Unintended by Muse : An Interpretation

I haven’t written poetries in a long time.

Nor have I had the time nor the inclincation to ponder on songs (and their lyrics interpretation). I have missed writing literature analysis (not the scientific journal kind). I haven’t had the mood to do book reviews in ages. (I am not that functional in the BookClub Whatsapp, I am afraid). I continue to read books without having the energy to write and rave about it as I used to during my teenage years, pre-med school.

I guess, it must be because I don’t get to hang out with the same crowd as I used to, growing up. My adult crowd consists of doctors, mostly. Some of them don’t read anything else other than scientific journals. They appreciate good songs too but I don’t think they are the sort who would like to discuss the song the way I liked to do with my then best friend/roommate in MRSM Langkawi. (I miss her whenever I came across good books and great songs.) My teenage crowd consists of dreamy, easy-going artsy type but who is also intense and serious about books (non-academic ones), history, philosophy and culture.

Those were the days….

But today, my writer’s block seems to vanish simply because I came across this particular song in my newly bought Asus Zenfone 2 smartphone (a worthy budget phone to buy when you are desperate and broke)

Some background story: I lost my Note 3 a few weeks ago. And when I bought the new phone, the guy at the counter had kindly transferred many stupid rock/hip-hop songs that I detested upon the first note. Most of the songs he gave me sounded more like noise than music. I could not differentiate one from the other. So, I was merrily going through all of them and deleting one by one of the songs he put in, all the while regretting my decision of allowing him to put those songs in the first place. Judging from his hip dressing and flirtatious overfamiliarity, I should have known that my taste in music and arts cannot possibly have the slightest resemblance to his.

I was about to delete the song ‘Unintended” by Muse when the melody of the song caused me to pause.

And I paused long. To the end of the song.

And my finger hit ‘repeat’.

Again and again. 

I see. So, this is how it feels to have stumbled upon a diamond among worthless rocks and rubbles. Now I know.

Screenshot 2015-06-27 15.49.28

Oh dear readers, the song is beautiful. It reverberates in my soul deep within. I couldn’t get over how such simple words in the lyrics can have so many layers of meanings. And the singer’s falsetto voice at the chorus communicates the kind of poignant, eerie pain that can make you weep. The pain haunts the person. I could sense that the person is struggling with his past, wants to move on but he is stuck, wrapped in a long chain that is so powerful even as it is invisible.


I feel terrible for him. I want him to break away from the chain. But I have a feeling that he will feel naked and vulnerable without the chain. The chain is bad for him. But it is also the comfort zone he has always known. It is also his armour against the world.

The saddest part is, I know by the end of the song that he will NEVER want to leave the chain. If I were to come and rescue him, and unwind the chain layer by layer from around his body, he will only gather the chain in his arms and lump the whole lot by his side and sleep with it throughout the night and never wants to wake up.

*heavy sigh*

But some people may have a different interpretation altogether. Some would probably interpret this song as a story about a guy who is asking his current lover to wait patiently until he sorts out how he feels about his dead girlfriend who he used to love deeply. They think he will succeed in throwing away the chain and move on. They think that when he says “I’ll be there as soon as I can” it really was a promise rather than a mere hopeful wish that will never come true. They think that when he says “she could never be as good as you”, he was praising her current lover sincerely rather than it was him being in a state of denial. He intellectually knows that the current lover is better in many ways than his previous past, but his feeling is stuck. Maybe forever. 

Oh well…

Talk about simple words with deep layers, huh?

Judging by the music, the tone, the falsetto voice at the chorus…he is not ready to give up his past. Not anytime soon. And the current girl should leave him and move on. That would be my advice as a therapist. Hahah.

But that’s what fun about arts/literature/songs, you see. It doesn’t matter whether your interpretation is right or wrong. The only way you can solve the mystery is by asking the writer himself.

But then if I were the writer, I will never tell.

Because I know that when you lose the mystery, you also lose what makes the whole piece beautiful and poignant in the first place.

Just be content that you are not the person in the song.


The song also tells me the same thing I have always known.

That it is kinder to everyone involved if you just win someone’s mind than someone’s heart. It is much easier to get over. It is fairer, less complicated, and more honourable in the long run that you engage someone’s mind than someone’s heart. 

The writer of the song knows intellectually what he should do. Who he could love and should love. But knowing something is not enough for him to act on it and to do what is best for him. He will choose his emotion over his intellect.

Knowing is just not enough.

That’s the dilemma of life.

That’s the dilemma in PSY too. That my patients knew what’s right to do. I knew they knew. But most of them will never do it. (and I become frustrated)

I like to think that if I were ever in the songwriter’s place, I will choose what I SHOULD and COULD do. However, judging by how I feel about the song, I am not 100% confident that I will succeed.

Readers, you should know that feelings are messy. They can make you get stuck. They can make you stupid. But at the same time, not stupid too, because you actually know, but you just can’t choose. You are not stupid, but your action is stupid.

So, you should protect your heart and guard it well.

Your heart should have several outer and inner layers and filters. Logic, reasoning, facts, truths, moral and ethical principles….These are all the filters that anyone or anything should pass through before you allow them the key into your heart. Examine a person, an idea, a principle, a worldview…examine them carefully through the filters, before deciding to let them into the sanctum sanctorum of your heart and soul.

Because once they get there, you will be stuck with them. For almost forever.  


I am not going to say whether it is better to choose the mind over the heart. I think it takes courage to choose either one. To ignore one and choose the other.

I think you can be happy just as well if you choose to go with your mind rather than your heart. But deep inside, you will always feel a certain unspeakable, indescribable lost, that only you will know. So you learn to suppress that lost and walk on, only occasionally looking back.

I had chosen my mind when I took medicine instead of law. I had chosen my mind when I decided to be formally educated in science rather than arts. And it still turned out not too bad. I like my life the way it is. It’s meant to be. But I have always wondered about the other option. My heart crave for something else all the time.

And you learn to live with your choice. And you can live happy choosing your mind.

That’s something the person in the song may not know yet. I hope, he will make the leap of faith soon.


I also searched for the cover version of the song and here’s are the two I love best.  Enjoy!

2 thoughts on “Unintended by Muse : An Interpretation

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