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Ben Folds Five: Brick Meaning

Song Released: 1998


Brick Lyrics

6 am day after Christmas
I throw some clothes on in the dark
The smell of cold
Car seat is freezing
The world is sleeping
I am numb

Up the stairs to the apartment
She is balled up on the couch
Her mom and dad went down to...

  1. 1TOP RATED

    #1 top rated interpretation:
    mmmmllll
    click a star to vote
    May 30th 2005 report

    When Ben was in high school his girlfriend and he had an abortion. Ben Folds himself said that the song is simply about the whole experience and the emotions he and his girlfriend felt. He also makes it a point to say that he wrote the lyrics with no intentions of making any sort of political statement, or any statement about abortion, the song is just about how he felt because it was a very sad time for him.

    Her parents didn't know that their daughter had the abortion "Her mom and dad went down to Charlotte they're not home to find us out." However, the girlfriend was so upset that her parents could tell something had happened; "As weeks went by it showed that she was not fine..." So eventually Ben was over at their home and the Father got him to confess to what they had hidden: "They told me son it's time to tell the truth She broke down and I broke down
    Cause I was tired of lying"

    The song ends with an account of how alone that the two felt post-abortion and their sadness. "Driving home to her apartment
    For the moment we're alone / She's alone I'm alone / Now I know it"

    So that's what the song is about.

  2. 2TOP RATED

    #2 top rated interpretation:
    anonymous
    click a star to vote
    Nov 2nd 2008 report

    I found this interpretation and find it to be a very good one.

    Some lyric interpretation:
    "Now that I have found someone
    I'm feeling more alone
    Then I ever have before
    She's a brick and I'm drowning slowly
    This is the main symbol in this song: the brick and drowning. "She" refers to the girlfriend. Just imagine yourself underwater, running out of air, and trying to resurface... all the while carrying a brick. A little hard, eh? This is how Ben Folds Five meant it, that the girlfriend is dragging him down. Another good twist on this is this: one lifeguard certification test is to retrieve a brick from underwater. Could it be that the guy in the song wasn't ready for this kind of responsibility and commitment, just like a beginning lifeguard wouldn't be ready for that test?
    "Off the coast and I'm headed nowhere"
    My interpretation of this line was that the abortion is throwing him off track. 'Off the coast' meaning his life has suddenly taken a little detour, and 'headed nowhere' is him realizing that becoming a teenage father will get him nowhere in life.
    "They call her name at 7:30"
    'They' meaning the people at the abortion clinic.
    "Then I walk down to buy her flowers
    and sell some gifts that I got"
    Buying her flowers is maybe the one indication in the whole song that he still cares for this girl. He is selling some gifts (Christmas gifts, remember this is the day after Christmas) to help pay for the abortion.
    "Can't you see
    It's not me you're dying for"
    This is an interesting two lines, as it is him talking to the unborn child.
    "Now she's feeling more alone
    Then she ever has before"
    This is where we finally learn the girl's state of mind in all this, and this indicates she's not doing too well. This girl is very upset about the abortion, and might be becoming depressed.
    "They told me son its time to tell the truth
    She broke down and I broke down
    Cause I was tired of lying"
    The parents have finally realized something was up with those two, and both of them broke down and told the truth.
    "Driving home to her apartment
    For the moment we're alone
    She's alone
    I'm alone
    Now I know it."
    This is perhaps the saddest part of the song. Even though they both went through this experience, they aren't truly in it together. 'For the moment we're alone' makes you think he means that the two of them are away from everyone else, but the next two lines show that what he really meant was that she was alone, and he was alone. Despite being "alone" in the car together, they were separate. Going through this kind of experience is tough, and it helps if you're going through it together. But we finally realize they are on two totally different wavelengths, and while they may still love each other (I am assuming here that they do), they will never be as close as they were before. (thanks, Jen - Mt. Laurel, NJ)

  3. 3TOP RATED

    #3 top rated interpretation:
    BicycleThief14
    click a star to vote
    Nov 17th 2008 report

    I agree completely with the Top-Rated interpretation.
    I do, however, have something to add.

