Tell Me How – Deciphering Heartache and Letting Go


You can view the lyrics, alternate interprations and sheet music for Paramore's Tell Me How at Lyrics.org.
Article Contents:
  1. Music Video
  2. Lyrics
  3. Song Meaning
  4. Navigating the Ambiguity of Post-Relationship Static
  5. The Relentless Cycle of ‘Starting Over’
  6. The Silent Weapon That Wounds Deeply
  7. Searching for a Sign in the ‘Fog of Your Memory’
  8. The Dichotomy of Suffocation and Release

Lyrics

I can’t call you a stranger
But I can’t call you
I know you think that I erased you
You may hate me but I can’t hate you
And I won’t replace you

Tell me how to feel about you now
Tell me how to feel about you now
Oh, let me know
Do I suffocate or let go?

I think I’m tired of getting over it
Just starting something new again
I’m getting sick of the beginnings
And always coming to your defenses
I guess it’s good to get it off my chest
I guess I can’t believe I haven’t yet
You know I got my own convictions
And they’re stronger than any addiction
But no one’s winning

Tell me how to feel about you now
Tell me how to feel about you now
Oh, let me know
Do I suffocate or let go?
Tell me how to feel about you now
Tell me how to feel about you now
Oh, let me know
Do I suffocate or let go?

You keep me up with your silence
Take me down with your quiet
Of all the weapons you fight with
Your silence is the most violent

Tell me how to feel about you now
Tell me how to feel about you now
Oh, let me know
Do I suffocate or let go?
Tell me how to feel about you now
Tell me how to feel about you now
Oh, let me know
Do I suffocate or let go?

You don’t have to tell me
If you ever think of me
I know you see me dancing
Wildly, in the fog of your memory
You don’t have to tell me, I can still believe

Full Lyrics

Paramore’s ‘Tell Me How’ is a haunting ballad that traverses the melancholic landscape of loss and the subsequent search for closure. This track, off their fifth studio album ‘After Laughter,’ resonates with an honesty that’s been a trademark of the band’s music since their inception. It weaves a complex tapestry of emotion, grappling with the aftermath of a relationship that defies simple categorization and where silence speaks louder than words.

With a melody that underscores the wistful lyrics, ‘Tell Me How’ serves as both a lament and a confrontation—a delicate journey through the grey areas of human connections that refuse to fade into black or white. Below, we dive into the intricate layers of meaning behind this powerful song and explore the emotions it stirs in listeners.

Navigating the Ambiguity of Post-Relationship Static

One of the song’s primary struggles is the protagonist’s inability to define their feelings towards someone who is neither a stranger nor a part of their life. The opening lines reveal this conundrum, cementing the song’s theme in a place where emotional boundaries are blurred. This ambiguity is the crux of ‘Tell Me How,’ as it mirrors a universal human experience—painfully holding onto the vestiges of a bond that once was.

The song seamlessly captures the contradiction of wanting to forget someone while being unable to erase them from memory. It’s not about hatred or replacement. Instead, it’s the realization that moving on does not entail scrubbing away past emotions; it’s about living with them.

The Relentless Cycle of ‘Starting Over’

Paramore doesn’t just present the pain of an ended relationship but the exhaustion that comes with repeatedly trying to move on. As the lyrics declare a weariness of ‘starting something new again,’ we’re confronted with the often-overlooked emotional toll of constant beginnings and the energy it saps from one’s being.

This notion extends beyond romantic relationships into the broader scope of life’s ever-present cycles of change and the human desire for stability amidst chaos. The resistance to ‘coming to your defenses’ signals a jaded awareness that what’s been lost is irreplaceable.

The Silent Weapon That Wounds Deeply

Perhaps the most poignant aspect of ‘Tell Me How’ is its reflection on silence as a form of emotional violence. The song attributes an almost physical power to the lack of communication, elevating it to the status of a weapon in the arsenal of personal conflict.

Silence is often overlooked for its capacity to cause pain, making it a fitting metaphor for the spaces between people that widen after a falling-out. By highlighting this, Paramore recognizes the deep scars that non-confrontation can leave on the psyche.

Searching for a Sign in the ‘Fog of Your Memory’

The closing lines of the song bring a bittersweet resolution. It is an admission that while the protagonist no longer expects active communication or reconciliation, there’s still a faint hope that their memory lingers in the mind of the estranged.

This stark honesty about holding onto the hope for acknowledgment, even as one dances alone through the metaphorical ‘fog’ of forgotten moments, encapsulates the human desire for connection and recognition—even from those who have hurt us.

The Dichotomy of Suffocation and Release

Central to the chorus, and the song itself, is the dilemma of whether to ‘suffocate or let go.’ The imagery of suffocation captures the overwhelming nature of unresolved feelings, while the appeal to ‘let go’ is a plea for the freedom to breathe anew.

It’s a powerful internal conflict that speaks to the listener’s own experiences with difficult goodbyes. It underscores a universal question faced by anyone who has loved deeply and lost: How do we navigate the line between holding on to our love and releasing it so we can heal?

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