“Almost (Sweet Music)” by Hozier

“Almost” is a song in which Hozier weaves a tale of not feeling like himself due to his interactions with the outside world. So to remedy the situation, he resorts to listening to classic jazz music by renowned artists. And throughout this track, he mentions the songs that he uses to calm himself down and get his “color back” by name. In other words, “Almost” serves as a venue in which Hozier gives a shoutout to his favorite tracks and singers, the same tunes and artists he turns to whenever he is personally feeling out of his rhythm.

Lyrics of "Almost (Sweet Music)"

Famous songs referenced in “Almost (Sweet Music)”

In all, Hozier references at least 17 of his favorite songs in the lyrics of this track. They are as follows:

  • “Stella by Starlight” by Frank Sinatra
  • “That Was My Heart” by Ella Fitzgerald
  • “Sweet Jazz Music” by Jelly Roll Morton
  • “Dancing In The Dark” by Duke Ellington
  • “Let’s Get Lost” by Chet Baker
  • “Let The Good Times Roll” by Ray Charles
  • “Smoke Rings” by Sam Cooke
  • “Paper Doll” by The Mills Brothers
  • “It Don’t Mean A Thing” by Louis Armstrong
  • “My Foolish Heart” by Bill Evans Trio
  • “The Very Thought Of You” by Nat King Cole
  • “Am I Blue” by Ray Charles
  • “A Love Supreme” by John Coltrane
  • “I Get Along Without You Very Well” by Chet Baker
  • “Russian Lullaby” by Ella Fitzgerald
  • “It’s All Alright With Me” by Ella Fitzegerald
  • “Night And Day” by Ella Fitzegerald

In all, Hozier can be said to be using the lyrics of “Almost (Sweet Music” to pay tribute to the aforementioned iconic musicians and their songs.

Facts about “Almost (Sweet Music)”

  • “Almost” was written by Hozier. He later collaborated with record producer Markus Dravs to produce the song.
  • The track was dropped on January 16, 2019. It was the first single Hozier released in 2019.
  • It is the second track on Hozier’s second studio album Wasteland, Baby! On that same album appears the song “Movement“.

23 Responses

  1. Jennifer says:

    He’s Irish. Not English.

  2. Bronwyn says:

    There’s no single track entitled ‘Sweet Music’ by Jelly Roll Morton. I think Hozier is referencing all the sweet tracks by this artist – ‘Sweet Man’, ‘Sweet Anita Mine’, ‘Sweet Substitute’, ‘Sweet Peter’.

    • Kojo says:

      Hi Bronwyn, Jelly Roll Morton actually has a song titled “Sweet Jazz Music”. The song in question appears on the album titled Jazz Collection: Jelly Roll Morton.

  3. Dustin says:

    While the references in the lyrics are novel and obviously clever, there is more going on. Note the pronouns referring to a woman present and a woman elsewhere.
    Whether listening to the jazz is therapeutic for him could be up to interpretation. Yet, he is thankful for the music, else, he wouldn’t know where to start for getting past heartache.

  4. Sue Q says:

    As for “Stella by Starlight,” my money is on the Miles Davis version, not Frank Sinetra’s.

  5. Kaleb 254 says:

    First this is one of the best creativity in music;combining atleast 17 songs to create a song of his own…creativity of another level great job Hozier.Try to create another one just like Almost

  6. Ray D. says:

    I love this song, even though it is a horror story. While Hozier brilliantly and beautifully weaves references to songs and singers from an earlier time, he does so to tell a story. The entire song is a build up to that moment when Woman #2 (the current relationship) asks him THE question, “Is everything alright?” Everything is not alright. His mind is on Woman #1, “I get along without you very well some other nights”. But, he also feels that it is not the right time to acknowledge this truth. “Be still my foolish heart. Don’t ruin this on me”. As in, do not answer that question. He mentions at least two women, maybe three . “I came in from the outside. Burned out from a joy ride” could refer to Woman #3 as a relationship before Woman #1. The jazz references help paint the picture of his relationships and his current state of mind, and help us to fully understand the gravity of the moment when she turns to him Awake! and asks if everything is alright. “Oh, I wouldn’t know where to start… Be still my foolish heart… “.

    I say it is a horror story because I have lived it and I actually get a reaction in my stomach thinking about the dead air in the bedroom before a verbal response is given. The song takes us into his head in that moment before he responds. We never hear how he actually responds to her, but the turmoil inside of him is palpable. A beautiful song from start to finish.

    • Reitz says:

      This is trullllly a profound analysis. Detailed in evidence and author commentary. Brilliant.

      • Anonymous says:

        Yeah it was. 🙂 Just kidding. That is probably the nicest thing anybody has ever said about anything I have ever written. Thank you.

    • Hurakan says:

      Oh my goodness this is a perfect analysis of this song.

      • Akshay D. says:

        Hi, great explanation! Thanks.
        Can you also please elaborate how this line fits into this – ‘I am almost me again, she’s almost you’. I think, in the entire song he is talking to woman#1 (hypothetically, since she is not with him anymore). ‘She’ could be woman#2 and ‘you’ could be woman#1.

        I think the complete song makes more sense this way.

        • Anonymous says:

          Yes, I think this makes good sense. Most of the inner conversation is with the previous woman #1 who is not there physically. Woman #2 (current) is not his main focus, but… “she’s almost you”. He does have to figure out how to respond to the question, but he would rather be daydreaming about the previous relationship.

    • Karen Underwood says:

      It don’t mean a thing is Duke Ellington, not Ray Charles.

  7. Ryan says:

    This is one of my favorite songs. The way I’ve read into the lyrics is that these songs, in his mind, bring him back to the days with the first love/woman in the song. When he hears these songs it conjures up thoughts about her. He wants these songs to be his again, but they come with her attached. These favorite songs of his will always be tied to her no matter who he’s with. That happens to us all. A song will be tied to a time of your life, to a person, to a memory, and some are not always pleasant reminders.

  8. Anonymous says:

    The way I interpreted the song is that the character in the song is a widower. His spouse died giving birth to their child or died before the kid knowing their mother pretty well. It was a hard period for him and when he says ”I’m almost me again, she’s almost you” / ”I laugh like me again, she laugh like you”, he’s starting to feel some hope by seeing their daughter growing up, like if they would have raised her together.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Exactly, I’m not sure how it could be interpreted any different. The fact that the song plays in the movie Fatherhood completely solidifies it.

  10. Milk says:

    This is so crazy I love this song so freaking much and I love how amazing it it I have spent maybe 5 months listening to this same song but today i sat down a read the lyrics and it mind blowing. Well done

  11. Curious says:

    I’m curious where the author got this information, as many of these songs are played and covered by many great jazz musicians. Do we actually know which versions of the songs Hozier is referencing?

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