“Not Strong Enough” by boygenius

To note, there aren’t any boys in Boygenius. Instead, this is a supergroup composed of the following female soloists:

  • Lucy Dacus
  • Phoebe Bridgers
  • Julien Baker

They’ve been a unit since 2018 and between now and then have dropped a couple of EPs. But as of the release of “Not Strong Enough” on 1 March 2023, we are now just a month away from the issuance of their first collective studio album, a project titled “The Record”, which is backed by Interscope. 

This particular song marks its fourth single though with the previous three – “True Blue“, “Emily I’m Sorry” and “$20” – all being released on the same day a couple of months prior.


Interesting to note is that besides being vocalists, Baker, Bridgers and Dacus all also play the guitar, with Julien especially being a multi-instrumentalist. Furthermore, besides singing “Not Strong Enough”, the trio are also individually credited with writing and producing the song.


This song features a number of interesting lyrics. For instance, in the chorus, we have the vocalist(s) putting forth that she’s “not strong enough to be your man”. This is apparently the phrase from which the title was derived. 

What is immediately interesting in that regard is the singer referring to herself as a “man” even though, in the gender sense of the word, she isn’t.

But to note, that particular line was derived from an old Sheryl Crow song titled “Not Enough” (1994). 

And as presented originally, it is part of a sentence, a question actually, that was being posed to a male addressee, i.e. the “man” part not being a reference to the vocalist. So it is not specifically clear why Phoebe and the gang decided to utilize said terminology as so, i.e. referring to themselves as men. 

But it may well be that they are speaking to a more universal concept which transcends gender, if you will. Indeed, Julien is known to be a lesbian, and both Dacus and Bridgers are bisexual. And as far as what that concept would be, it is, most simply interpreted, a personal feeling of inadequacy.

“The way I am
Not strong enough to be your man
I tried, I can’t
Stop staring at the ceiling fan and
Spinning out about things that haven’t happened
Breathing in and out”

The bridge is then highlighted by the most-striking phrase of all, which is Lucy and co. putting forth that they’re “always an angel, never a god”. That notion, so to speak, harps back more specifically to the meaning of this song, as described by Bridgers. And that is Boygenius recognizing this dichotomy within human beings whereas we have a tendency to both hate and exalt ourselves at the same time. 

More directly, she implied that this observation is being made within a romantic context as far as the lyrics go, i.e. the addressee apparently being the vocalist’s lover.

And you may still be asking yourself what exactly does that notion have to do with being “an angel” or “a god”? Well as further implied, the tendency to exalt ourselves is actually an attempt to cover our faults, which then results in a “god complex” – or something like that. 

In all honesty, this is a case where it is highly recommended that the listener read the artist’s explanation and try to make comprehensive sense out of it yourself. Indeed, it’s almost as if the way Phoebe described the song makes it more complicated than it already is.


That said, what is readily ascertainable sentiment wise, despite the complexity of the lyrics, is that the vocalist is dealing with self-esteem issues. And most simply interpreted, this song serves the purpose of her revealing this aspect of her persona to her romantic partner in what can be deemed a very-vulnerable way.

So one said, it can be said that procrastinating to correct the time on your kitchen clocks, as is apparently what the singer is griping about in the first verse, isn’t really that big of a deal. But by the looks of things, the character Phoebe and rest are portraying is one who is overly critical of herself. 

And as inferred in the chorus and as is also perhaps the thesis sentiment of this piece, she is letting her lover know that by extension, this is now a personality flaw which he or she is going to have to deal with.

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