All We Ever Knew by the Head and the Heart: Lyrics Meaning and Interpretation

Introduction ─ Overview of the Song

“All We Ever Knew” is an American song written by the folk band, The Head and The Heart. It is a six-piece indie band from Seattle that formed in 2009.

The members of this band are Josiah Johnson, Jonathan Russell, Charity Rose Thielen, Chris Kenny Hensley, Zasche, and Tyler Williams. Johnson and Russell founded this band and later got the remaining members on board.

When Jonathan Russell was in a bind, he had written some parts of this song, primarily the chorus. The reason behind his confusion was his inability to choose between his profession and his romantic relationship. He eventually picked music but still held doubts about it.

“All We Ever Knew” captures his confusion and desire to let go of things that no longer serve him.

The song was contributed to Roadies, a comedy-drama series directed by Cameron Crowe. It was Cameron who had approached the band for writing a song. The band took this as an opportunity. The song’s production process took flight, and it was finally released.

This song is noteworthy because it was the band’s first Warner Bros. release. It also spent eight consecutive weeks at the top of Billboard’s Adult Alternative Songs chart after its debut.

We will be discussing All We Ever Knew lyrics meaning in this article. So stay tuned.

What Does the Title Mean?

Before getting to the All We Ever Knew lyrics meaning, let’s analyze what the title of the song has to say.

The title, All We Ever Knew, represents the “known” that is already known. “We” is the group of people aware of these facts and situations.

It’s a simple yet impactful expression of knowing certain things like they always existed.

The title suggests that as we learned through our experiences, we have gained some insight. What we do is because that makes sense at that particular point. But that can’t be always correct. There can be a sense of limitation to it. There is so much to discover if we explore further.

As we dive into the All We Ever Knew lyrics meaning, the message comes across clear through Russell’s impactful selection of words.

Intro ─ What Does It Mean?

When I wake up in the morning

I see nothing

For miles and miles and miles

When I sleep in the evening, oh lord

There she goes, only in dreams

She’s only in dreams

“Waking” and “sleeping” refers to being present at the moment and brooding on the past, respectively. When he first wakes up, Russell has no recollections of his previous lover. His vision is in order, and he is completely at ease.

“For miles and miles and miles” suggests he can’t see any remnants of his lost love for a long distance.

However, when it’s time for him to unwind and sleep at the end of the day, his former girlfriend appears in his dreams.

This also implies that, when he is conscious, he is not thinking of his sweetheart. His thoughts are in his control. But his subconscious mind has something else in store.

Verse 1 ─ What Does It Mean?

Well, well my love

We’ve been here before

Don’t drag me through this again

We tried everything under the sun

Through these verses, Russell wants to make his lover understand, that they have been in this situation many times before, and there has come nothing useful out of it. Their story had reached a dead end.

Because of that, he has experienced emotional pain and suffering. That phase of his life made him so uncomfortable that he does not wish to be in the same situation again. That’s why he pleads with his lover to not drag him through this phase again. There is nothing to achieve there except more emotional pain.

By the line, “We tried everything under the sun,” he says that they tried everything they could to make this relationship work out. They have already given enough chances for their love to thrive, but it came out clearly that it is not working out despite all their efforts.

They’ve tried to understand each other, battled frequently, and given each other some breathing room, but it’s all been for naught.

If you try to empathize with Russell’s situation, you will understand All We Ever Knew lyrics meaning better for this verse.

What Does the Pre-Chorus Mean?

Now I’m trying to wake up from this

I’m trying to make up for it

Russell states that he is trying his best to wake up from his past. He is diverting all his attention to the good things happening to him in the present—for instance, his music.

He is also trying to make up for it, which means he wants to live guilt free. So he’s taking all the steps that will propel him forward and allow him to forget about the past.

He also hopes that he can erase his previous memories with his lover and start over.

What Does the Chorus Mean?

All we ever do is all we ever knew

La la la la la la

La la la la la la

La la la la la

La la la la la la

La la la la la la

La la la la la

The first line indicates that they are repeating themselves. They make mistakes, then try to correct them, only to repeat the same mistakes. Their relationship has not progressed. They keep coming to the same standstill.

This makes no sense in general. It’s all they’ve ever known and all they’ve ever done.

Verse 2 ─ What Does It Mean?

You don’t see why you would there’s no love to give

Well what goes around comes around

I know sometimes you get so caught in a dream

But now it’s time to wake up from this

It’s time to make up for it

His lover did not love him. He felt lonely and anxious because of her. He used to crave her love and attention, but she was always cold towards him. He begged for her love, but she was unavailable.

He has now learned his lesson. He has become wise. He has understood not to love those who don’t love him back.

From the second line – what goes around comes around – he says that he is retaliating against the treatment he has received from her.

Sometimes, he feels he should forgive her. But he is aware of the reality, and he pushes himself to wake up from his draining thoughts and make up for his lost love.

What Does the Bridge Mean?

I’m feeling low, feeling high

Feeling down, why isn’t this enough?

I’m feeling low, feeling high

Feeling down, why isn’t this enough?

As you went through the All We Ever Knew lyrics meaning, you would have understood his emotional struggle. There are phases where he feels strong. Then there are moments when he is depressed. It’s a journey with ups and downs.

When he feels high, he feels that he has moved on. When he feels low, he feels sad. He feels incomplete. There is this constant urge for closure within him.


The song portrays the struggle Russell goes through to move on. It’s not an easy journey. But he persists in his efforts, hoping to see the light at the end of the tunnel one day.

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