Meaning of “Jackie and Wilson” by Hozier

Written By Michael Miller

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

“Jackie and Wilson” by Hozier is a playful and nostalgic track, embedded with a sense of freedom and youthful rebellion. It’s about a man, jaded by life, meeting a free-spirited woman who helps him rediscover the joys of feeling young. They imagine a life together, filled with adventure and music, naming their hypothetical children after the iconic musicians, Jackie Wilson and Janis Joplin. This song is not just a musical journey, but it’s a dive into a whimsical life with a blend of soulful rhythms and blues. The core message revolves around escapism, a yearning to break free from societal norms, and a desire to embrace a more authentic, liberated existence.

Ever wondered about the essence of freedom and youth depicted in “Jackie and Wilson” by Hozier? Dive in as we unravel the whimsical and profound layers of this soulful melody!

“Jackie and Wilson” Lyrics Meaning

The lyrics of “Jackie and Wilson” are vivid, telling a tale chronologically. The protagonist is seemingly stuck in a rut, a “red” in his eyes symbolizing fatigue or perhaps disillusionment with his current state. There’s a significant emphasis on different “versions” of the protagonist, hinting at the internal battle between conformity and authenticity.

As the protagonist dives “deep in this swill,” he encounters a woman who is depicted as a “roman candle of the wild,” symbolizing unpredictability and untamed energy. This meeting is pivotal, showcasing a contrast between the protagonist’s stagnation and the woman’s vibrancy. The protagonist acknowledges that there’s “no other version” of himself that he would rather be with her, signifying a profound connection and mutual acceptance.

The lyrics then cascade into a melody of salvation and youthful rediscovery. The protagonist feels saved by this woman, who accepts him, calms his chaos, and brings out a youthful exuberance in him that he thought was long lost. They indulge in playful imaginations, plotting adventures, and envisioning a family, symbolizing their desire to build something beautiful and everlasting together.

The naming of their hypothetical children “Jackie and Wilson” is particularly notable, referring to the legendary soul singer Jackie Wilson and the iconic rock singer Janis Joplin. This implies a blend of rhythm, blues, rock, and soul, illustrating their envisioned life saturated with music and cultural richness.

The lyrics sketch scenarios of escapism and self-discovery, depicting vibrant images of “black irises in the sunshine” and the willingness to let the outside world “burn and rust.” It’s not the world they want, it’s each other and the harmonious universe they could create.

The song concludes on a somber note, symbolizing the ephemeral nature of such passionate encounters. The protagonist finds himself alone, reminiscing, and “digging up the yard for what’s left,” indicating the profound impact of the fleeting connection, leaving a longing and a bittersweet residue of a “dream” and a “vignette” that could have been.

Why Was “Jackie and Wilson” Written?

Understanding the backdrop and the creative impulses behind “Jackie and Wilson” is essential to grasp its essence fully. Hozier, the song’s architect, has often imbued his creations with a profound sense of emotion, nostalgia, and philosophical reflections.

When Hozier penned down “Jackie and Wilson,” he might have been in a phase of exploring self-identity, societal constraints, and the rejuvenating power of human connections. The song could be reflecting his personal journey of balancing authenticity with societal expectations and his musings on the transient yet impactful nature of human bonds.

The amalgamation of rock, soul, blues, and the subtlety of folk is intrinsic to Hozier’s style. The song seems to resonate with the themes of liberation, a return to one’s roots, and a celebration of musical and cultural richness, symbolizing Hozier’s connection with diverse musical genres and his reflections on life, relationships, and self-discovery.