Portishead, Roads: the hidden meaning of an introspective song

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There is a moment in life when we see clearly all the arteries that the body of life is made of: millions of roads, millions of wasted opportunities, compromises and choices, victories and bets. It’s life, branching off in countless directions, pushed by a river of energy that never stops. Once you choose your road, you have to deal with its twists.

Then there is a second moment in life when you realize that you are alone, in this choice. You reach the crossroads with the baggage of your life, with your failures and gratifications, with unexplained or rational circumstances, with expectations and certainties.

What happened before that moment doesn’t matter anymore. No one can see. You are alone, rival and ally of yourself, victim and executioner of wrong choices, benefactor and beneficiary of your success.

Oh, can’t anybody see
We’ve got a war to fight
Never found our way
Regardless of what they say

Roads, Portishead’s best trip hop from their first album Dummy. The pray of Beth Gibbons, who delicately slides on a storm of basses and syncopes that look like flashbacks, with sound distortions that float like bubbles in a calm sea.

Storm, in the morning light
I feel
No more can I say
Frozen to myself

Frozen, petrified, the singer tell the awareness of her inevitable and necessary solitude, that loneliness that soon or later arrives in the life of everyone. A sign of growth, not just a condition. The moment when you choose your road, and let it become your own.

The song is Gibbons’ battle cry. The moment when she recognizes to be alone and she’s ready to go on and become invincible, for herself and for others.

The moment in life when you recognize your road.

How can it feel, this wrong
From this moment
How can it feel, this wrong

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