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Belong. song meanings
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22 Comments

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  • +3
    My InterpretationI always took this song quite literally: The barricades against the zombie hordes aren't going to hold much longer and then she's going to get eaten.

    What can I say? Michael Stipe is an odd guy.
    Crane42on November 30, 2011   Link
  • +2
    General Commentmeaning? cryptic. again, REM's theme is very 'meta' - can't quite put 'it' into words. somehow though i disagree with the jumping out the window with the child comment. yogaboat, explain? we have these words: belong, freedom, calm, whisper. doesn't sound suicidal to me. more like a 'becoming one' theme. no?
    omega-alatiaon December 26, 2004   Link
  • +2
    My InterpretationHere's my read:

    The mother is one of the "creatures" and unlike the others she eluded captivity and has settled into a domestic life.

    The repetitive line "those creatures jumped the barricades and have headed for the sea, sea" is from the newspaper / radio, it echoes in her head and signals to her that the illusion is over... it's time for her people to return to their home. She anticipates the freedom and the end of the lie.

    Her comforts to the child and the collapse of her world are a moral conflict: she must leave the child behind and hopes that unlike her, the child can belong there.

    "Creatures" is seen from the point of view of the society she lives in - they could be anything from literal monsters (a la Lovecraft?) to a foreign people or subculture who are dehumanized (think of the Jews under Nazi Germany).
    barsinisteron March 19, 2009   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI've heard that this song is about a mother and her child, and the mother is crazy. She tells her child to "belong" in society, because she does not.

    That's just what I think. *shrug*
    ProudestMonkey1on February 24, 2005   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI love the vocals on this song, haha. I don't think it is about suicide either, and this is from the REM lyrics annotations FAQ:

    According to Stipe, the song is "not about defenestration"; that is, she is NOT about to jump out the window with her baby (apparent a common misinterpretation Stipe wanted to correct). [Ron Henry]
    bobwronskion May 27, 2005   Link
  • +1
    General Commentmaybe I'm just reading too far into it, but for me I always think of the Berlin Wall coming down. it was a Saturday (November 9, 1989), and the woman in the song reads the news on a Sunday.

    REM songs are never simple though, I'm sure it's a myriad of things that perhaps the band members don't even recall anymore, you know?

    anyhow. awesome fucking song.
    quartkneeon September 04, 2007   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI thought it was about revolution.

    "These barricades can only hold for so long"

    I always wondered if it referred to a single event. It reminds me of when the Berlin Wall came down.
    Gay Christmas Treeon April 20, 2008   Link
  • +1
    General CommentBelong almost sounds like it belongs in a comic book. Maybe the creatures are really just creatures, ect...
    iluvbigpapion May 16, 2008   Link
  • +1
    General CommentThe thing I like about this song is that it doesn't have a simply positive or negative take on its characters. It brings up 2 images - the creatures gaining their freedom and the mother telling her child to "belong." It sounds like the creatures are threatening to the mother because "her world collapsed" because of them.

    Taken out of context, I usually think of the command "to belong" as being negative; it's telling you to be a conformist. But, when it's in the context of a mother saying it to her child, it sounds comforting and hopeful. If I hear the word "freedom" in another context, it has positive connotations but when it's in the context of "those creatures," not even a human other, it sounds frightening.

    You can't tell whether the song is on the side of belonging or of freedom though. It sounds like the mother is on the brink of a totally new world that could be horrible or wonderful for her child.
    logeson February 15, 2009   Link
  • 0
    General CommentGreat song!
    Rosannon September 28, 2002   Link

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