John is a fervent writer, gamer, and guitar lover. He is a former automatic-transmission repairer, welder, and hobbyist game developer.
Hit single "I Miss You" is one of the more successful songs from blink-182's back catalogue. It's an uncharacteristically low-key affair for the band, equal parts dark and tender.
The masterfully cryptic lyrics in this 2004 hit have led many to simultaneously relate while still wondering what it's about. Depending on your viewpoint when it comes to this kind of thing, that can be a good thing or a bad thing. It doesn't stop people from wanting to know the real "I Miss You" song meaning regardless.
Whatever your opinion, however, the song has managed to strike a chord with many people. For an off-brand song by an alternative act to chart at 42 on the Billboard 100, it has to have something going for it. But what do those lyrics mean? In this article, we're going to explore the words, draw from quotes and information, and try and glean what the I Miss You song meaning really is.
"I Miss You" Background
Before we get into what the meaning of "I Miss You" might be, let's take a little look at where it came from.
"I Miss You" was the second single from blink-182's untitled fifth studio album. It marked a significant shift in the band who, up to that point, had been largely known for dick jokes and running naked through Los Angeles. The untitled album itself was a complete departure from their previous work. The first single from it—"Feeling This"—was at least familiar, but "I Miss You" broke new ground.
The band had dipped their toes into slower, deeper, more meaningful territory before. "Adam's Song" and "Stay Together for the Kids," for example, were about a suicidal fan and parent's divorce respectively. But those songs were familiar blink-182 material. They had the typical distorted guitar sound and melodic pop riffs. Musically, "I Miss You" broke the mould entirely, utilising jazz brushes, upright bass, and even a cello. A far cry from the typical three-instrument, four-chord songs that blink-182 were known for.
Writing and Recording
Even the writing process for "I Miss You" was new to the band. Previously the band had written material through the year and then gone into the studio for a couple of weeks to lay everything down. Their fifth album, by comparison, took most of 2003 to record. The band rented out a house in the suburbs of San Diego, moved their gear in, and essentially spent most of the year recording. They spent so long, in fact, that they had to move during the recording process because the owners of the house needed it back!
This change led to, arguably, the band's most artistically credible work thus far. It may not have been as commercially successful as Enema of the State, have caused a major breakthrough like Dude Ranch, or spawned a number one hit. But personal tastes aside, few people can listen to blink-182's untitled album and deny their artistic chops.
Interestingly, and potentially relevant to the "I Miss You" song meaning, Tom DeLonge and Mark Hoppus essentially wrote the song separately. They each agreed the theme of the song beforehand, then went off into separate rooms and wrote their parts. This was a technique also used on "Feeling This" and produced good results in both cases.
And "I Miss You" is a perfect representative for that album.
"I Miss You" Song Meaning
So what IS the meaning of "I Miss You"? Let's take a look.
So, to the reason you're reading this article. Like most artists, blink-182 have been rather cryptic about telling people what the song is about. Guitarist/vocalist Tom DeLonge said that the song was about vulnerability and being a guy trying to tell a girl that he loves her.
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Part of bassist/vocalist Mark Hoppus' verse—the Nightmare Before Christmas line—is actually from drummer Travis Barker. "We can live like Jack and Sally if we want." A haunting refrain about a loving couple living in a sinister world. One could be forgiven for wondering what demons Travis Barker was wrestling with at the time.
The song's more about the vulnerability and kind of heart-wrenching pain you feel when you're in love and when you're a guy and you're trying to tell a girl, 'Don't waste your time coming and talking to me because, in my head at least, you probably already gave me up a long time ago.
— Tom DeLonge (former blink-182 Guitarist/Vocalist)
Tom's quote jives easiest with the majority of people who relate to the hit song. A simple tale of love and awkwardness. The band may have matured (emotionally and musically), but this is still the blink-182 we remember.
Lines like the opener, speaking of "the shadow in the background of the morgue," paint a definite picture of something having ended. Other refrains, such as "where are you, and I'm so sorry," and "hear your voice of treason," tie into this theme. It's easy to see why people suffering heartbreak can relate to the words in this song. It is very easy to see the song as an ex pining for their lost love.
Equally, there are many lines that can be just as easily applied to the other end of the spectrum. Those in new relationships, in the throes of young love and general happiness. Lines like "and in the night we'll wish this never ends." And, of course, "the angel from my nightmare."
Love in a World Gone Bad
That the song is about love seems obvious. Even if we didn't know what the band had in mind when they wrote it. Where interpretation comes into play is when you consider which side of love the song is about. Is it happy, enthralled, requited love . . . or the other kind? There are more than a couple of references to a happy couple in an unpleasant world. The aforementioned Jack and Sally line and the "angel from my nightmare" being prime examples.
While Travis Barker has had a less than a fairy tale romantic life at times, Mark and Tom have enjoyed the sort of relationships you'd expect from the soppy love-struck lyrics they produce. Both singers married in their mid-twenties and are still happily married to this day. It is entirely likely that the unspoken object of their affection in the song is their wives, whom they had both recently had children with prior to recording this album. Tom, in particular, spoke of his perspective shift after the birth of his first child. How the world suddenly became a scary place that his child would have to grow up in.
It seems likely that the I Miss You song meaning, broadly speaking, is a heartfelt message of love to their respective partners. Fawning and doting over their loved ones while lamenting the increasingly hostile world that they live in.
Summing Up the "I Miss You" Song Meaning
What did we learn?
The closest we get to an official answer on what the song is about is the aforementioned Tom DeLonge quote. Being in love with a girl but struggling to tell her that. As you dig into the lyrics, however, a theme becomes clear. A picture is painted of an increasingly insular unit—each band member and their respective families—huddling together in defiance of a cruel world.
The happy-go-lucky nature of the band can often take fans by surprise when darker themes come out in their lyrics. Artists often bare their souls in their work, and blink are no different. It sucks to remember that the world is not as peachy as it seems in your favourite movie or book. But, as blink-182 once said . . .
. . . well I guess this is growing up.
© 2016 John Bullock
B Mahoney on May 16, 2020:
Great song and I love how it relates to MY situation which is hard to describe, when the person you love doesn’t feel the same..... ❤️33
Some asshole on February 11, 2020:
Ill tell u what. Thems lyrics were intentionally designed to stick in the hearts and minds of young people so they could cement their status as icons when they got older. . . Thats it