Hozier’s “Eat Your Young” EP: A Reflection on Loss, Love, Gluttony, Greed, and More
“Eat Your Young”
After about four years since his last album, Wasteland, Baby, Hozier (aka Andrew Byrne)’s new EP “Eat Young Young” is a teaser to his upcoming album Unreal, Unearth that just came out this past St. Patrick’s Day (March 17, 2023). And even with just three songs, Andrew keeps putting out music that makes you think and listen to on repeat without ever getting tired of it.
According to Andrew, the album is inspired by Dante’s Inferno of the nine circles of hell and the deadly sins within. He read the book during the COVID-19 lockdown, which also inspired much of the album with the huge change it put on the world.
“I was writing a lot of this album during the pandemic and just struggling to try and make sense of the experience of the last two years,” he explained.
“It reflects on loss and how we try to take stock in the face of so much loss. It’s a love song, but it also reflects on the enormity of losing one person, whether that’s their death or just in general losing someone from your life.”– Rolling Stone, Hozier on new EP ‘Eat Your Young’ and how Dante’s ‘Inferno’ inspired him
In this post, I’ll talk about some of my thoughts on the EP, its songs, and their meanings. Note: this is my own interpretation from my own thoughts or from articles/interviews I’ve seen (I’ll attribute any of those as I go).
Dante’s Inferno & Nine Circles of Hell
I’ll definitely go into Dante’s Inferno a bit more in another post, but here’s a brief overview of what Dante’s Inferno is and what’s in the EP.
Dante’s Inferno was written in the 14th century by Italian writer Dante Alighieri. It’s the first part of his full three part epic The Divine Comedy which dealt with the (self-insert) character of Dante going on a journey with the ancient Roman poet Virgil through the nine circles of Hell, Limbo, and later Heaven. The nine circles are Limbo, Lust, Gluttony, Greed, Anger, Heresy, Violence, Fraud, and Treachery, with each circle containing a worse punishment than the last as you go deeper.
Two of the three songs in the EP deal with a couple of the circles. The third circle, Gluttony, punishes people with icy hail and rain, making them stuck in freezing pools of mud and blood. The sixth circle, Heresy, punishes people by trapping them in flaming tombs.
”But we’ve arranged the album into circles and the EP just represents two of those – those soul moments within it.”– Rolling Stone – Hozier on new EP ‘Eat Your Young’ and how Dante’s ‘Inferno’ inspired him
Dante’s Inferno or The Divine Comedy is actually a perfect story for Hozier to explore for an album. Dealing with life and death, pain, torment, love, heartbreak, and a lot of really crappy political figures that Dante put in hell because he wanted justice to be served upon them.
“Eat Your Young”
“Eat Your Young” is the first track on the EP and my personal favorite (I’ve blasted and sang to this in the car more times than I can count in the few days it’s been out already 🗣️). The beat and hook is catchy and stays with you long after the song ends. The song deals with the third circle of Gluttony. I know when we think of gluttony, we tend to associate it more with food, and that’s touched upon here, but it mainly deals with gluttony through sex, food, money, consumerism, capitalism, and greed.
Mostly, the song seems to be talking about the gluttonous rich in a capitalist world, and the conquest and greed of war. The fact that it would be easier to just eat or sacrifice your young, since either they’ll have a slim chance to grow, or you can benefit yourself through it.
Skinnin’ the children for a war drum
Puttin’ food on the table sellin’ bombs and guns
It’s quicker and easier to eat your young
From genius.com “Additionally, this line could be alluding to the 1729 essay by Dr. Jonathan Swift, where he suggests, as a solution to poverty in Ireland, that poor people shoud sell their children, this way they won’t be a burden to their parents or the country.”
Pull up the ladder when the flood comes
Throw enough rope until the legs have swung
Seven new ways that you can eat your young
The lyrics also delve into corporate greed, describing how the wealthy will protect themselves and their assets, even if it means sacrificing others to do so. It highlights how the pursuit of wealth and power can lead to moral corruption. The verse ends with a statement that is both eerily simple and chilling:
From genius.com “A parody of clickbait article titles that serves to trivialize the act of “eating your young,” which represents the many ways the ultra-rich sacrifice the health and safety of future generations in order to amass wealth for themselves.”
Honey, I’m makin’ sure the table’s made
We can celebrate the good that we’ve done
I won’t lie if there’s somethin’ still to take
There is ground to break, whatever’s still to come
Then one of the verses near the end of the song explains how “if there’s somethin’ still to take”, it will never be enough. Even with everything, the greedy will still want more and more.
