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 with questions or ideas!

What does "Guiltless" by dodie mean?

What does "Guiltless" by dodie mean?

“Guiltless” Lyrics Meaning

Today we were talking about dodie's new song "Guiltless"; dodie does a lot of really cool stuff with her music; but I'd say the two things that stand out the most are that her lyrics are very solid, thoughtful, real, and honest; and then her music, is very simple, clean, clear, and stands as a great background for what she has to say.

This song in particular as she has explained in the past is about "Family mess"; and she later said:

“it's kind of about when someone told me something that they shouldn't have and it ruined my life”

and a little bit of spoilers here that person doesn't really know how much it affected her; and the large majority of the song is about the question "You feel like your guiltless?! you don't understand how what you said put me through so much!"; and though we don't know the person she's singing about, and we might never know because this topic is hard for her to talk about; we all can relate to it in some way, as we all have our own stories of people who've hurt us, yet they don't know that they did. So, we hear in the first verse,

Verse One

There is a wall in my life built by you (Mmm)
You opened a door that a kid shouldn't walk through
Oh, but I’m not bitter, I'm just tired
No use getting angry at the way that you're wired
Ignorant trauma in one afternoon

Essentially, what has happened here is that this person has said something that has been very hurtful to dodie, and it has rewired the way that dodie operates, and it's changed how she perceives the world in some way; which is something I think we've all experienced, where somebody has said something that meant a lot to us, but it looks like the experience didn't seem like a lot to the other person; actually, I am thinking of a situation like that right now, and that's just the level of personal where I'd rather not share it, you know? but somebody says or does something; and it just massively shapes how you view the world; and how you view yourself; and she's saying that even though she was just a young child; she feels like that whole experience made her have to think about the world in a way that was for the negative. In the pre-chorus we hear he say,


And I could never let you know (Ooh, you’d never get it)
And now I'm the one who can't let go (Ooh, don't say it's genetic)

dodie said that these lines, and the song topic in general, came about when she was in a therapy session, where she practiced forgiving people, forgiving how they were raised, how their brain is wired, and how clueless they can be when they're hurting others. The pre-chorus in particular is about this dark pit inside of you; the one that you will always have, hence her saying "I could never let you know"; it's when you always have these dark feelings and thoughts in the back of your mind, and you try your best to suppress them; you try to not think about them; but they always will come up to the surface after a few drinks, or when you are stressed, or when you're experiencing something that triggers those memories. Then we have the chorus where we hear,


Is it real? You believe you're guiltless
Oh, I can tell you believe you're guiltless
But I don't think I’d feel better if I opened your eyes
I’ll carry your burden 'til the day that you die
Is it real? You believe you’re guiltless

I think it's a really interesting concept being talked about here; because she's basically saying "if I tried to show you how it has made me feel, I'm not exactly sure that it would help me feel any better; I still feel like I'd be carrying this burden; and now either maybe you would just feel bad too, or no real results would come of it"; but at the same time there's this dissonance, because it's still painful to know that this person is just kind of going along like no big deal, like nothing ever happened, right?

Verse Two

I'll never know why you favour that tone (Mmm)
Not one shred of hope so I built up my own

This is essentially what happens is if you feel like you have this disconnect from somebody else; you start to build a world that's outside of them, a world that they're not necessarily a part of, if you don't invite them into it; and it's your opportunity to feel like you have something significant outside of this person; that way this burden doesn't have to exist in this world perhaps; and as a result, you know, it keeps this person separated; so this "guiltless" person builds a wall between them, through what they've said; and then I think that we as humans tend to also add on to that wall, or build it up ourselves, so that we continue to separate and confine meaning outside of that hurtful relationship. Essentially that world that she built with that hope that she created, kind of coincides at the same time as that wall; they're almost the same thing in a way emotionally; it's an unhealthy situation, and it's really sad that something like that happens. I don't exactly know if you're in a similar situation; but what I would suggest that sometimes reconciliation can be a good thing; but it's very situational, and in this case, it doesn't feel like it's worth it for dodie, you know? Regardless of what she may be missing out on in that relationship, if it were to go deeper. Obviously she hasn't shared all of the details, so it's not something that we can really speak to; but it was really great that she was welling to share something personal like that, and give us so much detail about something that maybe we can empathize with to an extent; I know that I can.

So yeah, "Guiltless" is a great song, so I hope that you enjoyed this post, and if you haven't listened to the song yet, which has a very cool music video by the way; you can check it out, clicking on the link down below; and to dodie, if you're seeing this, thank you for making this song.

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