However, you've all missed the significance of the first stanza. The song is about trying to reach all the people who have suffered through some sort of traumatic experience as children in order to caution them about what will happen if they do not confront their past traumas.
However, you've all missed the significance of the first stanza. The song is about trying to reach all the people who have suffered through some sort of traumatic experience as children in order to caution them about what will happen if they do not confront their past traumas. There's a particular "something" that "filled up heart up with nothing". It's not a general, continuous process of maturation he's referring to.
This "something" could be some sort of trauma, whether emotional, physical, or sexual. Presumably, the narrator was a child when this happened, and the authority figures in his life did not want to acknowledge that the "something" had happened. Instead, they punished the child for expressing his despair over the trauma by "telling not to cry". One of the only ways people who have experienced traumatic events can continue to function in life is to block out the memory and the emotions associated with the event.
They end up being detached from a crucial part of who they are, leaving them feeling that their life is a lie. Because they "see is a lie", they do not benefit from the warmth of other people's company. Another symptom of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is that seemingly insignificant things can conjure up memories of the trauma and send the sufferer hurtling back into the terror they experienced at the time.
So, you end up with "children don't grow up" emotionally. Their bodies mature and "get bigger", but their already damaged hearts continue to "get torn up" by new situations that remind them of the past trauma. Even when these individuals do manage to form relationships, they end up having seemingly extremely irrational reactions to everyday life that make it difficult for partners and friends to handle.
Because of the significance a friend or partner takes on over the course of a relationship, a person does almost become god-like in that one person's actions can greatly influence the other's mood or outlook. So people with PTSD from childhood trauma end up feeling like "little gods" whose difficult behavior drives away the people with whom they've formed a relationship, "turning everything good into rust".
To wrap up the accounting of the symptoms of PTSD described in this song, a sufferer's brain is so consumed with replaying and worrying about the past trauma, that it has no time or resources to think of the future. Intense bouts of panic from triggers can come on like "lightning bolts".
Sufferers lose the ability to imagine a future. To understand this song, all that is left is the stanza where the narrator tells the "children wake up". He is telling the emotionally-stunted children hiding in the bodies of grown ups that they need to confront and examine the "mistake" that happened to them as a children. If they don't, the "they" who traumatized these individuals as children will win and continue to torment them for their entire lives, until their "summers turn to dust".
For as long as traumatized people don't take the steps necessary to heal, they're going to be a danger to everyone with whom they get close. The final "look out below" is a warning to the people who will be the partners in these future relationships.
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Reception In , NME ranked "Wake Up" as the 25th best song of the s, and in ranked "Wake Up" as the 25th greatest song of all-time.