The Revivalists – “Soulfight” Lyrics Meaning

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Written By Brendan Briggs

Brendan is a multi-instrumentalist, songwriter, and producer. In 2022, he released his first album "Dive" under the name "Arctotherium".

“Soulfight,” as the name suggests, is about battling with the parts of yourself you need to grow beyond. The lyrics focus on how we should seek to better ourselves for the sake of the people we love and on how this can only be done by recognizing something greater than ourselves. In addition, this song manages to touch on the grave consequences of failing to face our demons.

This song was inspired by a very specific event in the life of David Shaw (the songwriter). After a night of excessive drinking, Shaw drove into a ditch and nearly died on his way home. This was obviously extremely dangerous, but it served as an awakening for Shaw that allowed him to face himself. These themes are the core message of the song.

In this article, we’ll perform an analysis of these introspective lyrics to discover their hidden meaning. We’ll also take a look at the story behind the song and its human themes that make it impactful for so many. Without further ado, let’s get started!

“Soulfight” Lyrics Meaning

This song has a very deliberate structure: In verse one, we see what leads to a destructive behavior; in verse two, we see rock bottom; in the bridge, we see a spiritual awakening. Each chorus is a temporary psychological realization that something needs to change, but the bridge is the culmination.

So how does verse one outline the origins of self-destructive behavior? Well, we see that David Shaw gets honest and personal upfront. The exact details of the events are unclear, but a general message underlies the whole verse: the harshness of life made Shaw self-medicate.

Shaw asks, “Isn’t anybody home in here?” on a cold night. When he doesn’t get a satisfactory answer, he says, “I just don’t care.” This is intentionally vague, but the point is that he feels alone. He’s 22 – past childhood but still young – and he “still can’t see” why the people around him “can’t get along.” Maybe his family fights, his friends, or even the various “people” in his head.

Regardless, the “only crutch be the bottle of brew.” This is directly related to the confirmed meaning of the song, which has to do with Shaw’s experiences with alcohol. Needless to say, it led him down a dark path.

In the pre-chorus, Shaw begins talking to someone whom he calls “love” and “babe” throughout the song. He tells her that if he ever “said all the things” she wanted him to, he’d have to “find something else to do.” In simple terms, if he came to grips with himself, focused on his love for her, and confessed his problem, he’d have to give up drinking.

In the chorus, Shaw accepts this. He’s “taking care of soulfight” for the person he’s talking to – for the people he loves. This is why he calls her “the reason why,” and why he has to stand by her “fire” to warm up. Basically, he’s going to lean on her to get through the pain that caused him to drink in the first place (represented by the cold night).

Like I mentioned, verse two is rock bottom. Shaw plainly tells us, “Oh my god I almost died last night” in order to show the gravity of the situation. His problem has forced his hand; he must either change or let it consume him.

The song’s bridge recognizes a great truth: Overcoming demons requires angels. By recognizing a power greater than himself (represented by “mother Mary”), Shaw hopes to overcome his problem by leaning on strength that is beyond his own.

Without mother Mary, Shaw would “scratch” at the noose around his neck and “bleed… til every bit” of him “was gone.” In the past, he “didn’t want her” and “didn’t need her,” but he’s coming to recognize that she’s the only way out. It’s unclear whether Shaw is literally talking about Mary or just using her to represent some vague higher power – either way, the spiritual message is clear.

From here on out, the lyrics are repetitive. In summary, “Soulfight” is about facing your darkness by leaning on loved ones, submitting your ego to something greater, and recognizing what caused your faults originally. This is a path we should all be walking, which may explain this song’s power.

The Story Behind “Soulfight”

David Shaw has explained the inspiration behind “Soulfight” in no uncertain terms. According to Shaw, a night of heavy drinking once led him to a perilous situation that caused him to rethink his life.

After about “fifteen shots” one night, Shaw wound up driving into a ditch and shattering his windshield. Thankfully, no one was hurt, but Shaw’s world was “rocked” by the event.

Not only did this event help Shaw “clean up,” but it also resulted in one of his best songs. Fans and critics seem to agree, since “Soulfight” has been viewed over seven million times on YouTube alone. It’s still a staple at The Revivalists’ concerts, despite being from their first album.

The next time you play this reflective song, let these pieces of background information bring it to life!