Browse by Title
A B C D E F G
H I J K L M N
O P Q R S T U
V W X Y Z #  




Breathe (2 AM)

by

Anna Nalick



Songfacts®:  You can leave comments about the song at the bottom of the page.

This song seems to be about looking past our mistakes and moving forward. One interpretation is that the song deals with abortion: the singer's friend calls her to tell her she is pregnant and that she does not want the baby nor does she love the father. (thanks, Shannon Mulvany - Spokane, WA)
In 2006, this was re-released and used in an episode of Grey's Anatomy.
The song spent 34 weeks on the Hot 100 but only peaked at #45. In doing so it equaled the record held by Ricky Martin's "The Cup of Life (The Official Song of the World Cup, France '98)," of spending the most weeks on the Hot 100 without making the top 40. Ricky Martin's late 1990s tune also stalled at #45.
Anna Nalick
More Anna Nalick songs
More songs about leaving the past behind
More songs used in TV shows

Comments (21):

Breathe, it's the answer to the best challenge - life comes and goes in passages. Learn from our mistakes.
- Kimberly, Landing, NJ
I think it has to do with abortion, for all the reasons some of you named. "cradle your head in your hands"- one usually cradles a baby... and obviously she doesnt have a baby so she cradles her head. what a stunning song!!!!
- tayla, Pretoria, South Africa
I love the delivery of the song. The singer just sings and sings and sings the words; they don't seem to stop and she doesn't seem to take a breath. And you can almost sense that if she were speaking this emotionally to someone, they would listen to her heartache and tell her "breathe. just breath." A beautiful song.
- Camille, Toronto, OH
I, like many of you, think the first verse is about a friend who's pregnant by a guy she hooked up with last winter but doesn't love. She and the writer go to an abortion center to "help her unravel her latest 'mistake.'" I never got much out of the second verse about the beautiful alcoholic. The final verse I can relate to because when I go through a big mess I've gotten myself into, I can't sleep and I usually end up in front of the computer typing out all of my feelings in a diary of sorts. You know how it just feels good to get things out? Even on paper, it's getting things out. When I've re-read everything I've just written, and had a good cry, I can go right back to sleep (no longer inside of me, killing me by anxiety and lack of sleep). I don't share my diary with anyone, but if I did, I would feel "naked" releasing something so personal and possibly damaging, no matter how one interprets it. Now after sharing my interpretation, I think Georgey is on to something! Great perspective... one most of us have not thought of. I can definitely see the first verse as the diary speaking about the writer. "2:00 a.m. and she (writer) calls me (the diary) 'cuz I'm still awake." So my next question is... does the diary go to the clinic with the writer? Otherwise, who is "we" walking through the doors?
- Mary O., Omaha, NE
As I was listening to this song earlier, it came to me that this song takes a new dimension if you make the singer a male who is in love with the girl who's calling him at 2 am, but she doesn't know it. She knows he's awake and he's the one that she turns to when things go south with all of the men in her life. He's in love with her and she doesn't realize it. At the beginning he's helping her through her hard time and telling her to just breathe. As the song continues, she begins to realize that he loves her and she feels the same way.
- Jonathan, Oak Grove, MO
I always thought this song had to do with someone that the singer cared about being an alcoholic and being in love with someone else who was an alcoholic and although she loves him, she can't be with them because both of them are addicts. She falls in love with a man who she doesn't love and realizes her mistakes and goes to rehab. I think it's about addiction because of this line: "Yeah we walk through the doors, so accusing their eyes like they have any right at all to criticize, hypocrites. You're all here for the very same reason" and "May he turned 21 on the base at Fort Bliss
"Just a day" he said down to the flask in his fist, 'Ain't been sober, since maybe October of last year.' Here in town you can tell he's been down for a while, but, my God, it's so beautiful when the boy smiles, wanna hold him. Maybe I'll just sing about it.." And then she talks about a tunnel being just as far in as you'll ever get out. I really think it's about alcoholism and addictions between two people who really love each other, but can't get it to work.
- Terry, Grafon, WI
I guess I'm seeing a different picture. Although I can see the abortion clinic comparison ...

My initial thought was of a daughter phoning her mother/best freind in the middle of the night after this guy that she'd settled for for few months beat or abused her, and she'd asking for help to unravel yet another misjudgement in choice of men. The season could be any season: I think it just refers to 'a period of time'. The doors they walk through together are those of a women's shelter. They all have experience and a past they're not proud of. How could any of them feel their situation was worse or their abuser was more justified? It's none the less the same reason or situation.

