"Roosevelt Room" as written by and Conor Oberst....
Hey there, son of Adam
Hey there, daughter of Eve
Help me sing this tear gas riot song
For some fresh-faced police
They won't even know what hit them
When they lift their Roman shades
And the people's sun comes pouring in
On a brand new day

You who dammed the river
You changed our mountain's name
First we want Denali back
Then we're taking over Washington state
You get death as a consolation
You know only hate and rage
You paid a dowry for your child bride
And now she's living like a slave

A prayer came down the wire
It was all in the enemy's code
You couldn't figure out what mercy meant
So you did like you were told
When they finally sent the doctors
Once the fireball went out
There was nothing left but the cockroaches
And a movie with no sound

What good, what good are you
With your Cherokee trail and your Roosevelt Room?
What good, what good are you
With your Seneca plague and your Arlington tomb?

Go ask Hunter Thompson
Go ask Hemingway's ghost
It all catches up with you
Once you get just a little too old
Take a hard look in the mirror
It's a thing that you cannot see
Your shadow's long but the day is young
It just wasn't meant to be

There's no blankets for the winter
There's no oil in the lamp
And I'd like to write my congressman
But I can't afford the stamp
You want me to pay my taxes
So you can propagate your lie
While there's barefoot dudes down in New Orleans
Looking like they're going to die

You who quote the legends
You who poisoned all of my dreams
You who pinned all of the medals on
All those boys from Omaha Beach
Hope you haven't got too lazy
I know you like your apple pie
Because the working poor you've been pissing on
Are doing double shifts tonight

What good, what good are you
With your Seneca plague and your Arlington tomb?
What good, what good are you
With your Cherokee trail and your Roosevelt Room?


Lyrics submitted by strangelight

Roosevelt Room song meanings
Add your thoughts

16 Comments

sort form View by:
  • +2
    General CommentLike trippysq said, this seems like more of a commentary on American politics than an outright protest song. I say that because some of the lyrics seem to reference historical controversies, and rant on certain policies he doesn't agree with moving forward through time.

    The first verse is simple enough. He's expressing his desire to rise up (people's sun) and lead a revolution (brand new day).

    The second verse references Mount McKinley which had been known as Denali by the Alaskan natives until some politician changed the name to support William McKinley's presidential campaign. I'm not sure what the beef is with Washington state, but I'm assuming something similar. I think the last two lines about the dowry are about women's rights (or the lack thereof) in the old days when men would essentially sell their daughters as soon as they had "flowered" for better political standing.

    The next verse I think is a reference to the atom bombs because cockroaches are said to be resistant to radiation, and there are those black and white silent clips of the mushroom clouds from the explosions. Thus, "there was nothing left but the cockroaches and a movie with no sound!" The first part of the verse is questioning how the crews of the Enola Gay and Bockscar could find the moral grounds to follow the order to drop the bombs. "You couldn't figure out what mercy meant so you did like you were told." (ironically i just read something about how both of those planes were built in Omaha, Conor's home town)

    The fourth verse is a little trickier and seems to get away from the political theme of the others. I'm not familiar with Hunter Thompson, but I believe Hemingway killed himself mainly out of frustration with his writing career. So "it all catches up with you" is probably referring to people's struggle to find success and the pressure they feel because of it.

    The fifth verse is more straightforward. I don't know what lie he's talking about that's being propagated, but he's clearly as angry about the current economic situation as anyone.

    The sixth verse is a shot at upper class society types as well as the military higher ups. Omaha Beach was of course the sight of the allied invasion of wwII.

    the chorus seems to be a criticism of the american presidency in general. The roosevelt room is a room in the white house where the president meets with his cabinet.

    That's all I've got, sorry it's a little long-winded.
    thebastardon February 03, 2011   Link
  • +1
    General Comment"We Didn't Start the Fire" by Billy Joel...I feel like it is a modern day version but much more complicated and it is tough to completely understand what he is saying...
    Dustman0587on April 17, 2009   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI think more than anything, Mystic Valley Band is Oberst's Crazy Horse. "Roosevelt Room" in particular gave chills and reminded me of the first time I listened to "Rockin in the Free World." It's riff is also very "Helter Skelter-ish." I think this is probably the best song on the new album. I love it.
    pjcolpittson May 04, 2009   Link
  • 0
    General Commenti thought this was a bright eyes song?
    tyygeron April 13, 2009   Link
  • 0
    General Commentwell, it's on Outer South, so I'm gonna say it's not any more...
    strangelighton April 16, 2009   Link
  • 0
    General Commentand no its Conor Oberst and the Mystic Valley Band....PS they really jammed when they played it
    Dustman0587on April 17, 2009   Link
  • 0
    General CommentBest song on 'Outer South'
    CarolineCandyAppleon April 19, 2009   Link
  • 0
    General CommentIt was a Bright Eyes song, they played it at the Hollywood Bowl in '07 during the encore.
    Godhateson April 19, 2009   Link
  • 0
    General CommentHunter S. Thompson and Hemingway both committed suicide by shooting themselves in the head. It gave me chills when he shouted that line at Coachella.
    kindofcorebutnoton April 21, 2009   Link
  • 0
    General Commentgreat song. def the best on the new cd
    seekeroftruthon May 05, 2009   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