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Owl City: Fireflies Meaning

Song Released: 2009

Fireflies Lyrics

You would not believe your eyes
If ten million fireflies
Lit up the world as I fell asleep
Cause they fill the open air,
And leave teardrops everywhere,you'd think me rude but I would just stand, and stare

I'd like to make myself...


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    Sep 17th, 2009 9:11pm report

    At the heart of this song there seems to be a yearning or a desire to escape back to childhood innocence. Upon first hearing the song, I was intrigued by the melody and simple lyrics; it wasn't until I actually questioned the artists intent that I began seeing the deeper meaning of Adam Young's lyrics. The song starts by telling us we would "not believe" our eyes, a statement that suggests the song will cover some sort of fantastic occurrence. Then the song progresses into a dream like quality. The speaker actually speaks of fireflies as if they were surrounded by them, but I can't help believe the fireflies are supposed to stand for a specific event or situation. Hence the question: Who would catch fireflies? The answer: innocent children. The song speaks about the innocence of youth and how quickly that innocence escapes us. The chorus says "I'd LIKE to make myself believe" suggesting a desire of something that can not be completely accomplished. The speaker wants to believe earth moves slowly; if he can't believe that simple statement, it must mean the opposite is true--planet Earth spins much too fast. In other words, time passes by much too quickly. The speaker then talks about the desire to remain to remain in that dream trance instead of waking up to reality, because within that dream trance is the innocence of youth. An innocence and naivety that allows a simple act--catching fireflies--to become a magical excursion into a wonderland of possibility and adventure. The point of the song seems to speak about the need to hold onto and embrace (maybe even slip back into) our child hood innocence so the reality of growing up does not completely take away the magic and joy the world has to offer. Simply put: We are all forced to give up our childhood too soon. We need more fireflies and rooms full of toys (video) to keep our lives simple and innocent.


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    Oct 9th, 2009 10:23am report

    This song is about wanting to slow time so to speak. And to have more of it. That's why he wants to believe the earth turns slowly. "It's hard to say that I'd rather stay awake when I'm asleep" implies he obviously should sleep but truthfully doesn't want to miss out on anything. It is definitely about childhood innocence and dreams, and also stopping to enjoy the small things. Just as a child in awe would "Cause I get a thousand hugs From ten thousand lightning bugs As they try to teach me how to dance A foxtrot above my head, A sock hop beneath my bed, A disco ball is just hanging by a thread (thread, thread)" Learning to "dance" would be an example of a sipmle pleasure. A foxtrot, a sock hop, disco balls- these things are all associated with times when there was more innocence, or happiness so to speak. "To ten million fireflies I'm weird 'cause I hate good-byes I got misty eyes as they said farewell (they said farewell) But I'll know where several are If my dreams get real bizarre 'Cause I saved a few and I keep them in a jar(jar, jar, jar)" This line is definitely a good example of clinging to areas of childhood as well. He's "saved a few and kept them in a jar" in case things get to "bizarre" as if to remind him of a simpler time. A time when things were beautiful. The lines about not sleeping and bizarre dreams could be symbolic to this face paced adult world being a bit of a nightmare and hence he has recreated his simplistic childhood as his reality. I think those are the moments he wants to slow- the simple ones, the beautiful ones- whether they are from childhood or just a simpler time. You can tell from the type of music used in their songs as well, it has a light feel to it. As if it's going to lift you off your feet and take you to a better place. It's not sure exactly what this particular song means but it's certainly evident the directions it points in and what it implies.


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    Oct 11th, 2009 10:36pm report

    The song is basically about a grown man who wishes that he could go back to childhood innocence, which is why in his video he has a roomful of toys. "That planet earth turns slowly..." means that to him time is moving way too fast for simple things like catching fireflies. When he says that he doesn't want to fall asleep basically is saying that he wishes he cold stay up so that he can live life to the fullest and fill each day with childlike things, such as playing with toys and/or catching fireflies.


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    Mar 28th, 3:46pm report

    Idk this guy is plain high or he's on crack


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    Feb 21st, 2:57pm report

    It's about the night and insomnia. Because, insomniacs (like me) are usually up past midnight, no matter if its because they are not tired or they can't go to sleep. So you usually have to think of something fun to do, and this is him talking about just always being awake for 15+ hours a day usually, and to give all you got when you have to make your own fun at night.


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    Jan 15th, 1:28am report

    Clearly insomnia makes the most sense, given the context of the writer's circumstance (meaning in songs, Christian background, professed insomnia) astral projection seems unlikely. It's also worth noting that it would be very difficult to astroproject if you can't sleep. Astroprojection usually involves serenity and an almost meditative state, hardly something a restless insomniac could achieve. However if one is using LSD or even other psychedelic substances that would account for the projection and possibly the insomnia as well.


