Empty from the Start

Album: Carry the Ghost (2015)
  • songfacts ®
  • "Empty from the Start" on Noah Gundersen's second album Carry the Ghost was inspired by the science fiction book, Starship Troopers, by Robert A. Heinlein. Exploring the idea of whether man is put on earth just to survive left the singer-songwriter pondering his place in the world.

    Gundersen explained in our interview the existential thoughts that inspired the acoustic ballad. "I spend a lot of time thinking about this in general: this concept of being alone in the universe and being alone in our own head and in our own existence," he said. "And as much as we try and communicate, no one fully knows us. No one fully knows what's going on inside of our heads."

    He went on to explain why he added a positive twist to the tune: "I came to the point of realization that if you can make one other person feel less alone, then you've done something valuable. So the only thing worth loving more than myself is loving someone else and making someone else feel less alone. It's a positive impact you can have on the world."

    The ending of the song displays Gundersen's epiphany:

    To truly love someone is the closest I have come to truth
    This is all we have
    This is all we are
    Blood and bones no holy ghost
    Empty from the start

    There's nothing you can do, honey
    Nothing you can do that would save me
    There's nothing you can do, honey
    Nothing you can do but lately
    I don't mind
    'Cause I've been finding
    The only thing worth loving more than me is loving you
  • Religious imagery is often present in Gundersen's lyrics because he grew up in a Christian home. This song finds him once again doubting God's existence:

    I think I heard a good man say
    God is love and love has made us
    But have you seen the news today?
    I have and I think God is gone away
    If he was ever there anyway


    Gundersen expressed to Absolute Punk his desire for the song to change people's perception of him as a religious songwriter. "I think 'Empty from the Start' is kind of the clearest declaration of where I'm at now, and I think, hopefully breaks some ties with people's ideas of me as a 'religious-but-questioning' or as a downright religious songwriter," he said. "That's really not where I'm at, and I think 'Empty from the Start' makes that pretty clear, so I'm glad to have that song on the record."
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