Song Analysis – “Is It Any Wonder?” – Keane

I, I always thought that I knew,
I’d always have the right to,
be living in the kingdom of the good and true.

[The knowledge the speaker invokes means his belief that he had found love. The phrase “kingdom of the good and true” sounds oddly familiar but I can’t place where I heard it before. The kingdom probably represents paradise or some kind of utopia.]

And so on,
but now I think I was wrong.
And you were laughing along
and now I look a fool for thinking you were on my side.

[He realizes how foolish it was to think he had found love when his mate was really just playing with his heart. She was laughing behind his back.]
Is it any wonder that I’m tired?
Is it any wonder that I feel uptight?
Is it any wonder I don’t know what’s right?

[He asks rhetorically if it is at all surprising that he feels bad now. He feels exhausted, tense, and confused. All of these are quite normal for someone who has just had a relationship fall apart. “Tired” here might be physically tired, but is more likely reflective of emotional strain. When you deal with someone who is dishonest or difficult, isn’t it exhausting? The “uptight” here probably isn’t the “you-have-to-wear-a-tie” kind of uptight. It’s more like a person asking his girlfriend where she is going and who she is going with because his last girlfriend cheated on him.]
Sometimes,
It’s hard to know where I stand.
It’s hard to know where I am.
Well maybe it’s a puzzle I don’t understand.

[He is talking about feeling disoriented. Even though he uses words of physical location “where I am,” he means he feels disoriented in a social sense. It’s like a dog in a pack that doesn’t know if it’s an alpha or omega.]
Sometimes,
I get the feeling that I’m
stranded in the wrong time.
Where love is just a lyric in a children’s rhyme, a soundbite.

[A lot of fans particularly like this line “where love is just a lyrics in a children’s rhyme.” What the singer evokes here is a notion that love is a fairy tale, a myth. The part about being “stranded in the wrong time” suggests the possibility that sometime in the past, love may have been real, but now it’s not. Or perhaps he doesn’t want to time-travel back to another age, but simply to the moment when he still believed in the love he has now lost.]
Is it any wonder that I’m tired?
Is it any wonder that I feel uptight?
Is it any wonder I don’t know what’s right?

Oh these days,
after all the misery you made.
Is it any wonder that I feel afraid?
Is it any wonder that I feel betrayed?

[He lashes out at his ex. He explains that she made him feel miserable. He sees her now as a traitor. By using the phrase “is it any wonder,” he indicates that he is not getting upset about nothing, rather, any man in his position would feel the same way. It’s like him saying, “You slept with my best friend. Are you surprised that I’m upset?!?”]
Nothing left inside this old cathedral,
just the sad lonely spires.
How do you make it right?

[What is this cathedral doing here? Could it be a place that was special to him and his ex? Maybe she left him at the altar. Maybe he married her in the church and then they divorced. Perhaps his loss of faith in romance has affected his faith in God. Sometimes songs seem to be about a man and a woman but are really about God. Could this be such a song?

To evaluate that possibility, one has to review the entire song in a new light. Think about “the kingdom of the good and true” which might be the Heavenly Kingdom of God. Consider, “Now I look a fool for thinking you were on my side.” People often speak of having God on their side.  What about, “Is it any wonder I don’t know what’s right?” This line actually fits much better if the song is about God. When you break up with a significant other, you still know right from wrong. But when you lose faith in God, you might lose your moral compass.]

Oh but you try.
Is it any wonder that I’m tired?
Is it any wonder that I feel uptight?
Is it any wonder I don’t know what’s right?

Oh these days.
After all the misery you made,
is it any wonder that I feel afraid?
Is it any wonder that I feel betrayed?

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