"Peace Beneath the City" as written by and Samuel Ervin Beam....
Here's a prayer for the body buried by the interstate
Murder of a soldier, a tree in a forest up in flames
Black valley, peace beneath the city
Where the women hear the washboard rhythm in their bosom when they say,
"Give me good legs and a Japanese car and show me a road?

Sing a song for the bodies buried by the riverbank
A well-dressed boy and a pig with a bullet in the brain
Black valley, peace beneath the city
Where the white girls wander the strip mall, singing all day,
?Give me a juggernaut heart and a Japanese car and someone to free"

Sing a song for the body buried like a keepsake
Mother of million mouths with the very same name
Black valley, peace beneath the city
Where the women tell the weather but never ever tell you what they pray
They pray, "Give me a yellow brick road and a Japanese car and benevolent change"


Lyrics submitted by Mellow_Harsher

"Peace Beneath the City" as written by Samuel Ervin Beam

Lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc.

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Peace Beneath the City song meanings
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  • +1
    General CommentThis is kind of wierd and doesn't make nearly as much sense as all yours, but its what worked for me for ages. I think it's like a sketch of life. I don't think the peace beneath the city is death necessarily. I think this song is meant to explore how incomprehensible every human is, and that everything is layered with humanity. Nothing is what you expect: you would thik the solider would die, not the mother; the policeman shoots but he is shot. No matter how black the valley is, how chaotic everything seems, and how disgusting life is on the surface, underneath it all there is peace. Underneath all the materialism and crap which we leave with, their are shreds of benevolence. Like every person has some positive characteristic, no matter how far gone they seem to be. I think it's just saying that we're all so lost but we have to, i don't know.. seek out the peace that is hidden. Then again maybe I'm too life affirming and it's just existential. This is whats so great about Sam Beam's work, I get hope for humanity from this, that we can get back to the times of peace and love, but someone else could see it as a reflection of an entirely ruined and crumbling world.
    millie4on August 01, 2009   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThis is one catchy song. I love it. Too new, though, for me to form an opinion on what it "means."
    GimmeAJeepon September 27, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General CommentDamn, sounds like a cutting reference toward our supposedly free society. We are shackled by consumerism, shackled by materialism, shackled by forces that dredge up unwanted fears and illnesses that can only be described as self-inflicted.

    If I am wrong, then I am. For what this song is, it masterfully accomplishes what it set out to do. The catharsis has been ejected.
    OpinionHeadon October 01, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General Commentha, so i got most of the song's lyrics right by ear, except the benevolent change line....always thought Sam was saying "and the devil in chains", which i took to signify a superior position, sort of a holier-than-thou authority, albeit with good reason (presented by the devil in chains)

    oh well. back the drawing board on that one.
    manikayon October 14, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General Commentno, no, i thought devil in chains too, and that's still what i hear. i think the lyrics here may be wrong.
    coolcroweon October 26, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General Commentnaah, i just checked the sleeve. the official lyrics ARE benevolent change. makes sense, but it's still a twist to what I (and i'm assuming you) thought of the lyrics themselves...
    manikayon October 31, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI think he's trying to draw an implied contrast between the peace beneath the city (i.e., six feet underground) and the strife within the city (where "city" may or may not mean an actual city).

    Notice also how the women in this song are all sort of secretive or private, always acting or outwardly displaying stereotypically shallow, "womanly" attitudes but secretly containing these noble, thoughtful hopes. I think this is supposed to reflect their inability to help or protect or at least talk some sense into the men around them. They know that something's wrong, hence the plaintative "give me"s, but they also know they don't have the power to fix it.

    (someone help me with this next part, it doesn't seem right yet) I think the Japanese cars are supposed to reflect a disillusionment with American ways of thinking - cars in particular have a strong American history, but recently everyone else has passed the U.S. up, so I think "give me a Japanese car" is another way of saying "give me something American that doesn't come from the same mental processes that make the death of my sons/brothers/husbands the only way for them to find peace."
    larrynivenon November 05, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General CommentWhat is peace?

    My favorite is the "juggernaut heart" and "someone to save" of the white girls. Visions / illusions of peace?

    Could "black valley" be the valley of death? The only peace is in death? The lucky ones are are the ones that have gone on, while the ones left alive have to suffer life without them.
    bazookajoe27on November 28, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI think it's abou t modern "society" and how people all have their dark and selfish ambitions......mother of a soldier, tree in a forest up in flames(refering as the tree to be the soldier in the forest up in flames (Irak), all the while people mind their lives without a care or worry).... juggernu heart i visualize to be a heart of stone, meaning no emotions: love depressions mercy and pitty... japanse car..well I dont know what to say about this but definately it brings to mind how the US looks elswhere for Its well- being
    manuelturcioson March 08, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI think it's very simple.

    There are three verses all starting out with two line about something we, as a society, should be concerned about. (specifics are used I think to provide a "close to home" feel, though it should be reckoned as a general specific)
    The first has to do with mother who died in a car wreck.
    The second is a boy(s) that was murdered and buried by a river bed.
    The third is either about hunger or war and how people are dying by the millions.

    Then in each verse adds this line:
    "Black valley, peace beneath the city"
    I do believe black valley means death, and I think he is talking about the people buried beneath the city are at peace or he is speaking to the people buried beneath the city as a prayer that they are at peace.

    Lastly there are two lines to close the verse.
    In each one there are three women* stereotypes he's pulling out here.
    First, you have a women that cares about nothing but sex and looking good and going about her business.
    Second, you have a teenage/college girl wandering the mall to buy whatever she wants so she look good, but her words are all about world prosperity.
    Lastly, you have a (presumably) Christian mother who prays for nothing but her own (maybe her family's as well) road to travel and a nice safe world to live in.

    Interestingly enough, each of the women mention a Japanese car. This could me several things...But my take would be that they all care about the greenhouse effect and want a small safe care that gets good gas mileage. But that's just me.

    *I don't know why exactly he picks on women here. I don't think it's because he's anti-women or a chauvinist pig. My take would be him thinking that these stereotypes of women could have such a strong affect on the world if they would stop being so short sighted or self-centered. But again, that's just me.
    goodeyesniperon August 08, 2008   Link

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