Afterlife – Unraveling Existential Interrogations in Melody


You can view the lyrics, alternate interprations and sheet music for Arcade Fire's Afterlife at Lyrics.org.
Article Contents:
  1. Music Video
  2. Lyrics
  3. Song Meaning
  4. Decoding the Symphonies and Dissonances of Mortality
  5. The Unanswered Echoes: Questioning the Void
  6. The Alluring Mirage of Resolution
  7. The Song’s Hidden Meaning: An Allegory for Longing
  8. Memorable Lines That Strike the Soul’s Chord

Lyrics

Afterlife, oh my God, what an awful word
After all the breath and the dirt
And the fires that burn
And after all this time
And after all the ambulances go
And after all the hangers-on are done
Hanging on to the dead lights
Of the afterglow

I’ve gotta know
Can we work it out?
We scream and shout ’till we work it out
Can we just work it out?
Scream and shout ’till we work it out?
‘Till we work it out, ’till we work it out
‘Till we work it out, ’till we work it out

Afterlife, I think I saw what happens next
It was just a glimpse of you
Like looking through a window
Or a shallow sea
Could you see me?
And after all this time
It’s like nothing else we used to know
After all the hangers-on are done
Hanging on to the dead lights
Of the afterglow

I’ve gotta know

Can we work it out?
Let’s scream and shout ’till we work it out
Can we just work it out?
If you scream and shout ’till we work it out?

But you say
Oh, when love is gone
Where does it go?
And you say
Oh, when love is gone
Where does it go?
And where do we go?
Where do we go?
Where do we go?
Where do we go?
Where do we go?
Where do we go?
Where do we go?
Where do we go?

And after this
Can it last another night?
After all the bad advice
Had nothing at all to do with life

I’ve gotta know

Can we work it out?
Scream and shout ’till we work it out?
Can we just work it out?
Scream and shout ’till we work it out?

But you say
Oh, when love is gone
Where does it go?
And you say
Oh, when love is gone
Where does it go?
Oh, we know it’s gone
Where did it go?
Oh, we know it’s gone
Where did it go?
And where do we go?

Is this the afterlife?
It’s just an afterlife, with you
It’s just an afterlife
It’s just an afterlife, with you
It’s just an afterlife

Full Lyrics

Arcade Fire’s ‘Afterlife’ is a labyrinthine exploration of love’s remnants, a sonic deluge that sweeps listeners through vast emotional landscapes. The existential thrust of the song, wrapped in an upbeat tempo, is an audacious inquiry: what becomes of love after it dissipates?

The lyrical mastery exhibited in ‘Afterlife’ beckons a deep dive into the internal struggle, the confrontation with the ephemeral nature of life and love. Each refrain and verse serves as an urgent plea, a meditation on transience, and the desperate, often futile, attempts to grapple with what’s left behind.

Decoding the Symphonies and Dissonances of Mortality

Arcade Fire heralds a profound discord in ‘Afterlife’, juxtaposing a somber theme with an animating melody. This dissonance is the band’s palette to paint the picture of life’s and love’s fleeting moments. Here, the ‘awful word’ is an awakening, a harsh confrontation with the transient nature of existence, underlined by the ceremonial departure of ambulances and the dimming afterglow.

This track dares to audaciously vocalize the silence that follows life’s clamor, focusing on the residual glow that love leaves in its wake. In this sharp contrast between the upbeat rhythm and the profound lyrics, listeners find a place to dance among their own disquietude, a resounding echo of Arcade Fire’s hallmark introspective depth.

The Unanswered Echoes: Questioning the Void

‘Afterlife’ does not shy away from the age-old queries about love’s final destination, symbolized by the repeated cry, ‘Where does it go?’ These are pleas cast into the void, yearning for a response that eludes, encapsulating the universal human quest for understanding. As the song progresses, the plea intensifies, the existential core exposing itself more desperately.

This repeated questioning frames the human search for meaning in loss—a theme that resonates with anyone who has ever loved and lost. Behind the veil of the song’s infectious beat, lies a throbbing heart seeking answers, reflecting our shared need for closure and comprehension in the face of the great unknown.

The Alluring Mirage of Resolution

‘Can we work it out?’ That refrain embodies the eternal struggle of reconciliation with the past and the hope of resolution. These words, emphatically chanted, hint that in the wake of abandonment, we remain bound to the idea that by sheer will and noise, we may discover the answer and find a way to mend what’s broken.

The song cleverly uses this pursuit of resolution as both its driving force and ultimate tease. The chorus reaches out to clutch a resolution that’s just beyond grasp, creating a tangible tension with each iteration. Such is the central vortex of ‘Afterlife’, pulling us into the emotive storm at its core.

The Song’s Hidden Meaning: An Allegory for Longing

Beneath the overt narrative of love and loss, ‘Afterlife’ is an intricate allegory for the persistent longing for the past. This nostalgia is not just for love, but for all things ephemeral. The ‘window’ or ‘shallow sea’ through which glimpses of the past are seen serves as metaphors for the barriers that separate the present from what once was, yet desire remains unbridled.

Arcade Fire’s finesse lies in their ability to conjure a haunting reminisce through these vivid images. The ‘afterglow’ is not solely the memory of a lost love, but rather a symbol for the remnant light of bygone days. In this search for a connection to the past, ‘Afterlife’ rises as an anthem for those haunted by the shadows of their yesteryears.

Memorable Lines That Strike the Soul’s Chord

‘Oh, when love is gone, where does it go?’ This line, simple in its structure, cuts deeply into the existential fabric of the song. It resonates with the listener, evoking a universal feeling of emptiness that accompanies lost love, and echoingly, the larger human experience of absence and the desire for understanding.

The genius of Arcade Fire is in creating a refrain that lingers beyond the song, a question that forms the heartbeat of ‘Afterlife’. This mournfully beautiful inquiry reverberates long after the music fades, leaving an indelible mark on the canvas of contemporary music’s exploration of loss and the enduring human spirit.

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