Song Analysis “Rolling in the Deep” – Adele

There’s a fire starting in my heart

Reaching a fever pitch, it’s bringing me out the dark

Finally I can see you crystal clear

Go ahead and sell me out and I’ll lay your sh- bare

[Adele is PISSED. She compares her rising emotion to a fever. she is looking at the man she used to love, seeing his for once, under the light of reality. When she says she will lay his sh- bare, she meansshe will expose him for the jerk he is.]

See how I leave with every piece of you

Don’t underestimate the things that I will do

There’s a fire starting in my heart

Reaching a fever pitch

And its bring me out the dark

[She says that she will take away parts of him. Many people, on breaking up with a significant other, feel as if they are losing pieces of themselves. She talks about a fire in her heart, which naturally makes me think of heartburn. Heartburn feels awful. It feels like spilling acid on your chest. She hates the way she feels. She is angry and vengeful.]

The scars of your love remind me of us

They keep me thinking that we almost had it all

The scars of your love they leave me breathless

I can’t help feeling

We could have had it all

[“The scars of your love they leave me breathless” is like an entire love story carefully folded into a single verse. She feels so much pain now because she feels they had something special. She feels this man has damaged her forever. Think of a scar. Most scars are pretty small. But the scars of truly vicious abuse are different. They are so big and deep that even a seasoned doctor looking at them cannot help but gasp. That is the kind of scar the speaker has. Her scars might be emotional or they might be physical scars from domestic violence. She says they could have had it all, that is, everything they wanted. Isn’t it so amazing how the people who can make us sublimely happy can also bring us to our knees with pain?]

Rolling in the deep

You had my heart

Inside of your hand

And you played it

To the beat

[I really don’t know what to make of the phrase “rolling in the deep.” Still, it does create an image in my mind. I picture a scuba diver plunging into the ocean with waves swirling all around her. I think she wants to convey the depth of her emotion and the feelings in which she’s figuratively drowning. She describes her vulnerability, saying that he held her heart in his hands. The song abounds with metaphors and that makes it particularly fun to analyze.]

Baby I have no story to be told

But I’ve heard one of you

And I’m gonna make your head burn

Think of me in the depths of your despair

Making a home down there

It reminds you of the home we shared

The scars of your love remind me of us

They keep me thinking that we almost had it all

The scars of your love they leave me breathless

I can’t help feeling

We could have had it all

[The imagery here reminds me of classical depictions of Hell. His head is burning, he’s deep down in a miserable place, and he’s stuck there forever. The irony here is that this terrible home is like a Bizarro version of the home they had together. Perhaps the “depths of despair” is connected to “rolling in the deep.” Maybe it’s not her in the deep, but him, in her imagination. His rolling is like the twisted motions of a man writhing in pain.]

Rolling in the deep

You had my heart

Inside of your hand

And you played it

To the beat

Throw your soul through every open door

Count your blessings to find what you look for

Turned my sorrow into treasured gold

You pay me back in kind and reap just what you sow

Refrain

[She advises him on how to survive his miserable fate. She’s telling him to look for ways out. She’s reminding him to be thankful for what he still has. Finally, she says that he should expect all the bad he does to come back to him. She doesn’t really say this out of a wish to see him happy. It’s like she’s telling him the way the moral universe works just to remind him of how much he betrayed her.]

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  1. #1 by Steve on February 28, 2011 - 4:19 pm

    In my opinion, the scars mentioned are emotional not physical. Many verses suggest a relationship with a sociopath. Her sorrow was turned into treasured gold for him, meaning he enjoyed it/craved it. Another hint is that only once he played her heart with a beating, but all the other times it’s “to the beat”. In other words the beat of her heart, meaning he manipulated her by understanding her heart psychologically and playing into that. Hence also her profound feeling that “they could have had it all” even though she sees him crystal clear now. That is because he lured her in with the promise of a perfect relationship.
    As for the metaphore “rolling in the deep” itself, it’s indeed the least clear of all. the verb rolling associates getting “all-in” with no restraint or restrictions. So in that sense it could refer to her own naivety. How she trusted him blindly and allow him to hold her heart in her hand, while she was rolling in “his” darkness. Or it could refer to him, how he fully embraces his sociopathic characteristic, and rolls in it, plays with people and emotions without any feelings of shame and remorse, or any care for those who get hurt in the process.
    I was married to a sociopath and every time I hear this song, I just have to fight so hard not to crack down in public. It’s wonderfull how she was able to put this in words, because I wouldn’t even know how to begin explaining what I’ve been trough.

