Existential Song Reviews – “No Roots”

Welcome to the first of a probably very sporadic blog series where I decide to get deep and philosophical about some random song. Occasionally while listening to a song, I suddenly start thinking about the lyrics and tumbling them around inside my brain. Before you know it, I have missed the rest of the song and I have to listen to it about 12 more times as I keep listening to different sections of it, appreciating it in new ways and expanding my thoughts.

Today I will be discussing the song “No Roots” by Alice Merton.

When I first heard this song years ago, I thought it sounded cool and had a great tune. That’s about it. I enjoyed it, but I didn’t think about it. The other day on the way home, it came on and I couldn’t get enough.

“I like digging holes and hiding things inside them
When I grow old, I hope I won’t forget to find them”

These lines make me incredibly curious. I wonder about what might be getting hidden. But then I think of all the things that I want to do in my life. There’s a million curiosities in my life, and I might be incredibly interested in some small thing for an hour and then never again. It makes me reflect on all those things I have never revisited.

What could I have been great at if I gave it more of a chance?
Will I ever discover any of those things?
What amazing things have I forgotten that I will never think of again?

“I build a home and wait for someone to tear it down
Then pack it up in boxes, head for the next town running”

This song is primarily about Alice Merton’s life growing up, and never having one stable home. She grew up across many countries and constantly moved from place to place. This very much describes my childhood.

Every time I started growing comfortable with my life, maybe make a friend or two, we moved. I barely got a chance to settle in and explore the world around me. Instead, I was always forced to just move on and figure out a new life all over again. That might be a clue as to why although I absolutely love adventure, I also really like to take my time to really dig deep and settle down in a few very key areas of my life.

“I like standing still, but that’s just a wishful plan
Ask me where I come from, I’ll say a different land”

I love remaining settled into things like my job, my friendships, my marriage, and now finally I have the pinnacle of what I always lacked as a child. A home.

I don’t like destroying things that are comfortable, and it comes harder to me than most given that I never had it as a child to begin with. I didn’t have consistent fathers, friends, or places to live. It’s like I have been constantly fighting to maintain consistency and I hate that it always got torn away from me.

I am someone who is always on the go. I say that I hate standing still, but that doesn’t apply to everything. I’ve lived a different kind of life compared to most of the people I know, but as long as I can find consistent simplistic happiness, that’s really all I need. For me, that means talking to people deeply and importantly. Making solid connections. Having a home that can’t just be taken away from me.

And I don’t know how many times I’ve said “it’s complicated” when someone asks me where I am “from”.

“I’ve got no roots, but my home was never on the ground”

Much like the artist, as a child I embraced my reality of always being on the move. I just went along with it, because I had no control anyway. But what gave me comfort was my imagination. I was always able to shut out the abusive relationships around me and go to a different place. My mind became my refuge, and sometimes it still is. I rely on my mind to think through 200 hundred things at a time, and sometimes I use that ability to push back all the negativity or bad feelings that I don’t want to deal with.

My home is my mind, and because of it’s abilities, I feel safe.

“I like digging holes
Hiding things inside them
When I grow old
I won’t forget to find them”

Bringing it back to the beginning, we now have one key difference. “I hope” is missing from the second line. This time it’s a definitive statement.

To me, this means that I am going to remember to explore the things that interest me. I am going to make the effort to grow and expand my capabilities. I’m going to chase those things I hid away years ago. It means I am going to continue to get more and more intentional with my life.

“No Roots” by Alice Merton.
Nigel’s Official Review: “Deeper than you thought”.

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