What does When I Fall mean?

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Barenaked Ladies: When I Fall Meaning

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When I Fall Lyrics

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I look straight in the window, try not to look below
Pretend I’m not up here, try counting sheep
But the sheep seem to shower off this office tower
Nine-point-eight straight down I can’t stop my knees.

Chorus:
I wish I could fly
From this...

  1.  

    anonymous
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    Jul 11th, 7:35pm report


    This is indeed a powerful song. I respectfully don't think it about suicide. I believe it's a mortality issue relative to falling from grace/falling into sin.



  2.  

    anonymous
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    Oct 20th, 2013 10:26am report


    Anyone who has been so depressed that the only comfort would be to commit suicide will deeply feel these lyrics. He describes all the emotions that go along with the fears and doubts of committing the act.



  3.  

    anonymous
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    May 31st, 2011 5:31pm report


    This, in my opinion, is one of the greatest songs to have ever been written. I believe this song is literally about a window washer who is afraid of heights. Everyday he finds his workplace to be dangerous and wants to be in the comfort of his home with his family. At the same time, the glass in front of him reveals a juxtaposition between two opposite elements on opposing sides. He sees his reflection as a dirty house painter in contrast to the successful businessmen on the other side. The sight of the two elements together spark a desire to become successful. This means there are two things that he values highly: family and success. Every day, this man looks through the glass at what he aspires to become. He sees his goal right before his eyes, yet no matter how close he tries to get, he's blocked off by an unseen wall (the glass). The glass represents the challenges and obstacles in the way of his success. He knows the path to success is risky; he wonders if his family will be there if he fails, thus he'd have at least one item of high value.

    This is my interpretation of the song. I'm not sure if this is the meaning as the Barenaked Ladies intended; however, I believe this song is very inspirational, and as such it is one of my favourite songs.



  4.  

    anonymous
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    Apr 13th, 2010 4:10am report


    This song begins with a literal idea and then explores it metaphorically. A acrophobic window washer would probably hate his job: "i want to fly from this building". But flying implies the possibility of falling, so now we've got the idea of taking chances - in love, for instance ("would you catch me if i fall?"). The board members suggest how sometimes we fear failure more than death itself, but fear itself can be a tomb already.

    Stepping off the scaffold suggests wishing that things were different. (I don't see a suicide metaphor here, because who wants to end up in a shopping mall when they die? On the other hand, a scaffold is also where the doomed are executed by hanging, so that could be taken as a metaphor for a dead-end life).

    Painting suggests that he'd rather be doing something more creative with his life - but perhaps cleaning the mirror to see himself more clearly is the first step.



  5.  

    anonymous
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    Apr 24th, 2009 4:56pm report


    Not about suicide? Everyone needs to listen to this song some more!

    "the painting's creating"

    a reference to the dirt on the window, and his life

    "and I'm just earasing"

    He is cleaning the window, and thinking about ending his life

    "a crystal clear canvas is my masterpiece"

    A clean window - and a "blank" life.

    Through the entire song the lyric says "if I fall" But ends with "when I fall"

    This interpretation has been marked as poor. view anyway


  6.  

    anonymous
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    Aug 17th, 2007 8:45pm report


    This song is about a window washer who's afraid of heights, he doesn't contemplate suicide. The line is "its 9.8 straight down, I can't stop my knees"
    he knows that if he falls, hell die, and he's scared of falling. It just reinforces his fear of heights.

    The part about the pastor and his dead grandfather:

    "I wish I could step from this scaffold, on to soft green pastures, shopping, malls, or a bed with my family, and my pastor, and my grandfather who's dead"

    That just means he wishes he could be anywhere but where he is
    because he hates his job, but knows he has to provide for his family

    Incidentally, there was a book inspired by this song, called When I Fall.



  7.  

    anonymous
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    Aug 28th, 2006 8:09am report


    The 9.8 is the acceleration due to gravity if one were to "fall"



  8.  

    anonymous
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    Jan 7th, 2006 1:06pm report


    There's also hints of suicidal thoughts in this song, as referenced in the bridge, the thought of jumping hits him (9.8 straight down) along with being able to see his dead pastor and grandfather in the afterlife.



  9.  

    JJett
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    Aug 29th, 2005 8:31pm report


    I think this is about taking chances in life. It is scary thing to let go of what we know to be secure and we want to make sure we don't "fall" when we take a risk.



  10.  

    anonymous
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    May 31st, 2005 5:54pm report


    The song is written from the point of view of a window washer doing his daily routine scrubbing a skyscraper. He's scared of heights and fed up with his job and his life and is longing for more.

    He starts to daydream about being one of the suits inside the boardroom, knowing that although it's not much better, he hates his current situation so much, he'd still love to switch places.




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