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Meaning of the song ‘Call It Fate, Call It Karma’ by ‘The Strokes’

Released: 2013

“Call It Fate, Call It Karma” by The Strokes is a track that exudes a sort of twilight zone of romantic ambiguity. It’s a hauntingly beautiful piece that masquerades its depths beneath a deceptively simple surface. At its core, this song explores themes of longing, misunderstanding, and the complex dance of connection and disconnection in relationships.

The opening lines, “Close the door / Not all the way,” set the stage for a narrative filled with ambiguity and unspoken tension. It’s as if we’re peeking into a moment where two people are teetering on the edge of something more, yet there’s a hesitation – a reluctance to fully open up or close off. This push and pull is a classic move in the dance of intimacy, where “He don’t understand / We don’t understand,” serves as a refrain for the barriers that often stand in the way of truly connecting with someone. Here, Julian Casablancas, the lead vocalist, lays bare the heart of the song: the struggle to bridge the gap of understanding between two people, where even the desire to “remind” or recollect shared experiences is muddled by the realization that “I don’t know a thing.”

The chorus fluctuates into a plea, asking, “Can I waste all your time here on the sidewalk? / Can I stand in your light just for a while?” It’s a moment of raw vulnerability, expressing a yearning to exist, even briefly, in the presence of the other person. This is accentuated by the imagery of waiting “here on the sidewalk,” which symbolizes being on the periphery of someone’s life, longing to step inside. The singer confesses to “having a hard time watching you,” which could be interpreted as the pain of unrequited love or the challenge of watching someone you care for struggle, without being able to bridge that distance.

As the song winds down, the repetition of these lines serves as both a lament and a subtle acknowledgment of the complexities of human relationships. The backdrop of “I needed someone” further emphasizes the universal search for connection, for someone who understands. Yet, the mood isn’t entirely despairing—it’s contemplative, tinged with the hope that maybe fate or karma will eventually close the distance, making the ‘not all the way’ closed door fully open.

In essence, “Call It Fate, Call It Karma” invites listeners into a dreamy, melancholic world where memories mix with desires, and the pursuit of understanding and intimacy is fraught with obstacles. Yet, there’s a beauty in the longing, a poetry in the attempt to connect despite the misunderstandings and the spaces in between. The Strokes, with their impeccable knack for capturing the spirit of a moment, deliver a track that resonates deep within the soul—echoing the universal longing for connection amidst the human condition’s inherent isolation.

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