Single Review: Third Eye Blind “Semi-Charmed Life”

Semi-Charmed Life
Album: Third Eye Blind
Year: 1997

According to Stephan Jenkins, lead singer of Third Eye Blind via MTV.com, “Semi-Charmed Life” is about “a junkie’s decline into speed addiction.” To expand further on Jenkins’ thought, the junkie and his girlfriend (also a junkie) are well-off and can have nearly everything. Yet, they feel unsatsified and bored in their lives.

The song opens with a bouncy, rock-pop beat and Jenkins’ going “do do do do,” and experiencing some happiness. He and his girlfriend are getting ready to go on a trip. He’s proud to have his girlfriend in his life. Aside from the crystal meth, she is the other source of pleasure and validation to him. (‘I’m packed and I’m holding/I’m smiling, she’s living, she’s golden/
and she lives for me. She’s an enthusiastic person and only feels doing what she feels like doing, which he admires. Also, she has sex with him which is another reason he likes her. (“Ovation/She’s got her own motivation/she comes round and she goes down on me”). Their lives suck, despite the privilege they have. However, it’s how they relate and bond to each other. (“Keep on smiling, what we go through/One stop to the rhythm that divides you/And I speak to you like the chorus to the verse”). Then, there’s the crystal meth addiction, which at the beginning, is done only casually (“Chop another line like a coda with a curse/I come on like a freak show takes the stage”). The faster the music gets, the more meth they are using.

But he really doesn’t enjoy the crystal meth as much as he feels he should. It’s not dissolving his problems. It’s only magnifying them. His girlfriend wants to quit, but he’s not ready to. (“I want something else/To get me through this/Semi-charmed kind of life baby, baby… I’m not listening when you say/Good-bye”).

The crystal meth use has gone from casual to habitual by the second verse. His girlfriend has left him and he’s wishing he could have his life with her back. (“I was taking sips of it through my nose/And I wish I could get back there/Some place back there/Smiling in the pictures you would take”). In order to escape the misery of losing his girlfriend, he keeps himself high on meth all the time. He’s hardly ever sober anymore. (“Doing crystal meth/Will lift you up until you break/It won’t stop/I won’t come down, I keep stock/With a tick-tock rhythm and a bump for the drop/And then I bumped up/I took the hit I was given/Then I bumped again/And then I bumped again, I said”).

He’s not without fully numb, though. Certain images brighten his day. But it’s mostly his ex-girlfriend who cheers him up when he thinks of her. (“I believe in the sand beneath my toes… And the four right chords can make me cry/When I’m with you I feel like I could die/And that would be all right”).

Eventually, his ex-girlfriend comes back. She arrives, coming down from a high. They both want to feel something other than apathetic and dead (“And when the plane came in/
She said she was crashing…In the city we tripped/On the urge to feel alive”). However, his crystal meth addiction is now his life and he finds he can’t live without it. (” But now I’m struggling to survive”). His ex-girlfriend is the only woman who loves or could love again. Then, they finally have the ex sex. (“You’re the priestess, I must confess/Those little red panties/They pass the test/So slide up around the belly”). They hold each other and for him, things in his life are perfect. Despite the fact, she’s not getting back together with him. But things would better if they did meth together again.(“Now you hold me/And we’re broken/Still it’s all that I want to do just a little now”).

She overdoses and he feels her cold head on his lap (“Feel myself with a head made of the ground”). He’s afraid and high. He’s using the high to not deal with the fact his girlfriend is now gone forever. He decides to make a change and he doesn’t want to escape from her death. She died feeling happy, but it was false and he knows it. (“I’m scared but I’m not coming down, no no/And I won’t run for my life/She’s got her jaws just locked now in smile/but nothing is all right.”) Unfortunately, her death is the only thing which has made him feel.

The music slows down, as he is sober and grieving now. But he’s going to slip back into his addiction again. It’s only a matter of when. (“I want something else/To get me through this/Semi charmed kind of life/I want something else/I’m not listening when you say/Good-bye”).

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