To the sound of a heartbeat pounding away
To the rhythm of the awful rusted machines
We toss and turn but don't sleep
Each breath we take makes us thieves
Like causes without rebels
Just talk but promise nothing else

We crawl on our knees for you
Under a sky no longer blue
We sweat all day long for you
But we sow seeds to see us through
The sometimes dreams just don't come true
We wait to reap what we are due

To the rhythm of a time bomb ticking away
And the blare of the sirens combing the streets
Chased down like dogs we run from
Your grasp until the sun comes up

We crawl on our knees for you
Under a sky no longer blue
We sweat all day long for you
But we sow seeds to see us through
The sometimes dreams just don't come true
Look now at what they've done to you

White needles buried in the red
The engine roars and then it gives
But never dies
'Cuz we don't live
We just survive
On the scraps that you throw away

I won't crawl on my knees for you
I won't believe the lies that hide the truth
I won't sweat one more drop for you
'Cuz we are the rust upon your gears
We are the insects in your ears
We crawl
We crawl
We crawl... all over you

We sow the seeds to see us through
Our days are precious and so few
We all reap what we are due
A judge's sky no longer blue
We bring the dawn all over new
We crawl
We crawl
We crawl... all over you


Lyrics submitted by Keikonium, edited by Dav13s


Re-Education (Through Labor) song meanings
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  • +6
    Song MeaningHuh. Many people seems to be in agreement that this song is about Chinese sweat shops. But just because the chorus has the word "sweat" in it does not mean that it's "definitely/obviously" about sweat shops.

    This song is not about China at all.

    The "Re-education through labor" program in China is part of the penal system, and is not related to sweat shops.

    The title is drawing an analogy between this system and the middle- and lower-classes of America, who feel forced to work for small salaries.

    According to the Wiki, "Frontman Tim McIlrath spoke to MTV News about this song: "It's talking a lot about the 9-to-5, dog-eat-dog lifestyle, and what we are asked to do to simply make ends meet nowadays, and I think it's a feeling shared by people all around the world and especially in this country."

    In other words, the speaker is saying that working at low-paying jobs in America is analogous to the "re-education through labor" system in China. We feel trapped, and often wait for things to change instead of effecting that change ourselves.

    Line-by line:

    To the sound of a heartbeat pounding away
    To the rhythm of the awful rusted machines
    [These two lines suggest the repetitive, un-ending nature of blue-collar work]
    We toss and turn but don't sleep
    Each breath we take makes us thieves
    [Not sleeping due to our guilt, knowing that by doing nothing (except breathing) we are stealing from the future, wasting resources and our lives]
    Like causes without rebels
    Just talk but promise nothing else
    [Reversal of the term "Rebel without a cause" suggests that we know what we believe, but refuse to act on it.]

    We crawl on our knees for you
    Under a sky no longer blue
    We sweat all day long for you
    ["Crawl/sweat" refers again to the idea of spending our lives working for someone else]
    ["Sky no longer blue" is the pollution of the air (and other resources) caused by modern life (see environmentally-themed text messages in the video]
    But we sow seeds to see us through
    ["But" indicates the one thing we are doing – teaching our children]
    'Cause sometimes dreams just don't come true
    [We don't believe we'll be able to change anything]
    We wait to reap what we are due
    [We hope our children will]

    To the rhythm of a time bomb ticking away
    [The "time bomb" is problems that are worsening (the video refers to dwindling global food/water supply, increasing populations, destruction of forests and species)
    And the blare of the sirens combing the streets
    ["sirens combing" is the increasing crime problem]
    Chased down like dogs we run from
    Your grasp until the sun comes up
    [Only being pursued at night suggests minor illegal activity, perhaps drug use]

    [Chorus repeats, but adds:]
    Look now at what they've done to you
    [Suggests that people have been taught to be complacent]

    White needle's buried in the red
    [The "white needle" is the speedometer needle on a vehicle dashboard. "Buried in the red" means driving as fast as possible. In other words, we're making everything worse as fast as possible.]
    The engine roars and then it gives
    But never dies
    [Usually when a car's engine "gives" or gives out, it is broken. In this case, the lyrics suggest an engine that is pushed to its limit, then loses all its power, but is still able to limp along. The analogy is that this is what we are doing to the world.]
    'Cause we don't live
    We just survive
    ["don't live/just survive" means that we don't live life to the fullest, we don't take control of our lives]
    On the scraps that you throw away
    ["on the scraps" refers to the upper-class getting the good stuff, and everyone else getting what's left over]

    [Chorus changes to:]
    I won't crawl on my knees for you
    [The speaker is willing to stand up for himself and what he believes]
    I won't believe the lies that hide the truth
    [The speaker will find out what's actually true, not just believe what he's told]
    I won't sweat one more drop for you
    [The speaker will start living for himself]
    'Cause we are the rust upon your gears
    ["Rust/gears" refers to speaking up about problems, like in the saying "the squeaky wheel gets the grease."
    We are the insect in your ears
    [To be "a bug in someone's ear" is to bother them until they do something about something]
    We crawl
    We crawl
    ["crawl" calls back to the earlier chorus where the speaker was subservient…]
    We crawl... all over you
    […But then reverses it to suggest a swarm of protesters attacking those in power]

    We sow the seeds to see us through
    Our days are precious and so few
    [Suggests an urgency to act]
    We all reap what we are due
    ["reap what we are due" has a nice double meaning – "Do nothing/get nothing," "Do something/get something"]
    Under this sky no longer blue
    [Even though things are bad…
    We bring the dawn long overdue
    […The speaker sees the possibility for making things better]
    We crawl
    We crawl
    We crawl... all over you
    [And the way to make things better is to swarm over the powerful. Write your senator, run for office, stage a protest, do something!]