    • #2 by mary on September 11, 2011 - 5:47 am

      Hi Steve couldn’t agree more to your opinion . The lyrics to rolling in the deep hit a raw nerve in me but in a strange way a realisation of life and the cold hard truth. This song may gives me a reality check and drifts me away. I will never understand why certain people think its such a power trip to hurt others emotionally. I get sick of hearing they do it because they can or you made your bed lie in it. Dont know about you steve or any one else that has been hurt but i can honestly say i didnt wake up one morning and decided this is the day i let heartache in my life. have my feelings chewed up and spat out. Certainly not the bed i wanted to lie in let alone because they can. Hope their heads burn xo

  2. #3 by asad123 on February 28, 2011 - 8:04 pm

    Thank you for sharing a deeply personal aspect of your life. I hope others can benefit from your strength.

  3. #4 by RandomThought on April 6, 2011 - 10:46 pm

    “Rolling in the deep” Loved the lyrics on this song. Tickles the mind in an amazing way.

    In my mind, I associated that phrase more with the previous line, “we could have had it all”. From that aspect she she is expressing how she half expected their future to be.

    This was my take on the metaphore from that perspective:

    Rolling = Moving/progressing in such a way as the outcome is not precisely known but was started for fun and thrills.

    Deep = In over their heads with abundance of everything, love, money, happiness, etc. An abundance of such magnitude that is beyond control. (A bit of a “feedback” loop to rolling. Fits well with the song’s feel of ever building crescendo).

  4. #5 by Toni on May 27, 2011 - 3:48 pm

    Actually the phrase rolling in the deep refers to a ship or boat that is being tossed by the sea very harshly. In one line Adele refers to “laying his ship bare” which means taking every thing from the ship, which makes me wonder if he is the ship, because she also says “see how I leave with every peace of you”. So, overall, I think she is saying that after I take everything from you, you can roll in the deep for all I care!

  5. #6 by rolling stone on July 12, 2011 - 1:51 pm

    Meaning of Rolling in the deep.

    As with many other songs, the true meaning can only be grasped including the analysis of the video.

    First of all, “Rolling in the deep” means “falling into chaos”.

    Second, you think this is a “no-love song” between two people? Think again. We see only the singer, the remaining are just symbols. Why then don’t show the “jerk”? Because there is no such person, she is not speaking about a person.

    The video is full of symbolism. The big old house, the covered painting/map, the empty house, the blind dancer, the thousand glasses of water, and the thousand of broken cups/dishes, the scale city, the fireworks, etc.

    I’ll explain just two essential symbols. First there is no house with such exaggerated amount of glasses of water, nor with such amount of broken cups/dishes. So, its not a house. its an analogy. As you can see there is a scale city inside this “big house”. Got it?

    The glasses with water present young people, fresh mind people that see all clear, and all of them beat at the same time with this “music” because all of them see/feel the same.

    The broken cups that continue being broken day to day, represent old people that is disillusioned or just monetary broke.

    I wont go over the other symbols that are complementary but not relevant to understand the real meaning.

    So, practically, the message is “XXXXXXX, you got it all, but now you are rolling in the deep”.

    Listen the song again under this new light, do it makes more sense now? 🙂

    Have a nice day!

  6. #7 by asad123 on July 12, 2011 - 9:16 pm

    Rolling stone, I’m not entirely sure what point you are making, but I think I disagree with you. It seems to me that you’re saying the song isn’t about the breakup of a romantic affair, but instead is about how life tends to slowly disillusion people as they age.

