What does Ode to My Family mean?

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The Cranberries: Ode to My Family Meaning


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Ode to My Family Lyrics

Doo, doo, doo, doo, doo, doo, doo, doo...

Understand the things I say, don't turn away from me,
'Cause I've spent half my life out there, you wouldn't disagree.
Do you see me? Do you see? Do you like me?
Do you like me standing there? Do...


    #1 top rated interpretation:
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    Mar 6th 2012 report

    Dolores: “Ya know I spent a long time trying to get out of the home, and get away from that whole parent scenario and be a rebel and stuff. And I did kinda, ya know, run away from home and all that type of thing… against my mother’s will and everything… And I think at that point I realized that I really missed them all ya know… I realized how good it was.”
    • Dolores: “I wanted an independence, wanted to choose the future myself. When I left home, I understood I was independent, I felt the taste of freedom”. • Fergal: “Did Dolores have any reservations about that song being so personal? No, she never has. We’ve often spoken about that and it’s like, she just writes the song and gets out whatever’s on her mind and then it’s released and you don’t really think about the consequences until you start getting the backlash or whatever. If you start worrying about what what people will say if I do this or that, then you won’t be yourself and you want be honest, and that’s why we do what we do. Basically there are no rules, that’s the whole great idea of rock’n'roll; when you’re 17 or 18 it’s like, fuck them, I can do what I want. You just have to not care what people think.” • The movie was being cut for two weeks in Dublin and Belfast at the same time with ‘Zombie’ video. The stage was a simple Irish bar, ‘Blazes’, which belonged to the assistant of the director. The extras were replaced by the public of this pub that were also treated by the group, so to the end of the cut half the actors were totally “smashed”. :) The same children as in ‘Zombie’ took participation in the cut.


    #2 top rated interpretation:
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    Feb 12th 2018 report

    Dolores said that the song was about her good days when she was growing up in Limerick.
    But in the context of her death (which in case of bipolar-disorder, depression and childhood trauma is almost sure to be suicide)the song is obviously on different dimension.

    'Understand the thing I say, dont turn away from me, cause I spend half of my life out there..' are words of adolescent who is about to portray the story of times of growing up from her emotional perspective.
    Words 'Do you see me? Do you see?' are the words of child that was traumatized and nobody seems to noticed.
    'Do you like me? Do you like me standing there?' are questions kids ask in their minds when their trust that they are loved is mislead and fundamental safety is destroyed.
    She struggles through adolescence because of what happened when she was 8 till 12 and nobody knew that her life has changed drastically. 'Do you notice?Do you see me? Does anyone care?" asks kid.
    Then adolescent explains: even i was traumatised i 'didn't give a damn cause we were raised to see life as fun' and that's real tragedy when you look back in the past - 'UNHAPPINESS is when i was young and didn't give a damn'
    Then she talks about mother. 'She'd hold me. Did she hold me?' as she was traumatized she questions what was real or she guesses whether this holding that she experienced was enough.
    And then are words about her father and I'm not sure what to write cause I dont know real facts. But in the context of her death and the words 'does anyone care?' that follows 'oh, he liked me' the reasonable explanation is that father was abuser. I'm not sure but If that would be true we only can try to imagine how destroyed her childhood was..
    Next words are explanation of consequences of the act of abuse 'Understand what i've become, it wasn't my design'. Trauma is determining your life wheter you like it or not. She's not proud of what she became but also she can do nothing about that. "And people.." admire her but no one knows about the hole in her heart that was killing her soul. Even thou she says 'but i miss you. Because i liked it when i was out there". Despite of tragedy that was the times when she was loved or at least until 8 she had normal life. 'Do you know this?' i really miss you..but 'you did not find me, you did not find me! [back there]' says adolescent. 'Does anyone care?' says kid in body of adolescent. She grew up with this horrible experience in silence, alone. She really wants someone to care but she knows that it's magical thinking and nobody really knows what they should care about.
    'Unhappiness..' -refrain explains the most important thing, it's central part of a song and we hear it twice - she was unhappy! She was broken inside but couldn't talk about it, she didnt knew what to do so she just lived for fun and 'gave a damn'. And she remember her parents and trying to make any sense out of her experiences.
    Then a lost kid asks and asks 'does anyone care,does anyone care, does anyone care..'

