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Hard to Explain
The Strokes Lyrics


Jump to: Overall Meaning ↴  Line by Line Meaning ↴

Was an honest man
Asked me for the phone
Tried to take control
Oh, I don't see it that way
I don't see it that way
We shared some ideas
All obsessed with fame
Says we're all the same
Oh, I don't see it that way
I don't see it that way

Raised in Carolina
I'm not like that
Tryin' to remind her
When we go back

I missed the last bus, I'll take the next train
I'll try but you see, it's hard to explain
I say the right thing, but act the wrong way
I like it right here, but I cannot stay
I watch the TV, forget what I'm told
Well, I am too young, and they are too old
The joke is on you, this place is a zoo
You're right it's true

He says he can't decide
I shake my head to say
Everything's just great
Oh, I just can't remember
I just can't remember

Raised in Carolina
She says, "I'm not like that"
Tryin' to remind her
When we go back

I say the right thing, but act the wrong way
I like it right here, but I cannot stay
I watch the TV, forget what I'm told
Well, I am too young, and they are too old
Oh man, can't you see I'm nervous? So please
Pretend to be nice, so I can be mean
I missed the last bus, we'll take the next train
I'll try but you see, it's hard to explain

Overall Meaning

The Strokes's song Hard to Explain is a complex track that explores themes of identity, confusion, and frustration. The song's narrator is struggling to make sense of the world around him, and is constantly torn between his desire to fit in and his innate sense of individuality. The first verse sets the scene, with a man asking for the phone and trying to take control. The singer then rebuffs his advances, suggesting that he doesn't see the situation in the same way.


The second verse delves into the singer's own sense of identity, highlighting the fact that he was raised in Carolina and that he is not like other people. This sets up the central tension of the song - the struggle between fitting in and staying true to oneself. The chorus then provides a summation of the singer's predicament, with him admitting that he often says the right thing but acts the wrong way, and that he is too young to understand the world around him.


As the song progresses, the singer becomes increasingly frustrated, and by the end of the track he is pleading with others to pretend to be nice so that he can be mean. Overall, Hard to Explain is a powerful meditation on the challenges of fitting in, staying true to oneself, and navigating the complexities of identity in a changing world.


Line by Line Meaning

Was an honest man
Referring to someone who was truthful, straightforward or sincere


Asked me for the phone
Requested for permission to use the phone


Tried to take control
Attempted to dominate or manipulate the situation


Oh, I don't see it that way
Indicating a disagreement or difference of opinion


I don't see it that way
Reinforcing the previous statement to highlight the contrast


We shared some ideas
Exchanged thoughts or concepts with each other


All obsessed with fame
Everyone was fixated or consumed with the desire for fame


Says we're all the same
Conveys the idea that there is nothing unique or distinct about anyone


Raised in Carolina
Grew up in Carolina


I'm not like that
Asserting that they are different from the previous idea or situation mentioned


Tryin' to remind her
Making an effort to jog her memory or recollect something


When we go back
Referring to a return to a previous place or time


I missed the last bus, I'll take the next train
Acknowledging a delay or setback while making plans to continue


I'll try but you see, it's hard to explain
Attempting to express something but acknowledging its complexity or difficulty to articulate


I say the right thing, but act the wrong way
Expressing a disconnect between intentions and actions


I like it right here, but I cannot stay
Enjoying the present situation but recognizing its impermanence


I watch the TV, forget what I'm told
Viewing televised content and experiencing difficulty retaining the information heard


Well, I am too young, and they are too old
Acknowledging a generational or age gap


The joke is on you, this place is a zoo
Highlighting the absurdity or chaos of the current situation


You're right it's true
Admitting agreement with the previous statement made by another person


He says he can't decide
Referring to someone who is unable to make a choice or come to a conclusion


I shake my head to say
Using nonverbal communication to indicate a negative response or disagreement


Everything's just great
Implying that everything is going well or is satisfactory


Oh, I just can't remember
Expressing difficulty recalling something


I just can't remember
Reinforcing the previous statement to emphasize inability to remember


Oh man, can't you see I'm nervous? So please
Asking for understanding or empathy as a result of feeling anxious or worried


