In our interview with Better Than Ezra frontman Kevin Griffin, who wrote this song, he explained: "'Desperately Wanting' is a song where someone is looking back on their childhood. Specifically that song is about when I used to camp out with my friends in the summer down in the South, and you'd stay up all night causing havoc, throwing rocks at passing cars, knocking over mailboxes and vandalizing, as red-blooded men are wont to do. And literally, you're running all through the neighborhood and through the yards, and there's the dew on the grass. It was about those nights spent with a friend running around, running through the wet grass.
And then it's a story of two people who took divergent paths in life. One person made a lot of bad decisions and ended up having some mental issues. And then just how you lose touch with people. And how when you're young and you're running around all night, and life hasn't had its way with you, the playing field is equal and it's flat. And then life takes everybody on their own journeys.
But there's a time where all your potential is untapped and the world hasn't had its way with you. That's an amazing time of promise, and that's what 'Desperately Wanting' is about."
Better Than Ezra formed at Louisiana State University (LSU), where Kevin Griffin and guitarist Jim Payne were members of the Kappa Sigma fraternity. This led to rumors that the song is about the pledging the fraternity, complete with the hazing rituals. In this interpretation, the pledges are "desperately wanting" to gain brotherhood, earning them acceptance into the house they cannot yet call home. Lines like, "Filled you full of those pills," "Deserving all the chills" and "They say the worst is over" relate to the hazing, and "letters," are the Greek letters that represent the fraternity. When you finally get through the process, you're let in on the secrets of the house, and you "finally figure out some things you'll never know."
Griffin says the song has nothing to do with this.
These lines in the song are as gruesome as an episode of CSI:
When they pumped out your guts And filled you full of those pills You were never quite right Deserving all the chills
There was a real-life inspiration for this line, although it was embellished a bit. Griffin told Songfacts: "It's about someone overdosing, drinking too much, going to the hospital and having their stomach pumped. That was me using dramatic license. For me, the song is about someone you know who's in rehab or a mental institution, and losing touch with them and writing letters. It was using dramatic license and hyperbole and having something powerful to write about. But in real life it was me writing about a friend who was having mental problems and some drug problems."
Tim from ClarkdaleOK guys. This song has nothing to frats or pledging. Geez. I thought it was about an old girlfriend who had issues but it appears I'm wrong too. (as a side note, I'm rather anti-frat, but if you're going to do the frat thing Kappa Sig is the only one - kind of an anti-frat frat. Good guys.)
Dan from Loveland, OhOh yeah, almost forgot!!! All you frat boys are on here talkin up some big words. For the record I think frat boys are just a bunch of children trying to overcome their own anxieties about leaving mommy and daddy by cuddling up together in a little house where they can be close to one another! Reach down, grab your pair (if you can find them) and join my fraternity... The USMC, where the real men go to work!
Dan from Loveland, OhI am sorry but everyone who is saying that the song is about a frat is completely full of crap. Yes, he was a part of your frat., but saying that song is about his experience there is like me saying Zzyzx Rd. by Stone Sour is about the military because the lyrics fit to a T. I am a former Marine who served during the war in Iraq and that song described the feeling you have just before a combat deployment so well I had to find out if it was a tribute to the military. Of course, its not! It's about the pressures of living on the road and overcoming personal issues. It is a coincidence that it translates to the military so well. This song is the same way. The following is an excerpt from an interview with Kevin Griffin.
And what of "Desperately Wanting," the 1996 hit that reached No. 10 on Billboard's Mainstream Rock charts? The one widely rumored to be about Griffin's experiences with the Kappa Sigma fraternity at LSU?
Not true, said Griffin.
"Jim Payne (touring keyboardist/guitarist) and I were in the Kappa Sigma fraternity at LSU," said Griffin. "For some reason it got out that 'Desperately Wanting' was about being a pledge, but the reality is it had nothing to do with that. But all around the country, whenever we play it, guys in their [Kappa Sigma] shirts love it."
T from Baton Rouge, LaYou people are idiots. EVERYONE from Louisiana claims to be bff's with people in this band and I'm sure most of it is an utter load of crap most of the time. Similar to people always claiming to be so tight with famous people in general. I find it hard to believe that this entire song is about pledging a frat, and if it is, I dont believe its portraying that in a happy light. Being pumped full of drugs doesnt exactly seem like a trip to the fun place. Certain lines in this song insinuate a different meaning. I'm not going to speculate on the meaning of this song in general, I just think its a great song. I'm certainly not going to take the opinions of people who may know people who may have had a freaking cheeseburger with a bandmember one time or those who are just pushing a freaking faternity's agenda. Till I hear a meaning explanation from someone in the band themselves, I'll just continue to listen and enjoy. If anyone can show me some form of documentation other than some random poster's opinion that Kevin or anyone from this band tryign to explain the meaning of this song, I'd love to see it.
Joe from Shreveport, LaLook for all you who are haters and are NOT Kappa Sigmas you'll never truly understand what this song means but to us who are Kappa Sigmas we know what it truly means and we feel it everytime we listen to this song. A~B LSUS, Mu-Omicron
Phil from Tulsa, OkYou are all wrong. He was actually trying to join Sigma Kappa (the sorority). He was "desparately wanting" to be a girl. How do I know this? Because I used to be his best friend until he got famous and forgot about me.
Justin from Katy , TxOk For those of you who are not Kappa Sigma's you have no idea what you are talkn bout and he did make it in and the song bout when sumbody died is A lifetime so if u aint a Kappa Sigma quit waisting your time " you'll never Know " and i am a Kappa Sigma
James from Ruston, Laok for the moron from oregon that thinks this is AGAINST pledging Kappa Sig you are greatly mistaken the Band members ARE KAPPA SIGMA since you are not kappa sig you understand nothing behind the song. To Kappa Sigma Brothers this song has alot of meaning behind. First of all im from Louisiana and im a Kappa Sig and its also isnt talking about drugs its about "some things you'll never know"
Stephan from Grants Pass, OrHey as long as their song talks about why NOT to pledge Kappa Sig it's all good. Rush Sigma Pi for an honest good time! Sigma Pi till the day I die!!!
Nate from Alexandria, VaJonathan from Plano, TX. You may want to check on some of your facts. The "gay kid" that was killed in Laramie, Wy. was Matthew Sheppard and he was murdered in 1998. 2 years after the album containing this song was released. There is no way the song has anything to do with Matthew Sheppard's murder.
Joanna from San Francisco, CaWhen I was living on the wonderful gulf coast and going to lots of BTE concerts i heard that this song was about a former band member/good friend who suffered from depression and took his life. whatever it's origin, it's a song that has deep emotion that's easy to engage...it's helped me thru tough moments in life.
Jonathan from Plano, TxActually you are all wrong this song is about the laramie project where a gay kid was killed.
Elizabeth from New Orleans, LaThis is a song about their time as Kappa Sig pledges. Good ole days at LSU when Muphy's was still around.
Tom from Orlando, FlFunny...here I though that Kevin got into Kappa Sigma...oh wait he did. I've drank with him. Good guy, and as the song says "some things you'll never know"
Probably wont check this board again so email me email@example.com
Emily from Alexandria, LaThis song has nothing to do with an old friend. The guy was pledging kappa sigma at lsu anf=d got kicked out. He is singing about how they haze people and do drugs. I guess you are not from the south.
Diane from Baton Rouge, LaActually, the song is about when they were rushing a fraternity at LSU. Any good Louisianian knows that story!!!