just as far in as you'll ever be out
And these mistakes you've made, you'll just make them again
If you only try turning around." These lines to me describe recovery to a tee. I don't know what my life will look like free from addiction (one end of the tunnel) but I know its probably better than my life with the addiction (the end of the tunnel I came from when I came into recovery). And I know what my life will be like if I turn around (head for a relapse). "If nothing changes, nothing changes" is a 12-step slogan. So I have to stay the course even if I don't know the outcome. (Once again, trusting the process, trusting God) And when I'm really struggling it does feel like I'm right in the middle, in the "battle" shouting out loud to God, to my friends, all that. That's why its important to remember to breathe. After all, I can get through this. This too shall pass.
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