“Damage Gets Done” by Hozier featuring Brandi Carlile is a poignant reflection on a past romantic relationship marked by youthful recklessness, limited resources, and ultimately, a subsequent loss. The song expresses a strong sense of nostalgia for the carefree days when love seemed enough, coupled with reflective regret and a yearning to understand where the damage started and where it all ended.
The opening verse sets the scene, painting a picture of a couple scrimping on resources, with “two outfits then to my name.” This lack of material wealth, however, doesn’t deter them. Instead, it fuels their desire for exploration—”We had nowhere to go and every desire for going there.” Hozier cleverly uses contradictions to convey the paradox of their situation: deprived, yet endlessly hopeful.
The subsequent lines portray the couple’s underdog status in the world. He sings, “Being blamed for a world we had no power in,” indicating their struggle against societal expectations and the hardships that life has thrown at them. The phrase “the best of the world in the palm of our hands” encapsulates their hope and belief in their potential and their relationship, despite their circumstances.
As Hozier enters the chorus, he expresses a sense of lost innocence and regret. The lines, “I know being reckless and young, Is not how the damage gets done,” reflect a sense of maturing understanding. Recklessness, once a symbol of their youth and freedom, is now associated with the wounds they inflicted upon each other; they now realize that their actions had repercussions, leading to the end of their relationship.
In the second verse, he continues to reminisce about the small joys of their past—just having a running car and the sun shining on them were enough. The line, “You were steerin’ my heart like a wheel in your hands,” cements the importance of his partner in his life at that time. But in the chorus, he repeats the same refrain about lost love and lessons learned.
The song rounds off with the repeated phrase, “All I needed was someone, When the whole wide world felt young.” This ties back to the theme of longing for a simpler time when love in its purest form was all they needed. “Damage Gets Done” is a bittersweet tribute to lost love and lessons learned, rich with regret, nostalgia, and hard-earned wisdom.