Dan + Shay’s ‘How Not To’ Parallel Meaning

Every country music listener has become familiar with the ear pleasing song ‘How Not To’ by Dan + Shay from their sophomore album, ‘Obsessed.’ The image that the song depicts from its lyrics is your typical love story of how lovers breakup. It explains that the only way to get over it is finding your way back to the doorstep of what broke you and falling back into their arms, just for “one more” time. Sonically pleasing and emotionally relatable, Dan + Shay have done it again with another love song.

However, what the song actually stands for is something far more powerful and passionate than a breakup. Dan + Shay really hit home with this moving parallel meaning of battling alcohol addiction. The lyrics are a tasteful play on words of the breakup between an addict and alcohol. And although the road to becoming sober is not the easiest of things, the temptations are far worse throughout the journey, which is what Dan + Shay bring to light. A person in recovery knows that kicking this bad habit is what’s best for them and their life, but they can’t help but want to fall back into the comfort and ease that turning to alcohol gave them. But, love really does conquer all, and in this scenario, love saved the two alcoholics displayed in the video.

Now, the lyrics are easy to relate back to the first scenario of a breakup between two people. The words fit perfectly with the troubles and trials that occur during a time like that and can’t help but make listeners contemplate or reminisce on a similar time in their lives. However, if you think about it from an alcoholic’s standpoint, the lyrics are hauntingly true. The lyrics of “but I probably turn down your road, knock knock on your door fall back in your arms, wake up in the morning hating myself for the way that I can’t help the way I still want you” paint the metaphor of running back to alcohol and having it for just one more night, but in the morning, you wake up knowing that you made a huge mistake. It’s a vicious cycle that can’t be broken.

The music video for ‘How Not To’ is even more powerful than the lyrics. The video plays flashbacks of the two lives of Noah and Sophie and their constant struggle with their addiction – getting fired from their jobs, fighting with people, and most importantly, losing themselves. The two meet through their first Alcoholic’s Anonymous meeting and start their love affair. Without the help of one another, they would not be where they are today. Towards the end of the video it shows a party celebrating their one year of sobriety, together. A testament to love heals all!

The next time you hear this song, be sure to listen to it with a different perspective. It truly is a beautiful song through and through and could help someone someday. Well done, Dan + Shay!