Ever listened to the enchanting track “How Far I’ll Go” from Disney’s Moana and wondered what the lyrics truly mean? Penned by Lin-Manuel Miranda and powerfully voiced by Auli’i Cravalho in the movie, and later by Alessia Cara for the soundtrack, this captivating anthem resonates with the adventurous spirit within us.
Beyond its catchy melody, “How Far I’ll Go” delivers a profound message about self-discovery, the struggle with societal expectations, and the pursuit of dreams.
Let’s dive into the lyrics of this mesmerizing song, peeling back the layers of its beautiful storytelling to reveal the deeper meanings hidden within its captivating verses.
Table of Contents
Before we delve into the story behind this song, let’s take a closer look at each verse of the lyrics.
Verse 1: Longing for More
“I’ve been staring at the edge of the water
Long as I can remember, never really knowing why
I wish I could be the perfect daughter
But I come back to the water, no matter how hard I try”
From the first verse, we see Moana’s intense fascination with the ocean – a symbol of freedom and the unknown. Despite her attempts to conform to her role as the perfect daughter and future chieftain, she feels an unexplainable pull towards the sea. This verse encapsulates her internal struggle between fulfilling societal expectations and pursuing her desires.
Chorus: The Call of the Unknown
“See the line where the sky meets the sea
It calls me
And no one knows, how far it goes
If the wind in my sail on the sea stays behind me
One day I’ll know
If I go there’s just no telling how far I’ll go”
The chorus beautifully visualizes the line where the sky meets the sea, a symbol of the horizon or the unknown. Moana feels a calling towards it, indicative of her innate adventurous spirit and desire to explore beyond the confines of her island. The uncertainty of “how far it goes” mirrors her uncertainty about her potential and the extent of her capabilities.
Verse 2: Questioning Societal Norms
“I know everybody on this island seems so happy, on this island
Everything is by design
I know everybody on this island has a role, on this island
So maybe I can roll with mine”
This verse speaks to the orderly societal structure of her island, where everyone has a predefined role. The irony lies in her questioning if she can ‘roll with hers’, hinting at her discomfort and disconnection with the preconceived role assigned to her.
Bridge: A Different Song
“I can lead with pride, I can make us strong
I’ll be satisfied if I play along
But the voice inside sings a different song
What is wrong with me?”
Here, Moana grapples with the expectations placed upon her as a leader. She acknowledges her potential as a strong leader, but simultaneously, she admits to the dissenting voice within her, suggesting that she might not be satisfied even if she fulfills her role as expected. The concluding question, “What is wrong with me?” is a poignant reflection of the confusion she feels in her journey of self-discovery.
Verse 3: The Quest for Discovery
“See the light as it shines on the sea
But no one knows, how deep it goes
And it seems like it’s calling out to me, so come find me
And let me know
What’s beyond that line, will I cross that line?”
The depth of the sea is a metaphor for the depth of her potential or destiny. Moana is unsure about the magnitude of her capabilities and the path she’s meant to undertake, but the sea’s calling entices her to embark on a journey of self-discovery.
True Meaning Behind “How Far I’ll Go”
The song was the brainchild of Lin-Manuel Miranda, yeah, the Hamilton guy, with a helping hand from Mark Mancina for the reprise. While it got beaten by “City of Stars” from La La Land at the Oscars and Golden Globes, it did snag the Grammy for Best Song Written for Visual Media.
It’s what Disney buffs call an “I Want” song, following in the footsteps of 90’s classics like “Part of Your World” from The Little Mermaid. It replaced an earlier attempt called “More” which was okay but didn’t quite hit the mark. “How Far I’ll Go”, however, nailed it with a more nuanced take on Moana’s internal struggle.
The song isn’t about Moana wanting to bail on her island because she hates it. Nah, it’s way more complicated than that. Moana loves her home, her family, and her peeps. But she can’t shake this gnawing feeling that she wants to explore beyond the reef, beyond what she knows. Miranda shared his perspective with People, saying, “To say, ‘I love it here, I love my parents, but why can’t I stop walking to the ocean and fantasizing about getting out of here?’ And questioning that instinct? It’s even more confusing. And that’s a valid story too.”
So how did Miranda pull off such a relatable bop? Well, he got a bit method. He locked himself in his childhood bedroom for a weekend to take his mind back to when he was 16, just like Moana in the film. He wanted to capture the feelings of his younger self, dreaming of a career in show biz while living a very non-show biz life.
In the end, “How Far I’ll Go” isn’t just about Moana’s journey; it’s about all of us who have ever dreamt of something more. So next time it comes up on your playlist, give it a little extra thought – because it’s not just a catchy tune, it’s a deeper exploration of our own hopes and dreams.