The Suburbs: ‘Empty Room’

Said your name in an empty room
Something I would never do, I’m alone again
When I’m by myself I can be myself

And my life is coming but I don’t know when

You were burning, now you’re black and gray
Something I would never say, I’m alone again
When I’m by myself I can be myself
And my life is coming but I don’t know when

 Toute ma vie, est avec toi, moi j’attends, toi tu pars
(All my life
is with you, I wait, you leave yourself)

To be honest, this is the song on The Suburbs I usually have few qualms about skipping in a listening session. A big reason behind that is that I think Regine’s voice gets kind of lost in the mix, and there isn’t really enough of a tune to keep me listening.
Lyrically, I have no idea what the ‘empty room’ is referring to. Some have suggested that the lines about “black and gray” is the singer burning a picture of a lost love; others say the burning person was a victim of one of the many acts of destruction throughout the album. I can kind of see how either one could be the case, but I need more than two lines to know for sure: Empty Room contains about half as many words as Rococo, but where that song was dense with coherent ideas supported by each verse, there just isn’t much to chew on in this song.

All I can really infer from the scant verses is something about the pressures of public versus private life, how we’re different people at work than we are at home—why can’t we be free to be ourselves all of the time?—and something about a directionless life (not knowing when one’s life will arrive).

One thing I am sure of about this song is that I’m glad it’s the shortest one on the album, so…how ’bout a cute picture of everybody’s favorite Quebecois?


One response to this post.

  1. […] them from the constraints of civilized ‘work’, the obligation to put on different masks (as in Empty Room), etc. Reminds me of a quote from Stewart Brand (of the Whole Earth Catalog): “We have wished, we […]


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