Meaning of “Ho Hey” by ​The Lumineers

Written By Michael Miller

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

The song “Ho Hey” by The Lumineers isn’t just a catchy folk anthem. It digs into themes of loneliness, belonging, and hope for connection. It’s about finding that person you belong with, even if you’ve felt out of place your whole life. There’s a sense of desperation to make things right, to find a sense of family, love, and belonging. It’s not just a love song between two people; it’s a love song to the idea of love itself. The songwriters want us to know that everyone, at some point, struggles with belonging. But hey, at the end of the day, there’s always hope.

Curious to uncover the layers of meaning in “Ho Hey” by The Lumineers? Let’s dive into the rich tapestry of lyrics and see what it’s really all about.

“Ho Hey” Lyrics Meaning

The song starts with the lyrics “I been tryin’ to do it right, I been livin’ a lonely life,” immediately setting the tone for the struggles the protagonist faces. He’s feeling isolated, possibly even lost. The repetition of the words “Hey” and “Ho” isn’t just there for musical effect; it acts as an echoing sentiment, a call to the world, or maybe even a call to himself.

“So show me family, all the blood that I will bleed”– these lines further emphasize the need for connection and the lengths one is willing to go to find it. There’s a sacrifice involved, implied by “all the blood that I will bleed.” It tells us that the search for belonging may come at a price.

But then the chorus rings, “I belong with you, you belong with me, you’re my sweetheart.” The lyrics suddenly change tone from desperation to affirmation. It’s like finding a light at the end of a tunnel. This is the core of the song – the moment of realization that despite all the wrong turns and uncertainties, there’s a place or person where one truly belongs.

“I don’t think you’re right for him, think of what it might’ve been if we took a bus to Chinatown”– here, the singer contemplates alternate realities. It’s like he’s saying, “Imagine if we made different choices.” The specific example of taking a bus to Chinatown adds a nostalgic quality, suggesting missed opportunities but also the possibility of future ones. It’s a plea to reconsider the present through the lens of ‘what could have been.’

The song closes with “Love, we need it now, let’s hope for some.” This is the final call to action, an urgent need for love and hope, which are presented as the antidotes to the bleeding loneliness. The words “we’re bleedin’ out” show that time is of the essence, adding a layer of urgency to the entire journey.

Why Was “Ho Hey” Written?

The song was born out of a specific moment in the lives of the band members, who were feeling lost and seeking direction. Wesley Schultz, the lead vocalist, and Jeremiah Fraites, the drummer, started The Lumineers during a period where they were wrestling with feelings of dislocation and the search for meaning. “Ho Hey” became an anthem for anyone who’s ever felt out of place but still holds onto the hope of finding where they truly belong. It encapsulates that universal desire to find one’s place in the world or with someone special.