Maya Hawke – “Thérèse” 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.

Maya Hawke’s “Thérèse” is a tale of young dreams, identity, and personal growth. Thérèse is a character who dreams of escaping her surroundings through wild fantasies involving horses, fast cars, and Hollywood-esque love affairs. Yet, she remains tethered to her everyday reality. Hawke uses this song to explore how we often get lost in our fantasies as a means of coping with life. Thérèse seems to be a representation of a universal youthful desire for something more, but she also serves as a cautionary figure. The song is as much about dreaming as it is about the reality that not all dreams come true.

Ever wondered what it’s like to be caught between dreams and reality? Keep reading to unravel the intricate layers of Maya Hawke’s “Thérèse.”

“Thérèse” Lyrics Meaning

The opening lines, “I go see Thérèse dreaming,” set the stage. Right away, we get a snapshot of Thérèse as a dreamer. “She’s stretching out her sore shoulder… She’s wishing she was older.” This captures the essence of youth, filled with a mix of physical growing pains and the emotional desire for maturity.

Moving to “Dreaming of an appaloosa, Saddled up, riding out of town,” Thérèse fantasizes about freedom and escape. Horses and cars like the “Shelby cobra” symbolize her need for speed, a life that’s faster, more exciting than her current one. However, the lines “Bleeding, bringing in a new year’s mess” and “Unaware of the stain on her dress,” suggest that life’s imperfections often intrude upon our dreams.

“It’s tactless, it’s a test, It’s just Thérèse” serves as a recurring theme throughout the song. These lines seem to say that life is complicated, often impolite, and always challenging. Thérèse isn’t just a dreamer; she’s also a symbol of the struggle to navigate life’s messiness.

As the song progresses, “White kitten in the corner, Obscene, It really says it all,” and “Milk matches her underwear,” give us a glimpse of Thérèse’s superficial desires. She longs for things that match, things that look good but might not have much substance.

The lyric “She dreams of Marlon in Austin, Their bodies tangled in a net,” introduces another layer. She dreams of romance, possibly influenced by Hollywood portrayals. Yet, “She empathizes with your feelings, She’s more interested in the ceilings,” implies that while she might connect on a surface level, her mind is often elsewhere.

The singer confesses, “Thérèse does not belong to you, The horses, cars, and cowboys do.” Here, the concept of ownership and identity is in question. Thérèse is her own person, filled with her own dreams and realities.

The Story Behind “Thérèse”

When Maya Hawke wrote “Thérèse,” she was carving out a niche for herself in the music world. Already an accomplished actress, she branched out into music to explore different facets of storytelling. With a background in acting and film, it’s no surprise that “Thérèse” feels like a character study—a dive into the complexities of a young woman’s inner world.

The song reflects the challenges of navigating identity and dreams at a young age, something Maya could probably relate to as a young artist. It’s worth noting that her parents, Uma Thurman and Ethan Hawke, both have strong connections to the world of acting and storytelling. Growing up in such an environment might have influenced her to explore stories that tread the line between dreams and reality.

“Thérèse” serves as a cautionary tale but also an ode to the complexities of youth. It embodies the inevitable clash between our idealized hopes and the often messy reality. The character of Thérèse is not just an individual but a representation of youthful longing, the part of us that forever dreams of appaloosas and Shelby cobras, even when we’re well aware of the stains on our dresses.

In summary, “Thérèse” is not just a song but a narrative journey, painting a vivid picture of the complexities we all navigate while growing up. It’s a beautiful, poignant reminder that life is, as the song so aptly puts it, “tactless, it’s a test,” but also uniquely our own.