Touch

Daft Punk’s Grammy winning album Random Access Memories is the duo’s seventh and final album and features the song Touch featuring Paul Williams. The song was used in a video announcing the duo’s split in 2021, and has since become associated with the end of Daft Punk. This is fitting as the song’s lyrics and themes have to do with memories and the loss of better times. Similar to their previous songs such as Human After All, Touch is a song about a robot capable of feeling human emotions. This robot, who’s experience is displayed via the lyrics sung by Paul Williams, illustrate a deep sense of longing the robot feels for these emotions. The lyrics begin with the robot saying:

Touch, I remember touch.

Pictures came with touch.

A painter in my mind,

Tell me what you see.

This opening establishes the robot’s memories of the feelings of touch that he’s felt. Lines like “a painter in my mind” establishes their disconnect from the feeling. Instead of being their own experiences, they are pictures created by another person in their mind. The song continues with the lines:

A tourist in a dream,

A visitor it seems.

A half forgotten song,

Where do I belong?

The robot has been disconnected from his own feelings so long that he feels like “a tourist” or a “visitor” as he remembers his own feelings. Because of how disconnected they are, they are disoriented, confused, and have no true understanding of who they are, asking themself, “Where do I belong?”. They further question their own identity as they say:

Tell me what you see,

I need something more.

Kiss, suddenly alive.

Happiness arrive.

Hunger like a storm,

How do I begin?

As the robot begins to question their own experiences and further explore their memories of touch, the music becomes more upbeat as the robot feels “suddenly alive” as they re-experience their past feelings. They feel an intense “hunger” for more feelings, asking themself, “How do I begin?”. As they further explore their memories, the robot says,

Touch where do you lead?

I need something more.

Tell me what you see,

I need something more.

The robot wants to find out where these feelings will lead them, and as they further explore their own memories, they repeat “I need something more”. With this, the music kicks into an upbeat composition as the robot experiences the joy of feeling these newfound emotions and memories. Then, as quickly as it sped up, the music slows down. The music builds into a bridge that slowly gets happier and happier as the following phrase is repeated by first Daft Punk’s robotic vocals and then a choir:

Hold on, if love is the answer you’re home.

Hold on, if love is the answer you’re home.

The robot, having found a greater understanding of themselves, finally feels like they are home. They now understand what it is they’ve been searching for, and the uplifting music displays this. Eventually, as the chorus reaches its highest point, the vocals and music are abruptly cut off, leaving a few seconds of silence. This silence is interrupted by the robot’s returning vocals, stating:

Touch. Sweet touch,

You’ve given me too much to feel.

Sweet touch,

You’ve almost convinced me I’m real.

For whatever reason, the robot has now been cut off from their feelings of touch. They have been left once again without their feelings of touch, but now with the memories of what once was, and the sadness as they wish to return to those times. This brief understanding of their feelings has left a hole in the robot, who says “You’ve given me too much to feel”. The robot is so apathetic now that they no longer believe themselves to be worthy of human feelings anymore, saying, “You’ve almost convinced me I’m real”. Now knowing what feelings and emotions feel like but left without any way to experience them any more, the robot only says:

I need something more,

I need something more.

Ending with a low piano note on the final “more”, the song leaves with a feeling of longing and sadness, replicating the longing the robot feels for the emotions and feelings humans go through, and their despair as they realize they are unable to. This song has recently become associated with Daft Punk’s split, which is fitting considering it’s themes. As time advances, we will be left with only memories of past experiences and feelings, and we will only be able to wish for more time, for something more.

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