Released in 2001, “Outside” is one of the most popular songs by Staind. Lead singer Aaron Lewis famously completed the lyrics of the song while performing it impromptu at a concert. Lewis is known for his work with the band as well as his solo work. His musical influences are in the genres of both country music and alternative rock.
What does the title mean
“Outside” is a word that suggests the meaning of someone who is outside and looking in on something they can’t have. Like the title of Albert Camus famous novel The Outsider, the title of this song makes us think of someone who feels that they don’t belong anywhere. This idea is relatable to anyone who hasn’t felt at home in social contexts or even in their own skin.
Verse 1 – What does it mean
“And you can bring me to my knees again
All the times that I could beg you please in vain
All the times that I felt insecure for you
And I leave my burdens at the door”
The idea of being brought to your knees suggests the feeling that love brings you down. In these lines, the singer conveys the idea that love has been harsh to them. The words are from the point of view of someone who seems to have suffered greatly in their relationship.
This verse also contains a central and very familiar paradox of love: that even if love hurts, it’s still a comfort from other kinds of pain. The singer says that they leave their burdens outside when they meet their lover. This indicates that even if love hurts, they would rather take it over other burdens.
What does the chorus mean
“But I’m on the outside, I’m looking in
I can see through you, see your true colors
‘Cause inside you’re ugly, you’re ugly like me
I can see through you, see to the real you”
These lines very strikingly question stereotypical notions of ugliness. The lover of the person singing the song is apparently someone who looks very attractive from the outside. This image seems almost stereotypically conventional. The lover seems to be someone who is not ‘outside’. They seem to be a person who externally conforms to societal notions of attractiveness and conformity.
The singer says that they can see the ugliness inside the person they love. This ugliness is similar to their own. The fact that they say that this is “the real you” suggests that society pushes us to hide our true selves. We play social rules according to the norms so that other people accept us.
By saying that both of them share the same ugliness inside, the singer creates a similarity with their lover. They seem to be conveying the meaning that love means that we see each other for who we truly are. Society may call it ugly because it is different or unconventional. Unlike their lover, they haven’t learned the art of masquerading as someone else. Hence, the singer is the outsider who doesn’t know how to play by society’s rules.
Verse 2 – What does it mean
“All the times that I felt like this won’t end, it’s for you
And I taste what I could never have, it was from you
All the times that I’ve cried
My intentions, full of pride
But I waste more time than anyone”
This verse seems to show the mindset of someone who is heartbroken. They yearn for something that they can never have. They are like the mythological Tantalus who can never reach what he yearns for. All they have is pain because the person they love constantly hurts them.
The last line of the verse suggests an interesting subtext. The idea of wasting time also implies a sense of capitalist guilt. The consumerist societies we live in keep reminding us that we need to be ‘productive’ in order to be valued members of our communities. Wasting time is not allowed. We are constantly taught that our own sense of self-worth needs to be defined according to the ways in which other people see us.
What does the bridge mean
“All the times that I’ve cried
All this wasted, it’s all inside
And I feel all this pain
Stuffed it down, it’s back again
And I lie here in bed
All alone, I can’t mend
But I feel tomorrow will be okay”
These lines juxtapose the idea of the inside and the outside. While on the outside they are not with their lover, they are still carrying all the hurt and the rejection inside. No matter how much they try to force down the negative feelings, they keep rising again.
The song does end on a note of hope. It could just be that the singer wants to convince themselves that they will be okay tomorrow. The line echoes the famous words from the classic film Gone with the Wind: “Tomorrow is another day.” This is a classic human sentiment, a way of dealing with the pain and sorrows of the present by consoling oneself with the thought that the future will be better.
The song is about pain and heartbreak, but it ends on a somewhat optimistic note. The lyrics make us feel that even if we are not okay today, we could be okay tomorrow. These lines convey an idea that is significant in the contemporary context. Matters of mental health are being taken much more seriously today than they had been in earlier times. People suffering from anxiety or depression are often told to ‘get over it,’ as though mental health issues aren’t health issues at all. Songs such as this one remind us that even if we are hurting, we are not alone in our suffering.
The song is relatable to anyone who has experienced unrequited love. It could also be about any situation in which we want something desperately but can’t have it. The lyrics of this song perfectly capture the feelings of yearning and despair that someone experiences when they are hurting and alone. Although everyone’s pain is unique in its own way, songs such as this one show us why music can be comforting. Even though it does not make the pain go away, a song such as this one shows us that others empathize with what we are feeling.
The song also represents a classic case of outsider syndrome. The lyrics convey the state of mind of someone who does not think or behave the way society wants them to. They are unconventional in their thinking, in love with someone who does not dare to go against societal norms. There are hints that this could be a forbidden relationship of some sort. Regardless of the specifics of the situation, the song is reminiscent of situations in which we feel as though we are on the outside looking in. The suggestion of optimism at the end tells us to be strong and not give up because the future carries with it a sense of hope.