Breakdown: Chinese Satellite by Phoebe Bridgers
Updated: Sep 10, 2021
Phoebe Bridgers has never disappointed with her songs, as they have such deep and hidden meanings. Her song, Chinese Satellite, has such a profound and rooted meaning. (This song could be interpreted in many ways and this is just how I see it. Also, Phoebe Bridgers – Chinese Satellite Lyrics is a great interpretation of the song.)
In the first verse Bridgers writes, “I’ve been running around in circles/Pretending to be myself/Why would somebody do this on purpose/When they could do something else.” She sings about trying to find her true self after a loved one has passed away. She sings that she pretends to know who she is and pretends she knows what she believes in, but she wants to be completely sure. Bridgers questions the decisions of the person who has passed, wondering why they would do this. She then writes, “Drowning out the morning birds/With the same three songs over and over/I wish I wrote it, but I didn’t so I learn the words/Hum along ‘til the feeling’s gone forever.” Now Bridgers is listening to this person’s favorite song over and over until she does not feel anything. These lyrics give a numbing sensation from the words “‘til the feeling’s gone forever.” She doesn’t want to feel the pain of losing someone.
The first chorus talks about going away to feel something, to find this thing that will make her believe there is an afterlife. Bridgers writes, “Took a tour to see the stars/But they weren’t out tonight/So I wished hard on a Chinese satellite.” This song conveys Brideger’s lack of faith meaning she cannot prey to a God of any sort. Instead she wishes on a satellite representing a science-based belief. She then writes, “I want to believe/Instead, I look at the sky and I feel nothing./You know I hate to be alone/I want to be wrong.” Here, Bridgers explains that she wants to believe there is something other than just science because this would mean she would see the person who passed again. Bridgers wants to feel this person’s presence when looking to the sky, like they are looking down on her from some type of Heaven.
In verse two, the lines “You were screaming at the Evangelicals/They were screaming right back from what I remember,” reiterates the idea that this other person ad herself do not believe in anything after death. She then sings, “When you said I will never be your vegetable/Because I think when you’re gone it's forever/But you know I’d stand on the corner/Embarrassed with a picket sign/If it meant I would see you when I die.” Bridgers first says that this person refused to stay on life support as a “vegetable” because what’s the point of that? She then goes back to the line about the Evangelicals, singing that if there was any chance of an afterlife she would join the Evangelicals. All she wants is a chance of seeing this person again.
The last chorus touches on the feeling of missing someone and feeling as if they are still with you. Bridgers writes, “Sometimes, when I can’t sleep/It’s just a matter of time before I’m hearing things/Swore I could feel you through the walls/But that’s impossible.” She feels this person and can hear them, most likely the memories, but she then reminds herself of what she believes and that this is impossible. Lastly, she writes “I want to believe/That if I go outside I’ll see a tractor beam/Coming to take me to where I’m from/I want to go home.” Bridgers wants to go outside and see a tractor beam, relating back to sci-fi movies. She wants to see something that will confirm her belief in science and prove she is not making a mistake of being atheist. She then writes that she wants to go back to where she is from, meaning she wants there to be somewhere to go once she dies.
This is a beautifully written song that many people who are unsure of what to believe in can relate to. If you have not listened to Phoebe Bridgers, I highly recommend listening, her music is life changing.