''From whence shall we expect the approach of danger? Shall some transatlantic giant step the earth and crush us at a blow? Never! All the armies of Europe and Asia could not, by force, take a drink from the Ohio River or set a track on the Blue Ridge in the trial of a thousand years. If destruction be our lot, we ourselves must be its author and finisher. As a nation of free men, we will live forever, or die by suicide.

(Abraham Lincoln, address to the Young Men's Lyceum of Springfield, IL, January, 1838)''

There'll be no more counting the cars on the garden state parkway
Nor waiting for the Fung Wah bus to carry me to who-knows-where
And when I stand tonight, 'neath the lights of the Fenway
Will I not yell like hell for the glory of the Newark Bears?
Because where I'm going to now, no one can ever hurt me
Where the well of human hatred is shallow and dry
No, I never wanted to change the world, but I'm looking for a new New Jersey
Because tramps like us, baby, we were born to die

I'm doing 70 on 17, 80 over 84
And I never let the Meritt Parkway magnetize me no more
Give me a brutal Somerville summer,
Give me a cruel New England winter
Give me the great Pine Barrens
So I can see them turned into splinters
And if I come in on a donkey, let me go out on a gurney
I want to realize too late I never should have left New Jersey

I sense the enemy, they're rustling around in the trees
I thought I had gotten away but the followed me to 02143
Woe, oh woe is me, no one knows the trouble I see
When they hang Jeff Davis from a sourapple tree, I'll sit beneath the leaves and weep
None of us shall be saved, every man will be a slave
For John Brown's body lies a'mouldring in the grave and there's rumbling down in the caves
So if it's time for choosing sides, and to show this dirty city how we do the Jersey Slide
And if it deserves a better class of criminal,
Then I'm'a give it to them tonight
So we'll rally around the flag, rally around the flag
Rally around the flag, boys, rally once again,
Shouting the Battle Cry of Freedom
Rally around the flag, rally around the flag
Glory, glory, Hallelujah, His truth is marching on


Lyrics submitted by jett4life

A More Perfect Union song meanings
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  • +3
    General Comment- 02143 is the zip code for Somerville, Massachussets.
    - Jeff Davis is probably referring to Jefferson Davis.
    - John Brown's Body is a marching song often sung by the Union in the Civil War, which you'd probably recognize if you heard the tune. The lyrics go as follows:

    "John Brown's body lies a mouldering in the grave
    John Brown's body lies a mouldering in the grave
    John Brown's body lies a mouldering in the grave
    His soul is marching on!
    Glory Glory Hallelujah!
    Glory Glory Hallelujah!
    Glory Glory Hallelujah!
    His soul is marching on!"

    Sound familiar?
    - The Jersey Slide is a driving trick often pulled on the Garden State Parkway in which the driver merges all the way from the far left lane to the exit ramp in one fell swoop with no signal being given.
    - The Battle Cry of Freedom is another song from the Civil War sung by the Union. The lyrics are near identical to the ones at the end of this song:

    "Yes we'll rally round the flag, boys, we'll rally once again,
    Shouting the battle cry of freedom,
    We will rally from the hillside, we'll gather from the plain,
    Shouting the battle cry of freedom!"
    themountainman14on January 22, 2011   Link
  • +2
    General CommentI think "No, I never wanted to change the world, but I'm looking for a new New Jersey" might be a reference to Billy Bragg's song New England where he sings
    "I don't want to change the world I'm not looking for a New england I'm just looking for another girl"

    The statement is he is not looking to change the world or looking to change the place where he lives either but looking for another girl.

    Since in this song he is not looking to change the world but is looking to change the place he lives perhaps he therefore is not looking for another girl.

    Or to be less literal wanting to not focus on his personal problems but something big (new jersey and perhaps the state of the union itself) but not lose touch with the place he lives (hence not change the world).

