Florence and the Machine: Dog Days Are Over Meaning
Song Released: 2008
Covered By: Glee Cast
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...
1TOP RATED#1 top rated interpretation:anonymous Oct 6th 2018 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.
2TOP RATED#2 top rated interpretation:anonymous Feb 4th 2013 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.
3TOP RATED#3 top rated interpretation:anonymous Mar 20th 2017 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 Apr 2nd report
I think the video is about revelations. The final fight against good and evil. There are people dressed as Neanderthals and they represent mankind's past and the choir its present and the blue hue dancing girls its future. The four horses line represents the final fight to take place against evil.
anonymous Feb 1st report
I think it’s about someone, in this case a girl, who has never been happy and is afraid of this new feeling that actually makes her happy for maybe the first time in a very very long time. So she pulls away from it any way she can but it can’t be denied. She’s doing everything she can to sabotage it, using every mechanism of denial and escape that she’s used before but it’s just not going to work this time.
The way the inner turmoil of this dichotomy is verbalized by the sung lyrics is one of those perfect instances where words and music both convey they same idea.
anonymous Jan 10th report
I think you either fall into the "it's about beginnings" or "it's about ends" camp, and I think it's about ends. The end of a relationship, the end of addiction, the end of abuse, whatever lense you choose to view your life, and therefore the song, through. The song says as much: the dog days are over.
To me, this is written from the perspective of someone having been dumped, or ending a relationship they don't realize is bad or dangerous at the time. Abuse? If you choose to believe that, but this song isn't about any attacker, it's about her own journey. For once, it's about her.
Happiness, hit her like a train on a track/Coming towards her, stuck still no turning back
Getting hit by a train sucks, it hurts, sometimes making a decision that will eventually result in happiness hurts in the moment you have to make it. Leaving someone you love hurts, but it can also be the best decision of your life. It can make you happy.
The second line may imply it wasn't her decision, or maybe that this was inevitable.
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
Shes hiding from the reality that this is the right thing to do, the right decision to make, trying to repair feeling permanently broken with "kisses", or even clinging too tightly and only making things worse.
Drinking is a bad way to cope, but it sure feels right in the moment, and "washing it away" could imply a desire to cover up the disarray.
The dog days are over/The dog days are done/The horses are coming so you better run
Whatever thing that has ended, whatever thing she's lost, it better that it's gone and it's time to move on.
Run fast for your mother run fast for your father/Run for your children for your sisters and brothers
The trickiest lines to reconcile.
"Run" shouldn't necessarily be interpreted as running from or to something or someone physical as much as forward momentum in life. Some serious forward momentum after a period of stagnation caused by whatever bad situation "she" was in previously.
When you're in a bad place, you're constantly searching for things to keep you going. Often times the thing that has kept you going is that thing you have to give up, drinking, a drug, a bad relationship, they just hold you in place. Family, or the idealized roles of mother, father, child and sibling (being ones of love, kindness, support and stability) represent reasons to move forward. F+M are telling you to run "for" these things, as in champion these people or ideals above the ephemeral joys of addiction or unhealthy relationships.
I see these lines being about an urgency or need to move forward and reestablish what life is worth living for.
Leave all your love and your longing behind you/Can't carry it with you if you want to survive
Just good advice.
Love isn't always the right emotion to trust. Love can guide you to amazing places but it can also destroy you. Longing is what happens when your separated for that which you love. I believe there lines to convey the idea that if you want to move forward ("survive") you have to shed these emotions when they are born from unhealthy desires.
The dog days are over/The dog days are done/Can't you hear the horses/'Cause here they come
There are varying opinions of weather "dog days" are good times or bad times, but in order for this interpretation to work, the phrase refers to the later. And according to the lyrics, unrefutably they are over.
Horses are often used as a symbol of freedom. Wild horses and the like: purist freedom. If the horses are coming for you, it may be a way to say that freedom they represent is coming for you.
And I never wanted anything from you/Except everything you had/And what was left after that too, oh.
I think this is a really succinct way convey how quickly things can spiral out of control when it comes to addiction. How something that feels like an innocent love affair can suddenly become a situation where you get all your joy from one person or one thing: you're addicted. Honestly, a bad relationship can sometimes feel like an addiction, which is why so many artists have written about one as a metaphor for the other. That is what could be happening in this line.
Happiness hit her like a bullet in the back/Struck from a great height/By someone who should know better than that
These are the last lines of the song before it starts repeating. And while the first line is a reprise of the first line of the song, the last two are where things fall apart. The lines imply a sentience to whatever ales our main character. Drugs can't "know better than that", someone breaking up with her for their own health and happiness isn't something to "know better than", and her doing the breaking-up isn't really an external figure striking her down.
Personally I dislike the line as it is the only line explicitly not about "her" and removes all her agency and ownership over her own story and her own experience.
