‘This is a Life’ Lyrics Explain That ‘Life Is Bigger’ Than You Imagine—What The ‘Everything Everywhere All At Once ’ Song Means

Everything Everywhere All At Once
Photo: A24 / Everett Collection

A multiverse of vulnerability. Everything Everywhere All At Once is sweeping up all the awards and with a largely calm song at the end credits scene, what do “This is A Life” lyrics mean?

The film’s synopsis is as follows, “Directed by Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert, collectively known as Daniels, the film is a hilarious and big-hearted sci-fi action adventure about an exhausted Chinese American woman (Michelle Yeoh) who can’t seem to finish her taxes.”

The song appears at the end of the film during the end credits scene, and it definitely makes you sit and wonder about the two hours of multiverse goodness you just watched. So what does “This is a Life” mean? Read more below to find out.

What do “This is a Life” lyrics mean?

Everything Everywhere All At Once

Image: © A24 / Courtesy Everett Collection

What do “This is a Life” lyrics mean? Three-piece band Son Lux, comprised of Ryan Lott, Rafiq Bhatia and Ian Chang, explained how they were approached to compose the score for the movie by The Daniels to NPR. ” [The Daniels] are zany [and] we’re such a self-serious band. And I was like, ‘Are they sure they called the right dudes.’ But they knew they didn’t want a “Hollywood” composer and they knew they didn’t want to make a movie like any other movie. That was the trick: How do we smash tropes and yet give in to tropes? How do we explore idiom by destroying idiom?”

They continued, “So as they were perusing their options, like, the wide world of music, I think Daniel Kwan first came upon the idea of Son Lux. And my guess is what he heard in our music is a type of density of information that was akin to the sort of density of storytelling and texture that they were going to be going for in this movie. But not just that. There’s this sort of beating heart of it all — a kind of heart-on-your-sleeve, unrestrained emotional quality that is a trademark of much of the Son Lux discography.”

In an interview with Consequence, they also explained that they wanted a momentous song for the end of the film and different collaborations included. Ryan Lott explained, “Well, we knew that in addition to the enormous mountain of music that we had derived for the score, we wanted to write a bespoke song for the end credits. It felt special in its own way. We kept mentioning it to the Daniels, and at some point, Dan Kwan sent us his Spotify Wrapped. I can’t remember the order of his top three, but they were Son Lux, Mitski, and Ryan Lott.” He continued,  “We started to think about engaging Mitski in this. We were simultaneously in the process of putting together our list of dream collaborators for the score. I was like, “What if I wrote a song? What if we wrote a duet? And it sounds crazy, but what if Mitski and David Byrne sang it together?”

EEAAO ‘This is a Life’ Lyrics Explain That ‘Life Is Bigger Than You Imagine—What The ‘Everything Everywhere All At Once ’ Song Means

Image: A24 / Courtesy Everett Collection

Ian Chang later expanded, “The impression I got was that once both of them saw the rough cut of the movie, they were 100% in — on the strength of the film alone. I think it’s quite possible that we could have subtracted ourselves from the equation and Mitski and David Byrne would both have been equally as excited, because they truly were so moved bowled over by the film. The same goes for Randy Newman and other people who we were able to enlist; Randy said that his wife laughed harder than she had all pandemic at his part in the movie.”

The band gushed over the two collaborators. “David Byrne was amazing to work with,” Lott said. “I had this concept of a song that I wrote in my own higher register, which is also Mitski’s register, but I wrote it for her to sing. We tasked David with writing a part that was a counter-melody where they could trade off phrases, and then come together at these certain ecstatic peaks, and then share a final coda section in harmony.”

On the music explainer podcast Song Exploder, Lott explained the initial placement of the song, “We wanted to claim the space, a very precious moment after the film” Kwan also added, “I wanted this to be like 90s end credit song like Celine Dion song at the end of Titanic. We gave them permission to be more vulnerable and turn it into a pop ballad.

“We thought it would be great to do a duet— A hard thought and reconciliation coming from different perspectives,” Lott recalled. “What if it was a duet with two different voices and perspectives?”

Everything Everywhere All At Once

Image: © A24 / Courtesy Everett Collection

Lott said that Byrne called them the next day after he watched the movie and told them that the end credits song “needs to be a song that just let’s you sit. It can’t be fast it can’t be loud, can’t be celebratory. It actually has to be a warm embrace and gives us space to resonate with the movie.”

He also described the lyrics to hold close to the film’s theme. “There’s a discovery in the film that life is bigger than what you can imagine. This is a Life, this sentiment came out screaming out at me. The lyrics came out very fast to me, It wasn’t like I needed to spend time discovering the spirit emanating from it.”

Fans with very active ears would notice that in the bridge, Mitski harks back to a very recognizable part of the film. “And then Mitski came up with this beautiful background vocal. She sings, “Sucked into a bagel,” which has nothing to do with the song, but is a note-for-note quote of Stephanie Hsu’s character in an iconic moment in the movie, where instead of speaking her line, “Sucked into a bagel,” she decided to sing it. It was just, like, a zany choice that she made on camera.

He continued, “Mitski picked up on that, and had the crazy, beautiful, amazing idea to sing those lyrics in this, like, apex of a song, and that, to me, was like a master stroke.”

“This is a Life” Lyrics

Read the “This is a Life” lyrics by Son Lux, David Byrne and Mitski here via Genius.

[Intro: Mitski & David Byrne]

[Chorus 1: Mitski]
This is a life
Free from destiny

Not only what we sow
Not only what we show (We)

[Chorus 2: Mitski, David ByrneBoth]
This is a life (Every possibility)
Free from destiny (I choose you, and you choose me)
Not only what we sow (Every space and every time)
Not only what we show, we (We, ooh)

[Verse 1: Mitski, David ByrneBoth]
This is a light (Many lives that could’ve been)
Free from entropy (Entangled for eternity)

Not only hands and toes
Not only what we’ve known

[Bridge: Both]
We find this life (Sucked into a bagel)
Somehow alright

[Verse 2: Both]
This is a life
Slow and sudden miracles
View of other worlds from our window sills
With the weight of etеrnity at the speed of light

[Outro: Both]
This is a life

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