Meaning of Gilded Lily by Cults

Album art for Offering by Cults

Did you know that the title of this song is related to something that was misinterpreted in one of Shakespeare’s plays?!

Welcome to another exciting edition of our music blog, where today we’ll be diving into the world of Cults, a talented indie-pop duo that has captured the hearts of fans worldwide. Known for their dreamy soundscapes and catchy melodies, Cults have crafted a unique and captivating musical style. In this post, we’ll be delving deeper into the Gilded Lily song meaning, a track that showcases the band’s lyrical prowess and ability to create emotionally resonant tunes. So, let’s embark on this musical journey as we explore the story behind Cults and uncover the meaning of their most popular song, Gilded Lily.

Cults Background

Cults is an indie-pop duo consisting of two members: Madeline Follin and Brian Oblivion. The band was formed in 2010 in New York City, and they have been writing songs together ever since. 

In Cults, Madeline Follin primarily takes on the role of lead vocalist. Brian Oblivion, on the other hand, plays a variety of instruments, including guitar, keyboards, and sometimes percussion. They often collaborate with other musicians for live performances and studio recordings, bringing in additional instrumentalists to help create their signature indie-pop sound. This may include drums, bass, additional guitars, and keyboards, among other instruments.

Other Music Projects

Apart from Cults, both Madeline Follin and Brian Oblivion have been involved in other musical projects:

  • Madeline Follin has a musical project with her brother, Richie James Follin, called Follin. They released a couple of singles in 2016, showcasing a different side of Madeline’s musical talent apart from her work in Cults.
  • Richie James Follin, Madeline’s brother, is also a member of the bands Guards and Willowz. Madeline has collaborated with him on some of the music in these projects.
  • Brian Oblivion has not been widely known for involvement in other musical projects outside of Cults. However, he has occasionally collaborated with other musicians and contributed to their work.

While their primary focus remains on Cults, both Madeline and Brian continue to explore and collaborate within the broader music scene, showcasing their versatility and passion for creating diverse musical experiences. The song Gilded Lily is a prime example of how they’re able to find meaning and depth of creativity from their musical scene.

Meaning of Gilded Lily

Released in 2021, the song Gilded Lily by Cults quickly gained traction and became a fan favorite. Whether or not Cults drew inspiration directly from Shakespeare remains a mystery, but the song title is a throwback to the 16th century.

“Gild the lily” is an expression that means to add unnecessary embellishment or adornment to something that is already beautiful or perfect. This phrase is often mistakenly attributed to Shakespeare, but it’s actually a misquote from his play “King John,” written around 1596.

In Act 4, Scene 2, the character Salisbury says:

“Therefore, to be possessed with double pomp,
To guard a title that was rich before,
To gild refined gold, to paint the lily,
To throw a perfume on the violet,
To smooth the ice, or add another hue
Unto the rainbow, or with taper-light
To seek the beauteous eye of heaven to garnish,
Is wasteful and ridiculous excess.”

In this context, Salisbury is criticizing the excessive and unnecessary display of wealth and power. The actual phrase he uses is “to paint the lily,” which means to add paint to an already beautiful flower, thereby making the addition superfluous and redundant.

Over time, the phrase “to paint the lily” evolved into “gild the lily,” which carries the same meaning. Although the exact phrase doesn’t appear in Shakespeare’s works, it’s kinda like the Kevin Bacon thing. How many degrees of separation from Shakespeare is any clever English expression?

Let’s go beyond the song title and analyze some specific lines and explore their possible meanings:

“Now it’s been long enough to talk about it / I’ve started not to doubt it, just wrap my head around it”

This line suggests that the narrator is finally ready to face a situation or emotion that they’ve been avoiding. It indicates a sense of acceptance and understanding after a period of doubt and hesitation.

“I remember when you told me it’s an everyday decision / But with my double vision, how was I supposed to see the way?”

These lyrics imply that someone in the narrator’s life gave them advice or guidance, but the narrator was initially unable to comprehend it due to their own conflicting emotions or perspectives. The “double vision” could represent a sense of confusion or uncertainty that clouded their judgment.

Haven’t I Given Enough?

“Haven’t I given enough, given enough?”

The repetition of this question in the pre-chorus highlights the narrator’s feeling of exhaustion and frustration, as if they have invested a great deal of time, energy, or emotions into something without receiving the desired outcome or recognition.

Always the fool with the slowest heart

Always the fool with the slowest heart, song quote from Gilded Lily by Cults

“Always the fool with the slowest heart / But I know you’ll take me with you / We’ll live in spaces between walls”

This chorus reveals the narrator’s self-awareness of their vulnerability and emotional slowness. However, there’s an underlying sense of hope and trust that the person they care for will continue to support them, even as they navigate the complexities and uncertainties of life together. This is arguably THE BEST line in the song so it makes sense that people are stopping to think deeper about what it means.

Read the full lyrics below.

Gilded Lily full lyrics

In summary, “Gilded Lily” appears to be a song about self-reflection, growth, and the challenges faced in relationships. The lyrics convey a sense of vulnerability and the struggle to understand one’s own emotions while seeking support from a loved one. The song captures the essence of navigating the complexities of life and love, all while maintaining a sense of hope and trust in the journey. The songs meaning can be interpreted in a variety of ways, which is one of the great things about music. Checkout their website for more info.

Lyrics to the song Gilded Lily by Cults
Lyrics to the song Gilded Lily by Cults

Gilded Lily is the last track on Cults third album named Offering. Checkout our album review.

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