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I was listening to the song "Wetsuit" by the band "The Vaccines" when I met with these weird lines:

"Submerged, your vision's just obscured

You're a lot like me

In up to our knees

In over your chest is way too deep"

The two short verses to me mean that the persona of the music is not that similar to the person they are talking to (they are only similar from the feet until the knee's height).

The last line though is a big mystery to me. Any clue on what it means?

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    I know nothing about the song, but a wetsuit is what you wear for swimming in cold water, so presumably the meaning is 'submerged in water up to our knees' and 'above chest level'. Nov 27, 2022 at 8:20
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    I think it would be best to post questions about the meaning of song lyrics at musicfans.stackexchange.com instead of here. Song lyrics are often intentionally ambiguous or meaningless, so a question about what lyrics mean isn't really a question about English. Nov 27, 2022 at 12:47

3 Answers 3

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The song appears to invite to oppose the quick fleeting of youth by being adventurous, casual, foolish, and not (too) conforming.

The first line of the verse you mentioned is, "Does holy water make you pure?" If we interpret the following lines consequently:

"Submerged, your vision's just obscured": If you try to be perfect, you blind yourself.

"You're a lot like me" and "In up to our knees": The songwriter probably considers that they are both good enough people, in holy water up to the knees, they do nothing wrong, but they can still splash each other and have fun. However...

"In over your chest is way too deep": let's not pretend (or try) to be purer (or perfect) than necessary; let's enjoy our youth!

Hope that makes sense!

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In over your chest way too deep - means you are basically totally "out of your depth" - like for example I do computers, now if someone turned round to me and asked me to help them build a microprocessor from scratch even though I do computers building a microprocessor from scratch would be way too much for me to comprehend.

In a way it can be seen in two ways...

In over your chest, way too deep - if you think of it as your actual chest, if you were in a swimming pool and couldn't swim, you then went to the deep end and let the water go over your chest (and over your mouth) you would then be drowning and would probably need a lifeguard to save you - and in the same way whatever you are doing is too much and you need someone to help rescue you.

also

In over your chest, way too deep - you could think of the chest being like a sunken treasure chest - it's way too deep for you to retrieve it.

There are also some other similar phrases...

Up a "murky" creek without a paddle, Up to my knees in it, Out of my depth, Over the top of my head...

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Short answer: a pun on swimming and an idiom.


Let's parse the lyrics line by line, starting from the one before the first you've posted:

Does holy water make you pure? / Submerged, your vision's just obscured

I read the first line as the singer inviting the listener to come down into the water.

Then in the second line, the listener holds now their head under water, thus "submerged." The singer, seeing this, concedes that,

You're a lot like me / in up to our knees

Which entails that their likeness, that is, the level of both the youthful energy and the capacity to perform it, is limited to the listener's knees, but not higher. In other words, the listener may have the same adolescent spirit as the singer, but is too young to dive so deep as the latter. Here what is "deep" is at once water and the juvenile grit they have in common. The listener's is finite, to the extent that:

In over your chest is way too deep

Now consider the idiom "be in over your head," which means being involved in a difficult situation that you cannot get out of:

Sean tried to pay his gambling debts, but he was in over his head.

So here's a pun on an idiom related to one's clear-headedness, which is a motif recurring in the song (as in other works by The Vaccines), and the "water" implied in context.

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