    Your main source of support you claim is the music video for “Rolling in the Deep.” I’ve seen the video, but for those who haven’t, the video shows Adele singing in a room alone, a drummer playing by a set of stairs, a staggeringly large number of glasses of water, a model city that burns, and a sizable pile of broken china saucers.

    I’m not convinced that the video is helpful at all in deciphering the song, but let’s just assume for the moment that it is helpful. I don’t know where you’re getting the idea that glasses of water = young people. Is that because people are mostly water? I have an even bigger problem with broken saucers = old people. Lots of old people are happy and healthy. Why should they all be “broken”? And wouldn’t it make more sense to use something old-looking to represent old-people? But the dishes don’t look old, they just look broken.

    But by far, the biggest problem for me in your analysis is that you completely ignore the elements of the song that most glaringly contradict your ideas. If the song isn’t about a breakup, then explain this part:

    “The scars of your love remind me of us
    They keep me thinking that we almost had it all”
    Notice the “us” and the “we” which seem pretty strong indicators of a relationship.

    Or this part:
    “You had my heart
    Inside of your hand
    And you played it
    To the beat”

    How could this fit into a model where the song is about the young versus the old? Do the old have the hearts of the young in their hands? It doesn’t fit.

    You have to be careful when you use videos to explain songs. Directors of music videos tend to like fire, explosions, and shattering glass. Those things look great on camera. Great looking videos sell more songs. Videos that make the viewer say “Oh, I get what this song means now,” which are rare, getting rarer these days, aren’t as good at selling music.

  7. #8 by erica on July 13, 2011 - 12:16 pm

    Wow! I don’t have a poetic mind and I really appreciate your talent in deciphering what this song means. I always wondered what she was singing about. Such a beautiful song and even more-so now. Thanks!

  8. #9 by Great Brittain on July 25, 2011 - 7:13 am

    Rolling Stone lost me on the first 5 sentences. Wonder what good sh++ he must be high on? Anyway I love your analysis of this powerful song. The words “Rolling in the Deep” stir a particular image in my mind as well. I picture someone (most likely a scuba diver as well) trapped in an underwater cave in the sea. So deep and dark and running out of oxygen. This person work themselves into a panic trying to free themselves from the rocks so they can make it to the surface to breathe. I imagine that this is how her relationship feels in that it has caused the “fever” inside her representing panic and fear but also diving is an adventure. Deep in the ocean beautiful sights abound and she “dove in” to this love headfirst so taken by the beauty of it (the diver saw the beauty and didn’t make preparations like noting the maximum depth they planned to go or checking how long the amt of oxygen would last as in–she didn’t stop to think or notice the dangers of such a rush, she was swept away by his love) the diver is going deeper and deeper to see more and more and doesn’t realize when signs of danger my present themselves as in low oxygen, going to deep in the sea, and not noticing their surroundings are getting darker as they drop—she run into this relationship so hard and trusted him so deeply that she didn’t notice when she crossed the line of feeling completely attached and unable to walk away, your classic relationship sob story. And of course in the end the diver flails himself around in the water stuck deep and in the dark with a breath just as her panic and pain wash over her as the crescendo tops out. She is filled with resentment for her lover because just as the diver was lured deep in the ocean by the beautiful sights- she was lured by her lovers promises, touch, feeling of happiness he caused her body/heart “her whole being” to feel. And basically he pulled a “bait-and-switch” on her.

  9. #10 by acjemia on July 28, 2011 - 11:19 am

    She is talking about addiction to Crystal Meth…sheesh!

    The boyfriend everyone is speaking of, is the drug. And the addiction is her heart telling her that this is over but will never have her go through the things again.

    Rolling in the Deep-Rolling normally refers to Exstassy, Deep refers to the state of blank, dark set tone, with no hope nor glory.

