"We Will Overcome" as written by and Geoffrey/keeley Rickly....
We walk alone until the end of night.
It's suicide, but we will overcome.

Another life is swinging in the breeze.
These southern trees have the strangest fruit.

If you follow the path that's straight and narrow,
Go hand in hand because our roads are paved with broken arrows
But we will overcome.

Our fathers plant arms in foreign soil.
Our brothers die and no one knows
Where it ends (it ends between the cross hairs)
All lies weave a thousand deaths around us.

We will overcome if no one sleeps tonight.

We've been waiting to receive the promised land.
We can wait no more, we must stand and make the promised land.


Lyrics submitted by faileddesign

"We Will Overcome" as written by Geoffrey Rickly Andrew Everding

Lyrics © EMI Music Publishing

Lyrics powered by LyricFind

We Will Overcome song meanings
Add your thoughts

29 Comments

sort form View by:
  • +1
    General CommentAt Knife2aGunFight's request, I bring you the real lyrics!

    "we walk alone until the end of night.
    it's suicide but we will overcome

    another life is swinging in the breeze
    these southern trees have the strangest fruit.

    if you follow the path that's straight and narrow, go hand in hand because our roads are paved with broken
    arrows but we will overcome

    our fathers plant arms in foreign soil
    our brothers die and no one knows
    where it ends (it ends between the crosshairs) all lies weave a thousand deaths around us.

    we will overcome if no one sleeps tonight

    we've been waiting to receive the promised land.
    we can wait no more, we must stand make the promised land."
    prayingmantis84on May 05, 2006   Link
  • +1
    General CommentThis song isnt about your everyday troubles or anything.

    This song is about the slaves and lynching. It bears lyrics from the song "strange Fruit" as in, "these southern tree's bear strange frtuits." It is a very powerful song about the hanging and injustice that has happened to many people. You can tell it is about hangings from the part

    "Another life swinging in the breeze"
    Anyways, i just realized this and figured i'd post it up.
    Angelwingon May 23, 2006   Link
  • +1
    General Commentoh and i suppose

    "We will run for years,
    We waited too long to see the promised land,
    We can win the war,
    We were standing in the promised land."

    refers to maybe african-americans believing in the injustice that was being done upon them because they were "standing in the promised land" (america is supposed to be free and everyone is equal)....correct me if im wrong though
    5withabulleton May 27, 2006   Link
  • +1
    General Commentno im pretty sure this song is about being gay
    "Follow the path of the straight and narrow"
    a sarcastic line showing the pressure to be straight
    "Our roads are paved with broken arrows"
    broken arrows could me not straight which would mean being gay
    it shows how the gay community will overcome its troubles but thats just me
    artificial_friendon May 28, 2006   Link
  • +1
    General Commentif this song is a lovesong to our nation, i think you can view it a number of ways. on one hand it could be about the notion of 'manifest destiny' and how america feels that it is our duty to fix the world alone no matter the cost. also it could be about how america is suppossed to be great and the promised land but geoff doesn't see it that way because everything we have has been built on blood and oppression and hate. well maybe not everything but still... so yeah you could see it on the level of gays and blacks but i think it is more broad than that and those aspects just compose the greater whole. it is time to live for the ideals america professes and create the promise land, a brotherhood of man (john lennon comes out in me sometimes)
    Pope1342on June 20, 2006   Link
  • +1
    General Comment"another life swinging in the breeze,
    these southern trees and the strangest fruit"

    Strange Fruit was a song written by Abel Meeropol and made famous when sung by Billie Holiday for the first time in 1939. It decried the lynchings taking place in the south at the time. Below are the lyrics:

    Southern trees bear a strange fruit,
    Blood on the leaves and blood at the root,
    Black body swinging in the southern breeze,
    Strange fruit hanging from the poplar trees.

    Pastoral scene of the gallant South,
    The bulging eyes and twisted mouth,
    Scent of magnolia sweet and fresh,
    And the sudden smell of burning flesh!

    Here is a fruit for the crows to pluck,
    For the rain to gather, for the wind to suck,
    For the sun to rot, for the tree to drop,
    Here is a strange and bitter crop.


    Later in time, in the year 1977 Marc Huestis, a homosexual theatre and film producer created "Strange Fruit" a hybrid of a show, giving it's audience both film and poetry performed at San Francisco's Gay Community Center. The show revised the lyrics of the original song to attack the oppression of "strange fruits," which is to say nonconformists and outcasts within the homosexual community, particularly more effeminate men and drag queens.