    What i wrote is not on conscious level and can be unseen by people who didn't experience traumatic childhood. I'm almost sure that Dolores when she was writing this song also could not understand fully what her emotions were trying to say through lyrics. I think she really wanted to remember that time as good but, there was a real tragedy and she just needed help back there. 'Do you notice?' 'do you see me?' 'does anyone care?' . The reason why the song is so touching and popular is because it gets really deep under our conscience and talks about child emotions which are understandable for anyone.
    I wrote this as and I know what im writing cause I am suicidal myself. I want people to know what are real struggles for those who had been traumatized in childhood and left with this alone and what are the consequences. Every day you have to deal with this invisible for everyone else, enormous wound that is killing you inside and is extremely hard to cure. And when you live like that whole life and nothing changes you just want to end the suffering by any means. I have no doubts that it was the same with Dolores as she explained that her problems were because of childhood abuse.
    I wrote it because people are seemed to be shocked when famous people die too early or they kill themselves. I just want everybody to know that great talents such as Dolores' are ALWAYS born in suffering. Talent, sensitivity, suffering are always connected and behind it there is always trauma. Some people make it and exorcise their demons. But it's quite uncommon... And as you see is deadly even decades after the event.

    I hope it's a little bit easier to understand what happened with great Dolores O'riordan. May her soul rest in peace and may she come back to us as an angel as she wanted to. Maybe she is with us right now:)

    R.I.P. Dolores O'riordan [*]

    P.s. I'm sorry if i made mistakes English is not my language.


    #3 top rated interpretation:
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    Mar 7th 2016 report

    I really don't know for sure, but unless she has made it public it is horrible to accuse her father of molesting her simply to have an opinion on the meaning of this song. I hope she was not molested by anyone and I am going on the assumption that she was not until she corrects me or puts it on the record.

  4. anonymous
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    May 7th 2022 report

    Dolores sings “my father, my father he “liked” (ambiguous) me, well he “lied/lyed” me. Twice.

    In 1994, when I first listened to the CD, I heard he “lied/lyed” me and I was taken aback because I couldn’t believe what she was saying. So I looked it up and “lied/lyed” (can’t remember the spelling) was slang for having sex. It sounded like it was unwanted. So I don’t know if her father did it or not, but felt that the anguish in her voice showed something happened. I tried to look it up now and I could not find the reference besides “lie with.” I listened to the same CD and Spotify and hear her very clearly the second and fourth time she says the word… That word is not “liked.”

  5. anonymous
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    Dec 10th 2021 report

    I think she is saying two distinct things:

    1) half her life was indisputably fucked up and outside of her control.

    2) she's not a saint and feels guilty of the praise and love that has been shown to her worldwide.

    I think she is just plain mixed up, sad, and desperately trying to figure out who she is and what happened to her, and whether anyone even cares.

    I think there were multiple sides of her, and I can imagine her being a wonderful caring and innocent soul, while having another side that her bandmates, friends and family never speak about. I imagine this side of her flying into rages, being a mean or ugly drunk and coming off as dangerous to herself, her children and her relationships.

    I think her abuser, whomever he/she was coupled with a repressive Catholic upbringing made it impossible for her to turn out any other way. I think her abuser stole her sanity and poisoned her future relationships. This intense trauma and pressure-cooker of a religion spawned a magnificent soul to blossom and gift us with the timeless beauty of her voice, feelings and raw human emotions that bring us closer to understanding ourselves and life in general. Unfortunately this gift we all received and cherish was the result of her painful life and tragic death. (One can draw parallels to the short life of Christ that left the world with love and hope, despite his tragic abuse and painful death.)

    I absolutely love the true, unmolested, innocent and beautiful soul of Delores and though I never knew her I sorely miss her. I feel Christ's presence in her memory.

  6. anonymous
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    Oct 29th 2021 report

    Maybe her father liked her she could have been his favourite and she is saying it that way come on folks

  7. anonymous
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    Jun 17th 2021 report

    C'mon, man! Not everything has to map back to some kind of abuse. To suggest abuse by her father is there if one "reads between the lines" is not reading between the lines at all but manufacturing pure fiction out of thin air. For Pete's sake Ode is just a beautiful slice of Delores's warm memory about growing up in a family where the mom and Dad really cared for their kids. Ease up on the strained melodrama, please?

