Nirvana: Lithium Meaning
Song Released: 1992
They're in my head. I'm so ugly. But that's ok.
'Cause so are you. We've broke our mirrors.
Sunday morning. Is everyday for all I care.
And I'm not scared. Light my candles. In a daze cause I've...
anonymous Jan 3rd, 2006 1:44am report
The song "Lithium" describes bi-polar disorder, also known as manic depression. Bi-polar disorder is characterized by episodes of frantic highs (mania) and catastophic lows (depression). There is some debate about whether Kurt Cobain suffered from bi polar disorder, but there is no doubt that the lyrics describe a number of the condition's most common symptoms:
"friends ... In my head" - hallucinations (both manic and depressiev)
"I'm so ugly .. So are you" and "I'm so lonely..." and "I'm to blame..." and "Sunday morning ..."- in depression, feelings of hopelessness, worthlessness, dissociation and distrust of others
".. I found God" and "my will is good" - bi-polar disorder can lead people to re-examine their beliefs and their faiths. On a less healthy note, sufferers who experience psychotic episodes sometimes come to believe they have been chosen by God or that they have tapped into a spiritual truth that others cannot perceive. Delusions of grandeur / an exaggerated belief in one's power or influence is relatively common in severe mania.
"I'm so excited..." and "I'm so horny.." - both an elevated mood/energy and increased sexual drive are very common symptoms of mania.
The chorus of "I like it.... etc" reflects the frenzy, desperation and intensity of a bi polar condition. Some sufferers are aware they are bi polar but choose not to medicate as they do not wish to lose the manic highs. The progression of "I like it, I miss you, I love you, I kill you" reflects trying unsuccessfully to ride out a manic episode, an being determined not to crack.
The structure of the song itself is reminscent of bi polar disorder and its irrational thought patterns and short attention spans, jumping rapidly from image to image with little or no connection.
Lithium itself is the most common treatment of bi polar disorder, and is also used in treatment of schizophrenia. However, it carries its own horrors. It is relatively toxic and it is common to experience tremors, nausea, diarrhea, lethargy and dehyrdation. It can cuase damage to kidneys and thyroid. It can also leave the sufferer feeling tired, dull, empty and lost.
People interested in songs about bi polar disorder should check out Macy Gray's "Relating to a Psychopath". I also like "Girl Anachronism" by the Dresden Dolls.
illumanati76 Oct 31st, 2005 10:40pm report
The first interpreter got that little description from the Nirvana website, and probably doesn't understand the terminology outside of "Copy & Paste."
The song is a contradiction, the high & lows of being bi-polar. (Doesn't necessarily mean he was, just because he spoke about it) It's a contradictory, 1st person narrative mixed with a dark, yet radiant humor, which made the song sound borderline insane and interesting. Truly craftsmanship at its finest.
And whats this shit about making explosives with Lithium? Perhaps some people should rest assure their uncertainities about sanity, quiet as kept.
anonymous Nov 6th, 2005 11:00pm report
Ugh. Let's straighten some things out.
1) Lithium is both an element and a drug used to treat Manic Depression.
2) It is speculated that Kurt was bi-polar but he was never diognosed nor did he take drugs for his depression.
3) Kurt stated that this song was a reflection of his time spent with the Reed family after he moved out of his house. During this time he briefly became religious before renouncing God. Of course, I'm sure the themes of this song run deeper.
anonymous May 26th, 2016 5:19pm report
A heavy and bittersweet song about a tormented individual who was at one time a very lively soul ''spiritually searching'' for Love and friendship, raised unfortunately in a society influenced mostly by secular thinking that became addicted to drugs to the point that his earlier Christian beliefs clashed in a mental collapse that needed to be treated in Rehab and settled to balance the moods with ''Lithium''. Now he is imagining and expressing how someone did and may have felt on it. Along with the religion he's turned on again to be saved that can bring on a ''transcendence expierience'' of ecstacy if it is believed and thaught by the right individual, without being addicted to lithium or any other drug for that matter, otherwise it can be very dangerous mentally if the person wasn't raised by a religious upbringing on a regular bases, then all of the sudden mixes the two together, meaning ''religion and drugs[lithium]'' to be saved and healed, where it's possible he can become even more disillusioned and depressed, but also very happy with finding his friends that are in his head now that distanced himself mentally from their bad habits that might have influenced him the on the outside.
