In 1997, alt rock band Third Blind Eye released their debut album, named after the band. The album contains as many as 14 tracks, and the audience accepted it with enthusiasm and positive reviews, but the track Semi-Charmed Life deserves special attention, which became the first single of this album and the first single of the group in general. To this day, his lines leave questions, since the meaning of the song can be interpreted ambiguously.
Semi-Charmed Life’s lyrics were written by the band’s lead singer, Stefan Jenkins, or so he claimed, though guitarist Kevin Cadogan is known to have disputed other songs by the band in court. Be that as it may, the text of the first single came out from the pen of Jenkins, who was against the song becoming the lead single – the upcoming album and the work of the group as a whole could be judged by it, but the guitarist insisted on the opposite, so we have what we have . When Jenkins wrote the lyrics, by his own admission, he was influenced by friends who used crystals of mephedrone (a synthetic drug), which is mentioned in one of the lines, so the soloist also thought about how the audience would perceive the song: he was afraid that about Semi-Charmed Life will only think of it as a song about drugs.
So what is the meaning of the song? “Do whatever, smile while we go through this” – the lyrical hero comes to ecstasy, keeping a smile to get through life’s difficulties and trials. In general, in the first verse, in combination with the chorus, there is more emphasis on pleasure, on how the hero “holds up”, keeps him in place, in order, a certain feeling of high, associated not with the drug mentioned above, but with a woman close to him: “I am packed and I hold on, I smile, she is alive, she is golden and she lives for me.
In the second verse, the atmosphere becomes darker, which is also noticeable in the soloist’s voice, in the first verse he was more provocative, in the second it becomes less satisfied and more disturbing, which contrasts with the practically unchanged instrumental: the guitar and drums set a peppy rhythm, to which it is more likely you will dance than to think about the lost pleasure. “The sky, it was golden, it was pink, I took sips through my nose, I would like to return to where you smile in the photographs, making mef” – the hero greedily, swallowed something beautiful through his nose, that is, the golden and pink sky (here it is precisely the similarity of sensations with those that Jenkins’s friends experienced when using the drug) that is discovered), and now he dreams of returning there, but cannot.
It is also clear in these lines that the drug meph is mentioned only in a hypothetical situation: the woman whom the hero dreamed about in the first verse would smile in that place under the rose-gold sky, making the drug, it is emphasized in such a way that that place is an unforgettable paradise. Then the hero tells how he took rhythm one after another, each more difficult than the previous one, and after that there are lines – the hero definitely cannot return to where everything was wonderful, at that moment before the second dose of the “drug”, when it was not necessary to increase the “dose “. However, it is worth remembering that drugs do not appear in the song as illegal substances, only as metaphors, later it will become clearer why. In the third verse, the enthusiasm completely leaves the soloist’s voice, but it does not become disturbing, despite the discovery of the true meaning of the text: “We traveled around the city on the same craving for life, but now we are surviving.” The hero misses the will to live, but now he survives, his love “smiles, but nothing is in order.”
“Now you hold me, but we are broken, I am scared, but I do not give up” – the hero and his woman are unhappy together, but he still wants to fix his life. He knows he won’t go back to that “golden” period of his life, so he won’t run after him, but “I need something else to get through this half-enchanted life, I don’t listen when you say goodbye” – the hero will not return to the happiness that was with his love in the past, and in order to cope with the difficulties now, he needs something else. So, Semi-Charmed Life is about the need to move on, about unattainable happiness, when you don’t know what exactly you need to just live on. Jenkins himself said that the song is about growing up, changing circumstances and how difficult it can be to adapt to them, about the fear that your life will never be stable.