“Brave” (Sara Bareilles) Meaning [Explained]

“Brave” is a song that has touched many hearts since its release in 2013. Inspired by a close friend’s struggles in coming out as gay, the song is a powerful anthem that encourages listeners to speak up and be true to themselves. It’s no wonder that “Brave” received positive reviews from music critics and became Sara Bareilles’s third top 40 hit in the United States.

This sentiment is reflected in the accompanying music video, which features clips of people dancing in public places as Bareilles sings in the foreground. The video’s director, Rashida Jones, does a great job of capturing the song’s spirit of inclusivity and celebration.

In this article, we will analyze the lyrics of “Brave” to understand the meaning behind the words.

Lyrics Interpretation

Before we delve into the story behind this song, let’s take a closer look at each verse of the lyrics.

Verse 1

The opening lines of the song set the tone for the message of bravery and authenticity. Bareilles sings, “You can be amazing / You can turn a phrase into a weapon or a drug / You can be the outcast / Or be the backlash of somebody’s lack of love / Or you can start speaking up.”

These lyrics highlight the power of individuality and the importance of speaking up for oneself. Bareilles acknowledges that there may be consequences for speaking up, but encourages the listener to do so anyway.


The chorus of the song repeats the refrain, “Say what you wanna say / And let the words fall out / Honestly, I wanna see you be brave / With what you want to say / And let the words fall out / Honestly, I wanna see you be brave.”

This chorus is a call to action for the listener to be brave and speak their truth. The repetition of the phrase “let the words fall out” emphasizes the importance of honesty and authenticity in self-expression.

Verse 2

The second verse of the song continues the theme of individuality and encourages the listener to be true to themselves. Bareilles sings, “Nothing’s gonna hurt you the way that words do / When they settle ‘neath your skin / Kept on the inside and no sunlight / Sometimes a shadow wins / But I wonder what would happen if you.” These lyrics acknowledge the pain that can come from holding in one’s true feelings and the importance of letting them out.


The chorus is repeated again, emphasizing the importance of being brave and speaking up.


The bridge of the song builds on the idea of authenticity and encourages the listener to break free from the limitations that society may place on them.

Bareilles sings, “Everybody’s been there / Everybody’s been stared down by the enemy / Fallen for the fear / And done some disappearing / Bow down to the mighty / Don’t run, stop holding your tongue.” These lyrics acknowledge the fear and self-doubt that can hold us back from being ourselves, but also encourage us to push past those limitations and be true to ourselves.


The chorus is repeated again, with even more urgency, as if urging the listener to take action and be brave.

Verse 3

The final verse of the song encourages the listener to break free from their past and let their words be anything but empty. Bareilles sings, “And since your history of silence / Won’t do you any good / Did you think it would? / Let your words be anything but empty / Why don’t you tell them the truth?” These lyrics urge the listener to let go of their past and speak their truth, even if it may be difficult.


The chorus is repeated one final time, with a sense of triumph and empowerment. The message of the song is clear: be brave, be authentic, and speak your truth.

True Meaning Behind “Brave”

Sara Bareilles’ “Brave” has gained widespread popularity as an anthem for the LGBTQ+ community since its release in 2013. The song’s co-writer, Jack Antonoff, described it as a “civil rights anthem” in a 2013 interview with The Huffington Post. 

The Message of “Brave”

At its core, “Brave” is a power pop song that urges listeners to be brave and honest with themselves and others. The song’s chorus, which is its standout moment, encourages people to speak their minds and be true to themselves: “Say what you wanna say, and let the words fall out, honestly I want to see you be brave.”

This message of authenticity and courage resonates strongly with the LGBTQ+ community, who often face discrimination and prejudice for being true to themselves.

Inspiration Behind the Song

Bareilles has been open about the inspiration behind “Brave.” She revealed in interviews that the song was written for a close friend who was struggling with coming out.

By writing the song, Bareilles was able to offer support and encouragement to her friend and to others in similar situations. The song has since become an anthem for the LGBTQ+ community, offering hope and inspiration to those who feel marginalized or afraid.

Musical Elements

“Brave” is written in B♭ major and has a moderate tempo of 92 beats per minute. The song’s power pop style, characterized by its upbeat tempo and catchy melody, adds to its appeal and makes it a popular radio hit. Mark Endert, the song’s producer, aimed for radio airplay, but Bareilles has made it clear that she does not prioritize commercial success over staying true to her message.

Music Video

Singer-songwriter Sara Bareilles’ hit “Brave” not only made waves on the music charts, but it also caught the attention of actress and director Rashida Jones. In 2013, Jones directed the lyric video for the song, which premiered on Bareilles’ Vevo account on April 17 of that year.

In an interview, Bareilles shared that working with Jones happened organically and was an important part of her creative process. She praised Jones for being brilliant, creative, and visionary, adding that she would love to work with more women like her.

The music video itself was shot in various public places in Los Angeles, including a shopping mall, a farmers’ market, a gym, a library, and a bus stop. It features Bareilles singing intertwined with clips of people dancing, culminating in a group dance with the singer herself. The video premiered on May 14, 2013, and has since garnered over 135 million views as of December 2022.

It’s clear that the collaboration between Bareilles and Jones was a success, as the video continues to captivate audiences with its message of courage and self-expression.


“Brave” by Sara Bareilles is a powerful song that encourages listeners to be brave and authentic in their self-expression.

The lyrics of the song emphasize the importance of speaking up for oneself and letting go of the fear of judgment or rejection. The message is universal, but for the LGBTQ+ community, “Brave” has become a powerful anthem of courage and authenticity.

The song is a reminder that our differences should be celebrated, not silenced, and that the power to make a difference lies within each of us. As we navigate through life, we should take the message of “Brave” to heart and strive to be true to ourselves, speak up for what we believe in, and make a positive impact in the world.

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