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The Meaning of Mac DeMarco’s “For the First Time”

Mac DeMarco live at Primavera Sound 2015. Credit: Ani Viotti via Side Stage Collective.

Mac DeMarco’s “For the First Time” is a synth-laden bop that comes early in his 2017 album, This Old Dog. Over time it has grown into one of the indie legend’s most popular songs, both for the groovy arrangement and the loving sentiment portrayed in the lyrics.

“For the First Time” depicts a long distance relationship, or a period of separation between two lovers. DeMarco’s lyrics serve to remind himself that he will be reunited with his lover before long. The feeling that he gets when he sees her will make the difficult challenge of enduring the distance worthwhile.

“For the First Time” Lyrics Meaning

DeMarco accomplishes this in a way that is quite direct, but requires some patience as he builds up to the revelation of the feeling in the chorus. This patience that Mac asks of the listener strikes a subtle parallel to the patience that he, the narrator, must possess in order to maintain his relationship.

This is obviously something that many listeners have found common ground with, dealing with their own long distance relationships. Mac’s smooth vocal delivery and effortlessly sensuous instrumentation make this one especially memorable.

This Old Dog (2017)

We get our first idea of how Mac’s been feeling, without his lover, in the first verse:

While she’s been away
Living day-to-day has been tough
Without her at my side
Simply being alive has been rough

First verse to “For the First Time” by Mac DeMarco.

There’s not much to explain about the above. If you can read this, you can read the lyrics, and their meaning will reveal itself to you. Seriously, you got this one. I’ll pop in a little later when things get more complicated, so keep reading.

Next, the pre-chorus is a bit more difficult:

And though she won’t be gone forever
There are many times I find it feels that way
And I’m not trying to forget her
Just understand how I’ll be feeling on that day

First pre-chorus to “For the First Time” by Mac DeMarco.

She’s coming back, but it often feels like she won’t be. He tries not to think about her too much while he’s gone, but he also doesn’t want to forget about her. Because he knows how he’s going to feel on the day of their reunion.

How is that, you ask? Well, see the chorus:

It’s just like seeing her for the first time again
It’s just like seeing her for the first time again

Chorus to “For the First Time” by Mac DeMarco.

The sentiment is truly sweet. He explains that the first time he ever saw her, he was overcome with strong emotions, and he feels those same emotions each time that they are back together after a period of separation.

DeMarco continues his reflections in the second verse:

The time she’s not around
Somewhere out of town, has been hard
But somehow this old heart
Found time to work it out this far

Second verse to “For the First Time” by Mac DeMarco.

This is to inspire hope in himself. He’s made it this far, so he should be able to survive until she returns once again.

Another pre-chorus follows:

No, I know she’s coming home soon
There are times I find it hard to feel that way
It’s not inside me to forget her
Just understand how I’ll be feeling on that day

Second pre-chorus to “For the First Time” by Mac DeMarco.

He can’t possibly move on, because the wait is always worth it. He knows it will be worth it once again.

The chorus repeats itself twice, and we vibe out with the synths and loving vibes to the end of the track.

With your newfound understanding of this song’s meaning, listen to “For the First Time” by Mac DeMarco below. Perhaps it’ll be like hearing it “For the First Time” again!