Interpretations:You Don't Like Me

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That's about it. Facebook. If this is true, it's probably the least thought Linnell has ever put into his lyrics. But hey, it's musically awesome. --Swagar 12:46, 20 July 2011 (EDT)

I second the Facebook Notion, but i think there's a tiny bit more to it.
If you've ever met someone that you really liked and friended them and went through their likes on FB out of curiosity. I imagine the singer is insecure and want to know everything there is to know about the object of his affections all while feeling like she hates him. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 17:08, July 20, 2011
Swagar is I think spot on with the facebook link, and the banal list of "likes" backs it up. Amusing when the lyrics are read as a poem, the charm soon wears off when faced with an uncharacteristic dirge sound that Linnell employs. He'd have been much better off singing the whole thing accompanied by a more organic accordion. An evil twin to the far superior Cast your Pod to the Wind, you suspect that Linnell has little time for the facebook. He should have made FB addicted Flans sing it, for added irony. --(Mr Tuck)
I think the song subverts the meaning Swagar cites. It's about someone who is just using a list of 'likes' he's heard about someone, whether in passing or on Facebook. He uses this as a judgement on whether he should be friends with someone, to his loss. He really can't see the future, he's just being arrogant.
If I had a friend to offer me advice // I'd be told to let it go and that I care too much"
It seems to me, the guy singing/narrator is pretty lonely. Maybe he bases all of his friends on this sort of information and he 'cares too much' about that, instead of just getting on with people? Ferret 06:41, 21 October 2011 (EDT)
I fully agree, Ferret! I don't just think the narrator means "If I had a friend [right here & now, who was aware of the situation]", but instead "If I had a friend [at all, ever]". YoungWilliam 05:46, 3 November 2011 (EDT)


I think this might actually be about the album itself, as if the Johns knew that the album had to grow on you. After the 5th listen I'm really starting to dig even the more obscure songs. --tehbagel ( o ) 22:56, 20 July 2011 (EDT)

Literal Claims[edit]

At first I wasn't sure, but now I'm suspecting the narrator's claims of being able to read her mind and see the future might be literal.

He can read minds and predict the future. He sees someone across the room, and his tricks kick in -- he can tell that they like a lot of the same things, and would get along famously, but that (for some reason) it'll never work they'll never even be friends. --YoungWilliam 23:26, 20 July 2011 (EDT)

I love you, but you'll never love me back[edit]

I took this as a "protagonist who loves someone who doesn't reciprocate" song, a la "Withered Hope" and "I'm Your Boyfriend Now". The speaker in the song knows that the object of his affection does not, and never will, like him, but he can't take his own advice and leave it alone.

The character is sad, resigned, and a little obsessive, listing a slew of things that he knows about the person who doesn't like him, none of which will make them like him any more. I kind of look at it as an adult version of the high school kid who likes a girl who's way out of his league. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Ipalindromi (talkcontribs) 11:49, July 23, 2011

The Cullens' Lament[edit]

I feel like the lyrics are about the other time Edward Cullen went after a girl, and failed. Alice apparently helped him out a little bit. --SMB 17:55, 23 July 2011 (EDT)

May this be the first and last time Twilight is mentioned as a lyrical inspiration for TMBG. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 20:20, July 23, 2011
This. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Ms Fernandez (talkcontribs) 19:06, July 26, 2011
Dude, don't be such a Dick about the guy's comment, he/she is stating his/her own opinion. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Shuda7 (talkcontribs) 02:06, August 15, 2011
How is saying (honestly, I think) Twilight would not exactly be something most people would think of in relation to TMBG "being such a dick"? FWIW, if Linnell knew anything about that stuff that would kind of be the most hilarious/most upsetting thing ever, I can't really decide which moreso... --Self Called Nowhere 04:40, 15 August 2011 (EDT)
Well did he have to say it so rudely? I think a simple "I don't think TMBG would use Twilight as a reference in a song" would have sufficed. --Shuda7 10:02, 15 August 2011
I wasn't offended at all, and I knew it was an out-there interpretation. --SMB 01:25, 10 September 2011 (EDT)
And that's what this is: an interpretations page. It's not for an actual meaning for the song, it's what we THINK is the message. --Shuda7 3:55, 06 October 2011 (EDT)

From across a crowded room...[edit]

I think this song is about the emotions someone has when they are smitten with someone else but have never had the guts to find out if the feeling is mutual.

