Amanda Palmer – “Runs in the Family” Lyrics Meaning

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Written By Joanna Landrum

Joanna holds a BSc in English Literature and uses her expertise in literary analysis to uncover the deeper meaning of her favorite songs.

Amanda Palmer’s “Runs in the Family” explores mental health, family history, and self. The lyrics delve into the struggles of dealing with inherent familial issues, portraying a vivid picture of internal and external turmoil. The song appears to unravel the complexity of hereditary traits and predispositions and how these shape one’s identity and life experiences. It reflects a raw, honest confrontation with the self, analyzing how family history can be an inescapable shadow.


Eager to explore the myriad of meanings within Amanda Palmer’s “Runs in the Family”? Dive into this multifaceted song and discover the intricate dance between inheritance and identity, mind, and legacy!

“Runs in the Family” Lyrics Meaning

The song starts with a rhythm, “1, 2, 3, 4,” and takes us straight into the world of a friend who struggles with mental health issues, possibly depression, intensified by the seasons. The vivid descriptions, “They give him prescriptions, they shine bright lights on him,” denote a medical intervention, representing a struggle with inherent mental afflictions.

The chorus echoes, “It runs in the family,” reflecting the central theme of hereditary influences and their undeniable impact on our lives. The lines, “All day I’ve been wondering what is inside of me, Who can I blame for it?” showcase a profound internal dialogue, a quest to understand the origins of one’s pain and complexities.

The mention of ancestors, “it has something to do with her grandmother’s Grandfather’s grandmother saving civil war soldiers,” highlights a journey into the past, illustrating how deeply one’s family history is interwoven into their being. It’s a metaphor for the inherited maladies and the burdens of the past that one might bear.

The poignant declaration, “We tend to bruise easily, mad in the blood,” is a striking acknowledgment of vulnerability and predisposition to mental afflictions. It serves as a reminder of the susceptibility and the inherent human fragility within familial lines.

Finally, the lines, “I cannot, I cannot, I cannot run from my family,” represent an acceptance of the inescapable reality of one’s lineage. It’s an admission of the unbreakable bond and influence of family, no matter how far one runs.

The Story Behind “Runs in the Family”

When Amanda Palmer penned down “Runs in the Family,” it was likely a culmination of introspection, revelations, and a confrontation with her familial lineage and its impact on her being. Amanda is known for her candid, no-holds-barred approach to songwriting, and this song is no exception.

The essence of “Runs in the Family” seems to be drawn from a place of personal struggle, entwined with a historical perspective. It’s a deep dive into the intricate relationship between family, self, and mental health. The diverse narrative, which includes friends and self-reflections, is an exploration into the nature of inheritance, not just of physical or visible traits but also of mental health conditions and inherent vulnerabilities.

The song is a stark reminder of the multifaceted nature of existence, and how our family histories play an integral role in shaping our identities, views, and struggles. Amanda’s exploration of these themes serves as a conversation starter, encouraging listeners to reflect on their lineage and confront the shadows of their past.

In creating “Runs in the Family,” Amanda Palmer has woven a tapestry of raw emotions, familial ties, and existential musings, offering a compelling musical journey that resonates with many who have felt the unrelenting grasp of their ancestry. The song stands as a testament to the power of music in unraveling the complexities of human existence and the shadows that walk with us.