Pretend to be nice, so I can be mean
Asking for others to be friendly or positive so that the singer can feel comfortable exhibiting negative behavior


I missed the last bus, we'll take the next train
Acknowledging a delay or setback while making plans to continue


I'll try but you see, it's hard to explain
Attempting to express something but acknowledging its complexity or difficulty to articulate




Lyrics © Warner Chappell Music, Inc.
Written by: Julian Casablancas

Lyrics Licensed & Provided by LyricFind
To comment on or correct specific content, highlight it

Most interesting comments from YouTube:

@Kai-qq1eu

Was an honest man
Asked me for the phone
Tried to take control
Oh, I don't see it that way
I don't see it that way
We shared some ideas
All obsessed with fame
Says we're all the same
Oh, I don't see it that way
I don't see it that way

Raised in Carolina
I'm not like that
Tryin' to remind her
When we go back

I missed the last bus, I'll take the next train
I'll try but you see, it's hard to explain
I say the right thing, but act the wrong way
I like it right here, but I cannot stay
I watch the TV, forget what I'm told
Well, I am too young, and they are too old
The joke is on you, this place is a zoo
You're right it's true

He says he can't decide
I shake my head to say
Everything's just great
Oh, I just can't remember
I just can't remember

Raised in Carolina
She says, "I'm not like that"
Tryin' to remind her
When we go back

I say the right thing, but act the wrong way
I like it right here, but I cannot stay
I watch the TV, forget what I'm told
Well, I am too young, and they are too old
Oh man, can't you see I'm nervous? So please
Pretend to be nice, so I can be mean
I missed the last bus, we'll take the next train
I'll try but you see, it's hard to explain



@XMD5a8000

Probably the best 3:50 of content on this whole site.

My favourite part of this song:
-The no-nonsense mechanical beat
-The super catchy bassline
-The amazingly textured rhythm guitar
-The hypnotic lead guitar
-The passionately delivered vocals
-The simple-yet-evocative lyrics
-The gorgeous pseudo-lofi production
-The awesome Koyaanisqatsi-esque video

Whoops, I just described the whole damn thing!



@maryamchaudhary1577

Was an honest man
Asked me for the phone
Tried to take control

Oh, I don't see it that way
I don't see it that way

Oh, we shared some ideas
All obsessed with fame
Says we're all the same

Oh, I don't see it that way
I don't see it that way

Raised in Carolina
"I'm not like that"
Trying to remind her
When we go back

I missed the last bus, I'll take the next train
I try but you see, it's hard to explain
I say the right things, but act the wrong way
I like it right here, but I cannot stay
I watch the TV; forget what I'm told
Well, I am too young, and they are too old
The joke is on you, this place is a zoo
"You're right it's true"

Says he can't decide
I shake my head to say
Everything's just great

Oh, I just can't remember
I just can't remember

Raised in Carolina, she says:
" I'm not like that"
Trying to remind her
When we go back

I say the right things but act the wrong way
I like it right here but I cannot stay
I watch the TV; forget what I'm told
Well, I am too young, and they are too old
Oh, man, can't you see I'm nervous, so please
Pretend to be nice, so I can be mean
I miss the last bus, we take the next train
I try but you see, it's hard to explain



All comments from YouTube:

@henriquecouto1630

The Strokes are that kind of band that people dont like them quickly, but once go through their music, is the most amazing thing. It's hard to explain

@pugsforever5837

Stfu, trying so hard to come up with a clever and witty comment with the song title. Quit trying to copy people and come up with your own.

@henriquecouto1630

@@pugsforever5837 ?

@fabiolacerrato5383

I know!!

@olipimcs

You're wrong. I liked them quickly!

@NowhereMan7

They are an incredibly easy band to like. Their songs are short and catchy and distinct, completely lacking in pretentiousness. Just straight forward great bangers, one after the other played by good looking guys who dress cool. If I had to come up with some bands who were great but hard to get into at first the Strokes would be about as far away from making that list as possible. What part of their sound, or image do you think turns people off at first?

178 More Replies...

@willi8181

I literally cannot believe a song this good even exists

@matilda232

same bro

@sergiosanchez2580

The Best forever

@zerorez4960

. 😕 HOW OLD ARE YOU

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