The singer is watching the object of his affection from across the room, and he's done some research and found out a lot about her, but he's SO sure it could never happen, he's never even approached her.

He can't really see the future or read minds, but has such a feeling of hopelessness about the relationship that he's decided this is what she's thinking and that it could never work out, so why bother?

Would she like him? He'll never know because he's decided he can see the future. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 22:40, July 25, 2011


This song seems to me to be about a person whose tremendous ego prevents them from forming bonds with other people. They think so much of themselves, and of their ability to "read" other people, that they assume no one will ever understand or care for them. The irony of this is doubled over in the lists of mundane things that the narrator believes the subject likes rather than liking them. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Capn Nacho (talkcontribs) 15:57, July 27, 2011

The problem with being a mind reader[edit]

I kind of like the literal interpretation of this song that the narrator is really a psychic who can read minds and see the future. Maybe he's a middle school psychic who is lamenting the fact that he doesn't get to be deceived like everyone else. He doesn't get to have the pleasure of not knowing if someone actually likes you, he knows right then. I imagine that can be pretty disheartening. I like to think that the "I can hear the friendly words of advice" part is him talking to a guidance counselor and finding out that the counselor doesn't really want to know.

On an unrelated note, cutting with a fork is such a random thing that I didn't know I liked. Screw knives. --Entropy 22:14, July 31, 2011

Tragedy of the Psychic[edit]

The Facebook idea is very clever, hadn't thought of it that way, and it almost deflates it. Definitely a banal interpretation.

I also prefer the literal version, the absolutely heart-breaking tragedy of being able to see into people's thoughts, know everything, and know that there's no way that they'll be interested in you. Soul-crushing resignation ensues. See Crash Test Dummies' The Psychic

It also fits with the slightly more sci-fi content that occurs in a number of the other songs on the album. --Arius 14:46, August 4, 2011

There might be even more to it than that. The object of the song knows that the narrator can read minds, and that's (at least in part?) why that person doesn't like him. Who would like to know that someone else can tell what you're thinking? (In his mind, he can find how you're feeling all the time?)
Certainly the stream-of-consciousness list of things that the narrator says that person likes lends credence to the idea that it's literal. It's like he's plucking those things out of her subconscious. —Robotech Master 02:58, 23 August 2011 (EDT)

The End[edit]

For me, this song is about the end of a long relationship. Our guy is convinced he has an unfettered read on the woman he's been with for years, and he knows that she no longer wants, needs or has an intimate connection to him anymore. There is an animosity there that strikes me as having festered ("you know that I can see how it is"). The list of seemingly random things he claims she likes are akin to those myriad little bits of knowledge one accumulates over the period of a long relationship. They're also the kinds of things someone who leaves you ends up resenting that you know. But the communication is only one-way now, and the song ends on a list because finally that is all our character is left with. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 23:15, August 4, 2011

Both interpretations[edit]

...might be correct. At first I liked thinking it was about a psychic, but then I realised that our internet era basically makes us all psychics; we're privy to every banal thought that plugged in people have, everything they like and dislike. There's "pleasure to be had from mystery and secret plans," but those don't exist anymore, thanks to the internet. It's possible the narrator is someone who isn't plugged in, which explains why he's "gone" once he stops talking.

I don't think the song is worse off this way, or "banal" for being possibly about facebook. It's very cleverly disguised, and gets to a very fundamental aspect of what makes the internet horrible. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 14:08, August 9, 2011

Nerd falls in love with beautiful girl[edit]

To me, this is one of the most beautiful songs in TMBG's discography due to its simplicity.

A "nerd" type person falls in love with a beautiful girl that is not a nerd. But because he instantly knows that girls don't go for guys like him, it's almost as if he can read her mind, or see the future, or what have you. He instantly knows that she doesn't like him, from sad years of personal experience.

The nerd takes a very detached, calculated perspective on the events, as lines like "I can read your mind" and the bluntness of "you don't like me" imply. The "if I had a friend to offer me advice" bit also shows that he is an outsider.