  10. #11 by bethauthau on July 31, 2011 - 9:37 am

    Just found this and hope it helps

    “Adele described the song title’s meaning to Rolling Stone as an, “adaptation of a kind of slang, slur phrase in the UK called ‘roll deep,’ which means to have someone, always have someone that has your back, and you’re never on your own, if you’re ever in trouble you’ve always got someone who’s going to come and help you fight it or whatever like that. And that’s how I felt in the relationship that the record’s about, especially ‘Rolling in the Deep.’ That’s how I felt, you know, I thought that’s what I was always going to have, and um, it ended up not being the case.”

    source: http://www.songfacts.com/detail.php?id=21312

  11. #12 by asad123 on August 6, 2011 - 11:28 pm

    Acjemia, I realize that drug references are quite common in pop music, but it seems here you’re trying to shoehorn these words into a boot that doesn’t fit.

    Look again at these lines that fit much better with a human being than with a drug:
    “Think of me in the depths of your despair/ Making a home down there
    It reminds you of the home we shared
    The scars of your love remind me of us/They keep me thinking that we almost had it all.”

    Is she really saying that meth thinks of her and feels despair? Is she really saying that she shared her home with meth? Is she really saying that she and meth together almost had it all?

    I’ll even go as far as to say that she could be talking about a guy that is her lover and her drug dealer. I could wrap my head around that. But a thinking, despairing crystal meth? Sorry, it doesn’t work.

  12. #13 by Aman on August 10, 2011 - 2:37 am

    Rolling in the deep means “fall into chaos”? Is ıt the exact meaning?

    • #14 by Sunny on November 10, 2011 - 11:35 pm

      Rolling in the deep does not mean fall in chaos, it is a slang term, one that exists in several different countries and cultures, it can be an urban slang term to be used like “rolling in deep” and then usually followed by a number and it means that there are a lot of your “people” or gang or whatever there with you or it can be used to mean more like someone having your back – “rolling in the deep” – someone always there for you and ready to help. but i have mostly heard it as an urban slang term – “we be rolling in 20 deep tonight, they won’t f*ck with us”

  13. #15 by IvorySoul on August 15, 2011 - 7:06 pm

    Well, I know exactly what this song is about. The poet to that song wrote it about me. I should know. I got knocked out and she had me listen to it to remind me of what I did and what has been done to us.

    Rolling in the Deep most of you won’t understand unless you have know love that is so deep.

    I could tell you more. but I don’t want the writer getting more pissed at me as you all may think this is song is something to be proud about, but it isn’t. It is a reminder of the greatest love that went awry.

  14. #16 by IvorySoul on August 15, 2011 - 7:22 pm

    BTW, when she took me out to “Think” I was going to be killed. Then to get picked up on the side of the road by her friend to be brought back to her. Then to sit in the back seat of their vehicle still half unconscious. Having her friend that was driving play the song to me and her telling me things as each verse was played. Telling me this song isn’t released yet and her poem was picked to be used by Adele for her future release. I told her I heard the song before, she told me I was wrong and that she is the only one that has a copy of the pre-recording. I didn’t believe her. This happened sometime over a year ago.

    I heard it then and I know now that she wasn’t lying.

    She still won’t talk with me even though I have been trying to talk with her for over 8 months. This song is written about a relationship long ago that almost got reignited only 3 years ago when she realized what she left behind. However due to a shocking intro back with each other, it gave her the will to write this poem.

    I am FUBAR!

  15. #17 by IvorySoul on August 16, 2011 - 2:12 pm

    The glasses of water has to do with her clarity of what she sees now. “Finally I can see you crystal clear” with all the glasses to indicate that everything is clear to her now.

    The broken china plates has to do with her taking out her frustrations. Her sitting alone is her being alone now since she realized the truth and lost someone else because of her realization.

    Even though to song is about rolling in the deep. the good part.

    it is the story that she heard that is burning her heart…story to me equals rumor that got out of hand,

    the scars of your love has to do with the memories of the how she felt, her decisions and what she found out when she came back. There is so much more to the details that would probably make most peoples jaw drop and squeeze you heart hard enough that it would make you cry to your core just for hearing it.

