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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at U Conn chapter.

If you’ve ever listened to Phoebe Bridgers’ music, you likely know her songwriting can be ambiguous, often including literary devices like metaphors and rhetorical questions. Lyrics with such ambiguity can remain subject to literary discourse far beyond their creation due to there never being a correct or incorrect way to interpret them. As a lyric-driven music listener myself, I’ve spent more time than I’ve realized interpreting Bridgers’ lyrics from my own perspective, so I’ve compiled some of my favorites.


The Dog and Bird Metaphor

We cannot discuss Phoebe Bridgers’ use of literary devices without addressing the symbolism of a dog bringing a dead bird to its owner’s door as a gift. Though unpleasant to envision, Bridgers has expressed empathy for dogs in this scenario, as she feels they want to benefit those around them but just don’t know how. Phoebe has related these feelings through metaphors to the human experience of feeling unhelpful to those you may rely on. The dog and bird metaphor reappears multiple times in Bridgers’ second studio album, Punisher.

“If you were a waiting room, I’d never see a doctor, I’d sit there with my first aid kit and bleed.” – “Waiting Room”

The narrator of “Waiting Room” is in unrequited love; they would ignore the inconveniences of being with someone, but that person can not offer any hope of a relationship or happy ending. The act of waiting has no endpoint, but a waiting room materializes something physically available. The narrator would accept getting close to curing their pain and staying wounded, or emotionally unavailable if only they had a physical promise or commitment available to them for the time being.

“I don’t know how, but I’m taller.” – “Garden Song”

The narrator of “Garden Song” feels so unfamiliar with the environment they once considered home that they feel unfamiliar with themselves. They undergo an out-of-body experience revisiting their past because they no longer resonate with the body that lived all their past experiences. I see “I don’t know how” factoring into this lyric in two ways: the speaker is metaphorically taller due to their heightened perspective on life, or the speaker has actually grown taller since the last time they were there but can’t comprehend how time has passed.

“Somewhere in Germany but I can’t place it, man I hate this part of Texas.” – “I Know The End”

The opening lyric of “I Know The End” is a joke that Bridgers’ team made on tour, but also a strong parallel between life away from home and life at home. Feeling unfamiliar in a new area can cause discomfort that makes you miss the familiar, but discomfort is what originally inspired you to leave in search of better. The narrator is unfamiliar in a foreign country and reflecting on somewhere they know better, and it remains unclear through the song which is better.

Rhetorical Questions

“What if I told you I feel like I know you?” – “Punisher”

The narrator of “Punisher” resonates with a character or personality despite never having interacted with them. I feel this is especially applicable to lyricists like Phoebe Bridgers herself, as people hear and relate to enough of their rawest emotions to develop parasocial relationships with them. However, the setting of a bar this character frequents implies that this could just be a crush of the speaker. The speaker lacks the confidence to approach this person out of building up their persona into something unobtainable, even if they aren’t. Moreover, the narrator may not want to find out if they truly know this person; they may feel content preserving the idea they have of them and fear destroying it with reality.

“If I fix you, will you hate me?” – “Georgia”

The narrator of “Georgia” is struggling with wanting to help someone through mental health issues while protecting both of their boundaries. They recognize that despite being open to self-work, the person they love may have found comfort in their patterns and would have to ultimately decide to change themselves. The narrator fears being resented, in a way similar to therapists, for pressuring someone into new behaviors they didn’t singlehandedly choose for themselves.

“Do you feel ashamed when you hear my name?” – “Scott Street”

This iconic lyric of “Scott Street” could be, and has been, interpreted in many ways, but original lyricist Marshall Vore wrote that he wondered if the person the song was written about “did love [him], but they were also working against [him]. So, [he] wonder[s] if they’re ashamed of that kind of thing, and if they’ve grown up.” The song is reflective and nostalgic rather than bitter, suggesting the narrator doesn’t want unresolved strains with someone with whom they share memories and life experiences. The narrator hopes the person they’re addressing has changed since they’d been in one another’s lives, and that they can move forward with respect for what once was. They hope to close that chapter of their life confident that the relationship wasn’t something to regret but be glad to have learned and grown from.


Taking inspiration from interviews, tweets, and my vast experience with Taylor Swift and Lana Del Rey’s similar discographies, I feel I’ve been able to decode some of Bridgers’ most cryptic songwriting. While elements of my interpretations may take note of the writers’ intentions, there is no end to what lyrics can represent to each listener, and Bridgers’ work can continue to be analyzed at the social and academic levels well into the future.

Neha Jammula is a senior at UConn pursuing a Bachelor of Arts degree in sociology and statistics. Applying her educational interests, she enjoys writing articles that utilize research to detail and provide explanations for different social events. Writing for a college women's magazine allows her to explore popular culture trends and ongoing conversations among college women. Aside from Her Campus, Neha is also helping write research reports for UConn's Student Life and Enrollment office as an undergraduate student researcher. Some of Neha's other interests that can be found in her archive below are art, poetry, beauty, and lifestyle.