It's Not Living (If It's Not With You)

Album: A Brief Inquiry into Online Relationships (2018)
Charted: 46

Songfacts®:

  • This '80s pop-inspired anthemic track is anchored by a chorus in which The 1975's Matt Healy uses imagery that suggests his use of heroin:

    All I do is sit and think about you If I knew what you'd do.
    Collapse my veins wearing beautiful shoes.
    It's not living if it's not with you


    Later on in the bridge, Healy references symptoms of withdrawal, such as sweating, craving for the drug and loss of appetite.

    I can't stop sweating or control my feet
    I've got a twenty-stone monkey that I just can't beat
    I can stage a situation, but I just can't eat
    And there's a feeling, you're replacing embrace


    Healy has opened up on how he checked into a Barbados rehab center to battle a four-year addiction to heroin and benzodiazepines as touring concluded for The 1975's previous album I Like It When You Sleep.... Speaking of the band's 2017 Latitude headline set, Healy told The Guardian: "That's where it all kicked off. It should have been a massive celebration. And it was for me, but it wasn't for everyone else. I had just got back to the UK and everyone knew the first thing I was going to do."
  • Healy explained to The New York Times that the A Brief Inquiry into Online Relationships album contains drug references because he needed to get the experience out of his system. "If my most recent memories are afflicted by addiction, it's probably going to be a thing," he said. "I'm not going to talk about it for long."
  • The song also finds Healy tackling dystopian themes such as the idea that we might just be living in a simulated reality.

    Danny says we're living in a simulation
    But he works in a petrol station (selling petrol)
    He says it all began with his operation
    And I know you think you're sly but you need some imagination


    The simulation hypothesis is a theory that all perceived reality, including the earth and the universe, is in fact an artificial simulation, most likely a computer simulation. Oxford University philosopher Nick Bostrom wrote a much discussed paper on the subject in 2003 and arguments have also been made by such prominent thinkers as Neil deGrasse Tyson and Elon Musk.
  • The "Danny" character that Healy is singing about here is actually himself. The 1975 singer was consciously trying to hide his own struggle with drug addiction by pretending to be somebody else.

    "It's quite obvious it's about me, because there's been a real reluctance for me to talk about it," he admitted to Pitchfork. "I didn't want to talk about being a heroin addict for five years - having actual nightmares of the idea of it being uncovered. So there was a humorous reluctance to disclose it in this song."
  • The surreal Warren Fu-directed video finds strange things happening to Matty Healy while he and the rest of the band film a performance. We see the singer's pants catch fire, his mouth disappear and doppelgangers showing up. Healy also nods to the iconic 1984 Talking Heads concert film, Stop Making Sense, by dressing in an oversized suit, similar to the outfit worn by David Byrne in the arthouse masterpiece. At one point, Healy accidentally enters the set of the previously released "Sincerity Is Scary" clip, which also was directed by Fu.

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