XXV. Imogen Heap

Dear Imogen,

I enjoy solving puzzling problems and decode hidden meanings. I love reconstructing the fragments of a broken glass house and gaining understanding from the pieces. Maybe, a little too much at times.

This is why I’m writing you, because I want to know the true inspiration behind your best know song “Hide & Seek.” It’s a powerful track that I often put on repeat. It’s been the soundtrack to a few television shows and films. It’s even been parodied by SNL.

It’s one of my favorite songs because of what’s hidden within the song, and the different ways people interpret it. There’s the idea of a broken relationship. There are people who think it’s about 9/11. And there are people who think you’re looking at divorce from a child’s perspective among others. But you’ve never really said what it means. Trust, I’ve scoured these here Internets for a definitive answer, with no success.

Imogen Heap, one of my fav artists from the UK.

Imogen Heap, one of my fav artists from the UK.

And it’s tough to figure it out on your own. You can picture so much woven into your fragmented string of words. It’s sorta like you’re splotching a canvass with paint and then coloring over that with Crayola. Yet, somehow, you come back with a masterpiece, one many find profound because it spells out so much of what’s wrong in the world.

I see the divorce angle best. It hits home. My parents split before I could collect any real memories of who they were. I never saw them together. But I, like many children of divorced parents, have vivid memories of their post-marriage arguments. I can only imagine what’d be like to actually live through the moments of moving day for divorcing parents.

The thoughts and fragility of children, they’re things that aren’t weighed as often as they should be. Too many parents let “ransom notes” fall from their mouths while their children are young. So much so that it becomes harder to believe their words concerning each other as time passes.

And it’s there, at the bridge, where the song hit me. I can hear you pleading with your parents to consider your feelings as well, then deciding indifference, the worst option in most cases, might be the best path.

Still, considering how fragmented the lyrics are, there’s so much to ponder. Why would “busy streets a mess with people stop to hold their heads heavy?” I see 9/11. What about the “trains and sewing machines?” I see a wedding falling apart before that day. So much randomness packed into five frail minutes. Yet, the song keeps returning to it’s title: “Hide & Seek,” a child’s game. So it’s coming from a child’s perspective, right?

I don’t know. It’s your song. It’s beautiful, but you tell me. I enjoy gazing at impeccable art and pondering the meaning. Sometimes, though, you want the artist to lob it at you so that the game can end.

Then again, there’s something about seeking things out for yourself, something about opening all the wrong doors until finally, you find the right one… or even knowing that you’re never gonna find that one. To some, that chase is much more profound than the conclusion.

Maybe I should continue seeking the answers in my life and stop asking so many questions. That is, unless you want to answer.

At peace with not knowing, I guess,


P.S. The release date (Aug. 18th) for the new album, Ellipse, is a great choice and a great day: My birthday.


12 responses to “XXV. Imogen Heap

  1. thecomebackgirl

    EmmaJean..not rockin with the autotune is she???

    This might be what happens when Feist gets a vocoder..

    **my ignant comment for the week**

    b back in the morning to finish the letter.

    • @comeback: She is … but she actually does something brilliant with it…BEFORE T-Pain got sprung and fell in luv with a stripper vocoder …

      Plus, T-Pain couldn’t write like that if you forced him to read Shakespeare every day for a year. lol.

  2. Mmm whatcha say? Oh that you only meant well? Of course you did!

    I’ve heard so many different interpretations of what this song is about (from the Holocaust to 9/11), but honestly, I just don’t know. Maybe she did the dartboard approach: random ideas scattered on a dartboard, and whatever the darts hit made the cut. That’s the only way I’m accepting “trains and sewing machines” from Imogen Jennifer Jane Heap (wow, guess I didn’t have to use the gub’ment name).

    Anyway, I believe she did justice to the vocoder. No overkill with a stoopid sick beat, just a woman and her voice altering machine thingy. By the way, I love this live performance of her doing this song: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4lemLl9s9Vc

    • It’s funny because the dartboard approach usually means you end up with a lot of random holes in the wall, and not something great. lol.

      And she does do justice to the song with the vocoder. The best part of it is that she can actually sing, too. The rest of that album, Speak for Yourself, is brilliant …

  3. The beauty of this song is that it means different things to different people. That is one of the characteristics of a great song, in my opinion. Songs like this one can be applied to various situations in your life and in the world. Unlike some songs, that don’t need mentioning, that can only have one possible (ignorant) meaning.

    This is why I like books more than movies, they allow you to use your imagination to turn the story into more than just the words as written. The same can be said for a good song.

  4. I no likely this song.

    Here’s another one you might like:

  5. Morning, y’all.

    @Tam: Ditto to your entire comment. I also prefer books to most film adaptations and using one’s imagination is, in my opinion, much better than having the ending given to you. *Sidebar: Remember those “Choose Your Own Adventure” books? Loved them as a child…hundreds of endings for the same story but changing just one thing. I think films try to do that more with alternate endings (Unfaithful, Sweet Home Alabama, etc) but it isn’t quite the same.

    I also agree that some of the best songs are those with mixed meanings or various interpretations to many different people. There IS a certain beauty in that.

    @Damon: That’s sweet of her to release the upcoming album on YOUR birthday. 🙂 I like this song but you’re right; there are so many different meanings within in and there have been so many interpretations. I think a lot of the interpretations have to do with the lyrics themselves but I also think the interpretations have a lot to do with what any given person is going through, witnessing or experiencing while listening to it or around the time the song is released or popular.

    *Sidebar: Some good (imho) artists hail from the UK. I like several of them.

    • @shawnta: I feel like there was a three or four day period where I spent at least an hour searching for some hint of a meaning to this song. *hangs head in shame* To no avail.

      Of course, I came across many interpretations … most of which were intriguing. You’re right, though: The mystery surrounding it only adds to its value.

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