    The revision:

    (Here is a fruit for the world to see
    For no one to pick, running wild and free
    For no one to tame, for no one to stop
    Here is a strange and bitter crop)

    The revision met with a mixed reaction. To some homosexual men, Billie Holiday was the hero whose pain they could identify with. That the song referred to "fruit", a slang term the homosexual community wished to reclaim from homophobes, only made it more apt.
    marquiceriseon July 15, 2006   Link
  • +1
    General Comment"It's about how much of America's history is based in violence, and it's also about the current war going on, and the situation the country's in. It's also based on folk music and Pete Seeger's 'We Shall Overcome.'It's about standing up and saying something and not to despair the state of our country, but to stick together with the people you love and have hope."-Geoff
    laurelinwyntreon September 28, 2007   Link
  • +1
    My InterpretationWell, when I first heard the song I got the meaning of the "these Southern trees have the strangest fruit"; and the "we will overcome" and the "promised land" references definitely evoke the civil rights movements and Jim Crow and lynchings and all the other horors associated with it.

    I don't think it is just about civil rights or black injustice though, the meaning is broader than that. Especially when you hear the next verse. I tend to think the whole "our fathers plant arms in foreign soil" line refers to the fact that in the 80s we funded and armed the Taliban to fight the Russians, but once the Russians were out, we basically just left the country in tatters and didn't do anything to help them, which led to a lot of bitterness and distrust towards Americans, which the Taliban and groups like Al Qaida were able to use to take power and oppress the citizenry. Then of course, after 9/11, we went to war in Afghanistan, and "our brothers died" and "no ones knows where it ends" because the war on terror is so large in scope and every time we invade a country and take out militants we end up taking out civilians too, and then their families are angry about it and end up joining groups like Al Qaida and it just snowballs out of control. And if our father's hadn't "planted arms in forgeign soil" by Arming the Taliban, (or even better, if we'd actually helped then rebuild their country a little instead of just ip and leaving when our interests were serve dby the Russians leaving) who knows how different History might have been? So it's kind of about the fact that the younger generation is now paying in blood for the mistakes of "our fathers".


    I didn't think about it maybe being an allusion to being gay, but I like that interpretation and think it fits. Thinking out it deeper, the "our roads are paved with broken arrows" could likely be a reference to the fact that our country was built through genocide of native Americans.

    The Uganda reference fits too, considering it often is suicide for people to just try to live their lives there; going out to find food or firewood can often get you killed, raped, or kidnapped by the militias to serve either as a soldier or a sex slave depending on your gender.

    I think the song is meant to encompass all of these ideas, and more, because really it is about the struggles we have as a nation with our history, our present, and our future. Truly an inspired piece of music.
    Lady of Gaerdonon August 11, 2009   Link
  • 0
    General CommentPlease do us a favor, and don't trascript lyrics without the book to aid you anymore, although this is probably the best job you've done so far. First of all "OUR ROADS ARE PAVED with broken arrows" and alot of other stuff
    Knife2aGunFighton April 23, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThese lyrics are almost all wrong, it should be:
    --------------------------------------------------------
    We walk away till the end of night,
    It's suicide, but we will overcome!
    Another life swinging in the breeze,
    The southern trees and the strangest root/route

    Follow the path of the straight and narrow,
    Hand in hand,
    Our roads are paved with broken arrows,
    We will overcome
    We will overcome

    Our father's plan, arms in foreign soil,
    Our brothers die and no one knows where it ends,
    (------ between the crosshairs)
    Our lives weave a thousand deaths around us!

    Follow the path of the straight and narrow,
    Hand in hand,
    Our roads are paved with broken arrows,
    We will overcome
    We will overcome

    Follow the path of the straight and narrow,
    Hand in hand,
    Our roads are paved with broken arrows,
    We will overcome
    We will overcome
    We will overcome if no one sleeps tonight

    We will overcome
    We will overcome
    We will overcome if no one sleeps tonight

    We will run for years,
    We waited too long to see the promised land,
    We can win the war,
    We were standing in the promised land.

    We will overcome
    Overcome
    Eddy67on April 23, 2006   Link

Add your thoughts

Log in now to tell us what you think this song means.

Don’t have an account? Create an account with SongMeanings to post comments, submit lyrics, and more. It’s super easy, we promise!

Back to top
explain