Otherwise – The Soul-Searching Odyssey Behind a Trip-Hop Gem


You can view the lyrics, alternate interprations and sheet music for Morcheeba's Otherwise at Lyrics.org.
Article Contents:
  1. Music Video
  2. Lyrics
  3. Song Meaning
  4. The Enigma of Public Persona Versus True Self
  5. The Sparkling Chains of Criticism and Compromise
  6. Desire Trapped in Love’s Vault – An Emotional Heist
  7. The Painful Gloss of Perfection – Love’s Unattainable Ideal
  8. Memorable Lines That Echo in the Heart

Lyrics

They wanted me here
Just to show you my face
But when it comes to the crunch
I just hide in disgrace
You’re calling me mad
But I know you’re the same
Cause you got to be seen to be playing the game
Yes we got to be seen to be playing, the game

It ain’t gonna hurt now
If you open up your eyes
You’re making it worse now
Everytime you criticise
I’m under your curse now
But I call it compromise
I thought that you were wise
But you were otherwise

A specimen like you
I would love to obtain
I asked a tedious guy if he’ll tell me your name
I’d love to impress you
With a back somersault
I want to take out your love
But it’s locked in a vault
I want to take up your love
But it’s locked in a vault

It ain’t gonna hurt now
If you open up your eyes
You’re making it worse now
Everytime you criticise
I’m under your curse now
But I call it compromise
I thought that you were wise
But you were otherwise

When I open my mouth
I’m so brutally honest
And I can’t expect that kind of love from you
When you open your mouth
Your teeth are beautifully polished
And I can’t extract the pain you’re going through
No I can’t explain
The pain you’re going through

It ain’t gonna hurt now
If you open up your eyes
You’re making it worse now
Everytime you womanise
I’m under your curse now
But I call it compromise
I’m under your curse

It ain’t gonna hurt now
If you open up your eyes
You’re making it worse now
Everytime you criticise
I’m under your curse now
But I call it compromise
I thought that you were wise
But you were otherwise

Full Lyrics

Amidst the mellow waves of trip-hop in the late ’90s and early ’00s, British band Morcheeba carved out a sound that was as intoxicating as it was emotionally intricate. One of their standout tracks, ‘Otherwise,’ encapsulates the band’s uncanny ability to blend serene melodies with stirring lyrics.

But there’s more to ‘Otherwise’ than meets the ear. Beneath the surface of Morcheeba’s smooth grooves lie compelling commentaries on love, human interaction, and the facade people maintain in social spheres. This article delves into the depths of ‘Otherwise,’ exploring the intricate layers of meaning and their resonance with the human experience.

The Enigma of Public Persona Versus True Self

Morcheeba’s ‘Otherwise’ opens with an intimate confession, a glimpse into the chasm between public and private selves. The lyrics ‘They wanted me here just to show you my face, but when it comes to the crunch, I just hide in disgrace’ masterfully convey the universal struggle with vulnerability. It speaks to the duality of performance — the pressure to exhibit a version of ourselves that is curated for public acceptance, contrasted with our internal sense of inadequacy.

The song grips listeners with its candid exploration of this dissonance, challenging us to self-reflect. Are we all playing ‘the game’ just to be seen, or is there something deeper, something ‘otherwise’ that defines us?

The Sparkling Chains of Criticism and Compromise

As the chorus hums into existence, offering a paradox of pain and promise, ‘Otherwise’ distills the toxicity of criticism into a potent refrain, ‘It ain’t gonna hurt now if you open up your eyes, you’re making it worse now every time you criticize.’ Morcheeba confronts the damage inflicted by the harsh words we wield against each other, often disguising insecurities as critiques.

Yet the song goes further, exploring the delicate dance of relationships where we are ‘under [a] curse,’ but choose to frame our concessions as compromise, opting to see wisdom where perhaps there is none. The track’s melodic cadence carries this complex reality, asking us to ponder the true cost of our supposed compromises.

Desire Trapped in Love’s Vault – An Emotional Heist

Midway through, ‘Otherwise’ shifts to a narrative of concealed yearning, visualized as love locked away in a ‘vault.’ The metaphor is evocative of the barriers we erect around our hearts, safeguarding them from the vulnerabilities love entails. It casts desire as something almost tangible — an object or treasure we are desperate to ‘take out’ or ‘take up.’

This section of the song embodies a profound longing for connection and the frustrating realization that sometimes, no matter how acrobatic our efforts in love are (like performing a ‘back somersault’), access to the other’s affection remains jealously guarded.

The Painful Gloss of Perfection – Love’s Unattainable Ideal

A striking aspect of ‘Otherwise’s’ narrative is the contrast drawn between brutal honesty and pleasing exterior. The stark image of ‘beautifully polished’ teeth symbolizes the cultivated perfection that we present to the world, offset against the raw, unfiltered truth of our words and feelings that Morcheeba dares to vocalize.

This passage from the song dwells on the challenges of striving for authenticity in love. The expectation of perfection — either in ourselves or our partners — is sharply critiqued, suggesting that true connection derives from embracing, rather than glossing over, our mutual pains.

Memorable Lines That Echo in the Heart

While the entirety of ‘Otherwise’ serves as a poetic tour de force, certain lines strike a particular chord within the listener, resonating with the shared experience of the flaws and fallacies of human interactions. When Morcheeba poignantly declares, ‘I thought that you were wise, but you were otherwise,’ they capture the sting of disillusionment — the moment when someone falls short of the pedestal we placed them on.

It’s a sentiment that echoes through time and relationships, a lyrical mirror reflecting the often-disheartening realization that the people we admire and aspire to be like are, in fact, burdened with their own shortcomings. And perhaps it’s within this shared imperfection that we truly find each other.

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