Meaning of “What I Got” by Sublime

Written By Michael Miller

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

At its core, “What I Got” by Sublime is an anthem of positivity and the importance of love. Through a series of snapshots from the lead singer’s life, the song emphasizes the value of cherishing what you have, spreading love, and staying grounded in the face of adversity. The repetitive chorus of “lovin’ is what I got” drives home the song’s main message: despite the ups and downs of life, love remains a constant source of strength and happiness. Whether it’s the love for a pet, the love for music, or the love for life itself, it’s a force to be reckoned with.

Keep reading to uncover the intricate layers of meaning woven into this Sublime classic.

“What I Got” Lyrics Meaning

The song kicks off with the lines “Early in the morning, risin’ to the street” painting a picture of a day starting, setting the scene for the narrative. Lighting up a cigarette and strapping on shoes indicates routine, yet there’s a hint of searching with “Got to find the reason, reason things went wrong.” The singer acknowledges challenges and setbacks, pondering the reasons behind his financial troubles.

Mentioning the Dalmatian and the ability to play the guitar highlights sources of happiness and pride. These lines portray the joy of simple pleasures and the therapeutic nature of music. The idea is further emphasized in the lines “Well, life is too short, so love the one you got.” This suggests embracing every moment and cherishing the people and things in our lives because the future is unpredictable.

Avoiding conflict and being charitable are other themes that come up. “Never start no static, I just get it off my chest” indicates a peaceful approach to disputes, while giving to charity underscores the importance of kindness and generosity.

The chorus, which reiterates “lovin’ is what I got,” emphasizes the primacy of love in the singer’s life. Regardless of external factors or challenges, love remains a steadfast force.

The latter part of the song touches on resilience. The lyrics “Why I don’t cry when my dog runs away” and not getting angry about bills or familial issues, reflect a calm, laid-back attitude. There’s an acceptance of life’s imperfections and a focus on the bigger picture. The mention of “Living with Louie Dog’s the only way to stay sane” provides a nod to the singer’s pet, reinforcing the therapeutic nature of companionship.

Why Was “What I Got” Written?

Behind the catchy tune and upbeat vibe of “What I Got,” there’s a deeper layer of reflection and self-awareness. The song serves as a testament to the band’s journey and experiences. Drawing from personal events, emotions, and beliefs, Sublime crafted this track as a beacon of optimism amidst life’s unpredictability.

Bradley Nowell, the band’s lead singer, might have been channeling his own struggles with addiction and the challenges of the music industry. The song becomes a medium for him to express gratitude for the constants in his life, especially love. Through the lyrics, there’s a sense of seeking balance and grounding in the face of external chaos.

In essence, “What I Got” is a tribute to life, with all its highs and lows, and the undeniable power of love to carry us through.