Meaning of “Head Above Water” by Avril Lavigne

“Head Above Water” is a very emotional single by the noted Canadian singer and songwriter Avril Lavigne. The lyrics of “Head Above Water” see the narrator (Lavigne) praying to God for help and asking Him not to let her drown. According to Lavigne, her real life struggles with Lyme disease are what inspired the song.

In a statement  Lavigne released during the official release of the track, she shed more light on that painful period in her life that led to the birth of the lyrics of this emotional ballad. According to her, her Lyme disease got so severe to the point where one night she thought she was going to die and had actually “accepted” her impending death. She said at that moment she felt as though she was physically drowning. And it was at that very scary moment that she prayed to God to save her. Here are the exact words Lavigne said she used in her prayer: “God, please help me to keep my head above water.”

Lyrics of "Head Above Water" by Avril LavigneApparently God answered her prayers because she survived that night to share her harrowing story with the world through this song.

Facts about “Head Above Water”

  • Avril Lavigne co-wrote “Head Above Water” with Canadian songwriter/composer Stephan Moccio and American singer Travis Clark (lead vocalist of the rock band We the Kings).
  • Aside co-writing the track, Stephan Moccio also produced it. He handled the production all by himself.
  • The song saw its official release on September 19, 2018. About a month before the track’s September release, Lavigne began whetting her fans’ appetite for the single by uploading onto social media a number of images from the song’s official music clip.
  • Prior to “Head Above Water”, the last new music Lavigne released was the song “Fly”, which came out in 2015. According to the singer, her struggle with Lyme disease was mainly what prevented her from releasing new music all that long.
  • British film director Elliott Lester directed the official music video of “Head Above Water”. Lester is best known across the globe for directing the 2011 film Blitz.

Watch the official music video for Avril Lavigne’s “Head Above Water” below:

Which album is “Head Above Water” on?

This track appears on Avril Lavigne’s sixth studio album of the same name. As a matter of fact, it is the first of the album’s three singles. The other two singles from that album are: “Dumb Blonde” and “Tell Me It’s Over“.

In which musical genre does “Head Above Water” belong?

This is a pop rock song.

What is Lyme disease?

Lyme disease is an infectious disease that is caused by a type of bacterium called Borrelia burgdorferi. A human being can get this disease when a tick carrying this bacterium bites him or her. Headaches, fatigue and fever are some of the most common symptoms of the disease.

10 Responses

  1. Brandy j Pelkey says:

    I love this song… I relate so much to “Head Above Water”. I’ve been battling stage 4 chronic kidney disease since 06/14/2017. I’m also a recovering addict and this song to me, seems to have a good message for all who are struggling with addiction. Thank you so much Avril for this amazing and blessed song. You have changed my Outlook on life and I am now dealing with all of my deadly chronic diseases and drug addiction better than I ever have. Thank you and God bless you.

  2. Lexi says:

    Im battling against deppression! An seem to be coming out of it so far!

  3. Lexi says:

    I feel like i can relate in some ways to this song!

  4. Keith says:

    I have Bipolar and this reminds me that I just have to keep going when I have endless mood swings.

  5. Jennifer (Jenn) St.Peter/Melville says:

    This song is one of my absolute favorite songs! Fly is another all time favorite! I can relate to these 2 in too many ways! I’ve been battling Lyme Disease, 7 or 8 co-infections from Lyme Disease. Lyme Disease brought out ADHD, ADD, Fibromyalgia, Bipolar, Depression, Anxiety, chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Migraines, and the list goes on! I have had Lyme since 1996 or before and was finally diagnosed in 2003, when they said I would have been dead in 6 months had they not found it! I’ve been through so much and continue to fight everyday, and every second!! I’ve also had so much more it would take over 1,000 pages to write all that has happened, medications, supplements, everything we have tried and done to keep me able to somewhat function as a human being! I saw a doctor in New York (I’m from Virginia) tell me I gave him nightmares and he said flat out I am the most complicated, hardest Lyme Disease Patient he has ever had! I’ve had 3 PICC lines, 2 grossing catheters, and that’s to name only a slither of this terrifying, excruciating painful, organ killing and deadly disease that is invisible and being treated as if it’s just “ALL IN MY HEAD”! The worst thing you can hear!! I hope everyone else who reads this with Lyme Disease or any other “invisible Disease ” keeps fighting and never gives up and do what it takes to keep your head above water! 💜

    • Katie says:

      I like to say this is my ballad. I suffer from Chiari malformation. It is a condition in which the brain starts going out of the skull through the base of the skull, pushing on the spine and spinal cord. It has so many symptoms that go along with it, you couldn’t possibly name all of them. One of the major symptoms is little to know CSF (Brain fluid) flow. For us Chiari warriors, our brain can literally drown. Another song I love and can relate to is We Are Warriors. Because those of us with Chiari pray that our brains dont drown and we have to fight so so hard just to keep going every day, these two songs help keep our spirits up.

  6. heather k andress says:

    I love this song for my career. what that mean let me to know. I did it on the songs to sing it loud. thank you for
    everything call me and text me I will fighting back in my life.

  7. Debbie B says:

    What an amazing song!! I can relate so much to it. I was diagnosed with Multiple sclerosis on Aug 27, 2021 and it has been a complete roller coaster of emotions. I am 47 and like anyone else, never expected my life to be like this. I am following a treatment plan of infusions in hopes that it will slow my MS progression. Autoimmune diseases are so hard on people, their family and friends but as long as your support team is on your side you can keep your head above water. Thank you for sharing your amazing song with the world. I just may use this song on my next infusion day for my tiktok video.

  8. Uzue says:

    For years I have been suffering from depression and anxiety. When I first heard the song I could relate so much. Asking God to keep my head above water has been my everyday prayer.

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