“Say Something!” Lyrics analysis: Thomas’ loyalty betrayal hope despair

I have a long history of taking everything I see or hear entirely out of context and applying it to something I think is much more immediately important. Any popular song is a case in point.

“Say Something” goes to the heart of the matter. Obviously, this song is about an apology of hope, a confrontation of too-late despair, a maelstrom of conflicted emotions, blaming the other and then blaming oneself, hoping against hope that somehow it can all be better: one feels abandoned but surely this can’t actually be the case.

Of all things, I think of the Apostle Thomas, you know, that guy, the doubting Thomas. He’s the one who enthusiastically boasted that he and the rest of the Apostles would surely, in all solidarity with Jesus, go with Him to Jerusalem and die with Him. This was just some days previous to the Last Supper, the betrayal by Judas in Gethsemane, the group run-away by the rest of the Apostles, including Thomas, as Jesus is arrested, then put through a-lack-of-due-process religious tribunal, then handed over to the State, then condemned, then tortured, then executed.

Thomas didn’t think that this could happen at all. Nothing like that. Did he feel betrayed by Jesus because, you know, Jesus was laying down His life for Thomas and all of us, the Innocent for the guilty, standing in our stead, taking on the death we deserve so that He has the right in His own justice to have mercy on us.

That must be it. So, when Jesus is dead, saying nothing, and Thomas is devastated, faced by his own cowardice, his own running away, not realizing that the very silence of the all too dead Jesus speaks ever so deeply into our hearts and souls, and, if we are open, our minds. It’s a resounding silence, a veritable symphony of truth and love, of justice and mercy. Resounding. But, in the storm, Thomas cries out:

Say Something

Say something, I’m giving up on you [So, there’s Jesus, dead on the Cross. Thomas at a distance is yelling at Him: Say something!]
I’ll be the one, if you want me to [Thomas remembers his boast that he himself would be just the one to go with Jesus and die with Him. The hope… The despair… His heart being totally ripped right from his chest… Devastated….]
Anywhere I would’ve followed you [Right to death… Right, Thomas?]

Say something, I’m giving up on you [Yelling at Jesus again. It’s all His fault. And “I’ll show you! I’ll just go ahead and give up on you because apparently that’s what you’ve done, dying like you did.”]
And I am feeling so small [But then immediately, of course, feeling to be the hypocrite.]
It was over my head [There’s an excuse begging for forgiveness.]
I know nothing at all [And another excuse begging for forgiveness.]
And I will stumble and fall [And another excuse begging for forgiveness.]
I’m still learning to love [But trying to prove that maybe he has some worth. Maybe he can learn.]
Just starting to crawl [Just maybe.]

Say something, I’m giving up on you [But he is met with the same silence of the all too dead Jesus, and so yells at Him again, threatening to give up on Him.]
I’m sorry that I couldn’t get to you [You know, because, like the other Apostles, he had run away so very fast when Jesus was being arrested.]
Anywhere I would’ve followed you [Ignoring that point, he remembers the good old days when he was so brave as to say that he would have followed Jesus right to death.]

Say something, I’m giving up on you [But that memory is too much. He’s back to blaming the silent-in-death Jesus, perhaps watching the soldier shove his sword into the side, into the heart of Jesus and mash it around, making sure Jesus is silent, making sure He’s dead.]
And I will swallow my pride [But that statement is still hanging on to self-righteousness, isn’t it? Isn’t that saying that Thomas was right, but, hell, he’ll just get over being right, if only Jesus will say something.]
You’re the one that I love [Good! But right now he’s going to speak his threat once again. What a maelstrom! Such a storm inside Thomas! Beside himself, he says it…]
And I’m saying goodbye [I would be bawling my eyes out…]

Say something, I’m giving up on you [But now, repeating this, is a glimmer of hope, because – Hey! – Maybe, just maybe, He will say something.]
And I’m sorry that I couldn’t get to you [Perhaps now he’s changing the meaning of this, so that he’s blaming the Roman soldiers, but John returned, did he not?]
And anywhere I would’ve followed you (Oh-oh-oh-oh) [Too scared to return to Jesus, he recalls the time yet again when he was so very brave: “We will die with you!”]

Say something, I’m giving up on you [Reality hits hard. As cold as death. But maybe… “Say something…”]
Say something, I’m giving up on you [The weak threat, which he doesn’t mean. But what will happen now? He’ll be loyal now, but how will this work out?]
Say something… [Ending here on a note of hope, skipping the “I’m giving up, and just saying, “Say something.” And Jesus does, finally: “Put your finger Thomas, into the nail prints on the hands. Put your hand into my side. Touch my heart. Doubt no longer, but believe, Thomas. And, of course, me, down on my knees, bawling my eyes out, but joyful… joyful…]

5 Comments

Filed under Song analysis

5 responses to ““Say Something!” Lyrics analysis: Thomas’ loyalty betrayal hope despair

  1. Even when you believe you can sometimes not trust ‘yourself’ that a gift has been given.

  2. nancyv

    You always see the best of everything and that is JOY!
    (I too see unrelated weird stuff, like with your post “I’m Not Any Kind of Angel” my 1st thought was Gregg Allman’s “I’m no Angel” Hope you are feeling better)

  3. Oops! pressed the wrong button on my keyboard, my comment got posted before I finished my thought. So my comment in full…

    Even when you believe you can sometimes not trust ‘yourself’ that a gift has been given.

    For instance, a couple of years ago my mum was fussing about two blue candles that she needed (she didn’t specify what type).

    This was just before I was due to go away for the weekend with my husband. I decided to look out for suitable candles whilst we were away. We happened across a shopping village where there was a gift shop where at the front of the shop the shelves had candles, candle holders etc.

    The candles were all white, varying sizes and shapes apart from two pale blue candles tied up with rafia. I knew they were there for me (a gift), but I doubted and didn’t pick them up (did my mum want pale blue candles, dark blue candles, thick or thin candles?)

  4. Aussie Mum

    A moving analysis Father, with greater truth and depth than the lyricist had in mind. I enjoyed the Mother and son duet too.

  5. Aussie Mum

    * Capitalisation of “m” in “mother” not intended in my previous comment. I have been writing some articles about the Blessed Mother and it seems my machine auto-corrected out of context.

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