What does Breathe (2 AM) mean?

Search Login

Anna Nalick: Breathe (2 AM) Meaning

Get "Breathe (2 AM)" on MP3:

Get MP3 from Amazon

Breathe (2 AM) Lyrics

2 AM 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"
Yeah we walk through the doors, so accusing their eyes
Like they have any right at all to...


    #1 top rated interpretation:
    click a star to vote
    Feb 7th 2006 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.


    #2 top rated interpretation:
    click a star to vote
    Aug 1st 2005 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.


    #3 top rated interpretation:
    click a star to vote
    Oct 10th 2005 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.

  4. anonymous
    click a star to vote
    Jan 21st 2020 report

    "Two AM and she calls me 'cause I'm still awake,
    Can you help me unravel my latest mistake" - I believe it's about a person, in AA, who calls her sponsor in the middle of the night, after a relapse.

    "I don't love him, winter just wasn't my season" - "Him" referring to alcohol

    "Yeah 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" - Walking back into the rooms

    "Life's like an hourglass, glued to the table" - one day at a time, 24 hours in a day.

    "No one can find the rewind button girl,
    So cradle your head in you hands
    And breathe, just breathe,
    Whoa breathe, just breathe" - You can't go back, so don't regret the past, just breathe and move forward, starting over at day 1.

    "Cause you can't jump the track, we're like cars on a cable" - I immediately thought of the Big Book where they use the jay walker as an example of "insanity"(Doing the same thing over and over, expecting different results).

    "May he turn twenty one on the base at Fort Bliss
    Just today he sat down to the flask in his fist,
    Ain't been sober, since maybe October of last year.
    Here in town you can tell he's been down for a while,
    But my God it's so beautiful when the boy smiles,
    Wanna hold him, maybe I'll just sing about it." - Referring to the newcomer

    "There's a light at each end of this tunnel, you shout
    But you're just as far in as you'll ever be out
    These mistakes you've made, you'll just make them again
    If you only try turning around." - If you keep drinking, you will continue down the same path, if you stop and work it, a better life is on the other side.

    "Two AM and I'm still awake, writing a song
    If I get it all down on paper, its no longer
    Inside of me, threatening the life it belongs to" - Step four, taking a moral inventory.

    "And I feel like I'm naked in front of the crowd
    'Cause these words are my diary, screaming out loud
    And I know that you'll use them, however you want to" - Sharing her story in AA, and other AA's will take what they need, and leave the rest.

  5. anonymous
    click a star to vote
    May 14th 2019 report

    I have no interpretion of the song as it has me puzzled as to the meaning. It is a fantastic song and every time I hear it on the radio, it makes my day.

    I think everybody needs to just enjoy the song and not get carried away with figuring out the meaning of it all.

    Thank you Anna Nalick for a song that makes me feel good every time I hear it !

  6. anonymous
    click a star to vote
    Jul 5th 2018 report

    Started relistening to my older music and this was on top of my list mostly because of this song. I think its about domestic abuse, and is written by the victim and not an actual friend. She goes through stages in this song, first blaming herself, then the guys, then just realizing you need to move on.

    The first stanza tries to lead the listener to believe that its happening to someone else, a "friend of mine has this problem" kinda thing. Note the last word in each of the chorus lines starting "noone can find the rewind button...". First it's "girl" (singular, herself). Then it's "boys", plural perhaps meaning the multiple guys that have abused her. Then its "now", hopefully meaning that its time to move on. The accusing eyes are those from other members of a domestic abuse help group, whom she doesnt know and is uncertain of on her first day there.

    Everything else is consistent with causes of and excuses for domestic abuse - namely alcoholism and perhaps PTSD of a veteran returning from war. Even the victims' feeling of thinking she can make things better by just holding him and loving him more is common.

  7. Matthew1
    click a star to vote
    Feb 6th 2017 report

    This is my first interpretation. Can't help it.So great a song.

    They all live in a small town. Very close friends. The writer is usually awake and writing.She is a musician.True musicians write from the soul.Songs for these are always diaries.
    Best friend knows she is awake and needs a friend to help her as we all do.
    Probably broke off an engagement.Winter is lonely and depressing.The breakup came gradually throughout the season starting in the fall as did his drinking.
    Small town social life many times many places is centered around church.
    Everyone knows she broke his heart.People judge even more intensely in church for the fear of their own conviction is at hand. Judging the hypocrisy is usually the first reaction to being judge,however,this one is Blessed to persevere and Love is compassion when she realizes we all must carry one another's cross.
    We are all connected as individual members of one humanity. "God created man,male and female He created them "Genesis...
    May(spring is fulfilled) a man is born (turns 21).He chooses to fight."just today"is a reference to NA-AA---"just for today" is what every recovering addict says first thing when waking in the morning. The fight is daily---war. He quit that day and he spoke the words to the poison itself and in his hand. Till then he had been living in drunkenness--- at least since fall the preceding year.He still suffers with grief but he is pulling through it. People still talk but he is starting to smile again. The writer is very close to him as well.
    Of course she wants to hold him but people in his state of condition need to be treated like they are living a normal life like everyone else. So, she very wisely knows not to "jump the track" and lets time heal as time does.
    Can't change the past so cradle your head and catch your breath and march onward. The past leads to the light as you overcome the mistakes you made then and the future leads to the light as you continue to overcome the same mistakes.
    Same song same diary same hourglass same conversation same humanity same release of same breath and life continues as our breath of life is breathed back in. We are all naked as we stand before one another. We must release one another from the breath that we threaten the lives of those who breathe in what we breathed out and then took the breath in that they released as it is their own released to have life ... ... ...
    We give life and receive life--- we share Life.
    We are one humanity. We are one breath.
    Let me stop myself here lest my interpretation becomes nothing but eternal air.
    Thank You All and especially Anna

  8. anonymous
    click a star to vote
    Jan 10th 2015 report

    I think this is a moving on song because Anna talks about all the troubles the girl's been through & she tells her to just breathe.

  9. anonymous
    click a star to vote
    Oct 14th 2014 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...

  10. anonymous
    click a star to vote
    Sep 20th 2014 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!!!!

  11. anonymous
    click a star to vote
    Feb 28th 2013 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.

  12. anonymous
    click a star to vote
    Feb 8th 2013 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.

  13. anonymous
    click a star to vote
    Oct 2nd 2012 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?

  14. anonymous
    click a star to vote
    Sep 30th 2012 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.

  15. anonymous
    click a star to vote
    Sep 4th 2012 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.

  16. ClubSodaWithLime
    click a star to vote
    Aug 22nd 2012 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.

  17. anonymous
    click a star to vote
    Apr 23rd 2012 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.

  18. anonymous
    click a star to vote
    Mar 18th 2012 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.

‹ prev 123456

More Anna Nalick song meanings »


Latest Articles


Submit Your Interpretation

[ want a different song? ]