Take It All Back

Album: Folk Hop 'N Roll (2016)
Charted: 119
  • songfacts ®
  • Lyrics
  • Nashville-based Judah & the Lion formed in the early 2010s as a folk band with bluegrass undertones. The band adopted a rockier approach (although keeping their banjo and mandolin) for their third album, Folk Hop N' Roll, which debuted at #7 on Billboard magazine's Americana/Folk Albums chart in March 2016.
  • This call-and-response rocker is the oldest track on the record having been crafted in 2013. It became a staple in the band's live set and eventually Judah & the Lion's breakthrough number, after reaching #1 on the Billboard Alternative Songs chart.
  • Frontman Judah Akers told Radio.com how the song originated from their banjo player, Nate Zuercher.

    "We were rehearsing for our first-ever headlining tour off of our first record called Kids These Days, and we were in this shed—it's like this trailer that we used to rent out and rehearse in—it looks like what you'd imagine a high school band in a garage would play in… really loud, kind of obnoxious. We were playing through a song and all of a sudden Nate, our banjo player, starts playing this banjo line on top of this other song we were rehearsing for the tour and I was like, 'Wait, wait, wait! Stop. What is that?' It was one of those moments where I thought the banjo line was kind of catchy and special so we literally stopped and got our drummer who started playing a hip hop beat to this banjo line.

    And, I think I'd written the song in like three minutes after that. It was one of those songs that come together quick and as a songwriter—one of those songs that you almost get mad at because they come so easy—because all the other ones don't.

    So, we were playing 'Take It All Back' a year-and-a-half before it even came out. So a lot of our fans were already kind of asking for it and were a little mad: 'Why isn't this song out? I love this song and I can't find it anywhere!'"
  • Having become a fan favorite, it was a no-brainer to include "Take It all Back" on Folk Hop N Roll's track list. The band used an iPhone recording of a Nashville crowd singing the song back to Akers on the studio version. "We just wanted to capture that energy and live feel that we experience at our shows with our fans," drummer Spencer Cross explained to Billboard magazine.
  • And one day we might have a big house with nice cars
    And fancy clothes and a wife with a big ol' diamond ring
    Cause the people they dancing along, they dancing along to the mando' and some sort of hip-hop beat
    But I'd take it all back, take it all back, take it all back
    I'd take it all back just to have you.


    The song was written when Judah & The Lion was still a niche act, who were only known by folk fans. Radio.com asked Ackers now the band have become commercially successful, and can afford nice cars and fancy clothes,whether he could actually live up to the lyrics and give it all back. The frontman replied:

    "As a young band you focus on the job at hand, making music. But eventually you question your purpose. Is it to make more fans, more followers and sell more records? Because, if that's the case, then you're probably never going to be a happy person. So, for us, it's redefining why we're doing this and why we started the band in the first place and that's to evoke happiness and be somebody's special moment."
  • Judah Akers told Clash magazine: "This song in its very simple nature has a deep meaning. Success is sometimes defined by how many people are listening to your music, how many followers you have, or how cool you are etc. we want success to be about people. That's what music is to us. This song we are reminding ourselves to wake up to that face."
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Comments: 2

  • Anonymous from EarthTo me this song is about the one that got away. That one woman that loved you so much that it changed your life. When she looked at you there was a look in her eyes that was so sincere and genuine. She was beautiful in every way, not because of her appearance but rather the way she expressed her love to you like it was the surest thing she knew.
    But you couldn’t handle the commitment, you didn’t plan on feeling this way and you weren’t ready to settle down. Her love snuck up on you and captivated you in a way that scared you to death. She was just too good to be true and you didn’t want to ruin it. You needed more time, more practice, you wanted to sleep with more women, she wasn’t going to hold you back. You weren’t going to give up your lifestyle or your freedom for her. Too many women had hurt you in the past and you told yourself you didn’t need her and she didn’t matter. If she loved you she must be defective.
    You broke the news to her, you made her believe you didn’t care, you’d hope she’d just find someone else and get over it. You’d be off the hook, the pressure gone. You hook up with other women, hot women, you have amazing sex and you have your freedom. By all accounts you should be happy but the years go by and none of them are her, no one compares. Their love is always conditional whereas hers was unconditional. You forget what her voice sounds like, you wonder if she was ever even real. You’d take it all back just to tell her that you loved her too. She did everything in her power to build you up and you shut her down and broke her heart because she made you feel something you didn’t want to feel.
    One day you have it all, the career you want, the big house, the nice car the gorgeous wife with the big diamond ring, it’s what you thought you wanted. People will envy you, appearance wise you’ve checked all the boxes for a successful man. But as you grow older and you discover that those things don’t matter and you realize you’d give it all back to have been able to love her as freely as she loved you. Because she loved you when you had nothing only expecting your love and time in return and she would have loved you regardless of your successes but now you fall asleep next to a woman who will never be her. One who showed up to the game when you had it all together, when your days of sleeping around were over and when you had the nice car, house and high paying job. You wonder if she’d even give you the time of day back when you had nothing to your name but a small savings account an old car and a run-down apartment. There’s always an empty space, you’re going through the motions. You thought you were getting off easy when you wished her away not knowing that the worst pain you’d ever endure was the regret of letting the one woman who truly loved you slip away.
    My life looks great on paper but I can’t help but imagine how fulfilled and happy I’d feel if she married me instead of her current husband. I torment myself and looked at her photos of her with him and her 2 kids and she looks so happy even with the very little that they have. That guy’s a lucky SOB, I’m happy for her but it kills me.
  • Josh from Johnson City, Tn. This song is about sarcasm. It has nothing to do with actually being together with the other person. But maybe it's because (the 2nd time around) my ex played this song for me while telling me that she would "take it all back" if she could just be with me again because I was "her soulmate" a year later...she cheats on me again. This song is about the bulls--t of love and how it ruins all your hopes and dreams and ultimately your life. "I'm waking up" to reality.
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