Song Analysis

Give

Sunday 14 August 2011, by Cécile Desbrun

"The idea of power might be redefined too - now, maybe, you can only find your power by giving of yourself, and not by taking. That’s what ’Give’ is all about. I see it as a sort of sonic seduction going on." (Music OMH.com, May 2009)

“And the power of blood, the secrets that are in blood. People are very attracted to the idea of drinking blood, but how do you do it where no one gets hurt ? Why do we always have to take it to a place of violence ?" (VenusZine, May 26, 2009)

“Give” is Abnormally Attracted to Sin’s opening track and, as such, it is thematically very important and resumes the album’s thread and message. The narrator of the song is a woman who made a point of giving something of herself to other people in order to “live.” She warns the listener against the takers but also against people who pretend to give something when the only thing they want is to receive something back (“there are some/some whose give/twists itself to take/they mis-take”). The song pretty much revolves around that “double-edged sword” [1]: there’s a very fine line between giving and taking, as well as the line is pretty thin between giving and allowing other people to take too much from us.

Hence a vampire subtext (“There are some/some who give Blood/I give love”) Tori had already developped in previous songs, such as “Blood Roses” or “Hotel.” "Well, I guess it’s the polar opposite of the vampire concept, where you don’t need to take from somebody,” she told Drowned in Sound in May 2009, “but… there’s a fine line in giving, and… being a watercolour that just runs off a canvas, where you give… so much that you don’t allow people to give back. Sometimes, there’s a fear of Receiving, because… that’s a strange place to put yourself in, but I’ve seen this and walked into this at different points in my life, where I’ve said ’I don’t need anything from anybody’, then when you do receive something from somebody, it’s a lovely gift… but in being the only giver sometimes, you take away the other person’s opportunity to want to offer something up of themselves as well ; and so, there’s a fine line.”

“How far do you take this ? There’s a danger element to it, like anything that can be taken too far. But I think that it was a really sexy idea, I thought, that to survive a time now [when] nothing’s abundant, everything is bleak, everybody’s pennypinching, that the way to survive destruction is to ’out-create’ it, so I think the idea was when everybody wants to take, ’No, don’t try to take – you give’."

This puzzling and quite sexy ambivalence is perfectly translated by the trip-hop vibe of the track, with its dark and haunting piano and electronic sounds. “I see it as a sort of sonic seduction going on," she confirmed to Music OMH.com in May 2009.

By exploring the nature of giving and receiving, the song then opens the core questioning of the album: how do you define power and what is a powerful person?

information sources

Music OMH.com, May 2009.
Polari Magazine, May 2009.
Drowned in Sound, May 20, 2009.
VenusZine, May 26, 2009.


[1Polari Magazine, May 2009.