Lincoln – “Saint Bernard” 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.

Lincoln’s “Saint Bernard” is a deeply personal exploration of self-doubt, inner conflict, and a desperate search for identity and acceptance. The song examines the artist’s Catholic upbringing and struggles with personal beliefs, suggesting a sense of not belonging, symbolized by being “in Ohio, satanic and chained up”.

The reference to Saint Calvin and Saint Bernard not only reflects the religious influence but also suggests a longing for comfort and guidance, possibly a nod to personal relationships. Despite its melancholic tone, the song leaves us with a sense of perseverance. The songwriter seeks to understand himself better, hoping it might lead to understanding and connecting with others more genuinely.

Dive into the depths of Lincoln’s lyrical masterpiece, “Saint Bernard.” Uncover the hidden narratives and emotional landscapes sculpted by an artist’s personal struggles and yearnings.

“Saint Bernard” Lyrics Meaning

The song opens with a self-deprecating confession, using religious icons as a reminder of perceived shortcomings. “Hung pictures of patron saints up on my wall / To remind me that I am a fool”. The ‘fool’ here represents the songwriter’s feelings of inadequacy and perhaps guilt for not living up to the standards set by the religion he was brought up in.

The second stanza delves into the artist’s feelings of being entrapped and alienated – “I’m in Ohio, satanic and chained up”. This metaphorical Ohio is likely an emotional state of despair, not a physical location. The stark contrast to ‘holy and free’ saints implies his struggle to reconcile with his Catholic background, experiencing an inner conflict between his upbringing and his personal beliefs or experiences.

“I said make me love myself, so that I might love you / Don’t make me a liar, because I swear to God / When I said it, I thought it was true”. Here, Lincoln wrestles with self-love and sincerity in his relationships. His desire to love himself could be a search for self-acceptance. The plea ‘Don’t make me a liar’ suggests an element of fear, perhaps of promises not kept, or of relationships built on shaky foundations due to his own self-doubt.

“Saint Calvin told me not to worry about you / But he’s got his own things to deal with”. Here, Lincoln may be expressing his own disillusionment, suggesting that even the ‘saints’ in his life, likely metaphors for mentors or influential figures, have their own struggles and can’t provide all the answers.

The song concludes with “Saint Bernard sits at the top of the driveway / You always said how you loved dogs / I don’t know if I count, but I’m trying my best / When I’m howling and barking these songs”. The final lines encapsulate his longing for acceptance and his continued effort to express himself despite his struggles. The metaphor of ‘howling and barking these songs’ portrays his music as a form of catharsis and communication, a raw, primal expression of emotion, reflecting his struggle and resilience.

The Story Behind “Saint Bernard”

In delving into the backstory of “Saint Bernard”, it becomes apparent that the song encapsulates Lincoln’s struggle with his personal identity amidst his Catholic upbringing. Lincoln was grappling with feelings of self-doubt, feeling trapped by the weight of religious expectations.

When the song was written, Lincoln was wrestling with the internal contradictions that come from growing up in a religious context while personally questioning its tenets. “Saint Bernard” serves as a medium for Lincoln to air his frustrations and struggles, turning his inner turmoil into a form of artistic expression.

The references to “Saint Calvin” and “Saint Bernard” might hint at significant influences or relationships in Lincoln’s life that he is simultaneously questioning and seeking solace from. This could potentially include figures from his Catholic school education, further symbolizing his struggle between rebellion and conformity.

The line “I said make me love myself, so that I might love you” conveys a profound moment of introspection. Lincoln was not only battling with his religious and personal identity but also with his self-worth and ability to form genuine relationships. The importance of self-love and acceptance is a theme that shines through his lyrics, reflecting a critical stage in his life where he was coming to terms with the fact that in order to love others honestly, he needed to love himself first.

Another noteworthy aspect is the geographical reference “I’m in Ohio, satanic and chained up”. While this could refer to a literal location, it’s likely this phrase is symbolic. Perhaps it represents a period or state in his life where he felt particularly trapped or disconnected from his spiritual roots, reinforcing the internal conflict that underpins the entire song.

Ultimately, “Saint Bernard” offers a glimpse into the complex world of the songwriter. Lincoln’s vulnerability shines through in his lyrics, painting a poignant picture of his emotional landscape during the time of writing this song. The song was born out of a period of deep introspection and personal struggle, resulting in a haunting yet beautiful piece of music that resonates with many who are also navigating their path through self-doubt, religious uncertainty, and the pursuit of self-love.