In a Songfacts interview with Third Eye Blind lead singer Stephan Jenkins, he said this song is "about falling apart." It relates specifically to a drug-induced high that makes everything fleetingly better. Said Jenkins: "Perfection is the moment right before gravity comes back in."
This song describes a drug user's descent into crystal meth addiction. The line, "I want something else..." contains a reference to crystal meth in the song. Stephan Jenkins explained on the HBO show Reverb that they intentionally put a chipper melody to the dark lyrical content. Said Jenkins: "When I wrote 'Semi-Charmed Life,' the guitar riff was intended to have this sort of bright duh-nuhnuh-nunt, this shiny thing, because that was a feeling of speed. You know, it's sort of a bright, shiny drug. And we all were sort of into hip-hop, and so it has a hip-hop flow over it."
The line: "Doing crystal meth will lift you up until you break" was a little racy for some radio stations, who played an edited version with the words "Crystal Meth" distorted.
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