    There is so much to read from this poem. Each verse has a long and painful meaning behind it.

    One thing I can say is that “playing it to the beat”. is a positive statement of how I was able to keep tempo with our love.

    But the one where she says “But, you played it to the beating” (negative) is her saying what once was a tempo is now a painful reminder of what it could have lead to for us.

    As for the Ninja snow spinner. haha, not close. That has to do with her heart.. the snow is how much it shattered… to a powder and the what the ninja is doing with the samurai is what I did to her heart.

    Finally the “depths of your despair” is my life now. To elaborate. Once we loved very deeply. I never wanted to ever lose her and she felt the same as me. I lost her to a lie, but also there are so many other things that made her push towards believing it. She did what she had to do, to do what she felt was right. then something happened to her that would shatter the heart of anyone that knew her or even just heard what happened. The thing is, I didn’t hear about it. Not until she came back to me. Then my heart was shattered. The being of my despair.

    She had enough on her plate to deal with, but something along the way that I did made her feel I sold her out. I didn’t, and I explained. But still due to all involved it can’t be changed. That is what leaves her breathless and that is why she says we could have had it all.

    Alll of this due to a lack of communication and mainly about trust.

    She may say about me being in despair. I am, more like an apathetic state of mind more as. But she is not seeing the despair she is in. That is what I am trying to save her from now.

    That is all I can say about this. Who knows, I have been thinking of writing a book. But then again I don’t think it would be a good idea. I already have over 1200 pages in a Word doc on my journal about us.

    One thing I can say is that each verse has a lot of meaning behind it. Enough that each versa can tell it’s own story.

    We had a very special bond together that would make most couples envious to how close we were and how much we loved each other. We actually had to woard off a few that tried to darken our relationship. But there was one she didn’t want to believe, but it was so bad that you can’t just ignore it. It was enough for her to take her eyes off me and lose our connection.

    I can’t say any more.

  16. #18 by Gabriel Wright on August 26, 2011 - 5:58 pm

    She says “Lay your SHIP bare!!!”

    • #19 by asad123 on August 26, 2011 - 6:11 pm

      I disagree with you Gabriel. The word she says is not “ship.” But this is an open question out on the internets.

  17. #20 by Sara Thomas on September 7, 2011 - 10:48 pm

    The bitch is clearly sitting in a chair in a house that’s being remodeled after filling hundreds of wine glasses with water and lining them up on the floor while Willy Wonka dances with a cane in a room full of baby powder and someone hurls her china at the wall from the top of the stairs.
    Kidding.
    She’s talking about rolling on MDMA. Clearly. Her heartbeat gets faster, she feels the beat of the music, everything seems awesome, she feels warmer, gets emotional, etc.

  18. #21 by kat on September 21, 2011 - 11:55 am

    There shouldn’t be an argument anymore after bethauthau posted her answer. She is the most correct one of all.

    Rolling in the deep doesn’t mean rolling in chaos because of the contextual clues.
    The phrase relates to to the previous sentence which is a positive feeling.
    More specifically it pertains to what “ALL” means.
    Rolling in the deep means deep affection or deeply in love with each other.

    “I can’t help feeling we could have had it all – rolling in the deep. “

  19. #22 by Dave on October 15, 2011 - 1:08 pm

    OMG you are all WRONG!!! First of all she says I’ll lay your S H I T bare. In other words, she is gonna expose him for the User/Jerk that he is. Secondly, “Rolling in the deep” is a take off from a term called “Rolling Deep”. It means a feeling of security from someone having your back. kind of like the feeling you would get having 10 people always at your side to help you out in any situation. Don’t believe me? DO SOME RESEARCH!! Adele stated all this in an interview to Rolling Stone

  20. #23 by sky on October 30, 2011 - 9:48 pm

    who cares… this song is wonderful and i love it ..there are many different meanings to the song … but as Dave put it Adele had stated what it meanss .

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