What does "Only" by NF mean?
“Only” Lyrics Meaning
“Only” is about finding strength in believing that there others who understand your pain. NF shares his own struggle with pain and loneliness since his rise to fame and how at times it has felt like there might not be anyone who understands. He still chooses to believe that there must be someone who is hurting with him, wherever they may be.
“There’s gotta be somebody somewhere”
As always, while this analysis will use “NF is dealing with...” or “NF thinks...” statements, these are only to explain what he is expressing in the lyrics. While NF is an artist who is largely autobiographical in his songs, it doesn’t mean that everything stated in his songs are or aren’t about him. NF is a phenomenal emotional storyteller, and while those stories are often true, unless he says so, we can’t be sure what elements are about his life. Either way, these lyrics are very raw and personal in nature and tell an intense and moving story.
Verse 1 (pt. 1)
Yeah, does anybody feel like me?
Show of hands, I don't need a lot, I just wanna find my peace
Yeah, why you throwin’ rocks, oh, you wanna kill my dreams?
Okay, tell me everything I'm not
You think I didn't know those things?
Always been a little lost and I still might be
Life's hard, but it's okay (It's okay)
Watchin' the comments feels like I'm at a court date
How could I complain
With a house like this and a car like that in the driveway?
Half of what I say
Kinda feels like a dream that I’m gonna wake from someday
NF says that he searches for people who are like him in his fanbase, hoping to “find [his] peace” and know that he’s helping people like him. The negative comments, however, stand out. He doesn’t need to be told “everything [he’s] not” or that he’s “a little lost,” and the judgement from the public eye makes him feel like he’s “at a court date.” He doesn’t want to complain because he appreciates “a house like this and a car like that in the driveway” and success that feels too good to be true, but the criticism still cuts deep.
Verse 1 (pt. 2)
Wishin’ that I'd pray
A little more often and put more time into my faith
Travel in my brain, woo, might find damage and no grace
Things that I hold on to, but I won’t say things that I won't let go
So I chain my soul to the heartbreak
Havin' a nice day, that's not a average in my case
Don’t like cameras in my face; glamour, it's all fake
Love my job, but it might seem odd that I'm here 'cause I hate fame (Oh)
Yeah, pay my debt to me, throwin' threats at me
They can't tell, disconnectin' me, it's affectin' me
Hide that well, they'll write checks to me, but don't check on me
By myself, always questioning what comes next for me
I can't be the only—
The verse continues to express his desire to invest more into his faith and break free from the things he wants to let go of. Instead, he feels like he’s chaining his “soul to the heartbreak.” He loves to put his mind onto the page in his music, but he hates the fame and confesses that it doesn’t help with loneliness. They might “write checks to [him], but [they] don’t check on [him].” Rather than give in, he chooses to believe that he’s not the only one experiencing this pain.
I can't be the only one who’s lonely tonight
I can't be the only—
Rather than give in, he chooses to believe that he’s not the only one experiencing this pain. This gives him strength to hold on.
Verse 2 (pt. 1)
Yeah, if you made a list of people that you trusted would you put your name down?
Do you know who you are when you look at life and you talk about yours, do you feel proud? (Lonely)
Are you leaving a mark, or scared to make a bad impression so you just go hide in the dark? (Lonely)
Livin' and playin' a part, knowin' regret'll come back up tomorrow
That's what it does, ain't it? Don't know what we're chasin', but we all do it
Just a part of life, I guess we're all foolish
Running after what we think will make us happy 'til it falls through (Lonely)
And then we find out later it ain't what we wanted
So we give up on it, then we pile the garbage (Lonely)
And we watch it grow and find a drug and numb it
'Til we hit the point that we can barely function
NF asks himself and us if we trust ourselves enough to try to do some good, or do we hang back and do nothing because we don’t know who we are and are “scared to make a bad impression.” Everyone is chasing something that “we think will make us happy ‘til it falls through / and then we find out layer it ain’t what we wanted” so many people give up on it and numb the pain with literal or metaphorical drugs. He knows that it doesn’t solve the problem, and it just brings us to “the point that we can barely function.” (This could also be referencing taking medication for depression or other mental illness and a glimpse at his thoughts on it.) His use of “we” illustrates his belief that no one is alone in pain and loneliness.
Verse 2 (pt. 2)
Am I motivated? Is my music dated?
Would I be the same if I was medicated?
Even therapists say I need medication
I avoid it, though, because I'm scared to take it
Am I the only one that has a loaded gun
That's full of doubts and memories to overcome?
And I complain about 'em when they shoot at me
But I know truthfully I like to load 'em up and let 'em—
That's so sad to see, that's so sad to see, I need help
They talk passively, then come after me by myself
Lost that half of me, God, there has to be someone else
Don't feel bad for me, I just can't believe that I'm lonely
The loneliness is compounded by the intensity of the war inside of himself. He feels like half of himself is lost, and he asks God if there’s someone else who understands what he’s experiencing, or if he is alone.
There's gotta be somebody out there
There's gotta be somebody somewhere
Who needs company, and it's comforting to know
He continues to remind himself that there must be at least one other person who is feeling what he’s felt, fighting what he’s fought, and thinking what he’s thought. It’s comforting to think that this person is out there and if they were to talk, both of them would be totally understood.
Deeper Meaning of “Only” by NF
Loneliness is something that nearly every person experiences in their life. We aren’t alone, but when we experience loneliness, it feels like no other person could possibly understand. The choice to believe that there others out there even when it doesn’t feel like it can be difficult, but it’s worth it. Thinking that someone out there can be helped if you make it through this, or just that this person exists is an encouraging thought if you’re in that place. NF’s “Only” will likely touch many people who find that he is the “somebody somewhere” who understands their pain.