Adele: Set Fire to the Rain Meaning
Song Released: 2011
Set Fire to the Rain Lyrics
I let it fall, my heart,
And as it fell, you rose to claim it,
It was dark and I was over,
Until you kissed my lips and you saved me,
My hands, they were strong, but my knees were far too weak,
To stand in your...
Sad_Monkey Feb 18th, 2015 2:03pm report
The opening verse sets the stage, with the singer being heartbroken from a previous relationship. She was helpless (“I let it fall”), but a new lover stepped in (“you saved me”).
She was strong (“my hands .. were strong”), but she was not strong enough to protect herself from this new lover (“too weak … [fell] to your feet”). She lost herself (again “falling”), and the lover took advantage.
The new lover was manipulative (“the games you’d play … you would always win”) and deceitful (“the things you’d say .. were never true”), and as the relationship progressed, this darker side of her lover became clear (“there’s a side to you that I never knew”).
At this point she revolts against her situation. She can’t manage it, so she lets her anger out to protect herself – “let it burn” expresses the destructive response of desperation.
Burning the rain is impossible, of course. Her tears are the rain (“it burned while I cried”). The rain drops are a metaphor for her tears, just like burning water is a metaphor for the impossibility of burning away heartache, as well as a metaphor for pain and injury.
At this point the relationship is still going, but it’s stormy. It’s a dramatic rollercoaster. In the second part of the chorus, she sets “fire to the rain”, but in the next verse they are back together. In moments in this dysfunctional relationship, there’s eternal peace (“I could stay there … forever”, “nothing gets better”).
But the dark side of her lover is still there, the first part of the chorus repeats, as she is again, and again, reminded and confronted with the dark side of her lover.
Finally she throws more “fire” at the relationship. Now everything burns, without a hope of being repaired. She knows she has to “burn the rain” until the relationship is destroyed. She has to. But it’s painful (“as I touched your face … it burned while I cried … screaming out your name”).
So, the second part of the chorus is extended, but with a crucial twist. There’s no going back (“I threw us into the flames … something died”). That’s it, it’s over (“that was the last time”).
In the next and final new verse, the relationship is over, but not her love. Her dark lover still owns her heart (“that heart you caught must be waiting for ya”). It’s over, she’s burned everything to the ground, but she still wants her lover (“I can’t help myself from looking for ya”). Fire is irreversible, it destroys, but it’s the only thing left for her to do.
Now she’s alone, heart broken twice, and this time she can’t move on. She “wake[s] up by the door”, presumably from crying herself to sleep, alone on the floor of her home. It’s over, but she remains caught in her heartache and loneliness.
The coda (last line of the song) leaves us with what’s left of her sentiment. “Let it burn”: come what may, whatever, screw all of this:/ “let it burn”.
The song is gorgeous, sung beautifully by Adele obviously, but every word plays a part in telling the story. Poetry.
anonymous Apr 4th, 2011 4:09pm report
In the beginning, it seems as if she has just ended a relationship. She is torn from that relationship and is in pieces (i.e. "I let it fall, my heart" and "It was dark and I was over").
She comments at how this new relationship helped her pull herself together (i.e. "And as it fell, you rose to claim it" [...] "Until you kissed my lips and you saved me"). She emphasizes how much influence this new relationship had on her and maybe how she didn't recognize her weaknesses in the new relationship (i.e. "My hands, they were strong, but my knees were far too weak / To stand in your arms without falling to your feet").
The rest of the song is exploring this second partner and how she ended the second relationship.
It is evident that this partner is two-sided, deceitful and manipulative (i.e. "But there's a side to you that I never knew, never knew / All the things you'd say, they were never true, never true / And the games you'd play, you would always win, always win").
Adele uses a very deep metaphor to describe how she ends the relationship (i.e. "But I set fire to the rain / Watched it pour as I touched your face / Well, it burned while I cried / 'Cause I heard it screaming out your name, your name). The metaphor is obviously open to many interpretations, but I think there are some basic things that she is trying to say. By "setting fire to the rain", I believe Adele is saying that had the courage to confront a situation that was draining her. I think she goes on to say that she was left hurt and deeply moved ("it burned while I cried") by the situation because all she could focus on was still her partner (" 'Cause I heard it screaming out your name").
She continues to explain the relationship by saying, "When laying with you I could stay there / Close my eyes, feel you here forever / You and me together, nothing is better". So emphasizing how much faith she had in this partner.
And again highlighting that by confronting the situation, she knew there would be no going back (i.e. "And I threw us into the flames / Well I felt something die"). Setting fire to something changes it forever and she recognizes that since she confronted the situation, she has to walk away from it because it is fundamentally changed (i.e. "'Cause I knew that that was the last time, the last time).
It is clear that she misses her partner and is left in pieces yet again (i.e. "Sometimes I wake up by the door / And heard you calling, must be waiting for you / Even now when we're already over / I can't help myself from looking for you"). But again she repeats the chorus to finalize her decision to be brave enough to face something, to confront it and to walk away from it.
I think the song is absolutely beautiful, with deep metaphorical meaning. And while this is my interpretation, I know that each person will find their own meaning.
anonymous May 22nd, 2011 5:44am report
Setting fire to the rain, for me is about doing the impossible. I believe that when she was leaving this manipulative person, she was still in love with him and therefore breaking it off was as powerful and as hard as setting fire to the rain.
The fire continued to burn and destroy the relationship while she cried and mourned the loss. The main theme of the song, as I see it, is the powerful conflict of leaving a person that is bad for you while you still love them.
