Big Thief – “Paul” Lyrics Meaning

Photo of author
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.

This song is a complex tapestry of emotions and imagery, delving deep into themes of love, loss, and the intricate dance of human connections. “Paul” seems to be about a poignant and tumultuous relationship, marked by a blend of passion and pain. The songwriter, Adrianne Lenker, crafts an intensely personal narrative, possibly reflecting on a past relationship. The vivid imagery and metaphorical language suggest a struggle with inner demons and the complexities of love. Lenker doesn’t just tell a story; she invites us into a whirlwind of emotions, leaving us pondering the actual depth of her words.

“Paul”, with its raw emotion and vivid storytelling, it’s a journey through the complexities of love and human connection. Keep reading to uncover the layers of this mesmerizing track.


“Paul” Lyrics Meaning

“Oh, the last time I saw Paul, I was horrible and almost let him in.” These opening lines set the stage for a song that’s about more than just a simple love story. It speaks of a moment of vulnerability, a near surrender to emotion, followed by a retreat behind a metaphorical wall. The reference to “almost letting him in” suggests a guarded heart, perhaps scarred by past experiences.

The song continues, “But I stopped and caught the wall, and my mouth got dry, so all I did was take him for a spin.” Here, Lenker paints a picture of hesitation and the subsequent decision to keep things light and uncommitted. The metaphor of driving in circles around a freight train yard symbolizes the aimless, cyclical nature of their relationship, always moving but never progressing.

The chorus, “I’ll be your morning bright good night shadow machine, I’ll be your record player baby if you know what I mean,” uses beautiful, yet ambiguous metaphors. It could imply a willingness to be whatever the other person needs, transforming and adapting in a relationship that lacks clarity and direction.

In the lines, “In the blossom of the months, I was sure that I’d get driven off with thought,” Lenker reflects on a time of introspection and self-doubt, perhaps questioning the relationship’s validity and her own feelings.

The song’s latter part, “I was your starry-eyed lover and the one that you saw, I was your hurricane rider and the one that you’d call,” reveals a deeper, more intimate connection. However, this is immediately countered by the acknowledgment of pain and a sense of inevitable parting: “I’ve been burning for you, baby, since the moment I left.”

The Story Behind “Paul”

Adrianne Lenker’s lyrics are not just words; they are windows into her soul, revealing her struggles with love, identity, and the tumultuous journey of self-discovery. “Paul” feels like a cathartic release, a way for Lenker to process complex emotions and experiences. Her state of mind during the song’s creation likely involved wrestling with past demons, confronting the pain of lost love, and the challenge of moving on. The imagery in the lyrics suggests a landscape of emotional turmoil, where moments of intimacy and connection are intertwined with feelings of regret and a longing for closure.

In creating “Paul,” Lenker isn’t just sharing a story; she’s offering a piece of her heart. The song’s rawness and authenticity resonate with anyone who has navigated the highs and lows of love. It’s a testament to the power of music as a medium for expressing the inexpressible, and a reminder that even in our darkest moments, beauty can emerge.