This song is about Kurt Cobain travelling to an alternate spiritual dimension. You notice this not from the lyrics but from the nuances all through the track. For instance, the tempo of the song. He intentionally chose a slow tempo in the intro to signify his longing for transcedental elation. It was a plea to the powers that be to let him in; sort of humbling himself so that he could be transformed. Next, notice the prolonged periods in which he sang, "yeeeeeeeahhhhhh". Kurt is undoubtedly the greatest lyricist that has ever walked the face of the earth and yet he chose this mediocre (to say the least) word as a hook. If you look closely, you will realise that it was a reverence to meditation. In most religions, meditation involves putting your soul into a state of nothingness in order to align yourself with the forces of the universe (some call it god). Therefore, by repeating the same word for a long time, Cobain affirming to his meditative tendencies. As for other nuances, I will not explain them in this post but you get the gist. Look for them yourself. You are welcome.
anonymous Sep 9th, 2014 9:46pm report
Lithium is actually a naturally occurring salt rather than a drug. Everyone has it in there body in minute amounts. It competes with sodium in the body. I take it for mild bipolar works really well. Most people with bipolar are not either aggressive or behave in a unusual way infact you probably wouldn't know the difference just as like any other person
anonymous Jun 3rd, 2013 6:49pm report
This song is about~ Being Christian. not being able to follow it. Denying yourself, feeling like shit and alienated because of it, then accepting it, even though it doesn't make you happy. " Im not gonna crack" Im just gonna keep on feeling all this bull shit thats not really there. * Nailed it*
christian.beltran.54540 Oct 21st, 2012 10:20pm report
Personally I think that the song is a story about a man whose girlfriend dies from an STD and becomes a Christian "as a last resort to keep himself alive. To keep him from suicide" -Kurt Cobain
"Sunday morning is everyday for all I care.
And I'm not scared. Light my candles. In a daze cause I've found God" = the protagonist becoming religious
"I'm so excited. I can't wait to meet you there." = The protagonist being excited to meet her at Heaven or at her house for sex.
"And just maybe I'm to blame for all I've heard. And I'm not sure/I killed you. I'm not gonna crack" = The girlfriend died from an STD that he gave her
"I'm so horny. But that's ok. My will is good." Ironic because his will gave in. :)
anonymous Aug 11th, 2012 8:56pm report
I believe this song is about someone who has lost a loved who, and becomes depressed because he feels it was his fault, or he could have done more, as many of us feel when we lose a loved one. However, this man becomes so depressed, that he has no other choice, but to become religious, mainly christian .
"I'm so happy. Cause today I found my friends."
He is happy because he has found his "friends", since they are in his head, this is, in my mind, a reference to God.
"Sunday morning. Is everyday for all I care."
Sunday is an important day in the Christian faith.
"And I'm not scared. Light my candles. In a daze cause I've found god."
He is not scared to die, and in fact he wants to(see later) because now he has "found God" which is his "friend in his head."
"and just maybe
I'm to blame for all I've heard. And I'm not sure."
The person feels he is the one to blame for his loved ones death, but he is not so very sure. I think he is unsure, because he is high. We can see many drug references as well such as:
" I'm so ugly. But that's ok.
'Cause so are you. We've broke our mirrors."
Drugs are self-deprecating, and breaking mirrors might refer to a way to snort cocaine.
"I'm so excited. I can't wait to meet you there."
He can't wait to go to Heaven to see his loved one.
