Dog Days Are Over by Florence and the Machine: How a Hangover Inspired a Song of Hope and Freedom

by Alex Harris

20th September, 2023

Dog Days Are Over by Florence and the Machine: How a Hangover Inspired a Song of Hope and Freedom

Have you ever wondered how one of the most uplifting and empowering songs of the 21st century came to be? The answer might surprise you. Dog Days Are Over by Florence and the Machine, the track that has become synonymous with liberation and joy, was born out of a hangover. Yes, you read that right. A hangover.

In this article, we will take a deep dive into the song that has captivated millions of listeners around the world. We will explore its origins, inspiration, lyrics, cinematic presence, and cultural impact. We will also reveal some of the secrets behind its creation and meaning. By the end of this article, you will have a new appreciation for this anthem of hope and freedom.

The Story Behind the Song

Dog Days Are Over is the second single from Florence and the Machine’s debut album Lungs, released in 2009. The song was written by Florence Welch, the lead singer of the band, and Isabella Summers, the keyboardist and co-producer. The song was recorded in a small studio in South London with minimal equipment and instruments.

Florence + the Machine Lungs Album cover
Florence + the Machine Lungs Album cover

The inspiration for the song came to Welch in an unexpected way. She was suffering from a hangover after a night out with her friends. She was lying on her couch, feeling miserable, when she saw a large blank wall in front of her. She decided to get up and paint something on it. She grabbed some paint and brushes and started to create a mural.

As she was painting, she had a sudden flash of inspiration. She thought of a line that would become the chorus of the song: “The dog days are over“. She quickly wrote it down on a piece of paper and ran to the studio to record it with Summers. They improvised the rest of the song on the spot, using a harp, a drum machine, and some hand claps.

The Meaning Behind the Title

But what does The dog days are over mean? The phrase “dog days” has two possible meanings. The first one is literal: it refers to the hottest days of summer, when dogs lie around panting and lazy. The second one is figurative: it refers to a period of hardship or difficulty when nothing seems to go right.

In the context of the song, both meanings apply. The song is about overcoming a dark and depressing time in one’s life and embracing happiness and freedom. It’s about leaving behind the past and moving forward to a brighter future. It’s about celebrating life and love.

Florence + The Machine performing live
Florence + The Machine performing live

The Lyrics: A Journey from Fear to Joy

The lyrics of the song tell the story of a person who experiences a sudden and overwhelming rush of happiness but is afraid to accept it or express it. She tries to run away from it or hide it, but it keeps coming back to her. She is warned that this happiness might not last or might come at a cost. She is advised to let go of her attachments and embrace the change that is coming.

The song begins with a powerful image: “Happiness hit her like a train on a track“. This simile compares happiness to a train: something fast, strong, unstoppable, and potentially dangerous. The train could also symbolise fate or destiny—something that is predetermined and inevitable.

The next line reveals that the person is not ready or willing to face this happiness: “Coming towards her stuck still no turning back“. She is stuck in her place, unable to move or change direction. She is trapped by her own fear or inertia.

The chorus repeats the title of the song: “The dog days are over“. This indicates that a period of hardship or difficulty has ended and a new one has begun. It also implies that something has changed or shifted in the person’s life.

The chorus also introduces another image: “The horses are coming so you better run“. Horses are often associated with power, speed, freedom, and nobility. They could represent happiness itself or its source. They could also represent change or challenge—something that requires courage and action.

The second verse reveals more details about the person’s situation: “She hid around corners and she hid under beds“. This shows that she is trying to escape or avoid happiness, perhaps because she thinks she doesn’t deserve it or she fears losing it. She is hiding from herself and from others.

The second verse also reveals what she is hiding from: “She killed it with kisses and from it she fled“. This suggests that happiness comes from love or romance, but she is afraid of committing or being hurt by it. She sabotages her own happiness by rejecting or destroying it.

The bridge offers some advice to the person: “Leave all your love and your longing behind“. This means that she should let go of her attachments and expectations and live in the present moment. She should not cling to the past or worry about the future, but enjoy what she has now.

The bridge also warns her of the consequences of not doing so: “You can’t carry it with you if you want to survive“. This implies that happiness is fragile and fleeting, and that holding on to it too tightly might ruin it or make it disappear. It also implies that happiness might come with a price or a sacrifice, and that she has to be ready to face it.

The song ends with a repetition of the chorus, emphasising the end of the dog days and the arrival of the horses. The song leaves the listener with a sense of anticipation and excitement, but also a hint of uncertainty and danger.

The Cinematic Journey

The song’s cinematic journey is as impressive as its musical one. The song has been featured in several movies and TV shows, such as Eat Pray Love, Glee, The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Snow White and the Huntsman, and How I Met Your Mother. The song’s uplifting and empowering message fits well with the themes and moods of these works.

Guardians of the Galaxy 3
Guardians of the Galaxy 3

However, the most notable cinematic appearance of the song is in the Guardians of the Galaxy 3 soundtrack. The director of the movie, James Gunn, revealed on Twitter that he had chosen the song for the movie’s playlist. He also praised the song as “one of the greatest pop songs ever written“.

The song’s inclusion in the Guardians of the Galaxy 3 soundtrack is significant for several reasons. First, it shows that the song has a timeless appeal and relevance, as it transcends genres and generations. Second, it shows that the song has a universal appeal and resonance, as it connects with audiences from different cultures and backgrounds. Third, it shows that the song has a powerful impact and influence, as it inspires and motivates people to overcome their challenges and pursue their dreams.

The Cultural Phenomenon

The song’s cultural phenomenon is undeniable. The song has become a staple on playlists, radio stations, festivals, concerts, and events around the world. The song has also become a source of inspiration, discussion, and analysis for fans and critics alike.

One of the most popular topics among fans is the meaning of the song’s title and lyrics. Many have shared their interpretations and opinions on platforms like Reddit and Genius, where they debate and dissect every word and phrase of the song. Some have related the song to their personal experiences or situations, while others have connected the song to broader issues or events.

Another popular topic among fans is the performance of the song by Florence Welch. Many have praised her vocal skills, emotional expression, and stage presence. Many have also commented on her unique style, charisma, and personality. Some have even compared her to legendary singers like Janis Joplin or Stevie Nicks.


Dog Days Are Over by Florence and the Machine is not just a song; it’s a phenomenon. It’s a song that was born out of a hangover but became a symbol of hope and freedom. It’s a song that has touched millions of hearts and minds around the world. It’s a song that has made history and will continue to do so.

Whether you’re a fan who knows every word by heart or a newcomer who just discovered its magic, we hope this article has given you a deeper insight into this amazing song. We hope you enjoyed reading it as much as we enjoyed writing it.

If you enjoyed this article, you may also like our in-depth analysis of the lyrics and meaning behind other iconic songs, such as David Kushner, Daylight Lyrics: The Meaning and Inspiration Behind the SongStay tuned for more captivating explorations of music and its significance in our lives.

You Might Also Like:

Previous post

Be the first and never miss an update!

2024 © All Rights Reserved
Privacy Policy
  • facebook
  • twitter
  • instagram