What does Salt And The Sea mean?

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The Lumineers: Salt And The Sea Meaning


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Song Released: 2019

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Salt And The Sea Lyrics

Could it be I was the one that you held so deep in the night
On the back staircase you fell to your knees with tears in your eyes
All that you suffered, all the disease
You couldn't hide it, hide it from me
All alone scared in your room,...


    #1 top rated interpretation:
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    Mar 19th 2021 report

    This song is about addiction, but I interpret the speaker to be the care-giver, and the "You" to be the afflicted. Wesley and the band talked a lot after the album came out about what a toll it is on the family and friends taking care of someone with addiction, and I think this is how the album ends, similar to the video, where the son (after fighting with his dad) returns in the end to take care of him as that behavior runs in his family from previous history. This is ultimately "Salt and the Sea" - inseparable and accompanying.

    "Could it be I was the one
    That you held so deep in the night?
    On the back staircase
    You fell to your knees with tears in your eyes"

    This is pretty literal, that I was the one holding you when you were at a low point due to your addiction.

    "All that you suffered, all the disease
    You couldn’t hide it, hide it from me"

    You're suffering from this disease of addiction, but while you may try to hide it from others, I see it.

    "All alone, scared in your room
    Would you swear there’s nobody home?
    On the bed, laying awake
    As you prayed he’d leave you alone"

    Do you really think you're all alone in this? That no one else is home to take care of you? You're on the bed praying the addiction won't consume you again and you give in.

    "I’ll let the darkness swallow me whole
    I need to find you, need you to know"

    I'm in this with you. I'm willing to go in the darkness with you, to find you, and to pull you out. You need to know you're not alone. We'll fight together.

    "I’ll be your friend in the daylight again
    There we will be, like an old enemy
    Like the salt and the sea"

    When the high passes, when things are good - we'll get along, and I'll be your friend...but when the addiction takes over again, I'll be your enemy again and fight you from giving in. I'm not leaving you - like the Salt and the Sea.

    "And they wrote all these prescriptions
    They wrote me off like a heel
    Yeah, the doctors with their medicine
    Left me to rock in my filth"

    Others have summarized this well about Opiods, and no doctors fixing the issue or addressing the aftermath.

    "From the destruction, out of the flame
    You need a villain, give me a name"

    The heroin (taken from a flame) will cause destruction, and if you need someone to fight your addiction, I'll be the villain, let me play that role.

    "I’ll be your friend in the daylight again
    There we will be, like an old enemy
    I’ll be your friend in the daylight again
    There we will be, like an old enemy
    Like the salt and the sea
    Like the salt and the sea"

    When the high passes, when things are good - we'll get along, and I'll be your friend...but when the addiction takes over again, I'll be your enemy again and fight you from giving in. I'm not leaving you - like the Salt and the Sea.


    #2 top rated interpretation:
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    Apr 23rd 2021 report

    When I think about this song, it’s definitely not as simple as it may seem. It’s like peeling back layers of cognition. Like an onion, on the surface it seems to communicate addiction. But “why” is the addiction? The addiction is the byproduct of something else, something that grew from another source.

    I would ask the listener to consider the point of view of the voice heard. I think it could be a woman who was abused as a child.

    It’s a long, hard road to recover, feel worthy, whole and clean after such an event(s). The doctors, drugs, and the addiction are all simply aftereffects of the real story.

    Consider this, Maybe he would attack her at night and pretend everything was normal in the light? Maybe she feels like she did something wrong and now she’s the monster. No measure of drugs can be prescribed to erase her memory. She cannot be washed clean, so she must lie in her filth.

    Honestly, the song is both beautiful and terrifying.


