Pink hits rock bottom in the troubled “Sober.”
A glum guitar opens the single, setting a brooding tone. On her counter is an Alcoholics Anonymous pamphlet. She flips it over facedown and puts her head into her hands. She hates the person she has become. At the bar, she’s usually in a large group of people. Despite being in the crowd, the other regulars could pick her out from her shrieks that carried all the way out to the patio. She listens to the voicemails on her phone. Most of them were between3:45and4:30 am, asking her if she wanted to go out for breakfast or hang out at a friend’s house. (“I don't wanna be the girl who laughs the loudest/Or the girl who never wants to be alone/I don't wanna be that call atfour o'clockin the mornin' /'Cause I'm the only one you know in the world that won't be home.”)
In the pre-chorus, the sun lacerates her eyes, giving her a stinging pain and she puts her head down, concentrating on the pavement. On the drive home, she curls up in the backseat, clutching her stomach. Every so often, she has to ask her friend if they can stop, unable to fight back the nausea. She doesn’t quite know where she is and keeps her eyes open the ride home, despite wanting to sleep. She can’t end up in the hospital again. (“Ah, the sun is blindin'/I stayed up again/Oh, I am findin'/That that's not the way I want my story to end.”)
In the chorus, nsults and taunts have no power over her. The alcohol guards her, providing her enough confidence to shout back a creative expletive that cause everyone around her to cheer. At first, the alcohol was meant to dull the loneliness, the multiple heartbreaks and her parents’ indifference to her. Now, no matter how drinks she have, the hollowness is unfilled. Drinking is the only thing that gave her the feeling of happiness. She doesn’t know how to live without it. (“I'm safe up high, nothing can touch me/But why do I feel this party's over?/No pain inside, you're my protection/But how do I feel this good sober?”)
The television is on in her family room. The radio is turned up, blocking out any thoughts at all. The noise relaxes her. Her phone rings and she answers it. Her friend begins to ask if she remembered that she promised to come by. She stops her friend before she can go any further, explaining she was so drunk last night that she has no recollection of their going out at all. She doesn’t know which bar she went to last night. Her nights are blurring together. (“I don't wanna be the girl that has to fill the silence/The quiet scares me 'cause it screams the truth/Please don't tell me that we had that conversation/'Cause I won't remember, save your breath 'cause what's the use?”)
In the pre-chorus, it’s 8 p.m. Her keys are tucked safe in the fist of her hand as she sits in the chair, staring at the door. Her phone keeps beeping with text message after text message, asking her if she would like go out. She can taste the amaretto on her tongue, sliding down her throat while she bits off the stem of the cherry. Her knuckles turn white and puts her hand on top of the other. She has to try. (“Ah, the night is callin'/And it whispers to me softly, "Come and play" I, I am fallin'/And if I let myself go/I'm the only one to blame.”)
In the chorus, she adds that the alcohol wonderful, solving all her problems with a single drop. (“I'm safe up high, nothing can touch me/But why do I feel this party's over?/ No pain inside, you're like perfection/But how do I feel this good sober.”)
In the bridge, she begins to wonder who she really is. For years, she has depended on alcohol for a social life, a salve, and an outgoing persona. Who did she used to be before she started drinking? She begins to sob, mourning for a life she could’ve had. She scans through her contact list and there is no one to call. Everyone is out at the bar. (“Comin' down, comin' down, comin' down/Spinnin' 'round, spinnin' 'round, spinnin' 'round/I'm lookin' for myself, sober/Comin' down, comin' down, comin' down/Spinnin' 'round, spinnin' 'round, spinnin' 'round/Lookin' for myself, sober/When it's good then it's good, it's so good till it goes bad/Till you're trying to find the you that you once had I have heard myself cry, "Never again”/Broken down in agony, just tryin' find a friend.”)
The second chorus is repeated three times to end the single.
Pink’s miserable, shaken vocals are weary, exhausted from the emotions which have rose up within her, despite cutting them off. She’s realized she has problem and what she has done. She wants to be well and be free of her demons. If she actually achieves sobriety is another matter. It may take several tries, provided she doesn’t give up. A happy ending isn’t a given, even though she doesn’t want to end up dead one day. The possibility exists that she may not make it.
The haunting “Sober” is an unflinching, sympathetic look at someone struggling with addiction.