Song lyrics – 5 Seconds of Summer – Ghost of you
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Hello and welcome to Learn English Vocabulary. My name is Jack and I’m making this podcast for you to learn or revise English vocabulary. You can find a transcript of this podcast on LearnEnglishVocabulary.co.uk. There’s a page for this podcast with the transcript, an activity and a task for you to do in the comments section.
Today, I want to talk about the lyrics to a song called Ghost of you by the Australian band 5 Seconds of Summer. This podcast was requested by Brian from Indonesia. This podcast should just about be OK for learners from pre-intermediate. Most of the language in the song is pre-intermediate. I am going to talk about the more advanced vocabulary so by the end of this podcast, you should be able to listen to the song again and understand it all.
Listening to music is a fantastic way of increasing your vocabulary. There is something about music that helps fix the vocabulary in your memory. I still remember words in German that I heard in a class in Germany from when I was 15 years old and I can’t remember much more about my German classes.
Anyhow, this is a song about the feelings that Luke Hemmings, the singer, has after his partner left him . It’s quite a romantic song. It starts with the singer, Luke, talking about waking up alone. He sings:
Here I am waking up
Still can’t sleep on your side
This is quite a sweet thought. On your side means on your side of the bed. So despite being alone, he still sleeps on one side of the bed, leaving space for his partner. In the next line, he sings:
There’s your coffee cup
The lipstick stain fades with time
Lipstick is a type of makeup that people, normally women, wear on their lips. Lipstick is a bit like oil paint and can leave marks. So if someone wears lipstick and then gives you a big kiss on your cheek, you might be left with a mark in the shape of their lips on your face.
In the song, Luke sings about the lipstick stain. A stain is a mark that is difficult to wash off. If you spill red wine on clothes, sometimes, the wine leaves a red mark that doesn’t disappear when you put the clothes in the washing machine. That’s a wine stain. If you fall over when you’re playing football on grass, you can get grass stains on your clothes.
To fade, means to slowly become less clear or colourful. So if you leave a t-shirt on the washing line in the sun for too long, the colour of the t-shirt might fade in the sunlight.
The lipstick stain fades with time. So Luke is looking at the cup that his partner used to drink coffee from. There is a stain from his partner’s lipstick that is slowly getting less clear.
If I can dream long enough
You’d tell me I’d be just fine
I’ll be just fine
I’m not really sure about this section. Dream has two meanings. One is what happens when you are asleep and think you are doing things, but you’re actually in bed. The other is to imagine the future how you want it to be. To dream about the future means to think about the future and imagine situations, usually nice situations. I dream about taking my two sons on holiday and living abroad. This is sometimes called daydreaming. If Luke can dream long enough, for enough time, he will be OK. Just fine means OK. Don’t worry, you’ll be just fine.
The next section of the song has the most interesting lyrics.
So I drown it out like I always do
Dancing through our house
With the ghost of you
The verb to drown normally means to die due to suffocation in water. If you get trapped underwater and can’t breathe, then you die by drowning. So to drown means to overwhelm with water.
To drown something out means to overwhelm something, usually with something else similar. I think that most commonly, we use it to talk about noise. You can drown out sounds by playing loud music. I have some roadworks outside my house at the moment so I am playing music to drown out the sound of the digger. Luke is feeling sad because he misses his partner so he drowns the feelings out by dancing through his house with the memory of his partner.
The ghost of you – this use is probably not literal. You see, a ghost is normally a type of supernatural being. It’s the spirit of a person who has died that is still around and appears to people. An apparition means something that appears and ghosts are often called apparitions.
In the song, Luke sings about dancing through the house with the ghost of his partner. I think in this case, the ghost means the memory of the person. This is quite a common metaphor. There are films and videogames that use the word ghost to mean the memory of something.
In the next lines there are two items to look at. Chase and shot.
And I chase it down
With a shot of truth
I’ll look at shot first.
The verb to shoot is normally used with guns. You shoot a gun. The noun, shot, when talking about guns is usually used to talk about accuracy. So if a shooter hits a small target a long way off, you might say good stot. We also use the verb shoot with cameras. Fashion models go on photoshoots and the individual pictures can be described as shots. A wildlife photographer might say ‘I got a good shot of a bear and her cubs’.
There are two other common uses of shot. One is an injection. If you go to the doctor and they give you an injection the doctor is giving you a shot. I think we are all looking forward to getting a shot soon to inoculate against covid.
The last use of shot, and the use in the song is related to drinking. When people drink some alcoholic drinks, normally tequila and vodka, they are often served in small glasses that are designed to be drunk in one go. You don’t sip them, you drink them in one gulp. These servings of drinks are called shots and the glasses that they are served in are called shot glasses. If you are out with some friends, someone might ask, do you want to do a shot?
The other word chase normally means to follow someone quickly in order to catch them. Cats chase mice, dogs chase cats, sometimes the police have to chase criminals in their cars. There is another use of the verb that relates to drinking. If you chase a drink, you drink a second different drink immediately after a drink. So sometimes people in a bar order a beer with a whisky chaser. They then chase the beer with the whisky by drinking the whisky immediately afterwards.
In the song, Luke chases the experience of dancing with the ghost of his partner with a shot of truth. I guess this means he is shaken from his daydream by the memory that his partner is not there.
In the next verse he sings:
Found that old Zeppelin shirt
You wore when you ran away
And no one could feel your hurt
Found in the past form of find which is really hard to explain. It’s normally used with lost. If you lose something then later, you can find it. However, sometimes you find things that you have forgotten about or weren’t really aware of losing. Luke found an old t-shirt that his partner had worn when she ran away. It was a Zeppelin t-shirt. A Zeppelin was a type of German airship. There was a British rock band called Led Zeppelin and I think that the Zeppelin t-shirt probably refers to the band and not the airship.
To run away means to leave the place you are living without telling people that you are going. Usually, people run away because they are in some sort of trouble.
We’re too young, too dumb
To know things like love
Dumb originally meant unable to speak. But now, that’s an advanced meaning. The more common intermediate meaning is stupid. Both of these meanings may have evolved together. It might be that dumb meant too stupid to speak, and only later did the idea that people might not be able to speak, but still be intelligent come about. In the song, the meaning is clear. He’s singing that both he and his partner were too stupid to know things like love. I’m not exactly sure what that means, but it could be that he didn’t realise that he loved his partner until she had left him.
Luke ends the song by saying:
I know better now
That my feet don’t dance
Like they did with you
Now he understands that he was better off with his partner. He says that his feet don’t dance like they did with his partner. This is another metaphor and means that he feels less able or less confident or capable or perhaps less happy now that his partner has gone.
I will embed the video for this song and put a language activity on the page for this podcast on Learn English Vocabulary.co.uk.
Thanks, Brian for recommending this song. I hope this has helped you understand the lyrics and that you enjoy the song, even more, when you listen to it next.
If you have enjoyed this podcast, please leave me a comment or a rating or a review. I love to hear from you and any comments or suggestions you have. If there are any topics or songs or scenes from a film that you would like me to talk about or anything else you would like to hear, I would be delighted to make a podcast for you. So please visit LearnEnglishVocabulary.co.uk and say hello.
Thanks for listening.