Deliberate Self-harm Ha Ha

Songfacts®:

  • This song is about cutting, venturing into the mind of someone who does it and looking at the external factors that could have caused it. One culprit is self-doubt, as described in the lyric:

    I'm so quick to correct myself even when I know you know I'm right

    "I had a friend that cut herself," Kevin Barnes of Of Montreal told Songfacts. "I feel like cutting has always been a thing, and I've done it a bit myself, but it's becoming more and more prevalent. The reason I put 'Ha Ha' afterward is because in a lot of ways, this society we've created is responsible for the need to cut ourselves. It's acknowledging that it's not just individuals who are really f--ked up and sick, the society is sick and in a lot of ways it's what's responsible for our neurosis and our anxieties. I don't think it's just the individuals' fault for being 'broken' or whatever."
  • Of Montreal often names real people - famous or otherwise - in their lyrics. Kevin Barnes' ex-wife Nina shows up a lot in their songs from 2005-2012, and his girlfriend Christina appears a few times on their 2020 album Ur Fun. On "Deliberate Self-harm Ha Ha," his friend Catherine gets a mention in the line:

    "Catherine says having boundaries is abuse"

    Catherine didn't really say that - she actually said "having boundaries isn't abuse," but Barnes flipped it. "It's a kind of role-playing, like, what if you thought the opposite was true?" Barnes said. "You can see how if you were an extremely self-centered person, you would have a problem with somebody else having boundaries because you'd want to access every aspect of them. So it's thinking about it from the perspective of a completely narcissistic a--hole, which Catherine isn't - she's really a sweet person."

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