"Become You" as written by and Amy Elizabeth Ray....
I heard you sing a rebel song
Sung it loud and all alone
We can't afford the things you save
We can't afford the warranty

Well I see you walking in the glare
Down the county road we share
Our southern blood my heresy
Damn that ol' confederacy

It took a, long time to
Become the thing, I am to you
And you won't, tear it apart
Without a fight, without a heart

I'm sorry for what you've learned
When you feel the tables turn
To run so hard in your race
Now you found who set the pace

The landed aristocracy
Exploiting all your enmity
All your daddies fought in vain
Leave you with the mark of Cain

It took a, long time to
Become the thing, I am to you
And you won't, tear it apart
Without a fight, without a heart

It took a, long time to
Become you, become you

The center holds so they say
(It never held too well for me)
It never held too well for me
(The center holds so they say)
I won't stop short for common ground
(That vilifies the trodden down)
That vilifies the trodden down
(I won't stop)

The center held the bonded slave
For the sake of industry
The center held the bloody hand
Of the executioner man

It took a, long time to
Become the thing, I am to you
And you won't, tear it apart
Without a fight, without a heart

It took a
Long time to
Become you
Become you

It took a
Long time to
Become you
Become you


Lyrics submitted by nightkite13

"Become You" as written by Amy Elizabeth Ray

Lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

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Become You song meanings
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  • +1
    General Comment"I heard you sing a rebel song
    Sung it loud and all alone
    We can't afford the things you say
    We can't afford the warranty

    Well I see you walking in the glare
    Down the county road we share
    Our southern blood my heresy
    Damn that old confederacy"

    // This part of the song seems to take place in the present day, with the singer speaking to someone whom she has encountered promoting the Civil War. (It suggests that the person was singing "a rebel song" but this understanding could obviously be expanded to include the display of the Confederate flag or any numer of other gestures of sympathy. The singer upbraids the person for celebrating a shameful past which she herself shares ("our heresy"). She feels that society can't afford to have the divisions that making such distinctions would cause. //

    "It took a
    Long time to
    Become the thing
    I am to you
    And you won't
    Tear it apart
    Without a fight
    Without a heart"

    // This almost sounds as if it is the voice of the nation speaking both in the present and the past to those who feel similarly to the person described above. Essentially, the argument is that the nation has taken pains to get to where it is today and it won't allow itself to be torn apart -- either in the past, by Civil War or in the present by racial conflicts -- because that would defeat everything that history has been leading to. //

    "I'm sorry for what you've learned
    When you feel the tables turned
    To run so hard in your race
    Now you found who set the pace

    The landed aristocracy
    Exploiting all your enmity
    All your Daddies fought in vain
    Leave you with the mark of Cain"

    // This is a reference to the Civil War itself and the nature of how it was fought. The singer argues the view that it was the wealthy plantation owners who got the poor citizens to fight their war for them, and that it was these poor soldiers who both bore the brunt of the violence and also took the shame of the affair once it was over ("the mark of Cain"). She acknowledges that they did desire to fight the war, but that this desire was cultivated by those in power ("exploiting all your enmity"). //

    "[chorus]

    It took a
    Long time to
    Become you
    Become you"

    // This slight change in the ending of the chorus signals that, although they have been separated out for the purposes of the song, everyone who is a part of the American nation also makes up that nation. The singer acknowledges that it has taken a long time for the nation to become what it is -- to, in a sense, *become* the person being described. //

    "The center holds so they say
    It never held too well for me
    I won't stop short of common ground
    That vilifies the trodden down
    I won't stop.

    The center held the bonded slave
    For the sake of industry
    The center held the bloody hand
    Of the execution man."

    // The singer implicates not only those who physically fought in the Civil War, but also the nation's insatiable desire for labor which brought slavery to its peak and caused "the execution man" to bring war to the United States.

    Essentially this is a song of contrition for the Civil War, and the continued passion which many Southerners feel for it, despite the often necessarily racist overtones of such situations. However, it also seeks to find a broader base for why slavery arose at all and spreads the blame not to a geographically unique group of people, or even the descendents of those who fought on the "wrong" side of the Civil War, but instead on those who place the desire for profit above the value of human life and dignity. //
    MatCon February 09, 2006   Link
  • +1
    General Commentamy ray quote from 06/23/2002: activism is no act for indigo girls, the dayton daily news:

    the song that gives the album its name reflects the georgia-born ray's struggle to come to terms with her southern heritage and its racist identity. "i tried to personalize these ideas, to portray differences with my neighbors in my own rural area," she said when the album first came out. "a one-to-one relationship is a microcosm of these bigger social relations. to me, it's all about how you come to understand another person, how you can respect their humanity even when you think their position is deplorable."
    purdyfloweron June 01, 2007   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI love the Indigo Girls but I hate this song. Why does she have to cling to the idea that Southern people have to constantly flagellate ourselves for our heritage. I am a modern gay redneck who displays both a Rainbow flag and a Southern Cross and if Amy Ray don't like it she can kiss my country ass.
    amymonkeyon October 06, 2007   Link

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