"Start a War" as written by and Matthew D. Berninger Aaron B. Dessner....
We expected something, something better than before
We expected something more

Do you really think you can just put it in a safe
Behind a painting, lock it up and leave?
Do you really think you can just put it in a safe
Behind a painting, lock it up and leave?
Walk away now and you're gonna start a war

Whatever went away, I?ll get it over now
I?ll get money, I?ll get funny again
Whatever went away, I?ll get it over now
I?ll get money, I?ll get funny again
Walk away now and you're gonna start a war

We expected something, something better than before
We expected something more

You were always weird but I never had to hold you
By the edges, like I do now
We were always weird but I never had to hold you
By the edges, like I do now
Walk away now and you're gonna start a war

Whatever went away, I?ll get it over now
I?ll get money, I?ll get funny again
Whatever went away, I?ll get it over now
I?ll get money, I?ll get funny again
Walk away now and you're gonna start a war
Walk away now and you're gonna start a war


Lyrics submitted by lampada, edited by atlmonkey, all-is-sun

"Start a War" as written by Matthew Donald Berninger Aaron Brooking Dessner

Lyrics © BMG RIGHTS MANAGEMENT US, LLC

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Start a War song meanings
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33 Comments

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  • +9
    General Commentthe line "walk away now, and you're gonna start a war" really resonates with me. For me it is about that point where two people are arguing or even just at the point where they shound be argueing but don't have the guts...anyway, it's that moment when one of them decides that it's too hard to talk and figure it out and it's easier to just 'walk away'. The other person has the guts to stand up for the relationship, wants to 'talk it through' but is frustrated that the other will not talk it out. Hence the line "walk away now" (ie if you give up and leave right now) "and you're gonna start a war" (and it's really gonna screw things up/piss me off/ruin things...)
    eccscapeon January 22, 2008   Link
  • +8
    General CommentGreat song. There's one thing I have to say. People keep talking about the line "Do you really think you can just put it in a safe behind a painting, lock it up and leave." I don't think it's something physical like a will or a wedding ring. I believe that's a reference to emotions. Locking up your emotions inside yourself, putting on a happy face like nothing's wrong. The painting is the mask you wear, how you show it on the outside. When you look at a painting, you don't assume there's something hidden behind it. It's telling the world that everything is great when everything is not great. Really, behind this painting, there's a safe with something hidden it (i.e., the emotional baggage that's weighing on your heart). Also the other oft-mentioned line has been pretty well explained--she was always a little weird but he didn't have to always be so careful with his words around her. I think the "war" is what this fight would become if they don't communicate their emotions. If either of them walks away, this will get much worse.
    jameslynnmilleron July 19, 2008   Link
  • +3
    General CommentDoesn't "walk away now and you're gonna start a war" imply that the speaker is ready to fight to keep the person with him? I would agree with the "goodbye song" theory if the lyrics were "walk away now, OR you're gonna start a war." But it's "and," so the war would be a result of her leaving. Just something I noticed.
    ozzmoticon August 03, 2007   Link
  • +3
    General Commentthis is so intense...and I'm living just the war stage of the song...so I completely relate myself to the song...Its a break up...and she is walking away...and we're going to hate and avoid each other for the rest of our lives now...and I'm trying so hard to get funny again!

    awesome song! just got into this band...and I'm in awe...so much intense songs!
    doideraoon February 07, 2011   Link
  • +2
    General Commentthis song has DIVORCE written all over it
    meg1414on June 25, 2007   Link
  • +2
    General Commentthis song was the opening for the movie "warrior" with tom hardy and nick nolte. perfectly fits the atmosphere and imagery of rundown pittsburgh.

    the author brett easton ellis said it made him choke up straight away, and he's right.
    borismulleron September 24, 2011   Link
  • +1
    General CommentSaw them open with this at Bonnaroo and after waiting for close to an hour for them to start it nearly destroyed me.
    jasono52on June 29, 2007   Link
  • +1
    Song MeaningTo me this song is about someone who has recently been put in a position that reqires alot of responsibility, and to make it tangible I'll say that it's a public office position. Before the person wanted the position becuase all he saw were the priveldges that came with the position, but not the actual reason the position was created. Now he realizes that he has to mature and deal with these problems because people are depending on him, but he's not sure he wants to. And then there's a disagreement between two parties over which he governs that he has to solve as part of his new responisbilites.

    'we expected something, something better than before, we expected something more' is refering to the people who elected him into this office who had hope for him. This shows its not the first time this has happened.

    'do you really think you can just put it in a safe behind a painting, lock it up and leave' is his idea for 'solving' the problem, doing nothing about it. He doesn't want to decide because he's worried someone will be upset at his decision.

    And sorry this was so long....

    'walk away now, and you're gunna start a war' is refering to what he really wants to do with the problem, just walk away and ignore it. Although if he doesn't choose sides everryone involved will be angry and chaos will follow.

    'you were always weird but I never had to hold you by the edges like I do now' is the people realizing who they really elected to be in this position.

    Wether the person in question ever matured and did what was right instead of what was popular is for the listener to decide. It's really a coming of age song.


    Please note that these are just my thoughts, and someone else could have a whole different perspective of the song. And I used the metaphor for a quicker way to explain, rather than a bunch on incoherent babble.
    todaynowon August 09, 2009   Link
  • +1
    General CommentActually I think this song is about a guy who is losing his girlfriend, he knows that she will leave at any giving minute and he is scared. Those are words of desperation, basically threatening her. He doesn't want it to end.

    They expected that their relationship would get better with time, at least better than before, but it didn't. But he still wants to make it work. "Do you really think you can just put it in a safe behind a painting, lock it up and leave?" always sounded like "Do you really think you can just put our relationship in the past, get over it and just carry on with your life?". He threatens start a war if she leaves and that's because he's scared of losing her.

    "Whatever went away I'll get it over again, I'll get money I'll get funny again". When you are young you never feel like you can really lose something. You always think that everything will be alright sometime. This is like denial, you don't accept that something can definitely go wrong, no fix.

    "You were always weird but I never had to hold you by the edges, like I do now". She always had that free spirit, some people like to have their own spaces in their relationships, but now it feels like she's really trying to leave. Now he needs to constantly hold her, because he knows that she'll go away sometime.

    Well, if she does, he's gonna start a war.
    lucasemgon June 02, 2014   Link
  • 0
    General Commentquietly intense. and the drumming is subtle and perfect.
    smartsimpletonon April 16, 2007   Link

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