    Probably reading too much into that but there you go.
    tomStrangeloveon June 10, 2010   Link
  • +2
    General CommentI was really bored, so I looked up just about every reference in this song.
    - The Garden State Parkway is the busiest toll highway in the US. It stretches from Montvale, NJ (near New York) all the way to Cape May, NJ on the other end. Essentially all the way across New Jersey, hence its name.
    - The Fung Wah bus is a Chinese bus company running between Boston and New York. It is known for its low fares, so it is very popular with students, or struggling musicians like Titus Andronicus.
    - Fenway is Fenway Park baseball stadium in Boston, obviously.
    - The Newark Bears are a New Jersey baseball team in the CanAm League.
    - "Tramps like us, baby, we were born to die", like you've all guessed, is a play on Bruce Springsteen's "Born To Run". Springsteen, like Titus, is from NJ and probably a big influence of theirs, since he is thanked in The Monitor liner notes.
    - I've assumed 17 and 84 are both highways, 70 and 80 being mph. I know that Highway 84 at least is in the NJ area. Although i could be wrong about that.
    - The Merritt Parkway is another parkway between New York and Connecticut, running towards Boston.
    - The Great Pine Barrens is a heavily forested area in southern Nj. The Garden State Parkway runs through it.
    MORE BELOW
    themountainman14on January 22, 2011   Link
  • +2
    General CommentThis song is not patriotic, at least not in the way the Battle Cry Of Freedom, which it references, is. True the song ends with the "rally round the flag, glory hallelujah", but given the context of the song, he's being ironic when singing this. When Lincoln delivered the speech quoted at the start of the song (1838), the United States was young and untested, but also it was a time of promise. America could be anything then. Yes, evils like slavery did exist then and the horrors of the Civil War were to come, but the idea of the country was still new and people like Lincoln could wax poetic about its greatness and longevity without just sounding like one of today's pompous cable news pundits. Titus Andronicus sings about there time and there slice of the American dream, and it seems obvious by the way he describes scenes from life in modern New Jersey and New England, that all the potential for greatness America once possessed is now gone. And what's left over is a fairly nihilistic, albeit realistic, view of life (e.g. "Give me the Pine Barrens so I can see them turned into splinters."). Rather than preach about lofty ideals like Truth, Justice, the American Way, yadda-yadda, he says he's not looking to change the world, just "looking for a new New Jersey." The only difference one can hope to make in this post-great USA is to do it on a personal level, the people around you and the places you inhabit. Basically, this song is a lament about how the United States went from a nation of great promise to just another big country. When he sings the rally around the flag bit, it's with a complete lack of patriotic feeling, because patriotism has become a sentiment of a bygone era.
    cheecheejotcherson November 23, 2011   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI know the line 'Tramps like us baby we were born to die' is a reference to Springsteen's 'Born to Run', but is the bit about 'deserves a better class of criminal' a Dark Knight reference or is that purely coincidental?
    choggspacedon April 22, 2010   Link
  • +1
    General Comment^Knew that line sounded familiar it probably is a reference to that Billy Bragg song.

    However, doing a little internet stalking revealed that lead singer Patrick Stickles was a literature major at Ramapo College in New Jersey and went to graduate school at Harvard (and probably lived next door in Somerville which he mentions in the song by name and zip code). So the trip is quite literal, but there is allegory of present day America tied into Civil War references about how we can only defeat ourselves and are all slaves to something. Well done, Patrick.
    hobbes1757on October 27, 2010   Link
  • +1
    General CommentThe first line is probably a reference to Simon and Garfunkel's America: "Counting the cars on the New Jersey Turnpike"
    Fulkeon February 07, 2011   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThe first stanza is absolutely perfect. I can't believe these guys are going to play Harrisburg, PA. Must see.
    neah17068on March 14, 2010   Link
  • 0
    My InterpretationI can't believe there's not more comments on this. It's a really interesting song.
    If you do a YouTube search for this song's title, you'll encounter an Obama speech from '08 that really sort of spells out a significant part of what this song is about. "A More Perfect Union" refers to the flexibility of the US constitution, in that its interpretation and, therefore, the union itself, can, and is expected to, evolve as times change.
    The "new New Jersey" line alludes to this, where he's expecting for things to evolve and get better from where they are now. Where these iconic, somewhat negative images of New Jersey are going to be gone soon, as the state's culture will evolve just as the country itself will.
    The second half likens the Obama speech, with its regard to slavery and how America overcame that, to the more contemporary issues, where we have a black president for the first time, and that's an enormous step in our history, but many people still can't and will never accept that change. But that change is moving the country forward, just as the changes away from slavery, which were, of course, so decisive, moved America forward in the 19th century. Here, he's taking the side of the opposition and likening them to those who supported slavery, with the references to weeping under a lynched Jefferson Davis and how, even in the more liberal and somewhat tolerant New Jersey, you're faced with this element of racism and intolerance and cannot escape it. Moving past the racism to confront the real issues.
    Just my interpretation, at least.
    bocmaximaon January 21, 2011   Link
  • -2
    General CommentThe speech at the beginning enhances the whole song, but especially the back half to the end. The guitars accompany the rally cry ending with unbridled moxie that gives the song a unique patriotic feeling. If that doesn't get you excited, you were probably born in Canada.
    HowlingMadon March 19, 2011   Link

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