Riptide by Vance Joy was released in late 2013 and its sweet ukulele chords and lyrics still reach through to me every time I hear it. The reason for this is because two summers ago, in the final months before I moved from my hometown, my close friend made a slideshow of pictures and used this song in the background. This song reminds me of her and I feel that this is why this song always takes me to such a deep place. I’ve always enjoyed the song solely for this reason; never taking the time to actually try and understand the song’s lyrics. Now I have finally analyzed them and am feeling inspired to share what I feel the lines mean.
Before I begin, the lyrics of the song can be found here: http://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/vancejoy/riptide.html
A lyric video is also here if you’d like to hear it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iUI5uLysKaE
Vance sings “I was scared of dentists and the dark/ pretty girls/ starting conversations” in other words he was kind of an innocent, introverted kind of nerd that sits quietly in the back of the room kind of person. “All my friends are turning green” I used to think that was a drug reference but maybe Vance means his friends turn green in jealousy. Why would his friends be jealous? Well Vance proceeds to explain, “You’re the magician’s assistant in their dreams” A magician’s assistant is usually a very attractive woman so perhaps his friends are jealous of Vance’s newfound attractive partner. I’m going to assume, based on the pronouns used throughout Vance’s lyrics, that the partner he is speaking about is female. So, Vance is using his lyrics to say, “Wow, I’m so happy I overcame all my introverted ways to meet someone so beautiful.”
What is the purpose of writing all this just to tell someone she’s pretty and how happy he is that he met her? Well maybe she doesn’t believe it.
Vance sings,”Lady, running down to the riptide.”A riptide is a dangerous, overwhelming tidal wave that is difficult to escape.
“Taken away by the dark side,” could the tidal wave and and the dark side that Vance speaks of be his partner’s thoughts? Is it that her thoughts are telling her she’s not beautiful and worth it? That she doesn’t deserve Vance’s love?
“I wanna be your left hand man.” That means to marry someone. He wants to stand on her left side at the altar. “I love you when you’re signing that song and I’ve got a lump in my throat” he says because it makes him cry that she’s got the story all wrong about her self worth and how deserving of Vance’s love she is.
“I just wanna, I just wanna know. If you’re gonna if you’re gonna stay,” sings Vance. I believe these lines to be the words of his partner. Swallowed and consumed by her dark tidal wave of negative thoughts, she thinks that Vance will leave her any day now. But he loves her. He wants to be her left hand man.
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