Critique of "Better Now" by Post Malone

Updated: Jul 22, 2020

Internal monologue about guilt, vices, and anxiety/depression over losing an innocent love.


Source/Lyric Credits: LyricFind

Songwriters: Austin Richard Post / Carl Austin Rosen / Frank Dukes / Kaan Gunesberk / Louis Bell / William Thomas Walsh / Adam King Feeney

Photo: Sydney Sims via Unsplash

INTRO:

The beauty of these lyrics are the layers. At first listen, it appears Post Malone is defiantly singing about an ex, who’s stuffing it in his face with her new boyfriend. What else are we supposed to think when the song begins with “You probably think that you are better now?” Right? Like fuck my ex! He or she thinks they’re all that now! … Let’s peel away some guilty layers.


First, Have a Listen:


Stanza 1:

“I did not believe that it would end, no Everything came second to the Benzo You're not even speaking to my friends, no You knew all my uncles and my aunts though Twenty candles, blow 'em out and open your eyes We were looking forward to the rest of our lives Used to keep my picture posted by your bedside Now it's in your dresser with the socks you don't like”

Here, the lyrics tell us that he took their relationship and love for granted because “Everything came second to the Benzo,”. Is he referring to drugs or a car? It doesn’t matter and likely both. If you’re a 9-5 corporate goon making $150,000 per second, you probably thought it was a Mercedes Benz. If you’re a 9-5 corporate goon making $150,000 per second, you might also think it’s Benzo, slang for the anxiety pills you take to cope with being a corporate goon. Either way, the subject (as in the person) in this song gets lost in his anxiety or his work and riches. Great writing.


Stanza 1 also tells us that they’re likely young, in love, and deeply involved with each other’s families – “Twenty candles, blow ‘em out and open your eyes.” If we’re making educated guesses here, it’s likely Benzo, the drugs or anxiety of some sort. We have to consider the time period written and the writer, similar to interpreting the language of Shakespeare.


Stanza 2:

“And I'm rollin', rollin', rollin', rollin' With my brothers like it's Jonas, Jonas Drinkin' Henney and I'm tryna forget But I can't get this shit outta my head”

Poor guy is trying to deal with his loss by “rollin, rollin, rollin, rollin” or likely doing drugs, and drinking “Henney”, or Hennessey, with his friends. However, the key line is “But I can’t get this shit outta my head”. He’s dwelling on it and can’t process or isn’t ready to process it yet. He also hasn’t given up his prescription drugs.


Stanza 3:

“I seen you with your other dude He seemed like he was pretty cool I was so broken over you Life, it goes on, what can you do? I just wonder what it's gonna take (what's it gonna take?) Another foreign or a bigger chain (bigger chain) Because no matter how my life has changed (matter how my life has changed) I keep on looking back on better days”

The story continues as he finds his ex with a new man. He’s lamenting his loss. To reason with himself and make him feel better, he tells himself that “He seemed like he was pretty cool.” Yeah right!

Further, what really strikes us here is that he “wonder(s) what it’s gonna take,” to get her back. He believes it’s with “Another foreign or a bigger chain.” Historically, denial plays a huge role in addiction, if we play off the Benzo reference. He believes money or material things will get her back, instead of cleaning himself up. He doesn’t get her back because he “keeps looking back on better days”, lamenting about how much he misses those times that are now gone. Tragic.


Stanza 4:

“I promise I swear to you, I'll be okay You're only the love of my life”

At the end, the lyrics close with perhaps the most telling and thought-provoking line. He promises that he’ll be ok. Post Malone sings it with passion. But when he says, “You’re only the love of my life,” we then know he’s being sarcastic. He says he’s going to be okay, but well, you know, he’s only dealing with losing the love of his life. He’ll likely never rid himself of this loss or his feeling of guilt. It’ll take him forever or stay with him forever. Further, if we can believe that he’s imagining saying all this to her, then we might interpret that he’s using this line as some kind of fantasy guilt trip as well.


Chorus:


Finally, the chorus ties the song all together. The chorus is sung before each of the previous stanzas.

“You probably think that you are better now, better now You only say that 'cause I'm not around, not around You know I never meant to let you down, let you down Woulda gave you anything, woulda gave you everything You know I say that I am better now, better now I only say that 'cause you're not around, not around You know I never meant to let you down, let you down Woulda gave you anything, woulda gave you everything, oh whoa”

This is his internal monologue as well. He’s not saying any of this to her or anybody. He’s reasoning with himself and his guilt. Sure, she’s probably better now, without him. It’s for the best right? Oh, yeah that’s probably true, until he sings, “You know I say that I am better now, better now / I only say that ‘cause you’re not around, not around,”. He’s saying no way, she’s not better now, I can get her back, she’s only saying that, because look at me, I say the same damn thing, and I’m broken. He’s wrestling with himself. She’s better now, she’s not, I’m better now, I’m not.

Then he says “You know I never meant to let you down…Woulda gave you anything,” not as in, oh he was so great, he would’ve provided her everything she wanted. This is his closing guilt statement, that if he didn’t screw this all up, that if he didn’t hurt her, and that, ultimately, his intention was pure. Despite his vices and the guilt he feels, he was just innocently in love.


Please forgive him.