Mac DeMarco – “Moonlight on the River” 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.

Mac DeMarco’s “Moonlight on the River” is a reflective and deeply personal song. It’s about saying goodbye, about parting ways with a significant person in the singer’s life, though it doesn’t explicitly state who that person is. It expresses the complexity of feelings involved in such farewells, the uncertainty, and the inevitable cycle of life and death. DeMarco’s thoughtful and melancholic lyrics convey an existential truth – everybody dies, and the moonlight on the river symbolizes the transition from life to the afterlife.

Feel that tingle of curiosity? Want to delve deeper into DeMarco’s mind? Get ready to swim in the lyrics, take a dive into “Moonlight on the River”.

“Moonlight on the River” Lyrics Meaning

The song opens with lines, “I’d say, see you later, if I thought I’d see you later”. These words imply the uncertain nature of goodbyes. Here, DeMarco reflects on the uneasiness of finality in parting ways, emphasizing that it isn’t always certain we’ll meet our loved ones again.

“And I’d tell you, that I loved you, if I did”, is a confession that love isn’t always easily expressed. It suggests that admitting one’s emotions can be challenging and sometimes, we don’t realize their depth until it’s time to say goodbye.

The chorus, “I’m home, with moonlight on the river, saying my goodbyes. I’m home, there’s moonlight on the river, everybody dies” reflects acceptance of mortality. The moonlight on the river represents tranquillity, a peaceful place where he contemplates life and death. It signifies the ephemerality of life, drawing a powerful image of calm acceptance of our ultimate fate.

“It’s so strange, deciding, how I feel about you. It ain’t like, I ain’t used, to going on without you”, these lines depict the complicated emotions associated with departing from someone who has been an integral part of one’s life. It’s a mix of longing, sadness, confusion, and the eventual realization that life must go on.

Through this song, DeMarco paints a vivid picture of the human experience of loss, acceptance, and the resilience to keep moving forward.

The Story Behind “Moonlight on the River”

The inspiration behind a song often provides valuable insights into its meaning. For “Moonlight on the River”, understanding DeMarco’s state of mind during the song’s creation can help us better appreciate the depth of his lyrics.

In the period leading up to the song’s creation, DeMarco found himself grappling with thoughts of mortality and farewells. Known for his unique style of introspective songwriting, he often reflects on his personal experiences and feelings. During this time, he was dealing with significant personal changes and grappling with the fragility of life.

The song doesn’t specifically state who DeMarco is bidding farewell to, leaving listeners to speculate. It could be about a romantic relationship, a friendship, or perhaps, a family member. But the main idea is not about who it’s meant for, but about the emotions associated with saying goodbye.

Understanding this context adds more depth to the song. When DeMarco sings, “It’s so strange, deciding, how to feel about it”, he’s expressing his struggle to come to terms with these feelings. It’s a struggle many of us can relate to, especially when faced with the prospect of parting ways with someone we care about.

In addition, the lyrics, “I’m home, with moonlight on the river, saying my goodbyes”, can be interpreted as DeMarco feeling at peace when he’s home, contemplating by the river. The moonlight could represent the illuminating thoughts that come to him during these quiet moments.

The beauty of Mac DeMarco’s “Moonlight on the River” lies in its universal appeal. It resonates with listeners because it touches on themes that are a fundamental part of the human experience: love, loss, and the complex emotions that come with saying goodbye. His decision to write this song suggests a need to express these feelings, a testament to the cathartic power of music.