"Black Wave/Bad Vibrations" as written by Win Butler, Regine Chassagne, Tim Kingsbury, Richard R Parry, William Butler and Jeremy Gara....
We can reach the sea
They won't follow me, shadows, they fear the sun
We'll make it if we run!
Run from the memory
Je nage, mais les sons me suivent

Left my name with the border guards
A name that I don't need
Ce sera un long voyage
Sur les vagues de l'oubli

Run from the memory
Je nage, mais les sons me suivent

Stop now before it's too late
Bean eating in the ghetto on a hundred dollar plate
Nothing lasts forever
That's the way it's gotta be
There's a great black wave in the middle of the sea for me

Stop now before it's too late
Bean eating in the ghetto on a hundred dollar plate
Nothing lasts forever
That's the way it's gotta be
There's a great black wave in the middle of the sea for me

For you
For me
It's always for you

Stop now before it's too late
Bean eating in the ghetto on a hundred dollar plate
Nothing lasts forever
That's the way it's gotta be
There's a great black wave in the middle of the sea for me

Stop now before it's too late
Your lover was for hire
Have you noticed he's been late?
Nothing lasts forever
That's the way it's gotta be
There's a great black wave in the middle of the sea for me

For you
For me
It's always for you
The sound is not asleep, it's moving under my feet
The sound is not asleep, it's moving under my feet
The sound is not asleep, it's moving under my feet
The sound is not asleep, it's moving under my feet


Lyrics submitted by afimrtl, edited by deadboyspoem, Fortunatus

"Black Wave/Bad Vibrations" as written by Regine Chassagne Jeremy Gara

Lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

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Black Wave/Bad Vibrations song meanings
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39 Comments

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  • +4
    General CommentThis might be a bit too literal, but i think Regine's part is about someone running away from her origin, say Haiti, into some supposedly more advanced country, say U.S. or Canada, because "the sound (wave of dictatorship)" drives them to it. Then Win's part is someone who grew up in the supposed dreamland, eating off expensive dinnerware but no life, no culture, no conversation (sort of reading from neighborhood series or woodland national anthem), telling not to come too deep into it, and saying they are both in limbo and everything is doomed anyway.... wow totally dark. But that's my interpretation.
    so bad vibrations is Regine's scar and black wave is Win's.
    notokyo99on May 18, 2007   Link
  • +2
    General CommentQuick French translation for anyone wondering...
    Je nage, mais les sons me suivent = I swim, but the sounds follow me
    Ce sera un long voyage = This will be a long voyage
    Sur les vagues de l'oubli = On the waves of oblivion

    "Oubli" can also mean "forgetting," but I think "oblivion" fits in well with the song.

    As for the actual song, it seems to be (on a literal level) about someone fleeing the political and social instability of Haiti, taking their chances on the open sea. I think it could also be about moving away from anything that is painful or hard to forget.
    benjam326on February 07, 2007   Link
  • +2
    General CommentWin Butler had this to say:

    "When we went to Brazil for the first time, we were staying in Sao Paulo and driving through these slums, miles and miles of shanty towns, and then pulling up to the Hyatt Regency where we were staying, which was a big compound with barbed wire and a guard and stuff. Not being able to go outside because they tell you that they'll kill you to steal your wallett-it was a very strange experience. That was the beginning of the idea for "Black Wave.""

    I still don't understand the song completely, but I think the context of "been eating in the ghetto on a hundred dollar plate" is a little more clear.
    elcapitanlocoon April 19, 2007   Link
  • +1
    General CommentActually, I think "the waves of (something to do with forgetting) fits in better than "oblivion." Oblivion is a tad.. cheesy?
    Sashaboyon February 24, 2007   Link
  • +1
    General Commentmy interpretation: something, or someone, has made this person want to leave everything, and change his or her name-- basically leaving their life behind. They run to the shore, and swim in the ocean (but the sounds follow him) aka they can never escape the memories and their past. I have no idea what the black wave represents... death, or a new life possibly. or maybe it doesn't represent anything. booya.
    brokenspoonson February 28, 2007   Link
  • +1
    General Commenti think the first part of the song is about the escape of the vocalist from haiti. the song "haiti" on "funeral" is about the same topic. furthermore on another page is saw the lyrics differently. there the choir in the refrain sang "run run from the memory" and "run run from the bottom of haiti". the second part of the song could be about the better and more luxurious life in the usa or in europe, but i'm not sure. sorry for bad english, I'm german ;) .....
    LukeVon March 20, 2007   Link
  • +1
    General Commenti think the first part of the song is about the escape of the vocalist from haiti. the song "haiti" on "funeral" is about the same topic. furthermore on another page is saw the lyrics differently. there the choir in the refrain sang "run run from the memory" and "run run from the bottom of haiti". the second part of the song could be about the better and more luxurious life in the usa or in europe, but i'm not sure. sorry for bad english, I'm german ;) .....
    LukeVon March 20, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General CommentUgh. Awful. Here:

    We can reach the sea
    They won't follow me
    The shadows they fear the sun
    We'll make it if we run!

    Run from the memory
    Je nage, mais les sons me suivent (I swim, but the sound follows me)

    Left my name with the border guards
    A name I don’t need
    Ce sera un long voyage (This will be a long voyage)
    Sur les vagues de l'oubli (On the waves of oblivion)

    Run from the memory
    Je nage, mais les sons me suivent (I swim, but the sounds follow me)

    Stop now before it's too late
    Been eating in the ghetto on a hundred dollar plate
    Nothing lasts forever that's the way it’s gotta be
    There's a great black wave in the middle of the sea (for me)

    Stop now before it's too late
    Been eating in the ghetto on a hundred dollar plate
    Nothing lasts forever that's the way it’s gotta be
    There's a great black wave in the middle of the sea

    For me
    For you
    For me
    It's always for you

    Stop now before it's too late
    Been eating in the ghetto on a hundred dollar plate
    Nothing lasts forever that's the way its gonna be
    There's a great black wave in the middle of the sea (for me)

    Stop now before it's too late
    Your lover was for hire, have you noticed he's been late?
    Nothing lasts forever that's the way it’s gotta be
    There's a great black wave in the middle of the sea

    For me
    For you
    For me
    It's always for you

    The sound is not asleep
    It's moving under my feet
    Sashaboyon February 20, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General Commenthalfway through when win butler's part comes in, the music becomes so driving, the guitar literally pounding in like waves, which along with the lyrics makes this song sounds so fatalistic
    henpeckingon March 04, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General CommentStop now before it's too late
    Been eating in the ghetto on a hundred dollar plate
    Nothing lasts forever, that's the way its going to be
    There's a great black wave in the middle of the sea


    I have many different opinions about this portion of the song, but overall it feels like a statement of growing up. Arcade Fire is from Montreal and the "ghetto" is actually a portion of Montreal called the McGill Ghetto, basically their campustown. Thus, it seems like Win is leaving the college life and trying out the real world.

    The line about the ghetto just hit me the most. Man Monteal is an amazing city.
    wrineha2on March 08, 2007   Link

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