SONG MEANING: “Angela” by The Lumineers is a song about running away from commitment but coming back to the one who loves you in the end. It’s sad sweet song. You can find out more from the line-by-line analysis and explanation below.
The Lumineers just released its sophomore album and for those who like the first one, this one will be no disappointment. Wesley Schultz’s voice is still awesome, and their Americana/indie-folk vibe is still awesome too.
But the best part of this album so far is that the lyrics are still deep and rich with meaning. And there’s a pattern too: songs 2, 3, and 5 are named after women, and each of those songs is about a women. I’ve already explained “Ophelia” and “Cleopatra,” and now it’s time for “Angela.” Read the other two explanations and see if you can help me discover a pattern in the songs’ lyrics.
You can listen if you like. I’ve added “Angela” and The Lumineers’ whole Cleopatra album to my Spotify playlist “Clifford Stumme’s Pop Prerogative.” Feel free to follow the playlist!
What does “Angela” by The Lumineers mean? Line-by-line analysis.
Wesley Schultz (the lead singer) opens up with, “When you left this town, with your windows down / And the wilderness inside.” He hasn’t completed a full thought, but we can already see that Angela is leaving behind something difficult, and that all is not well with her. It’s as if though she’s leaving the windows down to embrace new found freedom and to be closer to the nature around her. She’s trying to let go and let all of her anger flow out of the open windows. But the true wilderness isn’t the forest flying past her. It’s inside of her. Her own thoughts and feelings are mysteries to her.
When Schultz sings, “Let the exits pass, all the tar and glass / ‘Til the road and sky align,” he’s expressing that she’s not going anywhere in particular and that everything is simply blurring around her. She’s not choosing any particular exit to take her off the highway, and that’s because “the road and sky” are becoming the same, a blur that suggests no end. She’s just driving away from her problem, whether for good or for bad.
The chorus is much more confusing. Schultz sings, “The strangers in this town / They raise you up just to cut you down.” This could refer to people who have hurt Angela, or it could refer to people passing through (like Angela) who have hurt the narrator. I prefer the second theory. I think Angela’s need to travel and not feel tied down causes her to leave and hurt the narrator even though, perhaps, they were in a committed relationships. The last line of the chorus, “Oh, Angela, it’s a long time coming,” seems to refer to how he’s been looking forward to talking to her for a while.
The lines, “And your Volvo lights lit up green and white / With the cities on the signs,” is a reference to the colors of highway signs and to the fact that Angela’s headlights are not only shining on the signs that lead to these cities but also shining on these cities as well.
The lines, “But you held your course to some distant war / In the corners of your mind,” explain to us why Angela keeps traveling. She’s trying to find resolution in her own mind and heart. Perhaps the reason she keeps traveling is that she’s afraid of commitment or that she has a hard time imagining an actually good relationship. The possibilities are inexhaustible, but, whatever they are, they keep her from feeling enough at peace to be able to settle down.
The Lumineers frontman sings, “From the second time around / The only love I ever found / Oh, Angela, it’s a long time coming,” to express his love for Angela. Perhaps things didn’t work out between them the first time they started “dating” (or however they did it), but they tried again, and that time he knew he was in love. And he’s been waiting for love, and Angela’s been wandering for a “long time,” and he believes this good thing–this relationship–is something they have “coming.”
The first bridge is three simple words and refer to the happy conclusion we hope The Lumineers have coming for us: Angela coming “[h]ome at last.”
In this verse, The Lumineers’ lead singer asks, “Were you safe and warm in your coat of arms / With your fingers in a fist?” She was on the war path, surrounded by armor that kept her from being hurt (and from falling in love), and he simply asks if it was worth it. Was she “safe and warm”?
He asks, too, if she heard “the notes, all those static codes / In the radio abyss . . .” Here he’s highlighting how little warmth and safety there is out in the rest of the world. With words like “codes” and “abyss,” he suggests that the world out there is difficult and unfriendly. He’s not trying to convince her to come back so much as he is asking her if leaving was worth it.
The third chorus only adds the final line “Oh, Angela, spent your whole life running away” to the first chorus, more clearly showing us that she is running away from something–warmth, safety, commitment, and vulnerability.
The Lumineers sing, “Home at last / Vacancy, hotel room, lost in me, lost in you.” This seems to be a clear reference to her coming back, meeting him at a hotel, and them engaging in “intimate activity.” The rest of the bridge is, “Angela, on my knees, I belong, I believe / Home at last.” He knows she made the right decision, and they are, “[h]ome at last” together. Angela has quit running, and he believes in their future and knows that they belong together.
What’d you think of the story of Angela? What’d you think of The Lumineers’ song? Let me know in the comments!
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Clifford Stumme has his master’s in English literature and is a blogger and a college instructor/center-director at Liberty University. He likes juggling and reading/writing, and he is married to the wonderful and beautiful Wife April. He thinks pop music is awesome. Seriously awesome.