What does "bury a friend" by Billie Eilish mean?
“bury a friend” Lyrics Meaning
(The following blog post is a transcript created by Xalma of the below video.)
Billie Eilish put out a new music video and a song called ‘bury a friend’; and even though she has put out some creepy stuff in the past, this video might be taking the cake, which is appropriate since apparently this song is written from the perspective of the monster underneath her bed.
What do you want from me? Why don't you run from me?
What are you wondering? What do you know?
Why aren't you scared of me? Why do you care for me?
When we all fall asleep, where do we go?
Probably the most entrancing part of this entire song is the lyrics of the refrain. It’s lyrics like these that give that ethereal, scary, and very deep feeling; and in reference to the song, Billie Eilish said this:
“‘bury a friend’ is literally from the perspective of the monster under my bed. If you put yourself in that mindset, what is this creature doing or feeling? . . . I also confess that I’m this monster, because I’m my own worst enemy. . . . I might be the monster under your bed too
Well, that’s a little bit creepy, but basically the idea here is that the song is written from the perspective of the monster under her bed, and in this case, she admits that because she is her own worst enemy, the monster isn’t just like a cool spider that you can just put on your crown, on in your mouth; the monster is actually an antagonistic foe that tries to do her wrong and hurt her in some way.
So when we look at these mesmerizing questions in the refrain like, “What do you want from me?” the monster asks her; “Why don’t you run from me?” and apparently Billie is kind of okay with just chilling in the presence of this monster, which doesn’t surprise me completely. Then we have, “What are you wondering? What do you know? Why aren't you scared of me? Why do you care for me?” so if Billie is saying that she is like this monster, or that she is sometimes her own monster, it would make sense that she cares for this monster as well or that she would care for this part of her that is creepy and scary, and possibly dangerous.
When we all fall asleep, where do we go?
I think that this is a metaphorical question for “when we die, what happens?” and “what’s the point?” So the monster is asking some deep philosophical questions, which could be a reference to some existential crisis. It could be a round-about way to get to depression or anxiety at some point, or a mental illness in some way. Not that it’s unhealthy to ask philosophical questions, but if it’s the monster under your bed who’s asking them, we’ve got to consider the source.
The music video is so creepy, and essentially there is this one shot that kind of says it all; when the camera pans down from the guy who’s actually sleeping on the bed, and you see Billie down there, which also represents this idea of her being her own monster.
Through the rest of the music video, we see her being manhandled by these bodiless arms, we see her have these syringes stuck in her back, we see her being really creepy and ghost-like, and I think that they have done a good job melding the fact that she and her monster are kind of the same and that while she’s being tortured by these nightmares, she also is these nightmares.
If you get nothing else out of this music video, then I think that it’s probably the best thing that you can pull away. Not only is she tortured by these nightmares, but she identifies and empathizes with that side of her, that is that nightmare; that monster under her bed, is Billie Eilish, is the monster, is Billie Eilish.
I would probably hazard a guess that the rest of the lyrics here are not meant to necessarily tell a cohesive story, or continue in a very logical way. They seem to be more about the vibe and the impression that they give us. So there is not anything that is super specific; but I do want to point out a couple of lines that I think would tell us a little more about what’s going on here. In verse one we see this:
Say it, spit it out, what is it exactly
You're payin'? Is the amount cleanin' you out? Am I satisfactory?
Today, I'm thinkin' about the things that are deadly
The way I'm drinkin' you down
Like I wanna drown, like I wanna end me
We see some definite references to suicide here; and if this is the monster talking, it could be the dark parts of her thoughts if you will; it could be Billie’s Blurryface to an extent. It seems like a very fashionable thing for a lot of the artists these days—to assign the darker side of their intellect to another character or personality. We see a lot of people doing it like NF, twenty one pilots, The Weekend to an extent, just tons of people.
Keep you in the dark, what had you expected?
Me to make you my art and make you a star
And get you connected?
I'll meet you in the park, I'll be calm and collected
But we knew right from the start that you'd fall apart
'Cause I'm too expensive
It's probably somethin' that shouldn't be said out loud
Honestly, I thought that I would be dead by now (Wow)
Calling security, keepin' my head held down
Bury the hatchet or bury a friend right now
If this is Billie talking to her monster, then she’s saying, “Yeah, you’re under the bed; it sucks to be you; but what were you expecting?” If it’s the monster, then it’s probably talking about how it’s going to torture her because it’s kind of what monsters do.
The monster is basically saying that it outclasses Billie, and that she is just going to shut up and put with it.
For the debt I owe, gotta sell my soul
'Cause I can't say no, no, I can't say no
Then my limbs all froze and my eyes won't close
And I can't say no, I can't say no
And it just seems to be a large part about Billie being tortured by this monster inside of her.
Deeper Meaning of “bury a friend” by Billie Eilish
So that is what I think ‘bury a friend’ is about; I don’t think that it’s a song where you can go “oh! That’s a very specific and clear story, message, and moral.” It’s much more about the vibe, and about the impression that it gives off. If I can get back to it one more time, I would say that if you wanted to pull the meaning of the music video and the lyrics of the song, then I’d say that Billie identifies with her monster, both has the same personality, yet both are different people, and that she’s having this conversation with this monster. Specifically, in the music video, where we can see her realizing that she’s the monster that she’s created.
Want more Billie Eilish explanations?
This is the third part of a 5-part series on Billie Eilish. You can watch the rest below!