Behind the Meaning of “All The Small Things” by Blink-182

Videos by American Songwriter

Videos by American Songwriter

If what they say is true, that trends recycle every 20 years, then we’re due for the next resurgence of punk rock. And, the more that we think about it, the next punk rock era seems to be knocking on the door as we speak. (Come on in, punks.)

Further, one of the most popularly known punk rockers, Blink-182’s drummer Travis Barker, seems to be ushering in this new evolution of the genre into the 2020s. In just the past two years, Barker has signed viral personality Jxdn to his label DTA Records, helped produced albums for Machine Gun Kelly, played on the Willow Smith song, “Transparent Soul,” collaborated with blackbear, and also signed Avril Lavigne to DTA Records. At this rate, Barker will single-handedly account for the majority of the punk revival. (His Kardashian clout doesn’t hurt either.)

So, in honor of Barker’s lasting and ever-evolving legacy, let’s check out the tune that cemented his career with Blink-182—“All The Small Things.”

The meaning of song lyrics.

Believe it or not, “All The Small Things” by the Blink-182 punk rockers is a love song. Tom DeLonge is credited as the main songwriter on the track and has confirmed that he wrote it for his girlfriend at the time, Jennifer Jenkins. (DeLonge and Jenkins would marry in 2001 and then divorce in 2019.) In fact, DeLonge previously explained that the second verse was inspired by a romantic gesture from Jenkins. She had lovingly left roses on the stairs for DeLonge after he had been recording late into the night.

Late night, come home
Work sucks, I know
She left me roses by the stairs
Surprises let me know she cares
.

The Surprising Simplicity.

“All The Small Things” is arguably Blink-182’s most recognizable song in the band’s catalog, and it’s perhaps one of the most simple in terms of lyricism. Its simplicity, though, is two-fold. On one hand, the verses are brief, punchy even, in the way that a haiku can deliver a quick jab and cross. For instance, in the first verse, each line is only four or five syllables.

All the small things
True care, truth brings
I’ll take one lift
Your ride, best trip
Always, I know
You’ll be at my show
Watching, waiting
Commiserating
.

And on the other hand, the chorus of na-nas was a straightforward homage to one of DeLonge’s favorite bands the Ramones. “All The Small Things” was also written at the end of the songwriting process for Blink-182’s popular album, Enema of the State (1999), and DeLonge was looking to make the song catchy for radio. (Spoiler: It was a hit on the radio.)

The music video.

In addition to the song’s success—peaking at number six on the Billboard Hot 100—the music video for “All The Small Things” saw a surprising amount of success. The music video, directed by Marcos Siega—won the award for Best Group Video at the 2000 MTV Video Music Awards.

The music video itself is a parody of several other popular music videos from the late ’90s and early ’00s era. The video specifically mocks the Backstreet Boys’ “I Want It That Way” video, NSYNC music videos, Britney Spears’ “Sometimes,” and Christina Aguilera’s “Genie in a Bottle” video.

Check out the music video for “All The Small Things” below.

Photo by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic, Inc

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