By contrast, however, the pretty girl's life is filled with emotion, as she draws pleasure from all sorts of things, even very simple ones ("you like cigarettes, swimming laps..."). There is a world of difference between the two. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 11:24, August 13, 2011

Prescient memory[edit]

On a randomish note, "I can see the future like it's in the past" seems sort of like a reference to the "prescient memory" of Frank Herbert's book Dune. It probably isn't, since it doesn't fit in with the rest of the song, but it's an interesting idea. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 14:28, September 30, 2011

That line is one of my favorites, and has always reminded me of relativity. Like this--


The song mentions "You don't like me, 'cause I can read your mind." This seems to be proof that it's about a telepath. The person doesn't like the singer because the singer can find out everything about him/her, such as what he/she likes. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 15:13, September 30, 2011

Although there is a chance that the main character, from whose perspective we're getting all this, is insane and just thinks he can read minds (...which'd add a whole new level of depressing to this song). YoungWilliam 05:09, 11 October 2011 (EDT)
I think that's quite plausible; people on other songs have conjectured that one of the themes of Join Us is unreliable narrators ("Join Us" could even be literal, as in "join in our insanity/conceit/etc"). At the moment I've reading this mostly as some conceited jerk seeing someone partaking in the activities/actions mentioned, and using them as reasons to distance themselves from a loved one. I mean, seriously, who "likes" cutting with a fork? Sure, on soft stuff it's easier than dirtying up a knife, but it's a far cry from "like". The narrator sees the object of the song cutting his/her food with a knife, and says "I hate how you do that! You're doing it to annoy me! You don't like me!" my 2 cents. 17:46, 5 February 2012 (EST)

Humorous counterpoint.[edit]

Maybe it's just that I have a very cruel sense of humor, but I almost immediately imagined this as being the same story as "When Will You Die" only from the other party's point of view. Instead of being someone horrible as you'd suspect from the band's side of the story, it's just some hapless, regular guy who can tell that someone from the band or perhaps all of them just don't like him – and he doesn't understand why. It's a way of making the extreme meanness of "When Will You Die" seem a lot harsher in retrospect and making you feel sorry for the hated party.

And I'm twisted enough to find that absolutely hilarious. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 01:24, October 13, 2011

An Unheeded Warning[edit]

The "you" of You Don't Like Me is going to die. Soon. The singer is telepathic, and literally can read her mind and tell the future. He's foreseen her awful fate, but cannot warn her about it because she doesn't like him enough to actually have a conversation. The stanza:

"I can hear the friendly words of advice that I'd be offered
If I had a friend to offer me advice
I'd be told to let it go and that I care too much
But this is not about me
And you don't want to know"

Is the key. It (being her coming death) is not about him even if he "cares too much", and she doesn't want to know.

So, how does she die? It's the last thing she likes, the last lines of the song. "William Tell". —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 17:02, March 22, 2012

Holy crap, the lists match up![edit]

I assumed each set of lists was completely random, but the first two lines have the same cadence as the last two! I don't know if everyone noticed that and I'm just slow, but if you didn't notice, check it out. "Woody Harrelson" has the same cadence as "cutting with a fork". The only time it overlaps words is "battleship, cats" becomes "beauty contests", and he holds a little too long on "connnnntests" to make up for it. That couldn't have been easy to write. El Zilcho 14:22, 19 February 2013 (EST)


Arrogance may be the perfectly wrong side to interpret this with. A sufferer of MDD (Major Depressive Disorder) tends to have the exact opposite of the bias most people have. Most of us are biologically inclined to think that our faults are due to circumstance and successes to environment and that it's reversed for everyone else. With a Depressive, this is reversed.

In my head it's obvious The narrator seems to feel that it is PERFECTLY clear what will happen. "Sure, maybe I can't LITERALLY read your mind or see the future, but I'll bet solid money that you won't like me." This is, of course, a presumption on the narrator's part that they can't offer anything worthwhile enough to change "your" mind.