    The "making-of" video of the video for the song also supports this translation.
    McIlrath states in the making-of video that "This video is about not coddling Americans" and about teaching people about reality.
    The video's director says that the idea of the bombs in the video is symbolic, and that it means to "eradicate all that you might object to in the world and starting from fresh"

    No China. It's about us (Americans).
    jrickclarkon January 19, 2011   Link
  • +1
    General CommentThis song is awesome, im so excited about the new album now =]
    GoodGirlGoneRadon August 20, 2008   Link
  • +1
    General CommentINTERPRETATION COMMENT
    firstly, these lyrics aren't right, better lyrics can be found here:

    elyrics.net/read/r/rise-against-lyrics/…-(Through-labor)-lyrics.html

    Obviously this song is political, well Rise Against is political...

    My guess is it's about the immorality of sweatshops and how no one is willing to do anything about it.

    The lines "Each breath we take makes us thieves
    Like causes without rebels
    Just talk but promise nothing else" show us this.
    "each breath" means every day we go on living and "thieves" shows how we do nothing to help those in the seatshops. Essentially every breath we take without caring is stealing from those who could have freedom.

    "Like causes without rebels" (who will stand up and fight?)
    "Just talk but promise nothing else" (politcians who allow this to continue)

    The chorus "We crawl on our knees for you
    Under a sky no longer blue
    We sweat all day long for you
    But we sow seeds to see us through
    The sometimes dreams just don't come true"
    is from the point of view of the laborer and their mistreatment.

    Also "White needles buried in the red
    The engine roars and then it gives
    But never dies
    Cause we don't live
    We just survive
    On the scraps that you throw away"
    These lines support what I said earlier about the laborer's point of view. But now the laborer is trying to appeal to our ethos; stating how they only "survive."

    Turning Point:
    "I won't crawl on my knees for you
    I won't believe the lies that hide the truth
    I won't sweat one more drop for you
    Cause we are the rust upon your gears
    We are the insects in your ears
    We crawl
    We crawl
    We crawl... all over you"
    I think this point of view is not so much the laborer as it is Rise Against saying 'fuck the government, I won't fall victim to you're ignorance.'
    Additionally it can be looked at from the point of view of the laborer finally rebelling; (ex "we are the insects in your ears.")

    I can't wait for the new album
    Guylan91on August 20, 2008   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI love that the name of the website is songMEANINGS and everyone just post how awesome the song is and not what it means.
    That being said, the song is about the labor camps in China where petty criminals are convicted by the police and not a court system. Most of which are there because of religious beliefs.
    nickmont1627on August 21, 2008   Link
  • +1
    General Comment100% correct, I study what he is talking about.

    This song is about the failure to produce communism by means of government, as seen in China (Maoism), Russian (Stalinism), etc.


    China's old (but still existent) punishment system is Reducation Through Labor, while they preach "communism".

    The Russian gulags where forced labor camps where criminals were sent to after they committed petty crimes.

    Rise Against, being anarchists (jumped the gun? not really), believe that communism is possible but governments (who are obviously unequal) cannot force equality.
    KenCaton December 08, 2008   Link
  • +1
    General Commentobviously you all are retarded…its about slavery and black people

    We crawl on our knees for you- ok so this is saying how no matter how hurt them slaves were they had to work
    Under a sky no longer blue
    We sweat all day long for you- they worked all day urryday in the southern heat
    But we sow seeds to see us through- cotton seeds nuff said
    The sometimes dreams just don't come true- they got caught while trying to escape
    We wait to reep what we are do

    To the rhythm of a time bomb ticking away
    And the blare of the sirens combing the streets- the cops sirens
    Chased down like dogs we run from- the dogs are chasing them and they are scared of them
    Your grasp until the sun comes up- they stay in jail overnight

    thats the main part about it, but bring on a fight about your wrong ways of thinking unless its about what i said it was about
    BOOM MONEY!!
    bmff212145on October 16, 2010   Link
  • 0
    General CommentPowerful good Song! Nice Lyrics!
    Chaosdaveon August 15, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General CommentMan, this is awesome! great single. I can't wait to hear the rest of the album!
    tjtech12on August 18, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General CommentReally love this new song, fucking amazing
    heavymetalloveron August 19, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General Commentfucking gold. absolutely one of the best rise against songs ever. i cant wait for the new album on october 7th, its going to be disgusting in the best sense of the word
    bradley906on August 19, 2008   Link

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