    This is a story about a moment of realization.
    The first half of the song goes thru all of his feelings. Anxiety, fear, and guilt. Ben cares for this girl. He's not in the room with her during the procedure because he doesn't want to be, but because she doesn't want him there. Despite this, he's out buying her flowers. This is when it becomes clear. He changes tone mid-verse.
    "Can't you see it's not me you're dying for?"
    It's a re-evaluation of the couple's situation. This has nothing to do with death in its literal form- the abortion. It's his recognition of the fact that the woman he loved wasn't getting rid of the child because she wasn't ready to have one, but, in fact, because she didn't love him.
    The story continues, but now with a sense of despair with his own epiphany.
    "You're alone, and I'm alone... AND NOW I KNOW IT."

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

    My ex went through this. That relationship ended 22 years ago, but when I discovered this song, I wept for him and his girlfriend , who really did seem like his brick, always somewhere on his mind, wedged between us.

    Over the years of our relationship, the bits he shared about the abortion led me to this conclusion: he had mixed emotions about being a 16-year-old father, as anyone would. He’d probably encouraged her to get the abortion, at least indirectly...invalidating her claims that she felt it move because it was at that point “just some cells.”

    But as he got some age on him, the “drowning slowly” kicked in. His girlfriend maybe sank instantly into depression like the brick, but the reality of his child being killed in the womb took a long time to dawn, to torment, and to drown. “Off the coast and I’m going nowhere” probably refers to that state of being absolutely stuck in one spot emotionally with no way to move on from the grief. Four years later, he tended to regret, to wish that child were alive.

    His baggage from that experience drowned our relationship. He was never really free from it.

  5. anonymous
    click a star to vote
    Jan 6th report

    A very well written dirge pertaining to a moral dilemma shared by two young people...I still well up with tears during the opening piano notes...when it was new on the radio I thought maybe it was a cancer situation...realizing it was about an abortion made me appreciate the song even more...lyrically strong/poignant and open to interpretation...the empath within me was and still is deeply moved by its content...

  6. anonymous
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    Jun 1st 2012 report

    i feel sorry for the girl now...with a song written about her abortion

  7. anonymous
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    Oct 13th 2010 report

    You aren't allowed to have anyone in the room with you when you have an abortion.. from my experience.. so i'm thinking that's why he is pacing in the parking lot, not because he doesn't want to be in there with her

  8. buckw
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    Jul 23rd 2010 report

    How could it not be about AIDS? AIDS - it's about AIDS

    This interpretation has been marked as poor. view anyway
  9. anonymous
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    Jul 2nd 2010 report

    The song doesnt need much interpretation for me as it is also a similar life experience. Two weeks before Christmas,2002, my wife and I had an abortion as we didnt want any more kids. The emotions felt in the song are exactly what we felt. We fought about it alot because I didnt think it was mine but she insisted it was. Seven years later I found out I was right that she had had and affair and that was the end of the marriage but for those 7 years I felt like I was drowning slowly.

  10. anonymous
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    Apr 4th 2010 report

    I think for me, in other way...in our class, the is discussed in this link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3q7PKZ_wYCM its a sad love story...about he boy who didn't tell his true feelings about the girl who used to be his best friend until the girl's death...in the end, the boy saw the girl's diary and what is actually written to the boys diary is one written to the girl's diary too...because the boy's diary says: "I don't want her to be my friend...I want her, I love her...i want to tell her I love you but I'm just too shy and I don't know why" and vice versa to the girl..:(

    This interpretation has been marked as poor. view anyway
  11. megvba11
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    Jan 19th 2010 report

    The speaker of the song was the lead singer. This whole song is based on a man and a woman who decided the woman should get an abortion. This song really wasn't that difficult to figure out for me. When the singer says, "It's not me you're dying for" it most certainly can't be the woman, and because "they call her name at 7:30," you know that the woman has gone into some kind of appointment. This all fits in with the abortion. The tone of this song is sad, remorseful, regretful, and shameful. It's clear it wasn't the mans choice on the abortion, and afterwards the really hadn't wanted the abortion. In the phrase "she broke down, and I broke down, cause I was tired of lying" could mean the man put on a strong face for her to get the abortion because he thought she wanted one, but she didn't, which in turn made her think she didn't have a choice. In the end maybe his lie is what caused the abortion.

    This interpretation has been marked as poor. view anyway
  12. anonymous
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    Feb 16th 2009 report

    Really good interpretations on this page. One thing I haven't seen regarding this line:
    "to sell some gifts that I got"
    Keep in mind they WERE going to have a baby. Maybe they got gifts for the baby. Now, with the baby gone, he sells the gifts.

