Cliff-pop-song-professor.png

Welcome!

I'm Clifford Stumme, and I use literary analysis and research to explain the deeper meanings of pop songs. Feel free to leave a comment or to email me at clifford@popsongprofessor.com with questions or ideas!

What does "Goner" by Twenty One Pilots mean?

What does "Goner" by Twenty One Pilots mean?

"Goner" Lyrics Meaning

After the small victory celebrated in "Not Today," it would seem that Twenty One Pilots frontman Tyler Joseph's Blurryface has come back. This last song on the band's new album Blurryface is a prayer to God. Tyler needs ultimately powerful help to rid himself of darkness and depression, and he's seeking it from a supernatural source.

The musical tone in "Goner" is the gentlest of any song on Blurryface. "Goner" sounds more like a soft piano ballad at times and at first seems to hardly belong on the album. However, other parts of the song are more intense, such as when Tyler repeats the thesis of his prayer: "I'm a goner / Somebody catch my breath." The song is an earnest request for help and a fitting end to a powerful and interesting album.

Psst! You should listen to my podcast!

The Meaning

Tyler begins the song by explaining his situation: "I'm a goner." He feels lost and without hope. If he doesn't get that help soon, then he will be lost. This could refer either to dying or to living a dark and pointless life. He begs, "Somebody, catch my breath" to show how he's falling and needs catching, but he specifically calls for someone to catch his "breath," suggesting trying to stop an anxiety or panic attack. He's worried about what will happen and needs someone to calm him. (Of course, it could also be a reference to the way someone breaths hard after running quickly. Tyler's been expending a lot of effort and may want someone to tell him that he can stop sprinting.)

Blurryface Album Cover - Clifford Stumme
Blurryface Album Cover - Clifford Stumme

After repeating the above stanza, Tyler sings about how God has answered his prayers. He says, "Though I'm weak, beaten down / I'll slip away into the sound." Music and noise have been symbols of relief and celebration throughout the album, and Tyler being able to "slip" into them implies a victory over his weakness and state of being "beaten down." Perhaps, in this case, the "sound" is the purest of sounds, one that only God could create. Tyler may be suggesting that while music can be a temporary balm, only God can provide true and lasting relief.

This victory is possible because "[t]he ghost of you is close to me." This seems to be a reference to the Holy Spirit, one member of the trinity who "lives in" believers. Tyler believes in God and knows that he does have the Holy "Ghost" inside him. Tyler's "inside out," so he's at a disadvantage, and he's "all twisted around," bewildered and confused, but God will catch him as he falls; God's able to do this because He's "underneath."

Tyler then confesses his weakness and shows his resolve. He sings, "I've got two faces. Blurry's the one I'm not." Tyler is double-minded, and he realizes it, but he doesn't like being that way. He sees the potential to truly become one of those two faces and the possibility of leaving the other behind. He lets God and his listeners know that he wants to be himself, not Blurryface. But to do that, he "need[s] your help to take him out." Only God can save him.

After repetitions of the first two stanzas, Tyler repeats quietly and softly, "Don't let me be gone" four times until he bursts into screams and Josh begins drumming wildly. Tyler cries, "Don't let me be!" and "I'm a goner / Somebody catch my breath!"

The song ends with two repetitions of "I wanna be known by you," played out softly and gently as a way of expressing the ultimate point of the entire Blurryface album. "Goner" and this album are pleas for help. Tyler recognizes that he's got Blurryface inside of him. Blurryface is someone whose face Tyler can't really see or identify and is someone who makes Tyler's own face blurry. He confuses Tyler and leaves the world inscrutable and dark for the singer.

But Tyler won't have anymore of it. He's done struggling and ready to escape Blurryface. He wants freedom, and he wants Christ's help to reach that freedom. He wants the true and real him to "be known by" God. And he wants to know God.

What do you think of Blurryface and "Goner"? What do you think the point of the album is and what're your favorite songs?

What does "Verge" by Owl City mean?

What does "Verge" by Owl City mean?

What does "Not Today" by Twenty One Pilots mean?

What does "Not Today" by Twenty One Pilots mean?