In the Cranberries song "Ode To MY Family" there's a line that I've always found curious. It reads "'Cause we were raised to see life as fun and take it if we can".

I'm not a native English speaker, but I don't think I've ever heard "to take life" in the meaning that seems to be intended here. On top of that, I know "taking a life" to be a common expression meaning to kill someone.

So my question is: does this line ring as morbid to a native English speaker as it does to me?

  • 2
    If you listen very carefully (I listened to two different singers), it's "take it if we can't". "Take it" means "man up" and put up with stuff you don't like but can't change.
    – Hot Licks
    Aug 19, 2016 at 11:55
  • @hot-licks I don't hear any can't in this song. I just hear Dolores O'Riordan's lilting affected singing-voice. And I see no reason to doubt the can in azlyrics.com/lyrics/cranberries/odetomyfamily.html
    – k1eran
    Aug 19, 2016 at 22:00

3 Answers 3


Doesn't sound morbid to me. In this context, I take it to mean, roughly:

See life as fun, and have as much fun as we can.

I had a friend who used to say:

When offered a slice of life, take the big piece.

It's a variant of, "Grab a big slice of life!"

Live large. Seize the day. See life as fun, and take it if you can.


I had always heard the line as “to see life as fodder”, which I thought was exquisitely poetic, and I was disappointed to learn that it is supposedly “to see life as fun”. I still hear it as “fodder”.


It has been years since this was asked, but I was just listening to the song and it stood out to me in lyrics I looked up as well. But on listening closely the lyric seems to be "take it if we get", which fits with simple values. I think it's because it's supposed to rhyme with "damn" that this error is made. Either that or I am listening into it incorrectly and its really just like the last answer.

Another lyric like that is "Unhappiness, where's when I was young" (how it's shown on lyrics websites), which seems to me to need to be whereAS. Unhappiness... (existing adult situation), whereas when I was young [blah blah].

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