    #3 top rated interpretation:
    click a star to vote
    Aug 2nd 2021 report

    This song is beautiful and i heard it still kinda drunk on an uber ride home. I just got out of a relationship with someone i truly cared about. We broke up really really horribly. She has seriously bad phsycosis along with depression and bipolar issues. She would tell me about the voices she hears and i always tried to help her but in the end her parania and mood swings got the best of me and trying to talk to her it was like she saw right through me. "All alone in your room would you swear theres nobody home. Laying awake in your bed praying hed leave you alone" is exactly how i saw her many times battling the voice. This song really hits me hard and makes me wish i could of been stronger and helped her more. But she would get so belittling and aggressive it became abusive. I still love her and i know shes just sick it breaks my heart. Especially "ill let the darkness swallow me whole. I need to find you. Need you to know. That ill be your friend. In the daylight again. There we will be like and old enemy. Like the salt and the sea" is like me plenty of times wishing i could jump in her mind. Find her and let her know. That there is light worth fighting for and to get help and ill still be here. But the damage is done and itll be like seeing an old enemy. I still have salt in my wounds. But i miss how beautiful she really is and what he had was like the sea.

  4. anonymous
    click a star to vote
    Jan 29th report

    When I hear this song I think of ancient enemies who were once friends. I do think of addiction, but more like one who knows addiction seeing another in active addiction. But the salt and the sea coexisted, and the sea wouldn't be the sea without the salt.so, whatever the writer meant, it takes me to several places throughout my life where these things coexist ed and 'needed' one another, dae one another and understood one another. Including all the aboves,addiction,abuse,cycles, relationships, mental illnesses.. no matter, it is one of the most beautiful songs to my heart.

  5. anonymous
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    Feb 22nd 2022 report

    Feb 12th", you perfectly described someone who is battling addiction. Addiction does minic an abusive relationship. Fear and pain are the root of active addiction- your in a fight for your life. You are Battling this disease, but you are the disease.

    I am the abused, but I am also the abuser.

    Addiction is like a love affair. It's a relationship we are invested in and committed to, even when it turns on us. When the abuse is great enough that we see the lies, we fight for our lives. When we finally break free, our addiction waits for us. It stays close by. It's taunts us. It lies to us. It tries to confuse. It reminds us of the love and tells us it will be different. We could be different. We find strength in our Sobriety and it becomes our new friend. Our will and desire to stay sober must be greater and louder than disease. . .

    "My interpretation is different from most but I think that’s it’s someone who had a abusive relationship and that the person keeps coming back creating fear and pain and then the person recovering has a new lover who is trying to help him/her get through the constant fear and threats"

  6. anonymous
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    Feb 12th 2022 report

    My interpretation is different from most but I think that’s it’s someone who had a abusive relationship and that the person keeps coming back creating fear and pain and then the person recovering has a new lover who is trying to help him/her get through the constant fear and threats

  7. anonymous
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    Sep 24th 2021 report

    My interpretation is a person with depression trying to self medicate after all the doctors medications didn’t work and he felt like nobody cared. I think he’s in a dark place between wanting to live and die the same time. I’m sort of in the same predicament at the moment, in a severe depression trying to take the doctors prescribed meds and fighting demons telling me to take other things just to be able to forget.

  8. anonymous
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    Jun 30th 2021 report

    My interpretation is very different than all that I've read about. Much, much younger then, but had a controlling husband who had many mental issues. Tried to help him out All the way, but ended up that he got arrested after physically abusing me by force. I remember how he ripped the phone off the wall, so I could not make phone calls. Was scared for my two young sons and told them to run away while my husband wasn't enraged with them at that point. Fixed on me. Now, my oldest son has a hard time dealing with this issue. I had found out that I had A.I.D.S., and was trying to recover ( found out 2001)and am still a survivor. Tried to help my two boys through this rough time when "dad got arrested but after all the tears had been shed, and I found myself saying to my traumatized kids, "we can get through this". The pill part of this song reminds me of being so sick with the A.I.D.S.

  9. No
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    Jun 15th 2021 report

    I agree that the lyrics are about an opioid addiction, but I think it’s about more than temptation and willpower he’s singing about. I think it’s everything that convinces him to indulge, be it peer pressure, pain, etc. I think he’s singing about how similar things that convince you to use are. And the lyrics salt and the sea are symbolic to how you don’t always want them to be together, but they’re meant to be together. He’s singing about how difficult it is to resist which is also shown by the music which sounds like it’s meant to sound like a decent into madness, and at the end when things are calm it’s after he’s been convinced. All the chaos of pain and anxiety and sickness washed away as the music gets quieter and quieter, possibly also representing the life of an addict, chaos until death.

