Learn English Through Songs: Avicii – Wake Me Up

Learn English Through Songs: Avicii – Wake Me Up

Who is ready for a catchy dance tune that uses an imperative in the first conditional?

Well, I have exactly that. The song you’re going to learn has some great language and will help you use the present simple correctly when using the 1st conditional. The singer doesn’t sing too fast which means that you can easily sing along.

Here is the version with lyrics. But, for the first time, I just want you to listen without reading the lyrics (close your eyes):

The Song

Now, listen again and read the lyrics. Once you’ve done that, take a look at some of the lines in the song to understand the whole meaning.

Here are the lyrics in full:

The Lyrics

Feeling my way through the darkness
Guided by a beating heart
I can’t tell where the journey will end
But I know where it starts
They tell me I’m too young to understand
They say I’m caught up in a dream
Well life will pass me by if I don’t open up my eyes
Well that’s fine by me

So wake me up when it’s all over
When I’m wiser and I’m older
All this time I was finding myself
And I didn’t know I was lost

So wake me up when it’s all over
When I’m wiser and I’m older
All this time I was finding myself
And I didn’t know I was lost

I tried carrying the weight of the world
But I only have two hands
I hope I get the chance to travel the world
And I don’t have any plans
I wish that I could stay forever this young
Not afraid to close my eyes
Life’s a game made for everyone
And love is a prize

So wake me up when it’s all over
When I’m wiser and I’m older
All this time I was finding myself
And I didn’t know I was lost

So wake me up when it’s all over
When I’m wiser and I’m older
All this time I was finding myself
And I didn’t know I was lost

I didn’t know I was lost
I didn’t know I was lost
I didn’t know I was lost
I didn’t know I was lost

General Meaning

“Tell” is used here to mean recognize something through your knowledge or experience. It is often used with can or can’t to form a collocation. Here are more examples:

  • I can tell that you’re lying because you look nervous. (I recognize/know you are lying..)
  • I can tell that it’s going to be a long day (I think that today is going to be difficult).
  • I can never tell when he’s being serious. (It’s difficult to recognize when he’s being serious)

They say I’m caught up in a dream

To be caught up in a dream means that you aren’t facing reality. It is used when someone feels that someone else isn’t being realistic – “You’re caught up in a dream.”

Life will pass me by if I don’t open up my eyes

The first conditional! The general meaning is that unless this person starts being realistic (opens up his eyes), then he won’t achieve anything with his life (Life will pass me by).

  • I just feel that life is passing me by at the moment. I need to start making big changes.
  • You need to open your eyes and see what is happening to you! (This is a strong statement.)

Well that’s fine by me

This means, “I’m okay with that.” Here is a conversation that happens during my lessons:

Student: Is it possible to take three lessons next week?
Me: Sure, that’s fine by me.

Wake me up when it’s all over

Here we are using the first conditional, but the first clause is in the imperative. This is really common in everyday English:

  • Bring up some water when you come to bed.
  • Let me know when you’re ready to go.
  • Bring me my computer when you can.

(All of those examples are from my wife!)

All this time I was finding myself

To find yourself means to know who you are and to know what you want to do – I went traveling to find myself. It is quite a strong statement to make during everyday conversation.

Wish that I could stay forever this young

We use “wish” when we want to change our present circumstances. In this case, the singer wants to be young forever. Here are more examples using “wish”:

  • I’m so busy; I wish I had more time!
  • I wish I could speak English perfectly.
  • I wish I hadn’t eaten so much (wanting to change the past)

Full explanation of how to use wish and hope.

The singer is someone who loves being young and having a life full of adventure. Other people (society, a different generation) tell him that he is not being realistic and that he is going to waste his life is he continues doing this.

He used to worry about the bigger problems in the world, but has stopped trying to fix them (“I tried carrying the weight of the world, but I only have two hands”)

He’s happy with his life of love and adventure, and only wants to be woken up (start to be realistic, mature, live in the real world) when he is older and has more experience. People tell him that he is lost (caught up in a dream), but he doesn’t see it that way.

Sing and Answer These Questions

Keep listening to the song, and keep singing. The more you practice, the more you’ll learn!

1. Do you sometimes feel that life passes you by?

2. Are you adventurous?

3. Do you worry about the big problems in the world?

Also, try out first conditional exercise and our explanation (and exercise) on wish and hope.

Hope you liked the song and the lesson!

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  • aczkolwiek

    Jack, I love your lessons :)

  • Simon

    Great song and great lesson:-)