Without a doubt, Hayden Anhedönia – A.K.A. Ethel Cain – is one of the most creative artists out there. From her unique visuals and aesthetics to the characters and storylines that pop up throughout her work, everything she does has us absolutely amazed! Over the course of her albums, Hayden will be breaking down the stories of the characters Ethel Cain, her mother, and her father’s mother. So far, we’ve gotten the younger Ethel’s story through the Preacher’s Daughter album, and even with several heavy subjects, it’s so interesting to dive into the character’s world as she navigates family life, romance, trauma, and more.
But even if you don’t keep up with the lore, Hayden’s music is still so thought-provoking and immersive! That’s especially true with her intricately-crafted lyrics, which feel like a punch to the gut every single time. To celebrate Hayden’s artistry, we wanted to break down some of our favorites!
“It hurts to miss you, but it’s worse to know that I’m the reason you won’t come home…”
Throughout ‘A House in Nebraska,’ Ethel looks back on her relationship with her ex-boyfriend, Willoughby, and the time they spent together exploring an abandoned house in Nebraska. After they broke up, Willoughby left town and apparently hasn’t come back, likely because it’d remind him of Ethel and their romance. It feels like a sister lyric to Billie Eilish’s “you made me hate this city” from ‘Happier Than Ever,’ and we can’t get over that parallel!
“Found you just to tell you that I made it real far, and that I never blamed you for loving me the way that you did while you were torn apart…”
Sometimes, someone you love just can’t give you the care you deserve because of what they’re going through, and that can be really hard to accept. It can be even harder to forgive them for it, but Ethel manages to do that in such a stunning way on ‘Strangers.’ In this lyric, Ethel seems to be talking to either her late father, who didn’t treat her well, or Vera Cain, her mother who will be the subject of a future album.
“I asked have I done enough for salvation? They said, ‘you’ll die if you leave it up to God…’”
A lot of Ethel Cain’s music deals with religious themes, but we love how this line from ‘Age of Delilah’ – a song dedicated to Hayden’s sister that you can hear on physical copies of Inbred – can be interpreted in a more general sense as well. How we see it is Ethel commenting on how you need to be in command of your own life rather than wondering what an outside force or another person might think of your choices. That’s a reminder we all need at some point!
“I forgive it all as it comes back to me, if it’s meant to be then it will be…”
This lyric from ‘Sun Bleached Flies’ is such a good line to live by! It’s all about letting go of the tough times you’ve faced in the past, and forgiving those who have hurt you – not necessarily for them, but for you and your healing. Pain can be so heavy to carry, and as terrible as it can make you feel, you have the power to push through it and choose to maintain a more positive outlook on life.
“Maybe I’ll just be crazy and piss him off ‘til he hates me…”
Okay, the lyrics we’ve already shared can get kind of heavy/existential, so we’re gonna wrap this up with a more lighthearted line from ‘Crush!’ We’ve all heard the “if they’re mean to you, they like you” cliche, but Ethel takes on a more drastic approach here, actively trying to make her crush mad. It could be to throw him off and hide her feelings, or it could be because she’s scared to be in a relationship with him.
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