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    Dec 2nd, 12:15pm report

    I believe this song is about the artist trying to hold on to his innocence and how he wishes he could still do childlike things like catch fireflies.


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    Nov 3rd, 11:46am report

    Not wanting to wake from dreams.


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    Oct 14th, 2013 10:21pm report

    its about doing meth just Liston to it with that frame of mind if you have ever done meth you will understand when he talks about being charged with ten mil fireflys he cant sleep and at the beginning he talks about his tier drops coming from his eyes he even describes the high with fox trot and the disco ball hanging by a thread all you guys are dum


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    Aug 23rd, 2013 8:32am report

    it make a lot of sense for it to be about lucid dream.


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    May 30th, 2013 5:53am report

    Stupid.. This all isn't about his Child Innocence and Insomnia and stuff.
    It's about his experience during his Astral Projection. All he said was about astral projection. Most of his songs were based on his experience in Astral Projection or Lucid Dreaming. You guys should know Astral Projection and Lucid Dreaming first. It's not his insomnia. He's not crazy. He just have a high imagination which makes him go to a higher realm in the Astral Plane that's why his songs are all extraordinary and is about dreams. And yes, I've experienced it too. You guys should try to understand your inner self first and your mind. It's so obvious that this is about astral projection. Most of his songs are about his experiences on astral projections.


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    Apr 18th, 2013 4:28pm report

    I agree with those who say that this song is about child like innocence. On other sites I have seen interpretations that have to do with astral projection and other things that have roots in East Asian religion, but this is not true because Adam Young(The one who founded the band and writes These songs) is a Christian so he wouldn't be writing about stuff like that. But Christianity does have lots of things about children being precious to God, so the child like innocence makes much more sense.


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    Feb 12th, 2013 2:14am report

    The guy wants more time. He want's to live his life and experience it all, and not dream away his life, because he never has enough time.

    On the flip side, is the fact that his dreams are amazing, they are bright and vibrant and exciting, and they are an important part of his happiness, but when he's awake he never wants to lose the time sleeping, but when he's asleep, he'd rather be there, enjoying the wonders of his dreams.


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    Jan 8th, 2013 1:21am report

    A song about fireflies.


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    Dec 12th, 2012 12:53am report

    The generic consensus on the interpretations are relevant and likely to be correct.

    However, after considering the song quite a few times (as I was making a music video of it at the time), it is quite possible that the artist was talking about the effects of psychedelic drugs.

    The fireflies may in this case represent hallucinations produced by some types of drugs when used.

    The idea of being an insomniac may refer to the withdrawal symptoms one gets (with insomnia being a very common one).

    The desire to believe the Earth turns slowly can be interpreted to mean that the rational part of the user's mind wants to believe the logical (i.e. the slow speed of the Earth's turning) while the drug wants the user to believe otherwise.

    Other references exist as well. These are just the most "obvious" ones to me.

    Of course it's very possible I could be wrong on this, but this is also one of the deeper and less "innocent" interpretations.


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    Nov 23rd, 2012 11:13pm report

    It is a song about Astral Projection.
    You would not believe your eyes
    If ten million fireflies
    Lit up the world as I fell asleep

    when you do Astral Projection your body falls a sleep, and everything in the astral plane sparkles and is vibrating.


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    Nov 16th, 2012 11:15pm report

    He is talking about ALL of the possibilitys of dreams. how a dream is whatever you make it. -Tomoya


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    Nov 13th, 2012 11:24pm report

    I hate to be the end-all buzzkill here, but this song is most certainly NOT about one's childhood, innocence, or other vague principles. This is a very specific song about insomnia caused by restlessness due to serious medical disorders, and nothing else. Hear me out:

    "You would not believe your eyes
    If ten million fireflies
    Lit up the world as I fell asleep"

    Note that these lines are clearly grammatically incorrect. "YOU would not believe your eyes ... lit up the world as IIII fell asleep" What this entails is that the author is speaking to someone who doesn't suffer insomnia, and would not see the "ten million fireflies" (stars), as their eyes would be closed.

    "'Cause they'd fill the open air
    And leave teardrops everywhere"

    For the record: "10 million fireflies" "[filling] the open air" in the shape of "teardrops" which are "everywhere" is clearly symbolic of stars.

    "You'd think me rude
    But I would just stand and stare"

    What's rude about staring at fireflies? Nothing. That's why looking at the word "fireflies" here too literally is problematic. Now let's run with a different idea... "Rude" is really just another word for "taboo", or here, "Unlike what other's do". This person the author is speaking to doesn't suffer insomnia, and thus, it seems weird, even "rude" that the author would simply stare at the stars when one should be sleeping.

