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 "maybe" by half alive mean?

What does "maybe" by half alive mean?

“maybe” Lyrics Meaning

Half alive’s “maybe” is about questioning a state of hopelessness in favor of the possibility that there is a design leading to something beautiful, especially through the intense pain.

“Leaning into the same old story” 

The hope that the narrator of “maybe” experiences is largely because he sees patterns in the world, a familiar story of hope on the other side of darkness. Despite the hopelessness that grips him and how useless fighting it seems, he recognizes that his own story is no different, and he trusts that somehow he will share in the beauty of the endings that have come in stories before him. 

Verse 1

Feel the weight, fill the space in the void of my own time

I'm surrounded in pain passed down through my bloodline

And I have tried to escape from the maze but it’s no use

These chains never break, never budge, never come loose

Story's over

Story's over

Standing still and it feels like I’m lost in a coal mine

Inside, realize I'm at war in my own mind

It's a place fear creates, I'll be here for a long time

And you don't know where I've been, you weren't there on the front lines

Story's over

The narrator is hopeless under the weight of “pain passed down through [his] bloodline” This could be a condition that runs in his family or it could be the “bloodline” he refers to is the one of humanity as a whole. He has tried to escape it, but the chains that hold him there “never break, never budge, never come loose.” In desperation, he gives up and declares that his story is over, and that it ends with his suffering. He is lost, but he realizes that it’s all internal. The place he is trapped in is created by fear, but it still doesn’t change his belief that he will be there “for a long time.” To anyone judging him, he says that they can’t know what he’s fighting against because they “weren’t there on the front lines” of those dark places with him. 


Maybe it’s not over

Changing is found in motion

Maybe there’s balance when you're moving

Could stopping bring you closer?

Maybe, tilts you over

Leaning into the same old story

Crossing over

(Maybe, ah, ah)

He begins to question the hopelessness he feels. After all, “changing is found in motion” and the turmoil he is experiencing is certainly moving him somewhere. “Maybe there’s balance when you’re moving” means that it’s possible he isn’t going to crash, maybe he is protected even through the change inside him. It could be that the “stopping” or halt in his life could really bring him closer to where he needs to go. As he looks at this new, hopeful, point of view he realizes that his life falls into “the same old story” of “crossing over” into something new and good through a period of darkness and pain. 

Verse 2

Maybe fear can’t define all the walls 'til you enter

And even blood couldn't bind who you are at the center

Could it be that you're more than the scars on the surface

As the heat is beneath all the ash of the embers

Crossing over

Crossing over

His fear shouldn’t be allowed to “define” his surroundings, and even the “blood” that represents the struggles he has ‘inherited,’ doesn’t define him. He is more than what he struggles with or “the scars on the surface.” Instead he is like “the heat beneath the ash:” alive, existing beyond the fragile embers, living past the destruction because he isn’t one with it, he has only seen it and felt it. He trusts that he is “crossing over” into something new and better, and that this pain is only a part of his story, and not the end. 


The way it’s told, there's no more room to grow

The way it's told, there's no return home

The way he has been viewing his story, there is no hope of returning “home.” With the perspective that this is the end, there is no possible way for him to grow. As his view shifts, he realizes that he can grow through the pain and that good can somehow come from his agony.

Deeper Meaning of “maybe” by half alive

The narrator of “maybe” isn’t sure how everything he has gone through will be resolved or how it could help him to grow in strength, wisdom, or compassion. He doesn’t know his future, but rather than giving into hopelessness, he gives himself up to the belief that there is a purpose in what he’s experiencing. He has faith that he is more than the pain and that something incredible is on the other side, something worth “crossing over” through the pain. He believes this because he’s seen it before, “the same old story” and he knows that somehow, it will be told again. Though he doesn’t know exactly how this will happen, or how his story will unfold, he knows and trusts its Author. That’s a beautiful and inspiring thing, that we can choose hope and faith even when we don’t feel it. It all begins with a simple thought: “Maybe…”

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