Even the lists can play into it. "Well, no. They wouldn't like me... they get pleasure out of things that people capable of happiness like. Like... Woody Harralson, or something." As a sufferer of MDD myself, I can say it felt like a perfect reflection of some bad thoughts I fight against. A bipolar friend, who likes TMBG, couldn't get through the whole song. It was TOO accurate for her to tolerate. It triggered her pretty bad. --Vidihawk (talk) 13:38, 5 March 2014 (EST)

I tend to think of this song as a combination of this interpretation and the literal one. That is, the singer is a person who can read minds, who also has either depression or low self-esteem. That is, he really can read your mind, but he is only making assumptions about the future based on the past, and on his own low self-esteem.
From across a crowded room you can feel me staring, And you know that I can see how it is.
So, the singer is mad-dogging a stranger from across a room, making said stranger extremely uncomfortable. The singer can "read" the stranger's discomfort, and makes the assumption that it's because he "knows" the stranger doesn't like him. But the stranger is a stranger. Think about it. This guy is able to sift through all this information and pick out a person's "list of likes" so to speak. But because the stranger has yet to form any opinion of the singer, he is not included in that list. Therefore, "You don't like me."
You can hear me talking right up till I stop. When I do, I'm gone to you, but you are always there.
The singer is making a fundamental flaw in his thought process, likely because he's been able to read minds since birth - "you" don't like him because "you" don't know him. He is able to read thoughts, so he has awareness of everyone at all times. But people who cannot read minds don't become aware of and form opinions of people that way. The singer has not quite made this connection, so he goes through life wrongly assuming that everyone he comes across doesn't "like" him, because when he meets them, he is absent from their list of likes. But because he's depressed, he decides that people don't like him because he can read minds, not because he spends all his time staring at people from across crowded rooms like a creep, or indeed, because they have yet to form any opinion of him at all.--Alicelove (talk) 17:22, 2 December 2014 (EST)

South Pacific[edit]

This loser lover is different than the ones in I'm Your Boyfriend Now & Call You Mom. Those boys were in-your-face assertive, each assuming that his affection was so blindingly right that it compelled acceptance. They were stalkers. But this guy quits before the game even begins.

When he sees her the sweeping romance of the old Rogers & Hammerstein song Some Enchanted Evening comes to mind, which promises love between strangers "... across a crowded room". He begins to daydream of the fun, secret plans that accompany a new relationship. But his severe diffidence and deficient self regard short-circuit his dream. The imagined serenade of strings screeches and ceases, and he attributes to her a dislike for him which she has not expressed.

He goes on to enumerate the ordinary things and activities that he is sure (gripped by the same kind of fated confidence seizing the guys from those other songs) she prefers to being with him. Whether this elaborate catalogue was composed from observation, investigation, or presumption is beside the point. His pained expectation that she endorses them above him is his delusion, and keeps him from trying to making a connection. Another prisoner of certitude. --Nehushtan (talk) 15:13, 7 December 2019 (EST)

A telepath who hates 'Cats'[edit]

I think it's fairly certain the song is about a lonely telepath. Less certain is whether the other person is also a telepath. That is suggested by these lines:

  From across a crowded room you can feel me staring
  And you know that I can see how it is
  There's so much pleasure to be had from mystery and secret plans

As for the list of things that this desired friend likes, my theory is that it is actually a list of things John Linnell doesn't like. I was stuck on his mention of "cats" for a while, as I think he likes them, but now I think he must actually be referring to the musical Cats.
-- Thread Bomb (talk) 23:45, 9 August 2020 (EDT)

Just Some Good Ol' Fashioned Mind-Reading[edit]

I think this song is a case of lyrics that sound like they mean something more than they actually do. Presuming that someone doesn't like you just from looking at them could be likened to social anxiety, or as someone else suggested, it could be about social media (namely Facebook since this came out in 2011), and the protagonist worrying this person's lack of praise for him on their Facebook page means they don't like him at all. However, I wouldn't be surprised if "I can read your mind" is 100% literal, and this song is simply from the point of view of a mindreader with a crush or trying to make friends. The lists of random things this other person likes could just be all the random interests swirling around in their head as the mindreader digs through their thoughts to see if they're thinking of him.

-8-Bit Monkey

A song about Cognitive Distortions[edit]

When I was doing CBT and learning about Cognitive Distortions, two jumped out at me and reminded me of this song:

Mindreading -- Inferring a person's possible or probable (usually negative) thoughts from their behavior and nonverbal communication; taking precautions against the worst suspected case without asking the person.

Fortune-telling -- Predicting outcomes (usually negative) of events.