In the end of the song she admits that it is over but she is still longing for the man she left.
anonymous Jul 28th, 7:21pm report
I have to set things on fires, because I have the most relationship with my husband, I’m done with the album rest of the year, I’m very happy to healing that, I went to the studio, then I’m recording my voices to heavy and even broken pieces. The important thing about my album twenty one, irs about female empowering and young lovers.
anonymous Dec 14th, 2017 12:48pm report
My interpretation of this song is that it is about her relationship with God. In the beginning she let herself “fall” into God’s arms and she trusted him. As she got older and life started to turn her away she learned things about god (maybe truth, maybe lies) that made her question her loyal devotion. Setting fire to the rain is a way of questioning God. Water and fire both do the same thing which is erode. Erode away the lies to see the truth underneath. Adele used her own wisdom to put God under the microscope and fill her mind with doubts leaving her feeling abandoned, lied to and empty. Her head decides God is not real but her heart continues to search because deep down she knows she needs God. This song is meant to lead people astray and to find beauty in their fall. Only when you return to God will true beauty return.
anonymous Sep 16th, 2016 9:15am report
I am sure she was in a relationship with a Narcissis.... It Sound like the typical pattern.
anonymous Jan 7th, 2015 1:42pm report
So the first verse sees Adele explain at the very beginning how she left a man to join somebody else for a fresh start. After those first two lines, she explains how before she met the new person, she felt very isolated and full of despair. But then when this man showed her affection and love, she felt as if her life was saved, as they were already together. She then describes how she felt happy being with him, but her heart obviously wouldn't let him go. She just fell for him instantly, even though she tried to be strong.
In the pre-chorus, Adele then explains how she eventually saw his true colours; he was two-faced, a liar, and always played games with her mind and heart, and it just wouldn't stop.
Then in the chorus, she then explains metaphorically how she is strong enough to stop crying and just leave this man, now she knows who he really is, by setting fire to the rain (her tears). But then in the next line she goes through some old photos of them together, taken long before she unearthed his true personality, and stares at it while crying tears of flames, and was rubbing her finger over his face as soon as the tears hit the picture; a good metaphor for a memory that is slowly fading away. She is hurt after seeing it because she still feels like she wants to see him again.
The second verse sees her describe that when she is next to this man, like it is forever, she puts all the negative behind her and just relaxes, and is in heaven when she feels this way. She thinks nothing else is better; she feels loved by him, even though she keeps getting hurt.
The next chorus is extended; after the first four lines, she digs deeper in terms of explaining how she breaks up with him. She throws them into the flames, which is a metaphor for the chance of a pure relationship being damaged. She then felt something die, which was obviously her potential significant other, not physically, but he has already broken up with her. The final line tells us that there is no going back; they're done.
The bridge sees Adele left heartbroken yet again after leaving him, and how much she misses being with him. She obviously cannot help but think of him on certain occasions.
anonymous Nov 3rd, 2014 11:37am report
Wondering who the person is who always ties every song by every artist to illuminati. This is about a breakup and another breakup! We all have proof of such! This whole album is about the mess Adele was in after her breakup. While this guy was probably a jerk, I don't think she was singing about Satan. It's a powerful, moving, brilliant song, one that proves that good things come out of bad situations.
anonymous Apr 17th, 2014 4:32pm report
I guess I see it as a song about her falling for someone. She probably shouldn't have fallen for him but she did. For whatever reasons she just couldn't help herself. She realized after some time that he wasn't the person she thought. She felt a little foolish for having fell for him like all the other women did. However the love she felt for him was real to her and she was upset to have to let go of him. She cried real tears for him and just realized she couldn't do it anymore. When she says she set fire to the rain it means she stopped crying and let go of her love for him. Letting go helped her to move forward. SHES MOVING FORWARD WITHOUT HIM. He can't play with her feelings anymore because she's done. Done!
anonymous Apr 12th, 2014 4:48pm report
The way I see it, she fell in love but he played her so she is now trying to find herself.
anonymous May 13th, 2013 5:28am report
Her ex boyfriend dumped her and married someone else and now she's finding herself right now
anonymous May 8th, 2013 5:13am report
Nobody ever thought about Gaslighting while listening to this ?
anonymous Feb 11th, 2013 2:13am report
It was rather stupid to set fire to the rain (-yes, it is possible with enough energy) as it would make hydrogen peroxide which would kill us all!!!
anonymous Jan 20th, 2013 1:52pm report
I think that the song is about a relationship in which she knows (mind) the relationship wrong and destroying her but when she sees him (heart) she cannot resist going back to him for the moment only knowing that in the morning he will hurt her again by leaving. I wonder if it is not so much about a new relationship as it is with the same guy. He ignores her with no real commitment, but then he comes around and she is too unstable or unhealthy to say NO. When he is not there, she longs for him even though he hurts her over and over. Her mind says the relationship is over, but her passion gives in when he shows up or contacts her. Her is a jerk and she is not strong enough to not give in.....wonder if this could be a dream?
anonymous Sep 2nd, 2012 9:51pm report
She was grateful to have him "love" her. She was rebounding, from her last relationship and he bacame a tower of strength for her - ostensibly saving her, (albeit temporarily), from her terrible sadness. At first, she was unable to see him for who he truly was - likely a liar and cheater. Their relationship was one-sided. He loved himself more than than he loved her and he had taken control her feelings. She began to lose herself in favor of loving him. The rain is the terrible sadness he caused her. The "setting fire..." is her leaving and her way of taking control of her own life and reclaiming her feelings, realizing it is a poor situation for both of them even though she loves to be with him. Burning is the fire taking away (drying up) the rain - her torment. She is very sad to have to let him go, as she has deep, deep feelings for him in spite of his lack of good character. However, she knows if she does not leave, she cannot become her own person and will always be "rained on" by him. She wants a REAL relationship and real love.
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