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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 "Apologize" by Grandson mean?

What does "Apologize" by Grandson mean?

“Apologize” Lyrics Meaning

(The following blog post is a transcript created by Xalma of the below video.)

I usually try to explain songs that are really popular, but you guys have been requesting Grandson song explanations for a little while now, and so I wanted to go ahead and oblige you guys, and explain the song that is the most popular from his most recent album, “Apologize”.

I want to begin by giving you guys a couple of tidbits about who Grandson is, apparently Grandson is from Canada, his real name is Jordan Edward Benjamin, and he's actually technically Canadian American in some small sense, don't we all sort of feel Canadian American? I mean those of us who are in Canada or America, I mean if America were just a little bit less of a crazy place to live in, and if Canada were just a little bit warmer, I wouldn't be surprised if we just became one big country, and join forces, but yeah, that'll never happen.

Anyway grandson believes that music should be political; and it's really interesting, because not a lot of people come out there and just say it like that, a lot of the music these days is more about like self-expression, and encouragement for other people, but listen to what he says on his Spotify bio,

“This is about power, who has power, who doesn't, do they use that power to speak for those without a voice of their own, how do we find the power in ourselves to be our best selves, using the cathartic expression of rock and roll to find clarity and unity. I think that today's music should be a reflection of the fucked up times we are living in, I think as artists we have a responsibility now more than ever to weaponize music and art to paint a painfully realistic picture of who why and what we are. And so he's talking about power through truth, through these realistic pictures of kind of how messed up things are”

So that's the context of what Grandson usually does, but on Twitter he explained that this song, “Apologize”, which is actually a little bit unique, and contrary to the way he usually thinks, he says:

“I wrote the song for all the Grandkids as an anthem, to tell the world we will not apologize for who we are, keep moving forward, in some ways it's funny, so much of my music up to this point has been about reclaiming power, but this “apologize” feels like the first truly uplifting interpretation of that theme”

So basically he’s saying that we're not just complaining about how we don't have the power, or talking about how we have to fight, and move forward to be able to bring the power back to where it should be, he's saying we do actually have some power, and we're going to apologize for who we are as a result of what we do have, and that's the basic idea of the song overall; so it’s like, be who you are, don't let other people try to force you to be something else, or to force you to apologize for who you are.

Now quick hypothetical philosophical question; If you've murdered somebody, should you be ashamed of who you are? That’s just a little brain teaser for you guys, just to put it out there, okay? I'm not saying you should, or you shouldn't be. I think that there must be a third option that's different than a simple “yes” or “no”; it's a complicated question, but we have to be able to differentiate between “who we are” and “what we do”.

So let's go and jump into the lyrics, in verse one we have:

Verse One

I lose a bit of myself with every selfie
Lose sleep over wealth, it's not healthy

 

So, he’s talking about the obsession with wealth, I was about to say the modern obsession, but it's an age-old tale, and this talk about the selfie, is social media bringing people down, because they're trying to make themselves look good, and everybody else looks better?
He's also talking about some of his personal struggles,

 

Finding a new religion on Yelp to come help me
Praying to the label itself, "Do not shelf me"

 

and he kind of continues talking about his struggle, he says,

 

In the middle with the beggars and rejects
Reading between text with weed, liquor, and sex
She say she love me at dusk, but at dawn
I pack up my things and I'm gone

 

and then he goes into the chorus,

 

Chorus

And I don't know where I'm gonna go
But I don't care, I'm on the road
Never been a perfect soul
But I will not apologize

 

to be fair, if you are in a loving committed relationship with somebody, and you just disappear the next day, that would probably be a decent thing to apologize for; yeah, we’re not asking you to apologize for who you are, but to me it makes sense to apologize for the things that you do, if they're bad of course; but I think the spirit of what he's trying to say is like “yeah, I'm going to make mistakes, and I'm afraid of commitment”, and “yeah, I'm going to be me, whether I or anyone else likes it”.

 

Been a lot of places in this life
And I did a lot wrong I can't make right
Never been a perfect soul
But I will not apologize
Said I will not apologize

 

I always feel conflicted about songs like this, because if you did wrong things, you should apologize; but again, there's that difference between things you've done, and who you are.

 

Verse Two

Imperfect, I'm imperfect
No road map, getting lost on purpose
Phone no service, but it's clear out here
I'm living with nothing to fear out here
There's lessons you learn
Bridges you burn
All for the cost of a dollar to earn
And they say they love me at dusk, but at dawn
I pack up my things and I'm gone

 

he continues his search to find some peace and clarity, when he's alone, when he’s away from other people, those who are trying to put these expectations on him; and by the very nature that he's repeating the lines from the first verse and the chorus for the bridge, we can see that he is committed to not changing.

And that is the end of the unique lyrics and the song; the main idea he wants to get across here is he wants to give people that sense of empowerment, he wants us to be confident in who we are, and I think to take it a step further, he wants his listeners to realize that they have something to offer the world as well.

This was the first time I explain a Grandson’s song on the channel, but it was the second time I explain one of his songs, as I did in the SNE podcast that we have over Patroen, if you want to join the community, and get fun and interesting perks, you can sign up and become a patron for as little as $5 a month, so check out the link down below.

https://www.patreon.com/ThePopSongProfessor

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