Meaning of “Is This It” by The Strokes

Written By Michael Miller

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

Sometimes, songs dive deep into the raw human emotions that exist within us all. “Is This It” by The Strokes is a relatable narrative about questioning life choices, a sense of disillusionment, and the overarching question of ‘Is this all there is?’. The lyrics depict a story of someone trying to fit into societal expectations, only to feel out of place and questioning the genuineness of the world around them.

Dive deep with me as we explore the lyrics and story behind the song.

“Is This It” Lyrics Meaning

“Can’t you see I’m trying?

I don’t even like it…”

These opening lines set the tone of the song. The protagonist seems to be involved in something they’re not genuinely interested in, possibly succumbing to external pressures or expectations. Their actions, like lying to get into someone’s apartment, indicate that they might be seeking validation or acceptance.

“I just lied to

Get to your apartment…”

This line might suggest a sense of desperation or wanting to fit in. The protagonist goes to lengths they’re not comfortable with, like lying, just for the feeling of belonging or being in the right place socially.

“Said they’d give you anything you ever wanted

When they lied, I knew it was just stable children

Trying hard not to realize…”

This segment points to promises made, perhaps by society or specific people, that turn out to be untrue. It speaks of disillusionment and realization that the world might not be as genuine as one had hoped.

“Oh dear, can’t you see? It’s them it’s not me

We’re not enemies

We just disagree…”

Here, the protagonist seems to be trying to make someone see that they’re not the problem. They feel misunderstood, and while they don’t view the other party as an enemy, there’s a clear disconnect in understanding and viewpoints.

“If I was like him, all pissed in this bar

He changes his mind, says I went too far

We all disagree

I think we should disagree, yeah…”

This touches on the idea of individuality and staying true to oneself. Even if the protagonist tried to fit into someone else’s mold, there would still be disagreements and differences in perspective.

The repetitive chorus, “Is this it?”, resonates the main theme of the song – questioning if this is all life has to offer, if the struggles and the masks worn are truly worth it.

Why Was “Is This It” Written?

Julian Casablancas, the lead singer of The Strokes, has often delved into themes of urban disillusionment, societal pressures, and personal introspection in their music. During the time “Is This It” was written, the band was gaining rapid fame and navigating the pressures of the music industry. The song might be a reflection of Casablancas’ state of mind, as he grappled with external expectations, the need for authenticity, and understanding his place in the world. The raw emotion and candid lyrics provide a snapshot into the mind of someone questioning their path and the world around them.