Meaning of This Life by Take That
Take That originally began as a quintet in 1990, consisting of lead singer Gary Barlow, backup singers Mark Owen and Robbie Williams, as well as dancers Howard Donald and Jason Orange. In the years that followed, the entire crew disbanded for a good while, and Williams and Orange, though popping up on occasion, ultimately decided to permanently go their respective ways. So for about the last decade, i.e. since 2014, Take That has been a trio consisting of Donald, Owen and Barlow. And This Life, which was released on 24 November 2023, marks the third studio album they have dropped as such, following 2014’s III and 2017’s Wonderland.
Writers & Producers of This Life
This song was produced by Gary Barlow and Andy Platts, and they also co-wrote it with Shawn Lee, Mark Owen and Howard Donald.
This is the title track of Take That’s ninth-studio album overall and the third track on the project’s playlist.
Although Take That hail from Manchester, England, this album was recorded in the United States, primarily in Savannah, Georgia but also New York City and Nashville, Tennessee.
This Life is the first Take That album to be released through EMI Records.
As of this release, the members of Take That range in age from 51 (Mark Owen) to 55 (Howard Donald). And to note, when the group first came together circa 1990, Owen was 18 and Donald, 22.
Judging by the lyrics of this song, Take That’s This Life project is premised on Howard and the rest of the gang recognizing that things are hard for all of us. Or as relayed in the chorus, “this life ain’t no bed of roses”, as it drains one’s positive energy, if you will. And what that means in context is the vocalists recognizing for instance that things rarely, if ever, work out as we plan or idealize. Also, they acknowledge that “losing love”, i.e. experiencing heartbreak, is part and parcel of the human experience here on Earth. And with that in mind, it should perhaps be noted that, in the pre-chorus, the addressee is referred to as “baby”, which may insinuate that said individual is akin to a (younger) female that Mark and co. are singing to.
But even though the lyrics of this song are by and large depressing, the conclusive sentiment isn’t one of defeat. Instead, Take That encourages us to “make this life yours”. That is, of course, a pretty ambiguous statement. But it seems as if what they’re saying, all lyrics considered, is that yes, life does indeed suck. But we are each only given one, and furthermore, we have the power to shape it to “be anything… you want”.
That’s sort of a contradictory statement, considering that most of the rest of the song rather alludes to us having a limited capacity to fashion life as we desire. But that said, we understand the gist of what Take That is putting forth, which is that in the grand scheme of living amongst disheartening circumstances, it’s better to be optimistic than pessimistic.