What does Old Apartment mean?

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Barenaked Ladies: Old Apartment Meaning

Old Apartment Lyrics

Broke into the old apartment
This is where we used to live
Broken glass, broke and hungry
Broken hearts and broken bones
This is where we used to live

Why did you paint the walls?
Why did you clean the floor?
Why did you plaster over the...

  1. 1TOP RATED

    #1 top rated interpretation:
    anonymous
    click a star to vote
    Nov 16th 2008 report

    I always felt that this song was about that odd sadness that accompanies nostalgia. The anger in the song seems to be about the loss of 'the good old days'.

    Everyone remembers that apartment they had when they were young and poor and just starting out. There are always problems with it: it's up a long flight of stairs, the lights flicker, the tap drips, the lady downstairs pounds oner ceiling with a broomstick if she thinks you're being too loud.

    And everyone is excited when they can move on from there as described in the line "we've bought an old house on the Danforth." They've made some money and moved up the social ladder to a house of their own. There is nothing outwardly wrong in this man's life. He's doing well. His partner "loves me and her body keeps me warm, I'm happy here". But there's a bit of longing for that time when they were struggling to pay the rent and 'living on love' as my grandparents would say.

    It's about the loss that comes with growing up. Although he's happy to move onwards and upwards, in a way he misses those good old days when the struggles were different and times seem simpler than the way things are now...whether they actually were or not.

  2. anonymous
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    Jan 28th report

    I think the author wrote a dark song that doesn’t jibe with his self-image so he revised the meaning ex-post. Broken heart = trauma. Hole punched in wall. I only came here to talk. Something bad happened. Relationship gone wrong bad.

    The key is how the author alternates we, I, you, they, and she. There has to be a third party that is familiar with the situation. Since the third party has the dish rack and mousetrap, the current resident knows the author, but is not “she” or “we.”

    Best I can tell, there was a third roommate, some sort of love triangle. I suspect the two guys were lovers, girl roommate broke them up, dynamics got weird, the new couple moved, third wheel kept the apartment, author sometimes misses him. More conventionally girl left one roommate for the other, hard feelings ensued, now author misses his friend.

  3. anonymous
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    May 22nd 2009 report

    the song is wrote so that in the begging you think he is breaking into his ex-girlfriends apartment and is "talking" to her, (why did you plaster over?why did you keep, ect.) but at the end you realize that hes just reliving old memories.

  4. anonymous
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    Apr 20th 2008 report

    "I don't think the girlfriend is present when he breaks in" If you watch the video his girlfriend is definitely with him.

    This interpretation has been marked as poor. view anyway
  5. anonymous
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    Apr 8th 2008 report

    Heyo!

    Yeah I agree with most of what the original poster said but I don't think the girlfriend is present when he breaks in, he talks about her in the third person at one point.

    The song is very passive aggressive though the passive part is a little played down :P It's like he's reverting back to a child-like jealousy, "These things used to be mine, I guess they still are, I want them back!"

    I find that what is lacking often in poetic imagery in BNL lyrics is made up for exceptionally by ingeniously representative dialogue. They seem to fully embody the unique characters they create for each song. If you explore that you find so much meaning in these songs. Try it with Pinch Me, Shoebox, What a Good Boy. Sometimes the lyrical delivery is so beautiful I feel like he's acting more than singing.

  6. anonymous
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    Jun 9th 2006 report

    Actually, Slash, he didn't miss any point. The liner notes for Disc One: All Their Greatest Hits include Steven Page's notes on each song, which for The Old Apartment note that the song has "a deceptively angry storyline", and that the singer and the woman he was with in the apartment are still together, and that in fact he's angry about the changes the new tenants have made. By "why did I have to break in? I only came here to talk", he means that he came not to steal anything, but to either reminisce or complain that he couldn't reminisce.

  7. Slash9814
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    Mar 31st 2006 report

    You're almost there. The missed point is She still lives in this apartment, and he breaks into it to talk.
    "Why did I have to break in, I only came here to talk"

    This about a break up.

  8. Carveyfan
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    Oct 23rd 2005 report

    Literally, this song is about a man and his wife breaking into an apartment where they used to live.

    More deeply, it's about the feelings of nostalgia of past points of your life. For this couple, it represents the early part of their relationship, primarily when they were still on shaky grounds (Broken glass, broke and hungry, broken hearts). While the conditions of the run-down apartment were once perceived as miserable and unbearable, they are now quaint memories that are being appreciated as some of the highlights of their life.

    The couple decides to break into the apartment instead of asking for an invitation because they want to see and experience the apartment as if it was truly theirs, and not just guests in someone else's home. When they get there though, they see that the apartment is no longer theirs. The memory of their home is now just that: a memory. They see the apartment no longer belongs to them, but to the new owner who has made the apartment his own (why did you paint the walls? Why did you clean the floor? Why did you plaster over the hole I punched in the door?) Salt is further rubbed into the wound by seeing familiarities (why did you keep the dishrack?) that are no longer theirs.

    The couple realizes that this is a part of their life that has ended, and are happy that they have moved on to better things (I know we don't live here anymore, we bought an old house on the Danforth), but simply wish for just one more day of their old life.


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