Therefore I Am

Album: yet to be titled (2020)
Charted: 2 2

Songfacts®:

  • The main gist of this moody track is Billie Eilish "couldn't care less" what people think of her. She expresses disdain towards the constant media coverage and the critiques aimed at her baggy clothes and body. Eilish demands these people stop speaking her name as if they know her personally; after all she doesn't know their names.
  • Eilish fuses her jabs at these clout chasers with critical philosophy. She derives the title and chorus from a famous philosophical statement by the 17th century Frenchman Rene Descartes, where he tackles the problem of skepticism.

    Descartes' 1637 treatise Discours de la méthode (Discourse on the Method) was a series of mathematical and metaphysical speculations where he attempted to rebuild human knowledge using the foundation "I think therefore I am." By arguing that by doubting our existence, we prove our reality, Descartes founded modern philosophy.

    Eilish plays on Descartes quote to swipe at those people she doesn't know who are nonetheless trying to control her. We know that our self-conscious is real because we can think, and Eilish is an individual with her own mind.
  • During "Therefore I Am," Eilish seems to address one particular individual who has done her wrong, referring to him as "the man." It's unclear whether he's one person or the personification of a group of people. She told Apple Music's Zane Lowe, "This song is very, very up for interpretation." She goes on to say she's "curious to see what people get from it and also what they feel when they hear it. It's a little mean - I love it."
  • Eilish wrote the defiant song alongside her elder brother and regular collaborator, Finneas. He also produced the dark pop track, giving it a minimalist beat.
  • Eilish directed the video herself. It's set inside an empty Glendale Galleria shopping mall in California, where she would frequently go as a young teenager. Shot on iPhone, it shows the star grabbing snacks from different empty stores as if she's blatantly telling her body shamers she does not care about their criticisms.
  • Billie Eilish performed the song live for the first time on November 22, 2020 at the American Music Awards. Dressed in the same look as from the mall-themed music video, Eilish sang the song from a red-lit set designed to look like separate rooms.

Comments

Be the first to comment...

Editor's Picks

Gilby ClarkeSongwriter Interviews

The Guns N' Roses rhythm guitarist in the early '90s, Gilby talks about the band's implosion and the side projects it spawned.

Female Singers Of The 90sMusic Quiz

The ladies who ruled the '90s in this quiz.

Tom Waits Lyrics QuizMusic Quiz

Pool balls, magpies and thorns without roses - how well do you know your Tom Waits lyrics?

"Private Eyes" - The Story Behind the SongSong Writing

How a goofy detective movie, a disenchanted director and an unlikely songwriter led to one of the biggest hits in pop history.

Jim McCarty of The YardbirdsSongwriter Interviews

The Yardbirds drummer explains how they created their sound and talks about working with their famous guitarists.

Dar WilliamsSongwriter Interviews

A popular contemporary folk singer, Williams still remembers the sticky note that changed her life in college.