Ben Howard – “Black Flies” 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.

Ben Howard’s “Black Flies” is a profound exploration of human connection and isolation, encapsulating the essence of individuality and our inherent need for companionship. At its core, the song communicates the inevitable truth that ‘no man is an island,’ illustrating our innate longing for connection and the solace found in shared experiences. The black flies on the windowsill symbolize moments of despair and melancholy, and the changing seasons metaphorically represent the transitory nature of life and emotions. The somber tone encapsulates a journey from solitude to realization, offering a reflection on personal growth and the unrelenting pursuit of contentment in the company of others.

For those looking to uncover the profound layers and intricate poeticism encapsulated in Howard’s masterpiece, the ensuing exploration promises a journey through lyrical landscapes teeming with existential contemplations and poignant reflections.

“Black Flies” Lyrics Meaning

Analyzing “Black Flies” chronologically, the opening lines set the somber tone with “black flies on the windowsill.” Here, the black flies represent the persistent, unwanted thoughts or experiences, contrasting with the notion “that we are to know,” indicating a journey of self-discovery and acknowledgment of one’s internal battles.

Winter’s theft of summer’s thrill metaphorically delves into the transient nature of happiness and how desolation can overshadow joy, akin to how winter steals away the warmth of summer. The line “the river’s cracked and cold” further intensifies this feeling of isolation and despair, portraying a harsh and unwelcome reality.

The sky being “no man’s land” and the recurring theme, “no man is an island,” symbolize the paradox of isolation within the boundless expanse of human connection. Howard seems to question the juxtaposition of feeling alone in a world teeming with potential companionship. The mention of the ocean and the stone reflects the disparity between the vast, encompassing nature of existence and the isolated, singular experience of the individual.

The lyrical journey through “every story must grow old” and “the road is wearier” unfolds the inevitable progression of life and the growing fatigue and weariness accompanying each step forward. The concluding lines ponder the nature of parting ways and the accompanying reluctance and inquiry, epitomizing the reflective and contemplative essence of the song.

In every lyric, there’s a subtle interplay between isolation and companionship, reflecting a multifaceted exploration of human existence and the emotional spectrum.

The Story Behind “Black Flies”

The genesis of “Black Flies” provides a fascinating backdrop to the evocative lyrical tapestry woven by Ben Howard. The song emanates from a place of deep introspection and contemplation, likely reflecting Howard’s own experiences and observations at the time. The melodic melancholy and poignant lyrics resonate with the universal human experience of isolation, underscoring the persistent quest for connection and understanding in a world that often seems cold and indifferent.

The artistic process behind “Black Flies” likely involved a melding of personal experiences with broader existential musings. The delicate balance between solitude and companionship, knowledge and ignorance, suggests a profound exploration of the human condition and our intrinsic need for connection. The lyrics’ philosophical undertones, juxtaposed with relatable imagery and metaphors, create a seamless blend of the personal and the universal.

In essence, “Black Flies” seems to serve as a mirror reflecting the intricate dance between our internal worlds and the external universe, inviting listeners to reflect upon their own journeys and the myriad emotions entwined within the human experience. The song’s creation might have been a cathartic journey for Howard, allowing him to navigate through his thoughts and emotions, eventually culminating in a musical masterpiece that continues to touch the hearts of many, offering solace and understanding in moments of solitude and despair.