  8. anonymous
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    Oct 25th 2020 report

    That’s sad and that’s exactly what went through my mind as soon as I heard it does anyone care that my father liked me self-explanatory people she was an awesome artist love everyone of her songs the abuse drove her to drug abuse and she wanted someone to find her while she was out there on drug abuse but no one cared enough to go find her and help her.

  9. anonymous
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    Aug 2nd 2020 report

    Not molested by her father

  10. anonymous
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    Jul 16th 2020 report

    You’re English is fine. I understood you perfectly.
    Mostly agree except for the father 100% being the molester.

  11. EdN
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    Feb 18th 2020 report

    I agree with the interpretation that this song is about abuse. Anyone who has experienced childhood abuse or has seen it happen very closely will immediately make the connection. I also disagree with those that feel like this interpretation is "tainting" the song. Dolores wrote personal songs, way too personal sometimes. And life wasn't good to her. Starting with the abuse. So it's part of the song either you like it or not. The only thing I'm unclear about is about the father. Either he was the abuser or he facilitated somehow the abuse, which was from someone in the family, I'm pretty sure it was the uncle. And Dolores talks about it, pouring her feelings just as if she's a child again, because if you are a victim of it, you don't know any other way of talking about it. No one talked or did anything about it, no one would, just like in most catholic countries. Everything that has happened in her adult life was tainted by this experience and it shows, from her personal conflicts, to alcoholism, even to her vigorous catholicism. This song is her "confession", just sad that no one saw it (or wanted to see), in the end just another victim of abuse. RIP Dolores.

    This interpretation has been marked as poor. view anyway
  12. anonymous
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    Feb 8th 2020 report

    The lyrics are
    "unhappiness. Wheres when I was young and we didn't give a damn".
    Where are thoses days gone?
    She is saying she is unhappy now and she wished to be back in the time she was young and happy and didn't give a damn.

  13. anonymous
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    Aug 30th 2019 report

    ODE meaning ...a poem meant to be sung.
    RIP sweetie.

  14. anonymous
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    Jan 28th 2019 report

    Her father had brain damage from a bike accident and she said he would have killed the molester had he not been “retarded”, (so it must have been severe). Her father did not molest her.

  15. anonymous
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    May 7th 2018 report

    I wanted to second this one and repost it as it is well said. Especially when interviews with the writer alude to just the oppisite and nothing of the sort

    click a star to vote
    Mar 7th, 2016 3:00pm

    I really don't know for sure, but unless she has made it public it is horrible to accuse her father of molesting her simply to have an opinion on the meaning of this song. I hope she was not molested by anyone and I am going on the assumption that she was not until she corrects me or puts it on the record.”

  16. anonymous
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    Apr 20th 2018 report

    she said she was molested by a friend of her father's. in an interview, she said that at her father's funeral she had to face that person who molested her since he was also at the funeral.

  17. anonymous
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    Jan 18th 2018 report

    I come from a dysfunctional Family...ironically, in a Irish Neighborhood. It's a bit easier for me to understand the song as the result of living it. The Song speaks to how depression and poverty correlate. People have their own issues, hence..."does anyone care"? Her Mother loved her, but her Father only liked her. In other Words she didn't feel as loved as she did with her Mom. Very Heartfelt Song!

  18. anonymous
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    Jul 24th 2017 report

    On January 9, 1994 in an interview given to the Irish Times, Dolores explained that on No Need to Argue “there’s […] songs like Ode To My Family which isn’t very rock’n’roll, it’s about my parents and growing up in Limerick.”

    She added: “’Ode To My Family’ is a paean to the simple old days and the warmth and security of family life.” (January 1994, Hot Press)

    Dolores (Novembre 2002, Hot Press) : “You know who really gets that song? People who’ve lost their parents. It breaks their heart listening to that song, ‘cos they go, “Why didn’t I tell them when they were alive?” They go through that weird self-consciousness about certain relationships.”

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