Florence and the Machine: Dog Days Are Over Meaning
Song Released: 2008
Covered By: Glee Cast
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Dog Days Are Over Lyrics
Coming towards her / stuck still / no turning ba-ck
She hid around corners / and she hid under beds /
She killed it with kisses and from it she fl-ed /
With e-very bubble she sank with a drink...
anonymous Feb 4th, 2013 2:41pm report
I first heard Dog Days in Glee (yeah, I know...)
but thanks to the show I discovered the beautiful wonderful world of Florence and the machine.
Anyway, when I first heard Dog Days, I thought it was this happy giddy freedom song.
You see in the Visayas Region of the Philippines (we are a 3rd World country), we have a saying "ting bitay og iro" which means "[it's the time of the year] to hang dogs"... Because a long time ago, when families literally had nothing left to eat, they'd kill stray dogs and have them as a meal.
That's a long time ago, but the expression stuck with everyone. Business people here use it to refer to the slower and harder days (or months) of the year when small enterprises (and even large ones) barely earn any income. So when I first heard of the song, I thought it was about the bad days being over. I thought about how happiness was here and the horses brought with them something new. I thought that the first line "Happiness hit her like a train on a track" was about how strong happiness is coming for her.
That was before I dissected the lyrics (I'm a beat and sound kind of girl).
Now that I've read and reread the lyrics to the song. My interpretation has changed. Considering most of the band's songs are about abuse, violence and empowerment, I now think this song is about domestic violence (or battering).
My new perspective about Dog Days changed when I read that universally, 'dog days' are referred to as happy days. So if you put that to the context of the song its easy to see how its about abuse.
The first stanza:
"Happiness, hit her like a train on a track
Coming towards her, stuck still no turning back
She hid around corners and she hid under beds
She killed it with kisses and from it she fled
With every bubble she sank with a drink
And washed it away down the kitchen sink"
Technically, one looks for a lover to find happiness. When you're in a relationship with someone, he or she stands as your happiness. In the song, Her happiness hurts her- he hits her. But she can't leave him (stuck still no turning back). She's afraid of him so she hides and she repays his aggression with kisses... To forget the pain, she starts drinking...
The next line which is the chorus just means that her happy days are over, it's gone now and you should run away and leave him (horses are coming) or else...
"Run fast for your mother run fast for your father
Run for your children for your sisters and brothers
Leave all your love and your longing behind you
Can't carry it with you if you want to survive"
For me this line means that if you can't leave him because you love him, then do it for your parents who raised you will.. do it for your children, do it for your family...
That part about "leave all your love and longing behind you, can't carry it with you if you want to survive" - is why I realized this song is about domestic violence. The victims of domestic violence, most of them women, can't leave their husbands or partners because of this belief that if she stays he will get better or that she loves him too much etc. or she has this irrational fear that she'll be nothing or nobody without him. This song tells us to leave those thoughts behind, leave this guy you 'love', whatever 'longing' you have, leave it too. Leave it all if you want to survive.
And the last line that cements my new interpretation:
"Happiness hit her like a bullet in the back
Struck from a great height
By someone who should know better than that"
The writers want to clearly tell us that this girl never expected to be hurt or beaten (bullet in the back). This guy (the batterer) is probably someone you wouldn't expect to do any harm (someone who should know better than that).
So there, my new perspective! Now that I see this song this way, I love it even more and I appreciate Florence & The Machine so much more.
anonymous Mar 20th, 2017 3:26pm report
I think this song, much like Vienna Teng's "Stray Italian Greyhound", is about falling in love without realizing and being surprised and confused by it, maybe even a bit afraid for not knowing how to deal with it.
The songwriter starts by plainly stating the subject was about to be a victim to happiness, something she had no control over, no power to avoid or stop:
[Happiness hit her like a train on a track / Coming towards her, stuck still no turning back]
Despite it being clearly pointless (being that it was something so powerful and ruthlessly coming for her), she tried her best to avoid this unfamiliar, scary situation by hiding; maybe hooking up with other people or treating it like something of a purely sexual nature, refusing to even think about those emotions; she got drunk trying to forget about it and tried to purge it from her:
[She hid around corners and she hid under beds / She killed it with kisses and from it she fled / With every bubble she sank with her drink / And washed it away down the kitchen sink]
And then the song goes on to definitely state that it's all over: the dog days, which are heavy days associated with bad luck, lethargy, drought and tiredness, are gone because happiness is upon her; it's coming at her like a band of wild horses running at high speed:
[The dog days are over / The dog days are done / The horses are coming / So you better run]
At this point, the narrator backs up the subject's feelings and advises her that she's gotta run faster if she's so terrified of it, run for all that she holds dear, run for her life -- because if she doesn't, she'll succumb to that happiness she's so scared of, it's gonna get her. And the way to do that is to not feel, to kill her love and her longing because they'll hold her back, be her downfall; if she clings to those feelings, then she's done for, because then she will be lost in love (something only we, from the outside, know would bring happiness) which we also know she sees as something unknown and scary:
[Run fast for your mother, run fast for your father / Run for your children, for your sisters and brothers / Leave all your love and your longing behind / You can't carry it with you if you want to survive]
Then there's a part which, for me, is about the subject trying to deny her feelings, but it soon turns into a confession of the ruthless, thirsty love she is supressing underneath:
[And I never wanted anything from you / Except everything you had / And what was left after that, too]
The narrator then states how it finally got her, how she lost the battle -- caught by surprise by that love and happiness while she had her back turned to them because she was trying so desperately to run from them. And then the narrator says she was finally "defeated" by someone who should be more considerate than to disregard all her reservations and limitations and give her no room to escape, knowing that she was so terrified and that she maybe considered falling in love a bad thing, something she didn't want and resisted with all her might.
