“Wish we could turn back time, to the good old days, when our momma sang us to sleep but now we’re stressed out.” These words from another one-of-a-kind composition by Twenty One Pilots very plainly describe a universal pain in a catchy tune you just can’t shake. Many times, the reason we can’t help singing along to certain songs is that — secretively — we completely relate to the lyrics. Constantly, people face the unwanted task of leaving behind their carefree, innocent childhoods, and taking on the challenges and burdens of reality.
Many of us were reassured as children. We were told that all of our fears and insecurities would vanish once we reach adulthood. Nevertheless, it seems all of our worries only multiply and become increasingly crucial. Tyler Joseph puts it as: “I was told when I get older all my fears would shrink, but now I’m insecure and I care what people think.” This is often what we believe in our youth: it will be so much better as an adult when we are allowed to make our own decisions and have no strict boundaries of what you can and cannot do. However, we soon awaken into a world where student debt needs to be paid, extensive essays are due, there are exams to study for, and we are working long hours just to put food on the table. Beyond education and career, many may face more personal struggles. Moreover, many of us also make social media an unnecessary side-career and try to maintain superior positions.
“My name is ‘Blurryface’ and I care what you think.” When this line of the tune is sung, Tyler’s voice becomes more echoed and airy, seemingly introducing a different character into the song. This other side of the narrator, “Blurryface”, represents all of his insecurities. In reality shows or documentaries, people lingering in the background who do not wish to have their identities broadcasted on television have their faces blurred. The insecurity of hundreds of strangers seeing them and possibly judging them or doing something sinister with their appearance is the main cause of this. Biting comments about your appearance in your latest post, or belittling remarks about your current life status all contribute to an increasing amount of anxiety. Often, we wish to have our faces — or rather our true identities — blurred so our flaws aren’t displayed.
The famous verse of wishing “to turn back time” is repeated eight times through the song, which implies that he is desperately wanting to return to his childhood. He recalls his mother singing him to sleep, having someone to provide for him and comfort him. He reminds us of a time when our only worries were maintaining a clean room and keeping up our grades.
“We used to play pretend/We would build a rocket ship and fly it far away, used to dream of outer space but now they’re laughing at our face saying, ‘Wake up you need to make money!’” This is describing the days of any imaginative child, creating their own adventures, dreaming about limitless possibilities, only to be snapped out of it. Today, many are so absorbed into careers, financial situations, and social media statuses, their opportunities for dreaming and exploring are fewer. The last few words of the bridge, which are shouted by multiple people in the recording, could represent a party of mentors or family members urging this daydreaming person to snap out of it and face reality. An alternate explanation of these words could possibly be is an interpretation of what modern society is. Our society ensures that we do not attempt to think for ourselves, pursue our own dreams, and instead become focused on working for other people and “making money”.
The line, “Out of student loans and tree-houses we all would take the latter,” suggests how the entrance into adulthood loses all of the childhood innocence and the protection from worry. We all wish to just return to the “good old days”, where nothing mattered. Even if hardships were thrown upon us we found a way to overcome it through the incredible, fantasy realities we had built. Looking back on our childhoods, we realize how foolish we were, crying over meaningless things that — thinking about them now — seem like a blessing. Revisiting our pasts and trying to truly enjoy and appreciate every second of it is a common wish among troubled souls.
This song ends rather abruptly with the chant being shouted one last time: “Wake up you need to make money!” This gives the impression that the narrator is snapped out of his longing daydream of returning to his carefree past, oblivious to the hardships and tribulations around him. We are forcefully reminded and pressured by our insecurity to continue performing the actions and responsibilities which society requires. All in all, no matter how much we long to return to our carefree, innocent pasts, we must all awake from our fantasizing into the real world. Although we become much more focused on the number of tasks and responsibilities we all have, that does not mean we can not still dream as if we are still an over-imaginative child. Often, we suffer from imagining too little than too much. Despite our harsh awakening into a much more intense world, we may still be able to pursue our dreams if it is truly our passion.
Listen to the song here: