This song describes a drug user's descent into crystal meth addiction. The line, "I want something else..." contains a reference to crystal meth in the song. Stephan Jenkins explained on the HBO show Reverb that they intentionally put a chipper melody to the dark lyrical content. Said Jenkins: "When I wrote 'Semi-Charmed Life,' the guitar riff was intended to have this sort of bright duh-nuhnuh-nunt, this shiny thing, because that was a feeling of speed. You know, it's sort of a bright, shiny drug. And we all were sort of into hip-hop, and so it has a hip-hop flow over it."
The line: "Doing crystal meth will lift you up until you break" was a little racy for some radio stations, who played an edited version with the words "Crystal Meth" distorted.
Talking about the deeper meaning of the song on Reverb, Jenkins said: "It's a song about always wanting something. It's about never being satisfied, and reaching backwards to things that you've lost and towards things that you can never get. I think everybody has some identification with that. The story line between the people, the demise of this relationship, is just an extreme example of that condition. I think that's what makes people really relate to 'Semi-Charmed Life.'"
The band has admitted that they borrowed the doot doot doot part of the song from Lou Reed's "Walk On The Wild Side
This was Third Eye Blind's first single. The group's name could be a reference to a penis, but The Third Eye is also a metaphysical term in new age spirituality referring a state of enlightenment and is associated with clairvoyance. (thanks, Jules - W. Bloomfield, MI)
The original line was "I want nothing else..." but when the song was eventually released, it was changed to "I want something else." No explanation has ever been given for this, however recordings of the original can be found. (thanks, Andy - Chattanooga, TN)
This was played in the Norm MacDonald movie Dirty Work as Norm's character, Mitch, returns home after being fired to find his girlfriend is also kicking him out. (thanks, DC - Kansas City, MO)
In 2015, when we asked Stephan Jenkins how he felt about this song, he replied: "I don't feel like it's really mine. It's participating in the experiences that other people are having with it."