    "I'd like to make myself believe
    That planet Earth turns slowly
    It's hard to say that I'd rather stay
    Awake when I'm asleep
    'Cause everything is never as it seems"

    Perhaps the chorus makes more sense to you now. This person is pained by their insomnia. They want the world to turn slowly so that they may get more rest, or at the very least, to trick themselves into thinking the night is longer than it is. It pains him ("It's hard to say") that his body constantly wishes to wake him up in the midst of sleep (Nightmares. More on this later), "Cause everything is never as it seems", which is understandable, as things always seem scary in nightmare, but alas, upon waking up, it's found that everything wasn't as it seemed, and now the only thing left is the regret of waking up.

    "'Cause I'd get a thousand hugs
    From ten thousand lightning bugs
    As they tried to teach me how to dance"

    This is a reference to either RLS (restless-leg syndrome) and hypnic jerks. The author here said "lightning bugs" in place of fireflies, not only because it rhymes with "hugs", but because of the shooting sensations like lightning of the RLS symptoms. RLS gives a sensation that one's skin and muscles are crawling, often specifically described like "bugs" are squeezing at their legs by RLS patients. The author used "ten thousand" over "ten million" here to help the listener avoid confusing lightning bugs on the body versus fireflies in the sky. For clarity, a more exact translation of, "'Cause I'd get a thousand hugs
    From ten thousand lightning bugs
    As they tried to teach me how to dance" is "[I'd awake from my sleep] 'cause I'd feel my skin crawl as I toiled in bed, and upon finally falling asleep, I'd jerk awake". NOTE: "[I'd awake from my sleep]" is drawn from the previous line for clarity.

    "A foxtrot above my head
    A sock hop beneath my bed
    A disco ball is just hanging by a thread"

    Here, there is, "A foxtrot above [his] head", (the foxtrot is a type of ballroom dance characterized by alternating between rapid and slow steps, uneven in rhythm, but requiring a lot of grace) and "a sock hop beneath his bed", (a sockhop is when students at a school dance take their shoes off and dance, often UNgracefully, under the slippery action of their socks). What this means is that this author has a lot of things racing through his mind. He's trying to bury the ungraceful ones under his bed, and focus on the more gracefully orchestrated ones, with varying success. However, disco balls are appropriate for both the foxtrot and for sock hops, and while it's nice to dance the foxtrot, what he actually needs right now is sleep. If only he could cut what is merely the "thread" of thoughts and have his brain stop dancing altogether so that he may have this.

    [Chorus, again, about being unable to sleep, and being awoken by nightmares] "When I fall asleep"

    "Leave my door open just a crack
    (Please take me away from here)
    'Cause I feel like such an insomniac
    (Please take me away from here)
    Why do I tire of counting sheep
    (Please take me away from here)
    When I'm far too tired to fall asleep"

    Leaving one's door open is a common defense mechanism against nightmares and fear of the dark. The little voice in the background saying, "Please take me away from here" exemplifies both the author's fears of his nightmares, and his progressive impatience with lying awake in the bed. He feels like an insomniac, because he is. Now he's feeling sorry for himself. His body aches so heavily with exhaustion, that the discomfort keeps him awake. Why does his mind grow tired of counting sheep when his body is this tired?

    "To ten million fireflies
    I'm weird 'cause I hate goodbyes
    I got misty eyes as they said farewell"

    Now he's describing the early hours of the morning. The stars couldn't possibly understand why this insomniac hates to see them go. At this point, his eyes are red and itchy, tearing at the sunlight which is eradicating the stars-

    "But I'll know where several are
    If my dreams get real bizarre
    'Cause I saved a few and I keep them in a jar"

    -and yet, as the author explains, if he HAD fallen asleep, he would have awoken to see the stars. He again emphasizes his "bizarre" nightmares.

    [Chorus X2 and then:]

    "I'd like to make myself believe
    That planet Earth turns slowly
    It's hard to say that I'd rather stay
    Awake when I'm asleep
    Because my dreams are bursting at the seams"

    Here, he ends on a different sad note. This time, not a nightmare, but a dream. Yet, given his situation, he wasn't given the opportunity to see how this finally nice dream played out.

    NOTE: Based on my medical experience, this author probably suffers from OCD. Racing thoughts, obsession, fear of the dark, RLS, hypnic jerks, and general restlessness tend to occur under this diagnosis. OCD is very common among artists, especially writers. Considering how thoroughly specifically orchestrated these lyrics are, it's fair to say that these lyrics may come from the mind of someone who may be obsessed with detail. This guy probably needs some Seroquel and Neurontin (and maybe one of the more mood-stabilizing types of antidepressant.)

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