Twenty One Pilots’ “Car Radio” Lyrics Meaning

“Car Radio” is a song based on a real-life experience whereas Tyler Joseph, the leader of Twenty One Pilots, had his car radio stolen. At that particular juncture in his life he was not as financially successful as he is today. Thus instantly replacing it was not an option. And as a result he had to deal with considerable periods of silence while driving, whereas before he would normally be listening to his radio. But he had actually come to relish this experience, as in coming to the realization that “music can act as a distraction” and is a diversion from “where your mind wants to go”.

So that is the general storyline and idea which “Car Radio” operates on. That being said, it is important to point out as TØP has a tendency to use very heavy-handed lyrics. Owing to this, it’s easy to get carried away by one of their powerful metaphors.

Deeper Meaning of “Car Radio”

So in regards to actually understanding the meaning of this song, it is the third verse which is most-enlightening. By this time it has already been established that Tyler’s car radio has been stolen. And then we discover that he has a tendency to hide from his own thoughts and as such preferred it when his “car had sound”, as the noise served as a viable distraction from his inner voice. 

But then he presents our world as one which is dominated by two opposing realities, “peace” and “fear”. And peace of course is the preferable road. But in order to achieve such a state, “faith” is necessary. And faith is characterized as being “awake”. And being awake is tantamount to mental activity, i.e. ‘thinking’. 

And the implication is that the most-effective way to initiate thinking is via silence. Indeed if he is ‘sitting in silence’, the vocalist is able to “ponder… something great” and feels more compelled to maximize the time he’s been allotted on Earth.


So this song is inconspicuously deep. It uses the premise of the singer’s “car radio” being swiped – and the discomfort he experiences as a result – to espouse an ideology of silence, from a mental standpoint, being preferable to constant external sounds.

Lyrics of "Car Radio"

Interpretation of “Car Radio”: By Another Hand

The lyrics of the song Car Radio don’t set you looking for hidden meanings. 

It is the true story of how Tyler Joseph, the vocalist of the band Twenty One Pilots had his radio, GPS and CDs stolen from his car when he forgot to lock it because he was running so late for a college exam. He was so late that he left his car unlocked, only to return to find that the car had been burgled. 

The lyrics allude to the feeling of discontent and frustration one feels due to a loss. 

Frustrated and out of sorts, he has to drive in silence. And without the distraction of his car radio his thoughts get the better of him. 

There are people who don’t handle solitude well because it is quite impossible to avoid the frank brutality of thoughts from crowding one’s mind, thus causing a lot of frustration. But then on the other hand, it is in times like these that the greatest and sometimes most successful ideas are born and implemented, or otherwise, discarded.

One can easily say that the lyrics of this song speak about the uncontrollable occurrences in our lives, and how well or badly we handle them depending on our character and the circumstances that present themselves.

Facts about “Car Radio”

The original release date for this song was 8 July 2011. That’s when it was featured on TØP’s second album, “Regional at Best”.

The track was then re-released on 18 March 2014, this time being featured on (and serving as a single from) their third album, “Vessel”. On “Vessel” also appeared the hits “Heathens“, “Stressed Out” and “Chlorine”

The second time around appeared to be the charm, as “Car Radio” appeared on four different Billboard charts including Hot Rock Songs.

Moreover it has been certified double-Platinum by the RIAA in the United States and also achieved Silver certification in the United Kingdom.

The director of the music video to “Car Radio”, Mark C. Eshleman, used a concert setting for the visual.

“Car Radio” was written exclusively by Tyler Joseph. Tyler also served as the co-producer of the track alongside Greg Wells.

1 Response

  1. Anonymous says:

    Hey so in English we had to choose a piece of poetry/song and write our interpretation of it and I thought I might as well share it here lol.

    I believe that Tyler uses a car as a metaphor for his life, and him driving this car represents him living his life. Different parts of the car represent different parts of people. But we need every part in a car to work properly, again exactly like people. Someone has taken the car radio from Tylers car. People might think that listening to music while driving isn’t necessary but it is important. The car radio is a metaphor for whatever kept Tyler going strong. for some people their escape is in fact music, others it could be a certain person, or writing or art etc. Now that Tylers car radio has been taken away, he has no escape. Now he is completely alone with his thoughts. He is thinking too much. He begins to question his life. throughout the entire song Tyler keeps referencing the car aka his life. An example of this is “I hate this car that im driving”. Without the music, which as I mentioned before, is his escape, Tyler doesn’t like the car, which is his life. Without what Tyler loved about his life, he is beginning to find it pointless. Another reference to the car is “I could pull the steering wheel”. I think what Tyler meant by this is as he is struggling to find purpose in this car without music he is thinking of ending his journey by pulling the steering wheel because there is no point. This means that Tyler is living this life without the thing he loves and doesn’t want to live it anymore so he is considering just ending everything.

    Now, the lyrics itself are extremely deep however, so is the music video. Tyler uses his hair as a metaphor in the video. His hair represents his problems, and him shaving it is him trying to run away from his problems. He then puts a mask on, which shows he isn’t telling anyone that he is struggling and instead, hides his problems as he tries to deal with them himself. Then, we go to the concert. towards the end of the video as everything begins to slow down, Tyler takes his mask off, but his hair is still there. This shows that you can’t run away or try to ignore problems you’re facing as they will just keep returning. The last part of the video is Tyler falling off the stage. This is him committing suicide as he is tired of dealing with what hes feeling alone.

    Hey fren,
    If you’re reading this and feeling like you’re not worth it I promise you are. It might not mean a lot coming from a total stranger but I hope it makes a small difference at least. Ending your life isn’t the way to go. I know you’re feeling hurt and taking your life feels like the only way to end the pain but I promise things will get better. Its going to take time but keep fighting. You will find your car radio just hang in there 🙂

    Stay Alive ||-//

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