The best interpretation of the last line and therefore the whole song is that of an abusive relationship. Sure, that's all fine and dandy, but my own interpretation has helped me through a very hard time in my life. And isn't that the point? The true interpretation is vague, as most songs of this nature are. They're stories with just enough details that you can project your own world view on to them and cry silently at your desk at work, or maybe in the milk cooler while you pat yourself on the back for being strong in the face of addiction or heartbreak or abuse and moving forward.
I had heard this song years ago and liked it, but it didn't mean anything to me until just recently. Happiness hit me like a train on a track. Yes, I think you either fall into the "it's about beginnings" or "it's about ends" camp, but in reality, as Semisonic once said "every new beginning comes from some other beginning's end." And hopefully it brings something better.
anonymous Jan 2nd report
This song could be about a toxic relationship like a lot of songs mention. She's going through relationship abuse, but doesn't want to leave him. A lot of people in love often make stupid decisions. Love is blind, I tell you
Okay so I'm young and dyslexic so if there is bad grammar that's why lol. Anyway on to my interpretation on this song!
So I think this song is about sexual abuse or just abuse....
Reason 1: it talk about killing someone with kisses that could mean it's about having to kiss someone even though you may not want too.
Reason 2: it also talks about hiding under beds and other places, I think that they could be running from someone.
Reason 3: it says that you can't carry it with you if you want to survive, and I think this could be talking about the people who have to leave there homes during the night so they can't take things with them.
That's it lol. I couldn't find anyone who felt the same way so maybe I'm wrong. Anyway have a awesome day!!
anonymous Oct 20th report
i think its friggin fascinating how people interpret the meaning of this song. It just proves we are all such unique thinkers and music can provoke many varied emotions based on what we hear the meaning to be... obviously a big part of that is based on what we are going though at the time. Which brings me to my interpretation... the only thing the song could possibly mean. The beginning keyboard and the pained voice literally makes me cry in sadness...but then as the build comes, i feel empowered and celebratory, and the tears become more of happiness... because its behind me now....
I believe she is the voice in my head (with that angelic voice) reminding me of my days of addiction. As someone that had never drank or did drugs in my life, at the age of 47 i decided to try something, and it hit me like a freight train i instantly fell in love. I hid it and kept my new love a secret from everyone... i lived in the dark for many years... things got dark and heavy.
when i stopped (all on my own cuz it just wasnt fun anymore)... "clouds" lifted and my family and friends were there. So i consider Florance telling me Those Dog Days Are Over, shes reminding me they are behind you... but the horses are coming meaning the partying is always gonna be chasing me wanting me to get caught up in it again...but her screaming, "the dog days are over" in a celebratory tone keeps me on track and reminds me to run to my family .... they are always there... to keep you strong.
i truely believe this song keeps me out of those dark dog days, so thank you Florance... even if its only my interpretation.... thats all that really matters.
anonymous Oct 7th 2020 report
There are so many interpretations on here. It has been said that in order to be art it must have different meanings to different people. That the song has inspired so many different meanings is a testament to the artistic quality of the song.
I personally have never really "gotten" this song but after reading the myriad interpretations I'd have to go with the abusive relationship. And the Christian references I'd also agree with though I think they are more of a reflection of the writer's upbringing than overt references. However, this is only how I experience it and whatever this song means to you, you are right.
anonymous Jun 8th 2020 report
To me this song is about political changes happening in the UK.
It is about the change from a relatively rough, but Equalitarian, social order into one ruled by upper class capital (symbolised by the horses).
I think Florence is saying that in order to survive you're going to have to shut off your emotions for a while and run, cos it's not going to be a good thing.
anonymous Apr 11th 2020 report
Dog days is an idiom that means the hot days between July and August. It also means stagnation. She is surprised by the end of the hard period in her life. That's why she hides. She doesn't know how to deal with happiness and the new energy.
anonymous Apr 4th 2020 report
I think it’s about the holocaust. I think it’s about a girl running from a camp after breaking free. She is happy to finally get away. She can turn back cause she’s running for her life. She’s hiding around corners and under beds from the nazis She has to leave all her family behind if she wants to live. And the horses are nazis chasing after her so she has to run. And she realizes that the dog says are done as she runs. All thought the song sounds happy I think it’s about something dark and urgent
anonymous Oct 27th 2019 report
I think it is about the apocalypse. First, of all it says that happiness hit her like a train but she couldn’t hide from it. If the world as we know it (full of hatred) wouldn’t you be happy to escape it. But you try to push this down because everyone else is afraid to die.
Second, it mentions to leave all your love behind. This is often portrayed in post-apocalyptic movies where many characters seem cold and heartless. This is because if you show kindness to somebody by giving them a advantage to survive, then you most likely won’t.
Lastly, it says that the horses are coming. I think this refers to the 4 horsemen of the apocalypse. These are Death, Famine , War, and Conquest. These are all key traits of the apocalypse if you refer to books and movies.
anonymous Dec 9th 2018 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.
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