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“The Old Apartment”

Although The Old Apartment is one of my favourite BNL songs, I never quite figured out what was going on in the song. So, it occurred to me, why not have a look at Wikipedia. And, amazingly, there’s an answer – an answer that makes sense. At the same time, it loses a little of its intensity.

The song is about returning to “the old apartment”, and breaking in. The is addressed at a “you” – “why did you” do (whatever). It always seemed that he was singing to an old girlfriend…”why did you keep the mousetrap, why did you keep the dish rack, there things used to be mine, I guess they still are, I want them back”. And yet, he does goes on to say “I know we don’t live here any more, we bought an old house on the Danforth, she loves me and her body keeps me warm”.

The Wikipedia article clearly says that he isn’t returning to terrorise his old girlfriend:

While some have misinterpreted the lyrics to mean that the man in the song is stalking an ex-girlfriend and breaks into her apartment to terrorize her, Page has said that this is definitely not the case. The person in the song and his girlfriend are still together and happy, having “bought an old house on the Danforth” (Danforth Avenue in Toronto). However, he goes back to visit “the old apartment” where they previously lived, and winds up breaking in.

While, sadly, none of this is referenced, it makes sense. People have roommates. Not all roommates part on good terms – people can “turn on your tv, and stomp on the floor just for fun” out of anger at someone other than their ex-girlfriend. Obviously, but not so obviously.

canada-177.jpgRegardless of those details, the song is filled with a longing that I can really relate to. It makes me think of some of the many places that I have lived – places to which I can never return. Going to Canada in 2005 was a wonderful (and cathartic) experience – although so much had changed, although you can never go home…in certain ways, less had changed than I had feared. I was happy that there was more to see, more to return to, than I had feared.


2 Responses

  1. Hello dunno how I came across this but this song means a great deal to me as well.

    I actually always felt like he was just yelling at the new occupants, people he doesn’t know and never did. He moved out with his girlfriend, land lord found new people to move in. He feels it’s his right to revisit the place he used to live and feels angry and jealous of the people who moved in. He feels as if his stuff has been tampered with. I understand this feeling a great deal, to live somewhere leaves your imprint and it’s easy to focus your nostalgia in an angry way on the new occupants.

    I just love the way the imagery and the language works here, one of the most compelling things about BNL is their ability to completely embody the unique characters the create for each song. (Pinch Me, Shoebox, What a Good Boy) Even the delivery, he sounds so aggressive, ever focus on the line; “These things used to be mine, I guess they still are, I want them back!” It’s so immature but everyone can relate to that feeling of possessiveness, they know it’s immature and unreasonable and usually manage to stifle it.

    There is also a sense of betrayal he seems to feel, how dare they change it? Maybe even feels jealous that it maybe looks better the way the new people have it. One of my aunts moved and each time we drove by her old house (new occupants remodeled) she expressed distaste for what they did and she seemed quite jealous.

  2. I never thought for a second that it was about stalking and breaking in. It seemed pretty obviously not to be that. I find it odd that anyone would think so.

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