    Although he didn't tell this story from any kind of political point of view, I hope that someone considering abortion would hear this song and think twice. Having an abortion is a life altering decision ... as is having a baby.

  13. kcollier66
    click a star to vote
    Jan 20th 2009 report

    Imagine how the girlfriend must feel 33 years later, driving down the road and hearing the song come on about her worst nightmare; reliving it every time it comes on. I really feel for her.

  14. anonymous
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    Apr 29th 2008 report

    I think that the part where it says 'she's a brick and I'm drowning slowly' could mean that she has been strong and together like a Brick throughout the whole ordeal while he is unable to cope or is 'drowning slowly'. I don't think when they 'broke down' they were speaking to the girl's parents. I think that he didn't really want the abortion and neither did she but they both thought it was for the best and so they didn't really share their true feelings with each other. The line 'cause I was tired of lying' refers to not letting his true feelings show to his girlfriend. Throughout the whole song it shows that he is reluctant to go through with the abortion with the lines 'can't you see it's not me you're dying for' and 'I pace around the parking lot' reinforce it. His girlfriends has doubts about the abortion but goes through with it and then she has regrets and the event has a huge emotional impact on her. When the song says 'as weeks went by, I realised she was not fine' it's talking about him discovering that she was not sure about their decision. The words 'she was balled up on the couch' also indicates that she is upset or insecure when he comes to pick her up. Also, the part that says 'to sell some gifts I got' doesn't really make sense to me. If he was selling some of his Christmas presents to pay for the abortion, wouldn't he want to make sure he could get the money before she had her abortion instead of while she was at the clinic.

  15. anonymous
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    Dec 15th 2007 report

    I used to love this song, now I hate it...Murderers!

    Enough said.

    This interpretation has been marked as poor. view anyway
  16. anonymous
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    Feb 21st 2007 report

    The idea that the girlfriend is the brick "she's the brick and I'm drowning slowly", I think is his interpretation of how he feels that she sunk straight into a depression. She never hesitated to show her emotions being the mother she feel fastest. He feels that he is slowly sinking, not feeling the physical pain of it or the complete emotional pain of it yet.

  17. Jerseh
    click a star to vote
    Feb 14th 2007 report

    this is about two teenagers and the girl gets pregnant and they have to go and get an abortion and then about the guilt they felt and how it caused a separation between them.
    "6 am day after Christmas
    I throw some clothes on in the dark
    The smell of cold
    Car seat is freezing
    The world is sleeping
    I am numb"
    This is when he gets up the morning of and is feeling a bit scared and worried.
    "Up the stairs to the apartment
    She is balled up on the couch
    Her mom and dad went down to Charlotte
    They're not home to find us out
    And we drive
    Now that I have found someone
    I'm feeling more alone
    Than I ever have before"
    This is when he goes to pick her up and she's really scared. Her parents obviously don't know about it and they won't get caught because theyre not there to catch them. As their driving to the clinic theyre both silent and are feeling alone because they only have each other for support because no one else knows but they don't feel close to each other anymore and have nothing to say.
    "They call her name at 7:30
    I pace around the parking lot
    Then I walk down to buy her flowers
    And sell some gifts that I got
    Can't you see
    It's not me you're dying for
    Now she's feeling more alone
    Than she ever has before"
    This is when she gets called in for the procedure and he waits anxiously in the parking lot, and then buys her flowers to make her feel better. He feels guilty but knows it was for the best, and the girlfriend is also feeling guilty and sad and empty.
    "As weeks went by
    It showed that she was not fine
    They told me son, it's time to tell the truth
    She broke down, and I broke down
    Cause I was tired of lying"
    The following weeks after the abortion it's clear that the girlfriend still isn't ok and her parents notice and finally ask what's really going on and they finally give in and tell them because keeping the secret and the guilt was weighing down on them and eating away at them and theyd had enough of lying.
    "Driving back to her apartment
    For the moment we're alone
    Yeah she's alone
    I'm alone
    Now I know it"
    This shows that they aren't close anymore since the abortion and they know that their relationship will never be the same.
    The brick in the chorus I think is the guilt, the secrets and the lies weighing him down and making him feel worse and worse and more alone.

  18. anonymous
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    Dec 25th 2006 report

    The line "Can't you see, it's not me you're dying for" is pretty much his way of apologizing to the unborn child, because even though he wants the baby, he know that he and his girl cannot take care of it.

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