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Who? Where? Why? (Jesus Jones)

A cool hit from 1991. The name of the band came about when they realised that they were three "Joneses" (common English guys) sitting on a beach in Spain surrounded by people called Jesus, so they decided to put the Spanish and English parts together. Apparently the first suggestion was "Jesus Smith" (being Smith the most common English name), but they later changed it to "Jesus Jones" because it sounded much better. That's how they revealed their much talked about name, claiming that they had no intention of sounding either religious or blasphemous, only a bit Spanish maybe.

Se se sanna, se-se se sanna
se-se se sanna, se-se se sanna
Jesus Jones
Jesus Jones
Jesus Jones

Who am I?
Where am I?
Who am I?
Where am I?
Why do I feel this way?

Jesus

Have you ever felt that it's someone else
Living your life?
The image of you only better, it's true
At the outside, at the outside
At the outside, at the outside...

Who am I?
Where am I?
Why do I feel this way?
Who am I?
Where am I?
Why do I feel this way?

Jesus Jones
Jesus Jones

Is there nothing I've done
That was truly begun by the real me?
Have I stood to the side aware of the tide
That drags... me... out to the sea....

Who am I?
Where am I?
Why do I feel this way?
Who am I?
Where am I?
Why do I feel this way?

Se se sanna, se-se se sa
Se se sanna, se-se se sa
Se se sanna, se-se se sa
Se se sanna, se-se se sa

Who am I?
Where am I?
Who am I?
Where am I?
Why do I feel this way?

Who am I?
Where am I?
Why do I feel this way?

Who am I?
Where am I?
Why do I feel this way?

Who am I?
Where am I?
Why do I feel this way?

Who am I?
Where am I?
Why do I feel this way?

Who am I?
Where am I?
Why do I feel this way?

SE SANNA= This chorus reminds us of some Buddhist chants, and also brings the Judeo-Christian “Hosanna” to mind. It’s probably designed to give a religious flavour to the song from the beginning but it means nothing (at least not in English).

JESUS JONES= The name of the group. As the description says, this name comes from the time when the band was in Spain, on the beach, surrounded by Spaniards called “Jesus” (a common name in Spain, although pronounced “heh-•soos” /xesus/) and realized the three of them had “Jones” in their name.

Some sentences are a bit difficult to understand if we don’t know exactly where the sentence begins and ends, so here they are in one line:

- Have you ever felt that it is someone else living your life? = He sometimes feels he is not the one living his life, but somebody else, so he’s asking you if you sometimes feel the same. He is confused about his identity, feeling estranged, like watching himself from the outside.

- The image of you (is) only better, it’s true, at the outside = He probably means that from the outside (externally), your self seems very defined, but from the inside you feel confused about who you really are.
(self = your identity, your soul, who you are)

- Is there nothing I’ve done that was truly begun by the real me?=
Passive voice: that was truly begun by the real me. (the real me = my self)
Active equivalent: (there’s nothing that ) the real me truly started
So he thinks that maybe all the things he has ever done were actually performed by somebody else, not by his real self. He feels like he is the passive spectator of his own life, like he is watching his life like a movie, but not taking part in it. Oh yes, this guy has a problem.

- Have I stood to the side aware of the tide that drags me out to the sea? = If you stand to the side, you take on a secondary or passive role. Since he is talking about his self, his life, and the things he does, this passive role refers to the role he has in his own life.
Now the song begins to make a bit more sense.
He feels that he’s not in control of his life, he feels that he’s living passively and just moving along with the tide (society’s or friends’ direction) instead of taking his own decisions. Well, not just “moving along”, but “being dragged” (against his will). He feels his environment is dragging him out “to the sea”, so his identity dissolves in the big mass like a river dissolving in the ocean.

Now we can understand his whole identity crisis. No wonder he feels he’s not the one living his own life. See? Totally metaphysical. Cool.

This is a song who asks some of the big questions of the self:

Who am I? Where am I? Why do I feel this way?

Well, the third question maybe is not one of the “big questions” but it’s a metaphysical question too. And now that I come to think of it, the second question is not even metaphysical, unless he means “what’s the meaning of this world?”, or “is all this really real?”, but maybe that’s supposing too much.

The general tone of the song seems to be half serious half joking, as you can clearly see from the video. But still, the song is supposed to have a metaphysical intention and the video makes a connection with religion, since that is the dimension where most people place this kind of questions.

A more detailed explanation is mixed with the explanations in the box below.

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