Ghost In The Machine
by SZA (featuring Phoebe Bridgers)

Album: SOS (2022)
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Songfacts®:

  • "Ghost In The Machine" is a song about relationships in the digital age. People use social media for their day-to-day interactions, but the self they present in their digital communications is not their real selves. SZA longs for an authentic human connection where she might get hurt sometimes but also experience love.

    I need humanity
    Y'all lack humanity, drowning in vanity
    Craving humanity
  • The expression "ghost in the machine" refers to the mind viewed as distinct from the body. British philosopher Gilbert Ryle coined the phrase in The Concept of Mind (1948) for a viewpoint that he considered completely misleading. The title doesn't appear in the lyrics, but it refers to how people stray from their real selves when communicating on the digital machine. Rather than being true to themselves, they say what they think others want to hear.
  • Phoebe Bridgers joins SZA on the song. She wrestles with the unglamorous realities of stardom, stating the celebrity lifestyle isn't all it's cracked up to be. For her, the ghost in the machine is strained relationships because of long separations and the soulless airport bars and hotel lobbies she frequents.
  • SZA and Bridgers had been playing festivals together, but because their sets coincided, they never got to meet. Instead, the two connected through DMs on social media.

    "I didn't think she'd come to the studio in person," SZA told the radio station Hot 97. "She did, which was crazy and we laughed and she's hilarious."
  • Celebrity Indian guru Sadhguru contributes the outro. SZA and the guru are friends and get together for inner engineering, a process that uses yoga and meditation for personal growth. Sadhguru also appears on the SOS track "Far."
  • SZA and Bridgers co-wrote "Ghost In The Machine" with:

    Bridgers' touring drummer and frequent collaborator Marshall Vore.

    Producer and engineer Matt Cohn. He also worked on The Weeknd's Dawn FM album.

    SZA's go-to producers Rob Bisel and Carter Lang. Both worked on the majority of the SOS tracks.
  • Bisel and Lang's production uses strings and acoustic guitars for a hypnotizing soundscape. SZA described it as sounding "super alternative and strange."

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