In analyzing Left Hand Free by Alt-J, I depicted the song as being about a boy who has feelings for a girl who has a boyfriend. The speaker of the poem is Joe Newman, but to put things into perspective, the speaker would be the boy who desires the occupied girl. The boy does not think that the girl's boyfriend is adequate for her, and he views her as single (despite the fact that she is in a relationship) because she is not married to the boy; considering her left hand(her hand with her ring finger) is free. He points out that she has a boy in the third line of the fifth stanza singing, "Though your man's bigger than I am". Using diction the speaker also makes it clear that he does not take it to heart that she is "not" available by starting the line with the word "though".
The audience of the poem is the girl that the boy is singing to. He directs the song towards the girl in the same line that the singer acknowledges the girl having a boyfriend. The second and third line of the fifth stanza state, "Girl you're the one for me/ Though your man's bigger than I am". The you that the singer is speaking to is the girl which you can tell by the pronouns he uses in these two lines.
The occasion of the song is the conflict of liking somebody who is taken, but still fighting for your place in the person's heart due to your doubts in that person's choice of boyfriend/girlfriend. The poem reveals the boy's interest in the girl at several different points. In the third line of the first stanza the song reads, "And, flower, you're the chosen one". Here the speaker compares the girl to a flower and even states that he chooses her. In the first line of the second stanza the song says, "Well, your left hand's free" which let's us know that the speaker keeps in mind that, in his point of view, she is still single. This also motivates him by knowing that he still has a chance since she isn't married yet.
The first two lines of the eighth stanza are, "Well, your left hand's free/ Well, my left hand's free". In each chorus, prior to the end of the song, the lines that talk about one's left hands only reference the girl's, but at this point he states that he considers both of them single. Even though the speaker is confident in fighting for the girl and he doubts the girl's boyfriend, he also doubts himself for a moment in the third line of the fifth stanza by comparing the size of her boyfriend to himself. In researching what the song's message is getting across, Joe Newman had shared at an interview in Salt Lake that through the song he illustrates a 40's speakeasy and a bar fight between two boys over a "dame". After acknowledging this, the third through the fifth lines of the fourth stanza stating "With another left hand/ Watch his right hand slip/ Towards his gun, oh, no" begins to make more sense as well as the first and second line of the third stanza when the song says, "I tackle weed just so the moon buggers nibble/ A right hand grip on his Colt single-action army, oh no". These lines support the illustration of the duel between the two men creatively.
Listen to the full song by clicking on the link below: