When I originally wrote this post, this song was everywhere and it had made it to the Oscar awards nominations! for best song. This is Pharrell Wiliams’ “Happy” for the film “Despicable me 2”. I found it interesting as an excuse to talk about several things:
1) The love of double meanings by English speakers, in this case songwriters.
2) The importance of stopping (or rather, slowing down) at the right places and how it changes meaning.
3) Using “like”, that slippery dangerous word.
4) And other stuff, but that will be after you watch the video.
Honestly, I did not look at the song credits, so I don’t know if Mr. Williams himself or other people wrote this song, but it is very clever. It is constantly playing with the word like, or more specifically with the expression “feel like” in contrast with feel… like “x”.
The first expression as in:
“I feel like going to the cinema today.”
Here “feel like” means “I would enjoy/love doing that.”
The second expression as in:
“I feel like a rat in a trap.”
Here “feel like something” is a comparison. You are not that something but you feel in a similar or equivalent way.
So sentences in the song can be understood as either about what someone wishes for, or the description of their feelings.
“… if you feel like a room without a a roof.” (so either you are wishing you had one or your feelings can be compared to a room without a roof).
Moving on to my second point, we can look at this:
“… if you feel like happiness is the truth.” which can be read as:
[if you feel like happiness][is the truth] (meaning: the truth is you feel like happiness, you would like to feel happy, that’s what you want.)
[if you feel] [like happiness is the truth] (meaning: your feeling is equivalent or similar to thinking that happiness is the (only, most important) truth.
The most important thing about these lyrics is how all meanings are perfectly combined in a way that the message is absolutely positive and optimistic, every and any way you look at it.
Ok, so here’s the video, finally. An after that, there’s more to comment!