"I like it. I'm not gonna crack.
I miss you. I'm not gonna crack.
I love you.I'm not gonna crack.
I killed you. I'm not gonna crack. (x2)"
This is the part where I really feel the separation from a religious sort of song, from a drug son comes into play. I think possibly he is using God as a way to make sure he doesn't commit suicide! But he can't wait to see him(last verse), yet committing suicide is a sin, thus he wouldn't get to see his loved one.
Just my thoughts...
This interpretation has been marked as poor. view anyway
anonymous May 4th, 2012 5:01am report
Speaking to the first "interpretation" and all those that follow that focus on the way the song seems to refer to the highs and lows experienced by people who have bi-polar disorder: OK, just wrong. (and, BTW, hallucinations are NOT a symptom of bi-polar, but belong to schizoid illnesses.) As someone with experience in all these things, but wasn't when the album came out: the lyrics speak to the thoughts and emotions that one still has while ON lithium, but doesn't have the energy or care to do anything about. He's not gonna crack 'cause he's too medicated to get upset enough to crack (and here I really know what I'm talking about). This is the side of mental illness that can drive some people, esp. perhaps the creative among us who need the intensity to be productive, to suicide: I can live, but I won't feel anything. That's what (the experience of being on) Lithium is about: here are all these things happening, things I'm noticing, and they're just floating by, not touching me.
anonymous Mar 8th, 2012 3:27pm report
Hey Guys. When Kurt was growing up he lived with a short time with a friend who was christian. Kurt got saved and was christian for a little while. This song is about his experiance during that time.
anonymous Nov 26th, 2011 11:04pm report
kurt had depression based on the contrast that he had between, how he used to say, "his own world" in his head and the real world.
he used to fantasy a lot, creat a total different world on his own head. it's clear when he said that even on his childhood he used to pretend that he was kind of alian's son.
"I'm so happy /'Cause today I've found my friends/They're in my head" on this part is "his world" on his head
"I'm so ugly but that's okay,'Cause so are you, we broke our mirrors" on this part shows he's insecure and he ignoring that
anonymous Sep 24th, 2011 9:17am report
This song is about a man dealing with depression from the death of his girl friend. In the song he finds god and this prevent him from commitong suicide. This info was derived from an interview with his producer i heard on NPR.
anonymous Jul 20th, 2011 7:58am report
i think this song is about how he had confused emotions. He was diagnosed bipolar, and lithium is used to treat bipolar disorder. i also interpret the part how he says " Sunday morning, is every day for all i care," he is not a christian or it means nothing to him, since Sunday is sabbath day and christians go to church on Sunday"light my candles, in a glaze cause i found god" he is refering to how religion can cause people to become blind to worldly problems and are to focused on their religion and closed minded. Mainly through out the song he is mixing his emotions to happiness, sadness, anger, and sexual, and he is confused which is what bipolar people experience.
anonymous May 28th, 2011 5:05am report
i dont know what the lyrics means but i think it talks about kurts life as a child because he lived with a religious family in one point of his life so he says (Sunday morning is everyday for all I care ) because they used to prey every day and not just on sundays and then he talks about his sins so and at the chorus he doesnt want to crack and give him self away to depression although he carries alot of emotions that goes between happiness and sadness (i like you.... happiness , i kill you ... sadness that carries alot of hate .
but am just 16 so i cant tell what he really meant but still nirvana rules :D:D
signed by :: reem :D
anonymous Mar 21st, 2011 3:19am report
"OMG, how can you not say that he didn't kill himshelf . The man was deeply depressed. He did try to kill himshlef before with a bottle of champagne and pain killers. The man was not happy. HE WAS NOT MURDERED. ARGGH..."
It's much more easier to say he killed himself when has obviously depressed, whereas if did, they would have found his finger prints on the shot gun! It is MUCH easier to cover the fact that Courtney blew his brains out!
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