The 2nd verse about the young man speaks to me as a separate individual - not the child of the woman in the 1st verse as I've seen mentioned, or the lover, but someone different and very important to the writer that she's sees as being 'bruise' by life. He's a young serviceman, maybe infantry, who bears more emotional pain than he should have to, perhaps from battles he's been a part of. Turning 21 means little, as he's been drinking a while anyway (typically seen as 'rite of passage') , and his initiation to to 'adulthood' occurred long ago when he was given orders to, 'Fire!'. When he can set himself apart from this emotional stuff, there's no one more beautiful to her. The writer would love to hold him and share his pain or bear his burden, offer support, but fears the gesture may cross the boundaries of their friendship. The artist she is, she'll just sing about it instead.

The 3rd verse is very honest: she's bearing her soul, her feelings, and therefore risks judgement or ridicule. Yet it's her own release: to write it out, sing it out, express it. You can judge her for her honesty , or take her words and find your own truth.

The bridge tells us that, either way, forward or back, a choice needs to be made, the halfway analogy. Backward will only mean you'll make the same mistakes again if the life lesson has not been learned from the experience, and forward; perhaps there's a shot at making things, life, choices, acceptance, better.

Finally, the chorus is the culmination of those thoughts. Once the sand has passed through the hourglass, you can't flip it over and do it again. The sand has passed through, the moment gone, the words said, the action done. The privacy one would expect from writing one's thoughts, as in a diary, has been exposed for all to see. Anna is a very good writer, the comparisons she makes to our inability to 'take back' the mistakes we make, the horrible things we say that we could later retret, is very insightful for such a young woman. Just breathe, relax, accept. Be.
- Teri, Laclede, ID
My view of the song comes from the line 'You can't jump the tracks'. If you remember, it was how the main character killed herself in the Russian classic novel Anna Karenina. It could be a modern retelling of the story set in America from a new POV. If you know the story, Anna was married and had the child of a military man and the guilt drove her insane (she debated if she loved either man). In the end both left her and she jumped the tracks.

I see it as a friend telling her story and trying to get her to see that it will be alright in the end.
- Susannah, Little Rock, AR
Although she sings about personal experiences and struggles that apply to her own life, I also think there's an underlying message that applies to everyone's life--the fact that we can't undo our past mistakes no matter how much they harm us now. In every seperate stanza of the chorus, she says "no one can find the rewind button." The only difference is she first follows the statement with "girl," then "boy," then "now." This suggests that she's talking to anyone with a past (which would mean everyone). She gives examples of her acquaintance's (possible) first-hand experiences just to get her ultimate message across. The hour glass being "glued to the table" is a metaphor for our inability to control the past- we can't go back in time and redo our mistakes because time is continuous and unchanging. However, at one point she sings, "These mistakes you've made, you'll just make them again if you only try turning around." Although we can't directly undo our mistakes in the past, we can change the way we live now in order to break away from our past and grow. In the first stanza, she sings of a girl who regrets starting a relationship with a guy she can't fall in love with. We're "hypoctrites" to judge people for mistakes they've made, because "we're all here for the very same reason"- we have a past as well. The next story is of a guy who's struggling with his choice of becoming an alcoholic. Although his addiction is horrible, it doesn't shape him, he's still an amazing person with a beautiful smile. She uses these stories to point out the reality and importance of learning from our mistakes because we can't undo them. "We're like cars on the cable" because life is driven by an unstopable, eternal track that can't be controlled by us.
- Clare, Houston, TX
I love love love this song. I think its about a girl who is pregnant and is writing evrything in her diary "these words are my diary screaming ou tloud" she calls evryone hypocrits because they are all staring at her for being pregnant so young. she has the baby gives him up and then wishes she wouldnt have " but my god its so beautiful when the boy smiles when i hold him."
- Sarah, st paul , MN
I think that the song is about a woman who is/was in love with an alcoholic, which is why she says, "May, he turned 21, on the base of Fort Bliss, 'Just one day' he said down to that flask in his hand, ain't been sober, since maybe October of last year." and then they have the "hypocrites, you're all here for the very same reason," which I was assuming was AA. but whateverrrr.
- Jessica, Westerville, OH
Has to be about a girl dealing w/ feelings after having an abortion(in my opinion)because:"I don't love him, winter just wasn't my season"she seems to be rationalizing her decision but then goes on to say the opposite in the part that starts Just 21..my God it's so beautiful when the boy smiles,
Wanna hold him(This whole part of the song is contradictory & @ the Same time rationalizing by mentioning he hasn't been sober& seems to be away most of the time.Why would she mention a guy if it wasn't about abortion?Emma's post re:room of people judging,I took it the same way. The chorus where it says you can't rewind=to me..had an abortion,Can't change it, & she clearly feels sad, & a lot of people instinctively take deep breaths or "Breath, just breathe" when feeling sad/guilty/regretful inside to try & feel better in the moment.
I loved this song,the 1st time I heard it(for both the melody & Anna's Voice)!This is the 1st song I ever looked up the lyrics to; because I loved it&wasn't sure I was hearing the lyrics right.When I did Abortion was the 1st thing that came to mind for the meaning; I still love the song but when I read the words it didn't make me feel "as" peaceful as when I didn't interpret it this way:(. My H.S. aged daughter felt it meant the same w/out me telling my thoughts.She said it to a teacher @ school who thought she was crazy. I will have to show her this site. Glad we are not the only ones that interpreted it this way.RE:Addition; I can see the points made.The only thing that directs me the other way is "Why does she put the guy in the song" I can also see why you can take those parts as meaning addiction:).I love reading everyone's interpretations. This is 1 of the Many reasons music is so great...everyone can hear the same thing and interpret it in so many ways. I wish Anna herself would write the intent of her song. I am now inspired to search around to see if she did,something tells me she didn't IF she stays true to the song "people will take from this,etc..(my interpretation of that line). What a fun site!I just found it today.
- joy, Marshfield, MA
The song is about herself writing at her dairy, by "2 am and she calls me" is her dairy speaking ( iknow, sounds dumb) and bye "she" means her, and by accusing and critize part, means that the ppl are seeing her pregnant, and yes it speaks about the drunk boyfriend father of her son, and bye "breathe just breathe" is her telling her self to just breathe and keep up.
- Georgey, over the rainbow, WA
a good song
- Sarah, LA, CA
I first heard this song about two years ago and I thought that it was about being famous, basically. The girl calling her friend at 2 AM just broke up with her boyfriend and she needs comfort. They go out to a bar/club, but when they get there people stare at them, when they are here for the same reason as they are. (I think when the singer says 'I don't love him' she's trying to convince herself that she never had feelings for her friends boyfriend and that she's happy to see him go) Later the boyfriend turns 21, and he's already eternally wasted by that time. She finds him and helps him. She writes a song about how she loves him and says to her friend that she knows she'll use them to prove that she likes him, but she doesn't care.
~~Ta~~
- Z, Somewhere over the rainbow, WA
This song examines life's uncertainties and offers comfort as she describes three different situations that were intertwined during a particular period of time.
First situation being of her friends pregnancy like what Emma and Shannon had stated.
Second situation was of her boyfriend probably that hasnt been sober for months but his smile is why she wants to hold him and is why she stays with him.
And Third situation is that the lyrics she is writing are what she feels are words similar to what would be in her diary that she is showing for the world to use however way they look at it.
- Mauia88, orange county, CA
This song is also used in the television military drama JAG in the series finale "Fair Winds and Following Seas".
- Kate, Poughkeepsie, NY
I agree with Linda about this song potentially being about abortion.
The lyrics: "Can you help me unravel my latest mistake?"
"Yeah, we walked through the doors, so accusing their eyes,like they have any right at all to criticize, Hypocrites. You're all here for the very same reason" AND
"Threatening the life it belongs to" really do appear to have a correlation with abortion.

