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Meaning of the song ‘Washing Machine Heart’ by ‘Mitski’

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Released: 2018

“Washing Machine Heart” by Mitski is a study in poised desperation, a tale of emotional vulnerability clashing with romantic longing. The lyrics encapsulate the navigation of love – how one willingly surrenders oneself, all flaws and insecurities, to another, in hopes of being loved back.

Let’s break down this banger. The opening lines, “Toss your dirty shoes/In my washing machine heart / Baby, bang it up inside”, employ a striking metaphor. Mitski likens her heart to a washing machine, a vehicle for cleansing. Within this metaphor, she’s essentially inviting her lover to unload their emotional baggage onto her, taking on their “dirty shoes”, their untidy parts, and internal turmoil. The repetition of this refrain signals a recurring, unchanging willingness to absorb the other’s difficulties despite the potential harm to herself.

There’s a shift in the second stanza. “I’m not wearing my usual lipstick / I thought maybe we would kiss tonight / Baby, will you kiss me already?” Mitski reveals her vulnerability and longing for physical intimacy. The absence of her usual lipstick signifies a change in routine, a hopeful indication of the desire for a deeper connection. The rhetorical question, “Baby, will you kiss me already?” is a clear manifestation of her anticipation and discontentment about the lack of progression in their relationship.

Mitski then delves into the dynamics of their relationship with “Baby, though I’ve closed my eyes / I know who you pretend I am.” Although she’s emotionally invested in her partner, she’s not oblivious. She’s aware that her partner sees her as a convenient stand-in for someone else, a painful revelation that doesn’t seem to deter her love.

The song culminates in her plea “But do, mi, ti / Why not me?”. Using the musical notation ‘do, mi, ti’, often heard in vocal exercises, she underscores her continuous effort to make the relationship work. Despite the emotional toll, she asks ‘Why not me?’, epitomising her craving for reciprocal love and validation.

In a nutshell, “Washing Machine Heart” is a raw illustration of one-sided love, where the longing to be seen, felt, and reciprocated blurs the boundaries of self-preservation. Emoting Mitski’s ability to blend haunting melodies with heart-wrenching narratives, this song is undoubtedly a standout in her catalogue.

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