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Meaning of the song ‘The Adults Are Talking’ by ‘The Strokes’

Released: 2020

Alright, folks, let’s dive into “The Adults Are Talking” by The Strokes, a track that encapsulates the essence of modern dissatisfaction and the struggle to communicate in a world that’s perpetually out of sync. This song isn’t just your average rock track; it’s a layered critique wrapped in a catchy melody, talking about societal expectations, the complexity of relationships, and the personal battle within. The Strokes have this knack for delivering sharp observations through their music, and this song is no different.

The song starts off with a commentary on how people perceive sophistication and education – it’s both a critique and a lament. “They’ve been saying, ‘You’re sophisticated’…They’re complaining, overeducated” points to the mixed messages society sends. On one hand, there’s admiration for sophistication; on the other, there’s disdain for what might be seen as unnecessary or pretentious education. It’s a catch-22 situation where the protagonist feels both valued and devalued for their intellect. This duality is something a lot of us have bumped into – being praised for being smart but then told you’re too smart for your own good.

Moving on, there’s a clear theme of misunderstanding and miscommunication, which is a common ailment in modern connections. “They will blame us, crucify and shame us…We are tryin’ hard to get your attention” speaks volumes about the struggle to be heard and understood. Climbing up the walls, both literally and metaphorically, represents an almost desperate attempt to bridge the gap, to be seen, and to break through the barriers that keep people apart. It’s like shouting into the void, hoping for an echo.

The refrain, “Don’t go there ‘cause you’ll never return” serves as a poignant reminder of the risks involved in allowing oneself to be vulnerable or to change for someone else. This is directly tied to the complex dynamics of relationships where one might lose themselves trying to be what the other person wants. This part of the song captures the confusion and the internal conflict beautifully, talking about wanting to do the right thing but feeling unrewarded and misunderstood, leading to actions that feel out of character.

As the song progresses, there’s a sense of resignation mixed with a refusal to compromise one’s true self – ”I don’t, I don’t want anything…It’s not your fault” indicates an acceptance of a situation while distancing oneself from the demands or expectations of others. The recurring theme here is about striving for authenticity in a world that constantly tries to mold you.

The closing lines, with their slightly ambiguous references to “Stockholders” and the repeated “maybe not tonight,” seem to touch on procrastination or the delaying of self-improvement or resolutions. It’s a cheeky nod to the human tendency to put off what can be done today for tomorrow, especially when it comes to making significant life changes. The Strokes finish the song on a note that is both reflective and a bit resigned but still leaves room for future action.

In essence, “The Adults Are Talking” by The Strokes isn’t just a catchy rock tune. It’s a deep dive into the complexities of modern life, relationships, and the continuous struggle for understanding and authenticity. Through their quintessentially cool sound, the band taps into the zeitgeist of a generation that’s both overeducated and misunderstood, making us all feel a little less alone in the process.

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