Meaning of “Change (In the House of Flies)” by Deftones

Written By Michael Miller

Michael is a music teacher and professional cellist. He loves uncovering the deeper meaning of popular songs.

“Change (In the House of Flies)” by Deftones is a nuanced exploration of transformation and self-destruction, characterized by its haunting and ethereal sound. The song paints the portrait of an observer watching someone undergo a profound and possibly destructive change, symbolized by a transformation into a fly. The observer seems to hold power, possibly causing or influencing this transformation, provoking reflections on manipulation and control. The repeated imagery of wings, fire, and change alludes to themes of metamorphosis and evolution, perhaps both alluring and grotesque. It’s a song laden with ambiguity, inviting listeners to peer into the shadows of human interaction and the dynamics of change.

Delve deeper with us as we unravel the intricate tapestry of symbols and metaphors in this iconic song, exploring the layers that might have slipped past your first listen.

“Change (In the House of Flies)” Lyrics Meaning

Delving into the lyrics chronologically, we open with the lines “I watched you change / Into a fly.” Immediately, we’re plunged into a narrative of transformation and observation. The fly is a potent symbol—often associated with decay and death, but also with persistent, incessant existence.

“I looked away / You were on fire.” Fire here can symbolize both destruction and rebirth, a cleansing force. The observer’s reaction, looking away, implies a mix of disgust, fear, or maybe even guilt, hinting at a complicated relationship between the observer and the one transforming. This nuanced interaction leaves us wondering if the observer is a mere spectator or an active participant in the unfolding metamorphosis.

The next lines, “I watched a change in you / It’s like you never had wings / Now, you feel so alive,” evoke a paradox. The transformation seems to grant a newfound vitality to the changed one, contrasting the loss of wings—a traditional symbol of freedom and elevation. It’s a vivid commentary on the dichotomy of existence, where transformation might mean losing some inherent essence yet gaining a different kind of vivacity.

“I took you home / Set you on the glass / I pulled off your wings / Then I laughed.” Here the observer is clearly not just a spectator but an influencer, maybe even a manipulator. The laughter denotes a sinister pleasure in the act of mutilation, further deepening the shadows lurking in this song. It throws light on themes of control, manipulation, and possibly a desire to dominate, raising questions about the intentions behind this induced transformation.

The recurring lines, “I look at the cross / Then I look away / Give you the gun / Blow me away,” introduce symbols of religion and violence, adding layers of complexity. The observer’s avoidance of the cross can imply a rejection or fear of redemption or divine judgment. Offering the gun could be a gesture of surrender or maybe a challenge, blurring the lines between victim and aggressor, innocence and guilt.

Lastly, the repeated whispers of “You’ve changed” at the end of the song echo with a sense of finality and acceptance. It’s an acknowledgment of the irreversible nature of the transformation that occurred, leaving us to ponder the remnants of what was and the reality of what now is.

Why Was “Change (In the House of Flies)” Written?

To understand why this song was penned, it’s crucial to look at the context in which it was created. Deftones, known for their atmospheric sound and profound lyrics, often delve into themes of self, transformation, and the darker sides of human interaction. This song, echoing with ambiguity and layered meanings, is no exception.

Without a direct explanation from the band, interpretations are manifold. However, one can infer that the writer might have been exploring personal transitions and the intricate dance of power and vulnerability in relationships. The push and pull between observer and the one changing, between influencer and influenced, suggest a reflection on the dynamics of control and self-destruction, possibly rooted in the writer’s experiences or observations.

The combination of dark, haunting melodies with rich, symbolic lyrics invites listeners to confront the multifaceted nature of change, provoking thoughts on transformation, existence, and the eternal dance between light and shadow.