(estimated read time: 4 minutes)
What does “Million Reasons” by Lady Gaga mean?
In a video on Rolling Stone’s website about her upcoming album Joanne, Lady Gaga explained that her album is about growing personal connections with fans: “I wanted to write songs that would speak to a woman or a man who thought that they could never connect with me.” To that end, “Million Reasons” is a strong success. While the lyrics don’t seem deep at first, I think the topic they’re about is deep, and I think the simplicity of the song allows the depth of that topic and feeling to speak for itself in a deep way.
In the first verse, Lady Gaga sings, “You’re giving me a million reasons to let you go / . . . to quit the show.” She’s talking about a relationship that isn’t going well. The other person has messed up again and again, and she’s not sure she can take it anymore. The reasons to leave keep building.
When she sings, “If I had a highway, I would run for the hills,” she’s saying that if she saw a way out, she would leave quickly. It’s not perfectly clear what she means when she sings, “If you could find a dry way, I’d forever be still,” but she seems to be saying that if he could figure his life out, she wouldn’t complain anymore. She’d be happy to be with him, but instead he’s giving her “a million reasons” to not “be still” and to leave.
In the chorus, she sings about trying to make sense of this relationship. She says that she bows “down to pray” to ask God to “show me the way” as she tries “to make the worst seem better.” She’s stayed with this relationship as best she can, but it’s getting too difficult to “cut through all this worn out leather,” which seems to be a reference to toughened emotional walls that keep her or him from being honest.
In the second verse, Lady Gaga sings, “Head stuck in a cycle. I look off, and I stare.” Here, she’s highlighting her own emotional emptiness and hopelessness. She says it’s like “I’ve stopped breathing,” but she’s “completely aware” as she watches her life descend into chaos seemingly beyond her control.
And while she’d love for a turn-around to happen, she’s not sure she’d even be able to recognize it. She sings, “And if you say something that you might even mean / It’s hard to even fathom which parts I should believe.” He’s lied so many times that she simply can’t trust anything that he says, making revival of a healthy relationship near impossible due to these “million reasons.”
The bridge is a final request for what the singer is “needin’.” Lady Gaga sings, “Baby, I’m bleedin’ / Can’t you give me what I’m needin’?” Despite his many lies and offenses, she loves him and is still giving him the chance to fix things. She sings, “Every heartbreak makes it hard to keep the faith,” to show how his actions have made it hard for her to believe that he can fix things, but she claims that she needs only “one good [reason]” to stay with him.
Deeper Thoughts on “Million Reasons” by Lady Gaga
I love the simplicity of this song. Loving someone but being hurt by that person is a common theme in music and life, but I think what’s beautiful about Lady Gaga’s approach is that she states very clearly what it’s like and doesn’t embellish the sad truth or spend unnecessary time trying to make us cry.
The song’s musical style reflects this as well. Lady Gaga’s voice is very loud and clear in the mix, and the accompanying instruments, mainly a simple guitar and a piano combination, do little to distract from what she’s saying.
Spousal abuse or neglect are terrible issues, and I think the power of “Million Reasons” is that Lady Gaga lets those issues speak for themselves. She empathizes with her audience by being vulnerable but without being preachy, and thus I’m a fan of “Million Reasons.”
Thanks for reading! I’m a college English instructor, university writing center director, and online entrepreneur (college for under $15k, anyone?) who cares deeply about TRUTH and MEANING. I’m married to the gloriously beautiful Wife April and love to swing dance and juggle.