In late 2019, Billie Eilish unveiled “everything i wanted,” her tribute to her brother Finneas. The tune features sweet lyrics in the chorus, “As long as I’m here / No one can hurt you,” but in a New York Times profile, the teen superstar admits that the song wasn’t always so reassuring.
Eilish got inspiration for the song a year prior, when she had a dream about taking her own life. When she took the idea to her brother, he became uncomfortable with the worrying topic. “We had this big argument,” she told the publication, “Because I admitted something that I was, uh. It wasn’t a physical thing I was admitting. I don’t know how to put it without actually saying it, and I don’t want to actually say it. But it was me admitting to something that was very serious about my depression. A very serious step that I was admitting that I was planning on taking. And Finneas said, I don’t want to write a song about you killing yourself and how that’s everything you wanted!”
Finneas, who was also present during the interview, gave his perspective on the troubling situation. “It was a period where I was really worried about my sister, and I felt like an enabler in helping her write a song as bleak as that song was,” he said. “Like the musical equivalent of giving an alcoholic another beer: ‘I’m not going to support this.’ A lot of songs are written in retrospect, but this one felt like it was being written in real time, and I was like: ‘This is something we’ve got to write on the other side of this hill. We have to go through this in real life. You can’t always solve your problems in a song.’”
The article also touched on Eilish’s longtime depression, which sparked when she ruptured the growth plate in her hip and was forced to quit dancing, an activity she wholeheartedly enjoyed. When she achieved fame, she felt a bit ill-equipped to deal with the negative sides of it. “I had to quit the choir, and I lost all my friends, then I didn’t want to do drugs, and I lost all my other friends because they did,” she explained. “Then I had kind of no one.”
When the sibling duo revisited “everything i wanted” a year later, Eilish approached it with a different perspective. “My argument, which I think was the thing that made my mom and Finneas finally go, ‘Oh, OK,’ is I said: ‘This song is the way I can feel these things without doing something to myself.'”
“Finneas and I both had the idea to make the song about each other, instead of just me and how I was feeling,” she continued, which is made evident in the song, where lyrics like “Thought I could fly / So I stepped off the Golden” are met with countered camaraderie such as, “But when I wake up, I see / You with me.”
“We had a complete block,” she said. “and the way we got through it was to make it about us as siblings and what we mean to each other.”
Read the full piece here, and listen to “everything i wanted” below.