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Avril Lavigne’s “Head Above Water” is a raw, emotional testament that serves as an allegory for grappling with personal struggles, specifically Lavigne’s own battle with Lyme disease. The song confronts themes of survival, resilience, and faith during testing times, amplifying the narrative with metaphoric lyrics and powerful vocal performance. To untangle the lyrics, let’s deep-dive each segment of the song.

Avril begins with “I gotta keep the calm before the storm / I don’t want less, I don’t want more.” She’s emphasizing the crucial stage of maintaining equilibrium before a crisis. The crisis, in this context, refers to physical and emotional distress, encapsulating her ordeal with health issues. The line “Must bar the windows and the doors / To keep me safe, to keep me warm” echoes her need for isolation, protection, and comfort during her tough times.

Yeah, my life is what I’m fighting for / Can’t part the sea, can’t reach the shore.” Essentially, she’s declaring her struggle to survive amid her health battles, evoking biblical imagery of parting the sea, an impossible task, representing her internal struggles. Her voice becoming the driving force is her using her music as an outlet, a coping mechanism, allowing her to confront her emotions.

Head Above Water

The chorus — “God, keep my head above water / Don’t let me drown, it gets harder” — serves as a plea to a higher power to help her cope in difficult situations. The subtext here draws a parallel with her fight against Lyme disease, which nearly pushed her to feel like she was drowning. She uses water as a symbol for the overwhelming emotions and obstacles she faces while fighting against her illness.

“So pull me up from down below / ‘Cause I’m underneath the undertow / Come dry me off and hold me close / I need you now, I need you most” — this again is a plea for help and reassurance, a call to individuals or powers to rescue her from her woes and envelop her with their comforting presence.

By the end of the song, Lavigne’s lyrics make it clear she’s grateful to be alive and continues to seek strength in her ongoing battle — “And I, I can’t swim the ocean like this forever / And I can’t breathe / God, keep my head above water.” This is as clear an example of pop music’s power to reveal deeply personal narratives, allowing audiences a glimpse into the artist’s struggles and triumphs.

In conclusion, “Head Above Water” stands as a testament to Avril Lavigne’s resilience, hope, and determination, narrating her battles against Lyme disease. And whilst it’s rooted in Lavigne’s personal life, it extends its relevance to anyone grappling with their storms, fostering a sense of hope and endurance through life’s toughest times.