Community-driven media: Log in or Visit
0 |

The Meaning of blink-182’s “Carousel”

“Carousel” is one of the first songs that Blink-182’s Tom DeLonge and Mark Hoppus wrote together. The song was born out of an early jam session in 1992, and eventually helped catalyze the formation of the band that pioneered the pop-punk genre.

The track served as the opening track to both Blink-182’s 1994 debut demo tape, Buddha, and their 1995 debut album, Cheshire Cat. The latter features a crispier, re-recorded version that trades the tape fuzz from the demo recording for a 90s garage rock tinniness.

Blink-182 has gone on to release countless hits, and have become one of the most well-known musical acts in the world. Still, “Carousel” holds value as a precursor to fame, as a raw, gritty representation of Blink-182 in the pre-Travis Barker drumming era.

Travis joined in 1998, not long after the release of the 1997 breakout album Dude Ranch. He replaced the original drummer Scott Raynor, who was behind the kit for “Carousel”.

Blink-182 – “Carousel” (Cheshire Cat, 1995)

Tom DeLonge on the Lyrics to “Carousel”

During a 2022 interview with Express, Tom DeLonge revealed that while he does still enjoy “Carousel”, he isn’t as fond of the lyrics as he once was:

It’s a love-hate thing. To me, it was a philosophical kind of question: How did we have one of our first songs – if not our first – how do you feel not a part of it? I always feel I wish I wrote better lyrics, yet at the time it was so different for pop-punk. It was, like, so fast.

Tom DeLonge on “Carousel”, 2022.

Tom may not feel that “Carousel” represents who he grew to be, but it remains a staple in the Blink-182 catalogue. Plus, punk rock is all about the feeling and the energy, and “Carousel” has plenty of that.

“Carousel” Lyrics Meaning

Let’s dive into the lyrics and how they weave a tale of teenage heartache. The song opens with the iconic, speedy bass intro, and then Tom jumps in with the opening lyrics:

I talk to you every now and then
I never felt so alone again
I stop to think at a wishing well
My thoughts send me on a carousel
Here I am standing on my own
Not a motion from the telephone
I know not a reason why
Solitude’s a reason to die

First verse to “Carousel” by Blink-182.

Tom still talks to his ex-girlfriend, but he feels more alone than ever. He stops to ponder his life, and his head spins “like a carousel”. His phone doesn’t ring, meaning she won’t call, and he doesn’t know why. What he does know is that he’d be better off dead.

The chorus is next:

Just you wait and see, as school life is a
It is a woken dream, aren’t you feeling alone?
I guess it’s just another, I guess it’s just another
I guess it’s just another night alone

Chorus to “Carousel” by Blink-182.

When he sings, “school life is a woken dream”, he means that school is worse than being woken up from a dream. It’s a warning to all the other kids out there, basically, to stay away from girls. Otherwise you’ll end up just like Tom in this song — sad and alone.

Then the second verse:

Now as I walk down the street
I need a job just to sleep in sheets
Buying food every once in a while
But not enough to purchase a smile
A tank of gas is a treasure to me
I know now that nothing is free
I talk to you every now and then
I never felt so alone again

Second verse to “Carousel” by Blink-182.

Lonely, dejected, and apparently broke, DeLonge wanders the streets. The song is about a broken high school relationship, but this part makes it seem like it’s about being poor or homeless, with barely enough money for food or gas. The point is that he’s sad, and he doesn’t find joy in simple pleasures, but the critique still stands.

Perhaps these lyrics reflect the mindset of an 18-year-old songwriter, without much world experience, which may be why Tom has expressed some disconnect. We still love it, though, because of what Blink-182 has become.

Another chorus hits to cap off the narrative, and “Carousel” comes to a close.

Check out the Buddha version of “Carousel” below, and then a few live versions below that.

Blink-182 – “Carousel” (Buddha, 1994)

Blink-182 – “Carousel” (Live at Big Day Out 2000)

Blink-182 – “Carousel” (Live at Shoreline Amphitheatre, 1999)