  10. anonymous
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    May 11th 2021 report

    the song may be about addiction, but to me it's more about mental illness. I have PTSD, depression, anxiety, I'm gay, and I'm trans masculine(he/him pronouns). I struggle a lot, I have suicidal thoughts and a lot of trust issues, but I don't act on them. I don't hurt myself physically, my brain does a good enough job at giving me hell, plus spite is an amazing motivator. everyone has their struggles with mental illness, sometimes its easy to deal with, other times its hard. there are times when I can't even get out of bed, so I grab my pencil and sketchbook that I keep under my pillow and draw, faceless, handless figures, dark shading creeping up the arms and down the neck from the completely blotched out or nonexistent head/face. its beautiful in a sad and dark way. everyone copes with these things differently, usually by not actually coping at all or just bottling everything up, causing violent and traumatic episodes(I know this from experience).

    this song has the feel of two friends or lovers. one is working hard not to give into their darker thoughts, but they still have those bad days where they can't do anything but lay in bed. they have deep rooted anxiety, depression, and-or some deep-rooted trauma that takes over, making everyday life excruciating and complicated. the doctors write prescriptions for their problems, but it only makes it worse, feeling numb and paranoid, at some point probably getting sent to a mental facility. its evident that the facility only made things worse, so they go home to their friend/lover, still afraid of being a burden or treated like glass. but the friend/lover is willing to brave through it with them, like a lighthouse in a storm, willing to be the villain, just to help the one they care about. riding out those dark nights and being there to comfort them during the day, unwilling to separate like the salt and the sea.

  11. anonymous
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    Apr 1st 2021 report

    Everyone interrupts differently.

    This song makes me think of my mom and her battles through life with alcohol addiction and then cancer.

    “Friends in the daylight” “they wrote prescriptions” - she wouldn’t leave the house because of all the radiation treatments made her sick. Now that she’s gone, she’s always with me.

    “From the destruction, out of the flame.
    You need a villain, give me name”

    She lost her battle, but she’s with me in the afterlife and she’s here to help me if I ask.

    She was a great selfless lady.

  12. anonymous
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    Mar 29th 2021 report

    This song was originally written as a closing credit song for M.Night Shyamalan's movie Glass.
    I am not sure if the song is really about addiction.
    The line about being being in the room praying he'd leave you alone makes me think the meaning is much deeper and darker than just an addiction. Many cases of addiction are rooted in the need to self medicate when a person has been abused in deeply traumatic ways.
    Songs when written have a meaning that is often only known to the writer leaving the listener with an open interpretation that may not be close to orginal meaning. Music is subjective. Unless the meaning is made 100% clear by the lyrical content then a song may have a different meaning to the listener.
    What does this song say to you? What feelings does evoke for you as the listener?

  13. katieh
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    Nov 28th 2020 report

