A Ballad of Desolation 

By Elika Kalami

Throughout their discography, The 1975 masterfully covers various topics, such as their grappling with love, heartbreak, politics, religion, and mental health. The genius of The 1975 lies not only in their ability to portray universal emotions through lyrics, but also in their musical talents that work with the lyrics to elevate the listening experience. If given the chance, I would happily examine and discuss every The 1975 song in its entirety; however, for this article, I will solely analyze their popular track, “I Always Wanna Die (Sometimes).” Focusing on the themes of isolation and loneliness, the lyrics detail a contradicting perspective on life and death—do we truly feel the desire to pass away, or do we instead desire a different life and past? This song will always be an incredibly personal and nostalgic track for me, and it is my honor to share its deeper meaning with a larger audience. 

“I bet you thought your life would change, but you’re sat on a train again.” 

In the opening line, singer/songwriter Matty Healy processes his banausic, mundane life while waiting for the train (just another Monday morning!). Healy had been expecting positive transformations in his life, only to be met with disappointment as he resumed his everyday activities. As he stated, “I think specifically what it refers to is the fact that I’m still the same person doing the same things even after this whole thing happens, and then it kinda comes to an end, and then you revert back to who you really are, who’s just a bloke on a train.” 

“Your memories are sceneries for things you said, but never really meant.” 

The following line describes Healy’s difficulty staying present and sincere. Instead of enjoying the scenery outside of the train, his brain is brimming with memories and situations from the past. Regret and sorrow consume Healy’s thoughts as he reflects on memories where he didn’t say the right thing or should’ve said something but didn’t. 

“You built it to a high to say goodbye because you’re not the same as them/But your death it won’t happen to you, it happens to your family and your friends, I pretend.”  

Matty Healy discusses his lack of compatibility with those around him. Healy struggles to connect with his peers; his own woe and suicidal thoughts supersede his social relationships. He then goes on to discuss death as a concept. Naturally, humans fear death and the unknown. However, death affects the living who have to deal with the grief of losing someone more than the person who died. When someone ceases to exist, they are not the ones who deal with the aftermath and repercussions; instead, it’s that person’s family and friends. 

“And I always wanna die, sometimes.” 

This simple, riveting line is repeated throughout the choruses of the song. Although it puts up a dark front, this line is reviving in a sense. When someone actively feels depressed or hopeless, it is significantly harder to break out of that negative mindset. Matty Healy is here to reassure his listeners that, although our lives may feel worthless, these feelings are only temporary. The belief that pain is permanent and absolute is illusory; in reality, it is only the case “sometimes.”

“You win, you lose, you sing the blues/There’s no point in buying concrete shoes, I refuse.” 

In the brief second verse, Healy creates this sort of idiom that describes the inevitability of having good and bad days. In many instances, the only thing we can do to cope is to sing our silly little hearts out. Life is unpredictable and inescapable, as no one can predict the future; thus, there is “no point in buying concrete shoes,” since no one stays in one place or mentality forever. Things are always changing.

“Am I me through geography?”

The first line of the song’s bridge questions whether one’s values or beliefs are based on their culture. Many of our differences and conflicts stem from our varying morals, most of which are formed by our cultures. 

“A face collapsed through entropy. I can hardly speak, and when I try, it’s nothing but a squeak.” 

Healy describes his struggles with confidence and detachment from reality. As he explains, “That’s how I feel sometimes. We’re just like falling through space. It’s mental.” 

“On the video, living room for small. If you can’t survive, just try.” 

For the sake of your friends and family who love you, it is best to push your head up and persist through life. In the words of The 1975, “give yourself a try!”

The end of this song plays a repetition of “always wanna die / sometimes,” suggesting the day-by-day experience of recovery and healing. It’s about getting up every morning, no matter the difficulty. There’s no point in buying concrete shoes; we’ll continue to refuse, endure, and try again.

Thank you to The 1975 for blessing the world with such a heartfelt, vulnerable song. Although sadly relatable, Matty Healy assures us that we aren’t alone in any emotion we’re experiencing. Feeling is only temporary, while the good experiences in life are worth living for.