Hard to Imagine: Meaning or Inspiration



  • surforiasurforia SoCal Posts: 346
    Even after all these years, I'm still working out what I think this song is about. But I'd like to point out those first three lines are things that are literally hard to imagine: * Painting a picture using only gray * Lighting a pillow, then laying back to watch the flames * "I tell a story, but no one listens that long" -- this one is a little bit of a stretch, but this song was written during an era where seemingly everyone on earth wanted to know what Eddie Vedder wanted to say about absolutely everything (and he wasn't doing many interviews). A day to come in which nobody cared what he had to say, at that time, was "hard to imagine." I feel like this line is a little tongue-in-cheek, self-deprecating. Anyway ... I don't know how that idea plays into the second verse. Still working on that one.
    I've always thought the second verse is about attempted suicide or inflicting pain on yourself (tear into yourself, count tales on your arm = slitting your wrist, attempting suicide multiple times)  I think it's an amazing song lyrically because it can be interpreted two ways: (i) negative interpretation - the depression (painting with only gray, colorless, setting yourself on fire, no one to talk to) is the current state of affairs that the narrator is lamenting (i.e., things were great before, but all is different now because the narrator is suicidal); or (ii) positive interpretation - I'm through all the dark times alluded to in the first half of the song, and all is different now.  It's almost like "Life of Pi" - the two interpretations of the boy's journey on the raft.  Just my $0.02.
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  • I tell you what I think about every time I hear Hard to Imagine.  They opened with this song at Bonnaroo about 12 years ago. I LOVE this song and threw my arms up in the air so happy!   Next thing I know , I lying face down on the ground , pain in my lower diaphram and literally I can not breathe!! To be honest , I thought I was shot. I could not get a breath !  My daughter is screaming" MOM  are you okay?" I am laying on the ground thinking , "this is it, the end of me and I"M GOING TO MISS HARD TO IMAGINE" . A friend is screaming LOOK over there  & next to me is a frisbee!  It hit me hard in the diaphram and knocked the wind out of me .  It took a few minutes to be able to breath again, but it was really scary! It hit me so hard I had a bruise for 2 weeks. Every time I hear this beautiful song, I start to laugh.  It is such a crazy memory!
  • hrd2imgnhrd2imgn Southwest Burbs of Chicago Posts: 4,859
    edited January 2023
    I think it is about a person who has lost the will to live.  The color in life is lost, so they self harm, everyone sees it, but do nothing.  The person realizes there used to be the old way that everyone still saw them as, but when they try to explain how things have changed, no one hears them.  They are present without being seen.  They are the tree falling in the woods no one hears.  No one can comprehend what has happened to them because they are the person it could never happen to.

    Hell you can say this is after Footsteps, after Sad,  partner to Habit
    Post edited by hrd2imgn on
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