Many argue over the meaning behind the lyrics of the song Enjoy the Silence, by the legendary electronic music band Depeche Mode, released as a single as well as on their album Violator in 1990. Engaging in this dispute is a fallacious case of ‘arguing in a circle’. There will never be a right answer because the genius of Depeche Mode is that they create songs with depth. The lyrics are designed to mean one thing to each individual member of the band and another to their fans. There’s no single meaning behind this song. That’s the whole point behind why it’s probably becoming arguably their most popular song ever recorded. The subliminal messages the band sends with this song is a prerequisite to its release. If it’s about heroin, someone like me cannot relate to that so I’ll refrain from providing my opinion. But, if it’s written with layers behind a multiple meanings, I’m sure I’ll be able to relate to it somehow. Enjoy the Silence for me is about relationship love.
Depeche Mode are creative geniuses with millions of fans around the world., it may or may not be about love to their leading vocalist and frontman Dave Gahan. But it’s written in a way that it can be about love to you or to me, or to Martin Gore, the lyricist and bass guitarist of the song. Ultimately, its meaning to the band is not as significant to what it means to their fans. And Depeche Mode is aware of this, that’s why they write their lyrics and songs the way they do. The song could be about the interpersonal relationship between a man and a woman. Ultimately, it is about escapism. The meaning of the song is at a much higher level than just one meaning. It has multiple indications and has a different value to each listener. That’s the essence of deep lyrics. No matter how it’s interpreted.
The song could even be about entitlement. Crown royalty, thrones and kingdoms based upon the interpretation from the symbolism of the music video, where Dave Gahan wears a crown sitting atop a hill on a lawn chair serving as a metaphor for a throne. It’s important to not inadvertently neglect that this song was written by Martin Gore, usually Martin Gore’s lyrics are about the darker side of romance and if one takes the author’s style into serious consideration, it would behoove them to lean toward the notion that this song is probably about romance.
On a deeper level, it’s argued that the song is about temporary escapism through peace and silence regardless if it’s interpreted through romance or the symbolism used through the music video. There is a variance in its interpretation on a lower level while the higher meaning stays constant. Interpreted through the lens of a romantic relationship, the band is saying, why make vows if they can be broken? Let’s enjoy the pleasure without words or promises because those bring pain. My significant other is ‘in my arms’ through escapism. She’s all I need. If you follow the music video symbolism, vows and promises are equivalent to pledges and oaths which are often made in honorable statuses like Kings. Here in my arms, as in the throne, enjoying the temporary silence of his ‘little world’ also known as his kingdom. But, ‘pleasures remain, so does the pain’, no matter how one attempts to escape. It’s temporary, so, enjoy it while it lasts and don’t ruin it with doctrines, lectures, quarrels and words.
Perhaps, when it’s all said and done, when we look back at the career of Depeche Mode, even now, forty years after they’ve released their first album Speak & Spell, though the band has released dozens of amazing songs, Enjoy the Silence just might be the timeless song that’s synonymous with the band on a global level. Play this song in 1990 or play it in 2020, it stands the test of time.