Gorillaz – “On Melancholy Hill” 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.

Gorillaz’s “On Melancholy Hill” is a poignant song that touches on the theme of longing and the search for genuine connection. It evokes a dreamy atmosphere where you can’t always get what you want, but sometimes you find something or someone that serves as a balm for your soul. With its blend of surreal imagery like plastic trees and manatees, the song delves into emotional landscapes, offering “medicine” in the form of love and closeness. Essentially, it’s about pursuing happiness, even if that happiness is imperfect or unexpected.

Ready to hop on this emotional rollercoaster? Stick with me as we decode the maze that is “On Melancholy Hill.”

“On Melancholy Hill” Lyrics Meaning

The song starts with “Up on Melancholy Hill / There’s a plastic tree / Are you here with me?” The location is intriguing. Melancholy Hill isn’t just a place; it’s a state of mind. It’s where you go when you’re feeling down or contemplative. The “plastic tree” is synthetic, much like how sometimes our lives can feel unreal or fabricated. So, are you “here” in this melancholic but oddly comforting headspace?

Next, we hear, “Just looking out on the day / Of another dream.” The dreams could be aspirations, unattained desires, or actual dreams, which blur into the waking life, keeping us in a state of longing.

“Well you can’t get what you want / But you can get me.” This line is key. It acknowledges that life won’t hand us everything on a silver platter. But it also offers an alternative: companionship, love, not as a consolation prize but as a genuine, meaningful connection.

“So let’s set out to sea, love / ‘Cause you are my medicine / When you’re close to me.” Here, the sea is not just a physical place but an emotional space where the narrator finds comfort and healing—medicine—in closeness and love.

The lyrics, “So call in the submarines / ‘Round the world we’ll go,” invite us to a journey that might be deep and internal rather than merely geographical. It’s a quest for understanding and connection, irrespective of where you are.

The song concludes with, “Up on Melancholy Hill / Sits a manatee / Just looking out for the day / When you’re close to me.” The manatee could symbolize a state of tranquility and acceptance, waiting for that connection that makes everything seem brighter.

The Story Behind “On Melancholy Hill”

When Damon Albarn of Gorillaz penned “On Melancholy Hill,” he was navigating through complex emotional terrains. The song was part of the “Plastic Beach” album, which generally delves into issues like environmentalism and the synthetic nature of modern life. But this song stood out as an intimate sojourn into the emotional landscapes that we often overlook.

In interviews, Albarn has been quite reserved about revealing too much about his songs, preferring to let the listener interpret them. But it’s clear that “On Melancholy Hill” was written in a state where he questioned the meaning of true connection, companionship, and how these relate to our overall well-being.

The term ‘melancholy’ is itself quite telling. Historically, melancholy was considered one of the “four temperaments” in pre-modern medicine, often linked to introspection and deep thinking. Here, Albarn may be highlighting how even in the complexity and sometimes superficiality of modern life, our basic emotional needs remain simple: love, understanding, and a sense of belonging.

So when you listen to “On Melancholy Hill,” you’re not just tapping your feet to a catchy tune. You’re embarking on exploring emotional depths, guided by a band that knows a thing or two about the complexities of the human soul.