The Man with the Axe by Lorde Lyrics Meaning – Unearthing the Layers of Lorde’s Lyrical Labyrinth

You can view the lyrics, alternate interprations and sheet music for Lorde's The Man with the Axe at
Article Contents:
  1. Music Video
  2. Lyrics
  3. Song Meaning


If I had to break it down
I’d say it’s the way you love to dance
Moving the furniture when my back is turned
A flick of the lights and the world falls away
And your office job, and your silver hair
But our shapes in the dark are the reason I’ve stayed for all these years

I thought I was a genius
But now I’m twenty two
And it’s starting to feel like all I know how to do is
Put on a suit and take it away
With my fistful of tunes that it’s painful to play
Fingernail worlds, like favorite seashells
They fill up my nights and then they float away

I’ve got hundreds of gowns, I’ve got paintings in frames
And a throat that fills with panic every festival day
Dutifully falling apart for the princess of Norway

But you with your doll’s lashes, your infinite T-shirts
I should’ve known when your favorite record
Was the same as my father’s, you’d take me down

I guess I’ll always be this way
Swallowed up by the words and halfway to space
But there by the fire, you offered your hand
And as I took it, I loved you, the boy with the plan

You felled me clean as a pine
The man with the axe
And the light in his eyes

We’ve been through so many hard times
I’m writing a love song
For you, baby

Full Lyrics

Lorde’s ‘The Man with the Axe’, a track from her critically-acclaimed album ‘Solar Power’, is an evocative piece that embodies the emotional complexities of growing up, reflecting upon love, and grappling with identity. The song captures a moment, a feeling, and an introspection that feels both deeply personal and universally relatable.

With a soundscape that is both haunting and heartening, Lorde sets the stage for a lyrical journey that invites listeners to peel back the layers of metaphor and meaning. This article probes beneath the song’s surface, deciphering the poetic enigmas and coaxing out the nuanced emotions embedded within the melody and verses.

Dance of Intimacy: The Moves of a Domestic Deity

Early in the song, Lorde sings about a lover who moves furniture and flicks off the lights – simple acts that mask a deeper symbolism. This domestic god of sorts orchestrates the scene, setting the stage for a world where the trivial fades and what remains are the silhouettes of two people in love. These forms in the shadows encapsulate their history, suggesting a shared past rich with moments that exist beyond the mundane.

The ‘silver hair’ and ‘office job’ represent a maturity and a mundanity, respectively, in stark contrast to the dynamic dance of young love. It’s a vivid tableau of how ordinary life can hold extraordinary moments, how routine can be brushed aside, revealing the fiery core of human connection.

An Ode to the Pain of Unused Potential

When Lorde croons about thinking she was a genius but now being twenty-two and equating her skills to simply suiting up and facing the day, there’s a palpable sense of disillusionment. She explores the dichotomy of youthful arrogance and the sobering hum of adulthood, where talents feel like burdens and creativity becomes a form of escapism from the expected.

The metaphor of ‘fingernail worlds, like favorite seashells’ conjures the fragility of dreams and ambitions, which fill up her nights then fade at dawn. Lorde captures the essence of artistic struggle, the feeling of one’s vast internal landscapes trapped within, beautiful yet impermanent and often unappreciated.

The Princess Ached for Normalcy Amongst the Opulence

Despite being adorned with gowns and surrounded by the trappings of success, Lorde reveals a deep-seated anxiety, particularly during public events where she is celebrated. The metaphorical princess of Norway is falling apart under the weight of expectations and performances, hinting at the isolation experienced at the pinnacle of fame.

It’s a metaphor for vulnerability within grandeur, where Lorde’s authentic self is obscured by the roles she has to play, revealing the conflict between her public persona and her private turmoil.

Hidden Meaning: The Intergenerational Echo of Love and Loss

The song’s emotional climax hits with the recognition of deep-rooted patterns in relationships. Discovering that her lover’s favorite record mirrors her father’s signifies an unwelcome realization that she might be subconsciously seeking out familiar love – a love potentially fraught with the same complexities and disappointments.

In this veiled revelation, Lorde uncovers a psychological narrative that resonates with many—that our affections are often influenced by our histories, that we can be blinded by what we think we know, and that sometimes love can cut as sharply as an axe.

Memorable Lines: The Stark Imprint of Imminent Goodbye

Lorde’s lyrical prowess shines as she equates her emotional capitulation to the clean felling of a pine by ‘the man with the axe’. The relationship, with its hidden sharpness, is intensely illuminated by poignant imagery. The simplicity of the statement belies its depth, symbolizing a transformative moment of clarity or the end of an era.

As the song concludes, Lorde follows a tradition of musicians who turn their love stories into ballads, suggesting an intimate diary entry turned public treasure. Her declaration of writing a love song feels like an acknowledgment of past affection and, perhaps, a tender farewell to what was once cherished.

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