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Released: 2014

Driving straight into the core of “Work Song” by Hozier, we dive deep into a narrative that unfurls an unyielding romantic devotion that’s as implicit as the sky is blue. It’s a deeply passionate account of a man whose love for his woman is both his redemption and his recklessness, intertwining themes of love, remorse, and inevitability.

Let’s kick off with the opening lyrics “Boys workin’ on empty/Is that the kinda way to face the burning heat?”. Hozier sets the stage for us—painting a picture of hard labor under a relentless sun. But for our protagonist, the physical torments of labor are trivial compared to his internal turmoil; he’s filled with such love for his baby that he can “barely eat”. Even the tempting “cherry tree” doesn’t sway him, as there’s nothing sweeter than his lover. The “cherry tree” here could serve as a euphemism for temptation or infidelity, yet our protagonist is unwavering in his fidelity.

Moving onto the chorus: “When my time comes around/Lay me gently in the cold dark earth/No grave can hold my body down/I’ll crawl home to her”. With his raw, brooding voice, Hozier paints a striking image of relentless love beyond the grave—no earthly end could deter him from returning to his lover, further underscoring the depth of his devotion.

The next verse takes us on a figurative spin: “I was three days on a drunken sin/I woke with her walls around me”. This narrative twist suggests guilt and remorse, hinting at a lapse in judgement perhaps, a few days of heavy drinking and sinning. Waking up though, he finds comfort and confinement in the encompassing presence of his lover, the “empty crib” signaling a sense of loss or longing.

As the lyrics unfold, the protagonist confesses his woman “never asked me once about the wrong I did”. Her love for him remains steadfast despite his shortcomings, a testament to unconditional love which he reciprocates through his undying loyalty, asserting that even if the Lord doesn’t forgive him for his sins, his baby will.

Finally, the song concludes with the protagonist declaring “Heaven and hell were words to me.” Together with the verse “In the low lamp light I was free”, it conveys a sense of liberation and transcendent love, where the concepts of heaven and hell become insignificant. All that matters is the magnitude of his love, solidifying the notion that his lover’s presence is his sole sanctuary and ABSOLUTION.

Throughout the composition, Hozier crafts an intoxicating blend of earnest lyrics and soulful melody. His “Work Song” is, at its heart, a testament to unwavering devotion, the power of love to absolve, and the human capacity for redemption—with all its beautiful complexities.

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