The American singer and songwriter, Howie Day, has had seen modest success in his career spanning over two decades. And almost all of that success can be credited to his 2004 single “Collide” from his second studio album. Despite being 17-years-old, this is one song that will likely live on forever and will be relatable to a lot of us.
Howie Day released “Collide” as the second single from his second studio album ‘Stop All the World Now.’ One other hit for Howie Day is “She Says,” released as the third single off the same album in 2005. The album sold over 500,000 units by 2005, propelled by the airplay of these two songs. “Collide” is the only Billboard Hot 100 entry for Howie Day in his career so far, peaking at #20.
Howie Day wrote the lyrics to “Collide” with Better Than Ezra frontman Kevin Griffin. The latter spoke about the meaning behind the song in an interview with Songfacts; “That song lyrically is about people who come together despite being different, and this song, ‘Collide,’ is about a person who is kind of closed off and insular and not a gregarious person, coming together with someone who is. And that despite being two different types of people, you still come together and find a common ground. And then literally colliding into one another and how life has a way of doing that.”
Watch “Collide” Music Video by Howie Day
“Collide” Lyrics Meaning and Song Review
The word ‘collide’ is a very unusual choice of words to describe a relationship. The nature of the word is such that describes strong forces and destruction. So, Howie Day tries to say that their relationship, if it ever comes to that, will be quite the force to be reckoned with because of their differences in traits. The perfect real-life example for this is how two opposites of two magnets attract and collide with force.
While Howie Day sings about an almost perfect morning, where the Sun is shining and you are tangled up in the bed with your lover, there is a far more poetic idea behind these lyrics. The lines “you’re barely waking” and “I’m tangled up in you” say that they may have known each other for some time. He has been smitten by her for a long time, but she was not. But finally, she is coming to the realization that there could be something worth holding on to between them–something more than friends. The “light” that shines through also symbolizes how their eyes are opening up to this possibility of a relationship thus eliminating any darkness in their lives.
We already know that he did not make a move on her when he initially started catching feelings for her. This is because he did not/does not possess the courage to do something like that. He waited until the reality dawned on her too. He was ‘open’ for a relationship all this time and she was ‘closed.’
Where I follow, you’ll go
This is another clever lyric to highlight the differences between the guy and the girl in “Collide.” He is not one to take leadership, but she is. So, he will follow her wherever she leads them to. But, the lyrics have cleverly reversed the cause and effect to make it sound as if he has the reigns. But he does not, and he knows this.
He is scared to change anything about them (for example, him taking initiative) because he is worried to lose her and not see her smiling again. He would rather be ‘open’ to whatever her ‘closed’ ways are, in hopes of keeping their future alive.
Even the best fall down sometimes
Even the wrong words seem to rhyme
Out of the doubt that fills my mind
I somehow find you and I collide
These lyrics enchanted a whole world. They are beautiful and also clever.
The chorus seems to simply profess the guy’s love to the girl and how they ‘connect’ despite their differences. He starts off by singing how even the mighty fall sometimes. Their relationship is far from being perfect. But they can work through it all.
In the next line, Howie Day warns us that even wrong words ‘seem to rhyme’ sometimes. This is true and these worlds are called ‘half-rhymes.’ Notice how “(some)times” almost rhymes with “rhyme,” and “mind” almost rhymes with “collide.” While this is genius lyrical craftsmanship, it also alludes to their relationship that despite them having different personality traits, they still can ‘rhyme’ together.
Listen to Acoustic Version of “Collide” by Howie Day
In the second verse, too, Howie Day goes about their differences. This seems to concern him quite a bit. He is a quiet guy who keeps to himself. This is the reason why he did not make a move on her all this time. He is easily unnoticeable. However, the girl is in stark contrast to these traits. She stands out in a crowd and makes a strong first impression. She is the kind of girl that anyone would notice and wants to be with. So, he is scared. Even when he realized that she is into him, he feels his bones stutter.
The bridge changes the melody of the song while Howie sings “I lost my place.” He literally lost his place and pace in the song, too! Thematically, he is saying that their current situation in the relationship (neither here nor there, because she is just waking up to the possibility of a relationship) is no place to be stopped at. He wants to move forward, with her. And as usual, he will not be taking her hand (and mind) and leading her on to a relationship. But rather, he will be following her behind and hopes that she will step in the direction he wants.
“Collide” is a mix of a lot of emotions. Oftentimes, a guy can find himself at the end of the leash of the girl. He is scared of rejection. He is scared of scaring her away. So, he patiently waits.
Let us hear what you think about this song in the comments below. Check out the complete lyrics on Genius.