The lyric about the others 'so accusing in their eyes' is especially very realistic. Women judge other women more than anyone else does. We cause a lot of our own problems, and it is not unheard of that other women in an abortion clinic, there for exactly the same reason, will look at other women there and judge them.
The key, I think, is the lyric "Threatening the life it belongs to". On the surface it would appear that this lyric is simply referring to the secrets this women has kept within draining the life out of her and the need for it to escape. However, I think it could also reflect the position the woman feels she is in with carrying a baby she doesn't want. It is very possible that the woman carrying feels like it is the baby that is threatening her life- not the other way around.

Anyhow, I love this song. Aside from anything else, it is easy to listen to, has good lyrics and has a very talented singer singing them.
- Emma, Melbourne, Australia
This song is about many things finding who you are braking addiction listen to the words carefully
- karie, jacksonville, FL
I always thought this song was about abortion. "Unravel my latest mistake." The line "Hypocrites you're all here for the same reason" might imply that she is young, and people are staring at her for getting pregnant, but it could also be taken to mean drugs, breakup/divorce or abuse.
- Linda, Ranger, GA
I think this song has to with addiction
- Jessica, Broken Arrow, OK
You have to to post comments.
Band NamesBand Names
Was "Pearl" Eddie Vedder's grandmother, and did she really make a hallucinogenic jam? Did Journey have a contest to name the group? And what does KISS stand for anyway?
Billy Gould of Faith No MoreBilly Gould of Faith No More
Faith No More's bassist, Billy Gould, chats to us about his two new experimental projects, The Talking Book and House of Hayduk, and also shares some stories from the FNM days.
Tonio KTonio K
This mysterious and wildly eclectic singer/songwriter talks about some of his most memorable songs and collaborations.
Van Dyke ParksVan Dyke Parks
U2, Carly Simon, Joanna Newsom, Brian Wilson and Fiona Apple have all gone to Van Dyke Parks to make their songs exceptional.