This is a beautiful song that caught my attention a few years ago. I love the gentle melody and acoustic guitar rhythms. The best thing about this song is the lyrics, they tell a wonderful story. It was actually several months after I heard the song that I realized what they were talking about. And now it is even better.
My interpretation is the song is about a window washer. Generally, contemplating life on several different levels. It compares the blue collar and white collar jobs with the conclusion that neither are perfect. He says "I wish I could step of this scaffold" inferring that he doesn't enjoy his position. On the other hand, he calls the boardroom "a modern pharaoh's tomb" meaning it is empty and dead. Overall, "When I Fall" is a statement about our society. We move too fast and lock ourselves in buildings, but we are not really living. We need to enjoy the little things in life and most importantly the people we love.
I've been known to over-think lyrics like this. But once I came to these realizations about the meaning of this song, I fell absolutely in love with it. Now it is an all-time favorite.
Barenaked Ladies @ UMASS 2006
"When I Fall"
By Barenaked Ladies
I look straight in the window, try not to look below
Pretend I'm not up here, try counting sheep
But the sheep seem to shower off this office tower
Nine-point-eight straight down I can't stop my knees
I wish I could fly
From this building
From this wall
And if I should try
Would you catch me if I fall?
My hands clench the squeegee, my secular rosary
Hang on to your wallet, hang on to your rings
Can't look below me, or something might throw me
Curse at the windstorms that October brings
I look in the boardroom; a modern pharaoh's tomb
I'd gladly swap places, if they care to dive
They're lined up at the window, peer down into limbo
They're frightened of jumping, in case they survive
I wish I could step from this scaffold
Onto soft green pastures, shopping malls, or bed
With my family and my pastor and my grandfather who's Dead
Look straight in the mirror, watch it come clearer
I look like a painter, behind all the grease
But paintings creating, and I'm just erasing
A crystal-clear canvas is my masterpiece