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Meaning of the song ‘Ribs’ by ‘Lorde’

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Released: 2013

“Ribs” by Lorde is a hauntingly beautiful exploration of the bittersweet feeling of growing up, grappling with the inevitable passage of time, and the mournful longing for the simplicity and innocence of youth. It’s a song that shows the struggle of transitioning from the carefree days of adolescence into the often uncomfortable, uncertain world of adulthood.

She kicks off with, “The drink you spilt all over me/’Lover’s Spit’ left on repeat/My mom and dad let me stay home/It drives you crazy getting old.” Here, Lorde speaks about an intimate moment shared with a significant other – or perhaps a close friend as we discover later. The mention of “Lover’s Spit” is a nod to a song by Broken Social Scene, perhaps a symbol of the emotional intensity of the moment. There’s a hint of nostalgia when she talks about her parents allowing her to stay home, a callback to her younger, carefree days. Yet the refrain, “It drives you crazy getting old” underscores the anxiety that often accompanies growing up.

“This dream isn’t feeling sweet,” she confesses, laying bare the reality that growing up isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, especially when contrasted against the idealized version we often dream about as kids. She repeats, “It feels so scary getting old,” emphasizing the fear and uncertainty about the future and the inevitable changes that aging brings.

As she progresses into the chorus, “I want ’em back, I want ’em back/The minds we had, the minds we had,” Lorde is plainly voicing her longing for the past, for the time when their minds were simpler, their worries fewer. These details highlight the struggle of the transition from childhood to adulthood – the yearning to recapture a time when life felt easier and less complicated.

The song culminates with, “You’re the only friend I need/ Sharing beds like little kids/And laughing ’til our ribs get tough/But that will never be enough.” This stanza suggests a deep and meaningful friendship that brings comfort and a sense of home. She recalls the innocent days of childhood marked by laughter, shared beds, and an everlasting bond – yet the poignancy in “But that will never be enough” attests to the fact that, despite treasuring these memories and moments, they cannot completely dispel the apprehension of growing up.

Overall, “Ribs” is a profound narrative on the concept of maturing, blending a sense of nostalgia with the sobering realities that adulthood inevitably brings. Through her unique artistry, Lorde manages to articulate a universally shared sentiment, one that strikes a chord with anyone who’s ever experienced the poignant growing pains of life.

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