“All Things End”
“All Things End” is the second track for the EP. This one has a more gospel feel to it, including what sounds like a gospel choir going a cappella with Andrew near the end. It deals with the sixth circle of Heresy, which essentially means beliefs or disbeliefs that are contrary to a religion. Heresy in this song could be the fact that the speaker believes that everything will come to an end at some point, juxtaposing with most religious beliefs of eternity. The song’s melancholic tone with the uplifting sound of the choir give feelings of loss and acceptance of life’s limits.
A two-tonne weight around my chest feels like
It just dropped a twenty-story height
If there was anyone to ever get through this life
With their heart still intact, they didn’t do it right
The last time I felt your weight on my chest, you said,
“We didn’t get it right but, love, we did our best”
This and the last song on this EP are probably the saddest, in my opinion. The lyrics of the song look into the idea that life is painful and full of sorrow, but it acknowledges the importance of hope and love even in that. Everything and everyone comes to an end, but we still have to hold onto the love we have for others, even if it means risking being hurt.
And all things end
All that we intend is scrawled in sand
And slips right through our hands
And just knowing
That everything will end
Should not change our plans
When wе begin again
Essentially, everything we do is like drawing our names in the sand. It’ll eventually be taken away by the wind or the waves. Nothing lasts forever or can be held onto forever. Even so, we shouldn’t stop loving or living. Life is a cycle of beginnings and endings, it begins again and again.
This song actually reminds me of “Road To Hell (Reprise)” in Hadestown. Everything repeats, everything has another beginning. Even though we know how it will turn out, we still sing it again.
It’s a love song– Hadestown, “Road To Hell (Reprise)”
It’s a tale of a love from long ago
It’s a sad song
We keep singing even so
It’s an old song
It’s an old tale from way back when
And we’re gonna sing it again and again
“Through Me (The Flood)”
According to Andrew, this was something he wrote during COVID-19 quarantine, a time of isolation and fear. With everyone forced to stay at home and physical contact limited, people were struggling to cope with the loneliness and uncertainty. Death and separation from loved ones were rampant. It touches on our deepest fears of death and losing those we love, but reflects on their memory after they’re gone.
Picture a man
Seen like a speck out from the shore
Swimming out beyond the breakers
Like he’s done his life before
He feels a coming of a squall
Will drag him out a greater length
But knows his strength, and tries to gather it
And he swims on
Turning back to shore again
Above the outer atmosphere
Of a world he’s never seen
And looking down to his new home
He feels the rising of a wave and knows at once
He will not weather it
This verse speaks on the beginning of death with losing a loved one, and realizing that they’re gone forever. The speaker seems to talk about seeing others going through this drowning in grief and sorrow. Knowing they feel the rising waves of despair and that they won’t be able to weather them this time.
Like that man
I lookеd down into the depths when I mеt you
I couldn’t measure it
The speaker fell in love and at one point, knew they would lose that person. They weren’t able to comprehend the future of that loss. We often know we’ll lose the people we love, but push those feelings to the side, they’re too huge and painful to want to think about.
Picture a grave
Picture six feet freshly dug
The sharp temporary walls
At the long-term cliff edge of the world
Light and air find some new deepness there
And usher down the sky
Where one stands by and tries make sense of it
The speaker stares down at either the grave of their loved one or their own grave. The thought of death is so immense that even though they try to make sense of it, they can’t. It’s like looking down a cliff at the edge of the world.
But try measure loss
Measure the silence of a house
The unheard footsteps at the doorway
The unemployment of the mouth
The waking up, having forgotten
And remembering again the full extent
Of what forever is
If this isn’t my favorite verse, I don’t know what is. This is probably the best way to say how it feels when someone you love is gone, the house or their presence in your life is silent, the only peace you get from the grief is in sleep, but eventually you wake and remember they’re gone and they’re gone forever.
“It reflects on loss and how we try to take stock in the face of so much loss. It’s a love song, but it also reflects on the enormity of losing one person, whether that’s their death or just in general losing someone from your life.”– Rolling Stone – Hozier on new EP ‘Eat Your Young’ and how Dante’s ‘Inferno’ inspired him
All Things End. We Begin Again.
If these three songs from the “Eat Your Young” EP are anything like the rest of Unreal, Unearth, then Hozier’s new album is going to be another well-deserved smash hit for Andrew Byrne and company. I think this quote from Andrew for Rolling Stone sums it up best.
“Because I think everyone went on a little bit of a journey over the last two years, everybody went through something changed, something about their lives, something about their work, something about themselves and came out the other side, slightly changed in some way, shape or form and that, it was sort of, that was just, that’s just how the album is arranged.”– Rolling Stone – Hozier on new EP ‘Eat Your Young’ and how Dante’s ‘Inferno’ inspired him
We’ve all had huge changes in our lives since Hozier’s more post-apocalyptic album back in 2019. I think we’re all more than ready for a walk through the fire and renewal from his newest album.
More About Unreal, Unearth
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