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What Is Sevendust’s “Feel Like Going On” About?

What Is Sevendust’s “Feel Like Going On” About?

It’s been five years since we even attempted a SnarkNotes here at MetalSucks, and at the risk of disappointing the three of you who remember and enjoyed that column, this is not going to be a traditional iteration of the series. This is largely because although I don’t really understand what the hell the song in question is about, I don’t think the lyrics are stupid, and I rather like the track itself. So this is just gonna be me kinda thinking out loud as we review the lyrics.

With that out of the way…

I’ve already mentioned how much I like Sevendust’s new album, Blood & Stone. Currently, I am particularly smitten with the fourth track on the album, “Feel Like Going On,” because it is a very pretty and emotional-sounding ballad (metal bloggers have feelings too, y’know). Because of my fondness for this song, I have been thinking, a lot, about the lyrics.

Like a lot of the lyrics on Blood & Stone, the meaning of “Feel Like Going On” is somewhat more vague than 7D fans may be accustomed. A lot of the band’s biggest hits don’t leave much up for interpretation — for example, it’s clear that “Black” is about struggling with darker impulses, “Xmas Day” is about a dysfunctional relationship, “Denial” is about being in denial, and “Enemy” is about how much Dez Fafara sucks.

This isn’t the case with Blood & Stone, though, and it’s DEFINITELY not the case with “Feel Like Going On”. I mean, to some extent, yes, sure, it is clear that the song is, in some way, about whether or not the protagonist feels like going on. But the source of the protagonist’s possibly-giving-up is translucent at best.

Let’s look at the lyrics verse-by-verse, shall we?

First, the initial verse, pre-chorus, and chorus:

What’s the news today?
What’s the next thing to follow? (To follow)
Turning over pages, when is it gonna be different? (So different)

Nothin’ left to say, here’s to everyone
Did you think it would last?

In the still of the night it comes
I feel like going on
When I feel nothing’s right it comes
Do I feel like going on?

My initial read on this was, perhaps, painfully literal-minded. It’s 2020, so when I hear someone talking about the news and desire for things to change and using the phrase “Did you think it would last?”, my mind goes to all the crazy, fucked-up shit we’ve been dealing with recently. I know a lot of us say, jokingly or not-so-jokingly, that it feels like we’re experience the End of Days, or at least the end of the American empire. “Did you think it would last?” seems like a perfect sentiment for such a subject.

The idea that the song may be taking on our current political situation takes on greater weight when you consider that Sevendust’s lead singer, Lajon Witherspoon, is Black. I have no idea if he wrote the lyrics or not. But, contextually, you can’t ignore that the dude belting all this stuff out is part of race whose oppression has very much been at the forefront of the news this year.

In this reading of the song, the question of whether or not to go on would presumably be prompted by continuing to fight for liberal values.

But it’s also, of course, 100% possible that the song is using the word “news” in a more idiomatic sense. In which case I honestly don’t know what it’s about.

(I do think it’s worth noting that the phrase “in the still of the night it comes” suggests the protagonist is dealing with some sort of inner demon/philosophical issue — I don’t think there’s anything literal that comes in the night.)

Then the second verse doesn’t make the song’s meaning any clearer:

A ghost behind the keys
What makes you think you’re so different? (You’re no different)
Cutting with the words you say
And then you beg for forgiveness, for forgiveness

I have no idea what a “ghost behind the keys” signifies. This is not a commonly-used phrase — in fact, a Google search of that phrase exclusively brings up this very song.

It seems reasonably certain that they mean “ghost” in the sense of being “haunted” by a memory (as opposed to a literal specter). But we have to consider the meaning of the word “keys.” Do they mean “keys” as in the things for used for locks? The letters on a keyboard? Musical keys? Drugs?

This verse is also the first time any reference to the fact that the song is being directed at someone specific (“you”). But who is that person?

There’s still a way to read this song as being political — America continues to be haunted by its past, there’s a feeling that the country’s entitlement is finally catching up with it (“What makes you think you’re so different?”), and the use of “cutting words” followed by “begging for forgiveness” could certainly be about the way minorities are treated in this country.

But it could also be that the song is directed at a lover or a friend or a family member and that none of what has been said is political at all. This isn’t “Unraveling” or “Black Out the Sun” — there aren’t any real contextual hints as to the identity of “you.”

Then comes the next pre-chorus, which isn’t very helpful in terms of interpreting the song’s meaning…

All I have to say, here’s to everyone
Did you think it would last?

…and then the next chorus:

When I feel nothing’s right it comes
I feel like going on
And just scream “You’re alive”, it comes
Do I feel like going on?

Wait wait wait — who is alive? Is it good that they’re alive or bad that they’re alive? There’s a contrast between “I feel like going on” when “nothing’s right,” but wondering “Do I feel like going on?” when someone is alive. Maybe the song is trying to say something about despair being a stronger motivator than joy? I don’t think there’s a lot of textual evidence to back that up, but it’s a theory.

Then we come to the bridge. Musically and vocally, this is my favorite part of the song. Lyrically, it’s the most confusing part of the song:

What’s it supposed to be?
I’ve wasted all my time
You should be scared of me
But you leave me all behind

What is what supposed to be? Why has the protagonist wasted all his time? Why should anyone be scared of him? And if they should be scared of him, why is it a mistake to leave him “all behind”?

Also, “leave me all behind”? Huh? What does that even mean? Is the word “all” in there just because they needed another syllable to make the lines match? Are they speaking metaphorically, like, “You can take a part of someone ‘with you in your heart,’ but you take none of me”?

I can make the argument, once more, that these are overtly political statements — that the protagonist feels he’s wasted time fighting for change, that minorities and/or the working class have been “left behind” despite the danger of them figuring out that they outnumber the ruling class, etc. But at that point I’d basically be bending over backwards to justify a thesis.

In fact, for absolutely no reason I can back up with any kind of argument, this part of the song doesn’t “feel” political to me. I may just be projecting on Witherspoon’s anguished vocal performance here, but it really feels now as though he’s talking to one particular person and not making a general plea.

Alas, then the song ends and none of my questions are answered, although it does seem that the protagonist finally lands on continuing to go on:

Nothin’ left to say, here’s to everyone
Did you think it would last?

In the still of the night it comes
I feel like going on
When I feel nothing right it comes
Do I feel like going on?
How do I feel?
What do I feel?
I feel like going on

So who is “Feel Like Going On” directed at? Is it political? Personal? Some mix thereof? Is it ultimately hopeful or a bummer?

It has occurred to me that my very cool job means I could likely get in touch with a member of Sevendust and pick their brain about these lyrics… but that doesn’t seem fun. Although my initial reading of the song was political, I’ve since come to associate it with a particular person and situation with which I’ve been dealing for the past couple of months… although it would actually be harder for me to make an argument backing up that interpretation. It’s just the way the song intersects with my life right now.

Which, of course, is part of the beauty of ambiguous, poetic song lyrics! We can all read and interpret it our own way. Thus, to reiterate, I don’t actually want to know what Sevendust intended the song to be about.

I would like to hear what you all think, though. Head to the comments section and let us know what topic you think “Feel Like Going On” is tackling. I’m sure there’s tons of ways to read these lyrics that I’m not even considering.

Sevendust’s Blood & Stone is out now on Rise Records, and can be purchased here.

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