Hozier – “Jackie and Wilson” 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.

Hozier’s “Jackie and Wilson” is a soulful tune about life’s second chances and the redemptive power of love. It paints a vivid picture of a guy stuck in a rut, going through a mid-youth crisis. Then he meets this woman who revitalizes him, making him feel youthful and alive. The song plays around with what could be—a fantasy life where they name their kids Jackie and Wilson, after soul legends, and are happy just watching the world go by. It’s a tale of fleeting moments that make us yearn for more. The songwriter’s message? Sometimes the promise of love can be a saving grace, even if it’s just a fleeting moment.

Curious to unravel the layers of this moving Hozier classic? Let’s dig in and explore the lyrics in depth.

“Jackie and Wilson” Lyrics Meaning

The song starts with a sense of exhaustion: “So tired trying to see from behind the red in my eyes.” It’s a clear image of someone who’s worn out, maybe from life or maybe from the night before. This version of the narrator is not one he’s proud of: “No better version of me I could pretend to be tonight.”

But then everything changes with her arrival: “She blows outta nowhere, roman candle of the wild.” She is a breath of fresh air, a spark in his dull life, and he’s instantly captivated. He’d prefer This version of himself: the one in her company.

The narrative swiftly moves into the transformative power of this encounter. “And, Lord, she found me just in time / ‘Cause with my mid-youth crisis all said and done / I need to be youthfully felt ’cause, God, I never felt young.” Hozier lays it bare here. This woman makes him feel rejuvenated, and her timing couldn’t be better.

As the song progresses, Hozier describes the daydream of a life with her. They’re not just lovers; they’re a team. They’ll be “detectives,” going on adventures, and raising kids on “rhythm and blues,” honoring the past while shaping the future. It’s a vivid and soulful utopia where they can both be their truest selves.

Yet, the dream fades as fast as it came: “Cut clean from the dream at night, let my mind reset / Looking up from a cigarette, and she’s already left.” It’s a jolting reminder that this perfect vision is just that—a vision. What remains is the narrator, alone again, “digging up the yard for what’s left of me and our little vignette.”

The Story Behind “Jackie and Wilson”

When Hozier wrote “Jackie and Wilson,” he was grappling with the ideas of identity, youth, and the capacity for love to rejuvenate and transform. He named the song after two legendary soul artists, Jackie Wilson and Aretha Franklin, who sang “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman,” penned by Carole King. In many ways, the song is an ode to the transformative power of soul music itself, channeling the essence of what makes the genre so universally relatable.

Hozier often combines elements of rock, folk, and soul to explore themes of love, religion, and identity. This song is no exception. It tackles the concept of a “mid-youth crisis,” an interesting twist on the mid-life crisis trope. Here, he is neither young nor old, but stuck in the purgatory of late youth, searching for something more.

The song’s protagonist is a manifestation of this state. Tired, uninspired, and surrounded by “the most familiar of swine,” he’s craving a change. His encounter with this woman isn’t just a love story; it’s a lifeline. For a moment, he glimpses a different life, one full of possibilities.

The juxtaposition of dream and reality in “Jackie and Wilson” offers a poignant reminder of the fleeting nature of moments that inspire us, the dreams that save us, and the people who make us want to be better versions of ourselves—even if they’re just passing through.