“You Only Live Once” by The Strokes

On the Strokes’ “You Only Live Once”, the writer discusses how the world is made up of diverse personalities, ideologies and perspectives.

You can view the lyrics, alternate interprations and sheet music for The Strokes's You Only Live Once at Lyrics.org.

The first verse talks about the different personalities people have, and how certain people may act really nice on the surface, but are actually struggling with sadness deep down. He goes on to mention how one cannot find an individual that possesses all the attributes a person desires with no shortcomings at all.

Again, the second verse implies that there are several ways to live, think and several religions to choose from. To the narrator, all these don’t really matter because at the end of the day, people just have one life to live hence are free to live as they please and not be restricted by one particular ideal.

Facts about “You Only Live Once”

The Strokes’ third album, First Impressions of Earth, is where this track was derived from. In fact it is the opening song on the playlist of the project, in addition to serving as its third single. The track’s official release date, via RCA Records, was on 24 July 2006.

There are two different music videos to this song. Samuel Bayer directed the first one, which alludes to the band’s smoking habit. Meanwhile director Warren Fu helmed the second, which was partially inspired by the classic Hollywood film 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968).

“You Only Live Once” went gold in Australia. And in addition to charting in the Land Down Under it also did so on Billboard’s US Alternative Songs chart.

There is also a demo version of this track which is pretty well-known to the public. For instance, it was covered by Haim in 2017. That particular offering is rather entitled “I’ll Try Anything Once”, and it came out as the B-side to Hearts in a Cage, the second single from “First Impressions of Earth”.

The Strokes marketed this song by encouraging word-of-mouth advertisement via their fandom as opposed to traditional marketing. Said initiative was called Operation YOLO (i.e. You Only Live Once). And as illustrated above, it proved moderately-successful.

On the B-side of the single version of the track is The Strokes’ take on the classic 1971 Marvin Gaye tune “Mercy Mercy Me“. And it features additional vocals by Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam fame.

“You Only Live Once” was written by The Strokes’ leader Julian Casablancas. And the track was produced by one David Kahne.


In all, “You Only Live Once” appears to portray the idea that certain aspects of life that are seemingly important to a majority of people do not really matter when life is looked at from a one-shot approach.

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