    This song was written about an addiction with some form of drug or alcohol. It solely focuses on the dangers and struggles of giving in to psychedelics but there are other possible interpretations within the lyrics.
    The confirmed major theme within the song is addiction. Throughout it seems as if the lyrics are coming from the substance and talking to the victim of addiction which can symbolise not only the notion that substances can have a conversational like influence on a person in the way that they feel compelled and dependent upon it but it also hints at the idea of loneliness of the victim, they’re having a conversation with something lifeless perhaps because they have nobody else. The idea of the song from the perspective of the psychedelic is visible through the opening line ‘could it be I was the one that you held so deep in the night’ . The first person pronoun ‘I’ would suggest a person talking from their perspective but relating to the addiction ideology in the song, holding something ‘so deep in the night’ could easily refer to the stereotypical idea that addicts have a corrupt sleeping schedule and this ‘I’ could be a bottle of alcohol being held at night as they fulfil their addiction. To solidify this, you can assume that the line ‘you couldn’t hide it from me’ alludes to the idea that the substances know everything about him, whatever ‘it’ is that the victim seems to be hiding, the addiction is too consuming and the substance knows their weakness. The chorus is quite deceiving in the sense that the substance comes across as a form of support in ‘I’ll be your friend, in the day light again’ , when suffering an addiction you would assume that a friend is good and will help you through it but not when the friend is the substance. It also reflects the loneliness of the victim as perhaps they too see the substance as an escapism or a form of support for the other things going on in their life. The reference to ‘daylight’ could show the substance provoking the victim to fall into the habit of day drinking and consuming their entire life with the addiction as we already know it happens in the night too. The use of ‘again’ would suggest that it’s not the first time this person has suffered from an addiction and they are maybe relapsing into it repeatedly. It goes on to say that they’re like an ‘old enemy’ which again emphasises the concept that it’s not the first time it’s happened, there is a suggestion that their relationship goes way back with difficulties and negative relationships. The title of the song which is repeated in the song is quite unusual because you’d assume due to the context it would be two items that juxtapose but ‘salt and the sea’ go together and they co-exist. There is salt in the sea . I suppose that could be metaphorical of the victim being consumed by the substances like the salt is consumed by the sea. Alternatively the salt could be a solidified reference to psychedelics as it can be crystalized and has connotations of specific harmful drugs and is perhaps mentioned as a temptation.

    The next verse has an emphasis on the victim attempting to get medical help for this addiction but almost seems to victimise the substance rather than the person suffering. It talks about prescriptions that ‘wrote me off like a heel’ which sounds like the existence has been simply cast away which if it’s the substance being written off then that must be good as the substance is being taken away. However the idea of temptation from the psychedelics feeds off the sympathy it’s trying to get from the victim hence the tone provoked by this verse. Further on it says ‘the doctors and their medicine left me to rock in my filth’ , the medicine got rid of the issue and the addiction sounds like it’s being successfully battled and it’s left to ‘rock in my filth’ which has connotations of something someone with a severe mental illness may do, this again could be a form of provoking sympathy for the substance as it may be something the victim has experienced and the substance hopes that by making the victim feel sympathy for it, they’ll give back into the addiction. The final line of the verse is very powerful. ‘You need a villain, give me a name’ , not having a name for this problem could show the neglect the person has been giving it, not wanting to come to terms with the fact that they have an addiction. The concept of needing a villain is unexpected because you’d most likely expect someone to want a hero, a saviour. In this circumstance the substance is offering the victim a method of downfall and solidifies the fact that it will always be there for them; this is negative but worded in such a deceiving way.

  14. anonymous
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    Jul 30th 2020 report

    I now see the addiction meaning, however when I first read the lyrics I interpreted It as a lover who was sick possibly cancer and turning away from her lover, hence the lyrics regarding doctors and prescriptions as well as being alone in her room which I felt she really wasn’t. She was distancing herself. Her lover will will be the villain and Is willing to take all the blame for the distention between them. They have become enemies due to the stress and turmoil. Though he mentions daylight which is hope.

  15. anonymous
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    Jul 8th 2020 report

    The song is about a good friends struggle w/ his addiction. Both w/ opioids & herion. That’s it, straight from the songwriters mouth.

  16. anonymous
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    May 28th 2020 report

    I’ve always interpreted it as someone who’s scared of an ex lover who’s been scaring them in some way or scared them in the past and they’re running to get away.

  17. anonymous
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    May 25th 2020 report

    When I saw the video for the song I thought directly opioids and addiction but the one running

  18. anonymous
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    May 14th 2020 report

    My interpretation of the song does not match what I think the song is actually about. I believe the song pertains to the opioid crisis and the writer dealing with opioid addiction.

    However, personally I relate this song to a childhood friend of mine who was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia. At times he’s delusional, paranoid. But mostly I think he’s scared, confused and alone and can see he feels like his life is covered in darkness, also blaming doctors and psychiatrists for what happened to him. I try to reach out but it’s very difficult. I draw parallels to how the writer seems to accept being consumed by his addiction, as my buddy has been consumed by this awful mental illness. Very very powerful song either way you look at it

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