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My name's Clifford Stumme, and I explain the deeper meanings of popular songs. Let's have a conversation about what you think about the songs and go deeper together. Feel free to email me at clifford@popsongprofessor.com with questions or ideas!

What does "Heavydirtysoul" by Twenty One Pilots mean?

What does "Heavydirtysoul" by Twenty One Pilots mean?

"Heavydirtysoul" Song Lyrics Meaning

Blurryface was leaked on May 11th when Tyler Joseph's alter ego, Blurryface, tweeted, "drip drip drip"; Twitter-intensity ensued with thousands of tweets coming from thousands of Twenty One Pilots followers asking thousands of questions. Where'd it leak? Who leaked it? How can I get a copy? Personally, I spent hours looking, but could only find spam and personal information farms. The album had been leaked through Ghost Tunes, but when I visited, it was locked up tight-only the singles were for sale.

But then, miracle of miracles, my friend Hero Sean told me exactly where I could find Blurryface. Frantically typing on my phone and excusing myself from lunch at my office's end-of-year party, I downloaded the entire album and celebrated. [Side note: Hero Sean (as you can see in the title I've given him) is now officially my hero of heroes. If you ever meet him, give him a hug or a dollar or something.]

Meaning

"Heavydirtysoul" is the first song on Blurryface. It begins slowly, whirring deeply and drumming quickly until it pauses for a moment and Tyler begins rapping EXTREMELY QUICKLY, putting out 76 words in 15 seconds. The first verse is impressive, and so is the rest of the song, which is a mix of fast rapping, soulful questions, and epic choruses.

The musical style complements an intense and crazed searching for the answer to Tyler's question, "Can you save my heavydirtysoul?" The drums are the most important instrument in this song-effects and some keyboard complement the driving snare so that the music feels just as fast as Tyler's rapping. As Tyler says in verse 1, classifying this song as either rap or hip-hop is hard. "Heavydirtysoul" is an odd but successful mix of both.

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The Meaning

Tyler begins the first verse by admitting that "[t]here's an infestation in my mind's imagination," but it's not one that he wants to live with. He's "smoking them out the basement" with this song which is "[j]ust another attempt to make the voices stop." Tyler's mentioned before, notably in "Lane Boy," that his music helps him to make sense of life.  It's cathartic for him and helps him to reach other people who experience the same pain.

Stereotyped rappers try to prove their own toughness or "badness" in songs about sex or murdering police officers, but Tyler's "[r]apping to prove nothing, just writing to say something." Tyler's different from most in two ways. One, he has something to say, and, two, he's trying to add noise-something to take the space that would have been filled by the voices in his head, the words of Blurryface his dark alter-ego. And Tyler knows that there are others like him "rushing to saying nothing" because it's better than the darkness they feel.

Tyler claims that just putting something out to put it out "doesn't mean [he's] lost [his] dream." He says, "It's just right now I got a really crazy mind to clean," alluding to the catharsis he mentioned earlier and perhaps suggesting that cleaning his mind is the purpose of this album. For now, the purpose of this song is to distract him from and to clean his "heavydirtysoul."

In the pre-chorus, Tyler styles himself as a gangster, and he knows that "[g]angsters don't cry," so he's going to be known as "Mr. Misty-eye." He doesn't want to let himself show emotion or to give up, but there's definitely something wrong on the inside. He's adopting the personality of a gangster because he wants to be tough, but his emotions are still fighting to break loose.

The chorus is a desperate call for help that's repeated four times. He asks, "Can you save my heavy dirty soul for me?" Who is Tyler asking for help from? Is it his audience? Is it a friend? Is it God? His plea seems to be a distress call to anyone with the power to save him.

The second verse is directed at his listeners and the fellow members of his generation. He says, "No, I didn't understand the thing you said"; communication is breaking down and even if these people try to help him, they may not be able to reach Tyler. In fact, they may not be able to help even if he can understand them: "If I didn't know better, I'd guess you're all already dead."

Their heavydirtysouls have left them as "[m]indless zombies walking around with a limp and a hunch / Saying stuff like, 'You only live once.'" The catchphrase of this generation doesn't help Tyler but it does remind him that "[y]ou got one time to figure it out." These people have the same problem as him, but they're almost already dead; their "hunches" haven't helped and have only left them "hunched" over.

The next line is a reference to the Beatles-covered song "Twist and Shout." The song is symbolic of youth and energy, something of a "seize the day" song that suggests people should take advantage of the opportunity to live and have fun right away. Tyler agrees that we have only "[o]ne time to twist and one time to shout," and he adds, "One time to think, and I say we start now." The first half of that last line could be a reference to his other song "Car Radio":

Faith is to be awake And to be awake is for us to think And for us to think is to be alive And I will try with every rhyme To come across like I am dying To let you know you need to try to think

Tyler ends the verse with a call-to-action: "Sing with me if you know what I'm talking about."

Other than a two line bridge, the rest of "Heavydirtysoul" consists of variations on and repetitions of the chorus. In that bridge, Tyler sings, "Death inspires me like a dog inspires a rabbit / Death inspires me like a dog inspires a rabbit." Just as the sight of a dog causes a rabbit to run for its life, the thought of death inspires Tyler to try harder, to find purpose, and to find a way to save a soul that he knows has an "infestation." Tyler and the rabbit may have become lazy or felt purposeless, but death and a dog are enough to make each of them continue searching, fighting, and running.

What do you think about "Heavydirtysoul"? What's your favorite song on Blurryface? And what song would you like to see me explain next?

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