[Happiness hit her like a bullet in the back / Struck from a great height / By someone who should know better than that]
I'm sorry if it my train of thought gets a bit confusing at times, I tried my best!
anonymous Jan 15th, 2011 1:05pm report
I think that this song is about running from love, no matter how many times it follows you. The verses compare love/happiness to being hit by a train and a bullet unexpectedly. But the fact that it is equated with a bullet and a train shows that "she" considers love/happiness to be dangerous (maybe even death-like).
When the song says "And I never wanted anything from you except everything you had and what was left over after that too," I believe it means that "she" has tried relationships before, but ended up running away and inadvertently crushing the other's heart and so on.
However, I can't figure out why a dog and horses are used in the chorus.
anonymous Dec 9th, 12:54am report
I think the song is about becoming sober after addiction either alcohol or drugs.
Dog days are over being the realisation that happiness can exist without substances.
The first verse is painting the picture that she could once only find happiness through alcohol or drugs and couldn’t see an alternative. And like most addicts hid alcohol under beds and around corners.
The second verse where it says it took everything and more is what happens to most addicts where their whole world is taken from them by the addiction and then some more.
Run fast for you mother etc is referring to once you get sober and start rebuilding your life you need to keep those relationships in the forefront of your mind and not go back to the addiction.
The horses are coming refers to the four horseman of addiction. Terror. Bewilderment. Frustration and Despair.
Leave all your love and your longing behind if you wanna survive refers to putting your sobriety before everything or the curse of addiction will take you once more.
She warns of the horses coming as all addicts know that the disease of addiction is always working away in the brain waiting for a moment of vulnerability to take you back down the path to the dog days.
anonymous Oct 6th, 10:24am report
I do not view this as a happy song at all. It annoyed me for a long time hearing this at weddings. I think the overall sound is deceptive (F+M is good at that) and the energy can be interpreted as urgent. Paired with some of the nicer lyrics it seems “happy”. However what it feels to me is urgent. Urgency is conveyed in the chorus when she talks about running. Musically it gives an urgent feel as well. The pacing is very quick and alert. She is running from something she doesn’t want. She is running for her life and possibly the lives of others. To me it describes a toxic or even abusive relationship. The relationship was quick (bullet in the back) and surprising. But also violent, so she runs (again chorus) for her life. Near the end where she talks about all she wanted was everything is referring to how many victims do have real and complicated feelings toward abusers. So it conveys that is what she did want, but also she has realized to have that is impossible because it will likely destroy her.
Regardless it is beautifully performed and I have been fortunate to see it performed live twice now (saw her in Dallas recently for the second time). Just not a wedding song in my eyes.
anonymous Jul 24th, 2018 7:13pm report
I think this is about a woman going from a life where she’s poor, to getting a job and being happy, because the bad days are over.
For example, “Run for your children, run for your sisters and brothers.” When she says that she can work hard and her children can have a good life.
Maybe she got money very spontaneously, and became successful out of the blue. That’s why it implies that it ruthlessly came towards her.
anonymous Apr 22nd, 2018 4:51pm report
I think it talks about Harriet Tubman because when she talks about hiding and running that what Harriet did. And when she says about not carrying her love with her because she would go back.
anonymous Jun 10th, 2017 6:58am report
I think it's set in Germany during the second world war. The person they're singing about is a German wife of a Nazi soldier, but she doesn't agree with the Nazi's way. The 'dog days' are the days of war. She is happy because the war is over and the Nazis are through and her husband can come home.
The 'run fast for your mother...' bit means that she's running from authorities when people find out about her anti-Nazi mindset.
Thus she is more happy when the war is over because it means that the Nazis have less influence over Germany and she will not be persecuted for her beliefs.
anonymous Jun 6th, 2017 6:57pm report
I think that that the happiness was so unexpected and she was't used to having good things happen, but now the dog days are over (bad days). Now she can be happy, but she doesn't know how to deal with it.
anonymous Jan 8th, 2017 1:49am report
i have read most of the interpretations on here, one thing that none has noticed is a reference in the bible. When she says: "leave all your love and your longings behind, you can't carry it with you if you want to survive", Jesus said the same thing when he tells us: leave everything and follow me, and maybe she found happiness in Jesus and faith. But i find it hard to match it with the rest of the song.
anonymous Jan 3rd, 2017 1:08am report
It's about the summer - the often joyful time, and the time of summer affairs. The time of laziness, blissfulness, dreams and uncertainty for what the end of the year brings. For many of us it's when we realize some truths about our lives. Bright mornings, scorching afternoons and ravishing nights with friends or among strangers. The magic of the memorable moments embraces us. Nevertheless, now it's over and we must chase the life. No one can help, no mom nor dad, not even that perfect lover you have just met during these sensational nights. Now you on your own, and you must 'run to survive', to prove the world that your life has some meaning. Will you mark your name on the cards of the history or shall it fall into oblivion?
anonymous Nov 1st, 2016 11:11am report
My Bestfriend was sick,she passed away a month ago.This song has always made me think of her.Her Dog days are over(pain,illness) happiness is what she has now. And when she was alive i would tell her to keep fighting. "Run fast for your mother run fast for your father".."Can you hear the horses cus here they come"..Gods horses taking her to heaven. This song helps me so much!
anonymous Oct 25th, 2016 10:32pm report
Not sure, but i think the dog days reference the constellatuon sirus, the dog star from which the term dog days comes. Atleast three ancient cultures believe we come from that constellation or that it has significance to our history. I think the horses coming are the 4 horses of the revelation (in the bible). They are the bringers of mankinds destruction. I think this song symbolizes the upoming crumbling as civilization as we know it. Maybe not the end of the world, but the world we know is colapsing. Just a thought.
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