“How Long?” by Vampire Weekend

It has been postulated that Vampire Weekend’s “How Long?” is about “Los Angeles falling into the ocean”. Indeed we can see in the chorus that Ezra Koenig asks “how long ’til we sink to the bottom of the ocean”, which may allude to that fault lines which scientists say will eventually cast good portions of California into the Pacific. 

It has also been theorized that this track is based on the presidency of Donald Trump, as it uses terms such as “democracy” in relation to “immunity”. However, it would appear that for the most part “How Long?” is centered on a personal relationship that the singer (Ezra) is involved in. And what he is basically asking is how long will their relationship endure before it finally comes to an untimely end.

Verse 1

In the first verse, Ezra states that this person “broke (his) heart”, meaning he was most likely engaged with this individual romantically. But then he states that he is “the ghost of Christmas past”, as in he is coming back to haunt her. Then he gives some cryptic details about their relationship, insinuating that that this woman basically took advantage of him.

Verse 2

Then the second verse seems to allude to some sort of pessimism he has in relation to this person, as in believing she will never change from her unfavorable ways. 

Verse 3

Finally in the third verse, we find Ezra seemingly throwing shade at his own success, insinuating that it is only temporary, as “the hills will fall eventually”. However, that last quote also reads a lot like, as aforementioned, a reference to Los Angeles sinking into the ocean, as earlier he mentions famous streets which are in the city. By the way, it should be noted that Ezra actually has a home in L.A.

Ultimate Presumption

Ultimately, the safe presumption when analyzing the meaning of this track is that it is based on a challenging romance. And the person whom the singer is in this union with is not someone he has a particularly fond view of. In fact he is so convinced that their relationship will ultimately end in disaster that the only question which remains is “how long” before this event will actually occur.

How Long?

Facts about “How Long?”

  • “How Long?” is the sixth track on the playlist of the album Father of the Bride, both of which were released on 3 May 2019. Father of the Bride is the band’s fourth studio album.  
  • Ezra Koenig co-wrote this track with assistance from Stephen Shockley and a number of other songwriters, including William Shelby and Leon Sylvers III.
  • Koenig also produced “How Long?” alongside his faithful collaborator, Ariel Rechtshaid.

Was “How Long?” released as a single?

No. The official singles that preceded Father of the Bride (the album on which this song appears) are:

  1. Harmony Hall
  2. “2021”
  3. “Sunflower”
  4. “Big Blue”
  5. “This Life”
  6. Unbearably White” 

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