I was a teenage anarchist
Looking for a revolution
I had the style, I had the ambition
Read all the authors
I knew the right slogans
There was no war but the class war
I was ready to set the world on fire
I was a teenage anarchist
Looking for a revolution

Do you remember when you were young
And you wanted to set the world on fire
Do you remember when you were young
And you wanted to set the world on fire

I was a teenage anarchist
But the politics were too convenient
In the depths of their humanity
All I saw was bloodless ideology
With freedom as their doctrine
Guess who was the new authority
I was a teenage anarchist
But the politics were too convenient

Do you remember when you were young
And you wanted to set the world on fire
Do you remember when you were young
And you wanted to set the world on fire
When you were young
And you wanted to set the world on fire

I was a teenage anarchist
But then the scene got too rigid
It was mob mentality
They set their rifle sights on me
Narrow visions of autonomy
You want me to surrender my identity
I was a teenage anarchist
The revolution was lie

Do you remember when you were young
And you wanted to set the world on fire
Do you remember when you were young
And you wanted to set the world on fire
When you were young
And you wanted to set the world the fire
When you were young
And you wanted to set the world the fire

I was a teenage anarchist
I was a teenage anarchist
I was a teenage anarchist
I was a teenage anarchist


Lyrics submitted by eltroyo11

I Was a Teenage Anarchist song meanings
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22 Comments

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  • +6
    Song Meaningthe song is about how when he was young he wanted change, and the only way he saw change was through anarchy, when you are young things are that black and white you dont realise the complexities of systems in society that have been there for thousands of years, its not just as simple as burn it all down build a new, but he goes one step further to say that the anarchist scene just like every other scene unfortunately ends up telling you how you should be an anarchist etc, which is the reverse of what the word even means. he wants change in society just as much and just as badly as always but with age and experience he has realised that pure narrow minded anarchism eg violence, chaos, disorder doesn't actually deliever what he wants, it's too simplistic. but i do think he wrote this because of how he is being treated by past fans and peers. i mean he said in an interview that people in other bands won't even talk to him anymore, they will turn away because of a sound change. its stupid, and totally against what punk is, punk is about doing what you want aslong as it doesn't harm anybody, living as an individual and doing your own thing, and it's about holding people to account and sparking and creating change for the better. a so called "punk" who can't recognise somebodies individualism isn't a punk at all. these guys are on a major label so what? that means good, catchy, honest music that is talking about social problems is being heard by even more people, more people are getting the message, they are getting paid better for doing a good ting, nothing wrong with that, and the label recognises the power of the band so much that they are promoting an act that would like nothing more than to see that label with less power. you want real punk bands who actually follow the idea of punk in it's purist form listen to against me, rise against nofx, pennywise, strung out, bad religion, off with their heads
    resist360on October 18, 2011   Link
  • +3
    General CommentMech is absolutely right.

    The more I listen to this, the more I feel this is Gabel's goodbye to punk rock, explaining that he's ready to grow and move on.

    "I was a teenage anarchist
    But then the scene got too rigid
    It was mob mentality
    They set their rifle sights on me
    Narrow visions of autonomy
    You want me to surrender my identity..."

    A perfect example of this exact thing happening can be found in a number of songs' comments sections on this very website. I mean, in regards to AM!, the punk rock community has definitely turned into a mob mentality, and he's become public enemy #1.

    Can't really blame Gabel for wanting to broaden his horizons and move on when his previous fan-base mostly consisted of fickle and jaded kids who are terrified of "their" bands changing outside of the strict expectations they place, hating on any band that doesn't sound the exact same forever.

    Plus, if you look at Gabel's influences, it's not surprising that his music is taking a turn towards more of an 80s rockish sound. He's covered a few The Replacements tracks, even. Shouldn't be very shocking to anyone.
    abel_priscon March 26, 2010   Link
  • +2
    General Commentpretty much tom's relationship with punk rock.
    mechpope13on March 14, 2010   Link
  • +2
    General Commentthis isn't an apology or explanation... or a goodbye to punk rock. It's a nostalgiac recall of his naivete. Sorry to tell you young guys, but wait until you get to your mid 20s and then listen to this song and you will understand what Gabel means. I won't comment on whether it's apathy or enlightenment... but it's natural and rational in this age. I am all for a utopian society but as Gable says "All I saw was a bloodless ideology with freedom as their doctrine"
    bathosdrifton May 12, 2010   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI'm sure there are parallels about punk music in this song, but this song isn't about the punk music scene. This song is about Tom Gabel's experience with the Anarchist scene. He talks about it a lot in his interviews. A lot of his fans, especially his anarchist fans, have been pretty angry with Against Me! since they signed with a major label and as they've gotten older, their lyrics have shifted away from that ideology when compared to their earlier songs. This song is pretty straight forward, there's no mythology here, he was in fact, a teenage anarchist. I know its fun to do, but let's not mystify this too much. Sometimes songs don't have deep meanings, sometimes they are what they are. And this song is what it is.

    They're a great band and I'm just happy that they cover a lot of ground in their lyrics. But this song is just summing up what he's been saying for many years in his interviews and putting all the anarchist questions/answers to rest.
    knomatikon April 22, 2010   Link
  • +1
    General Commentjust remember punk is all about not following the rules, and there are aparenetly rules in punk now, so by doing something that's not punk, it is still punk

    this is a sad song, it's about how someone use to be an anarchist (obviously) and they were ready for anything, wanting to set the world on fire, but now they are older and gave up on those hopes and dreams because it seems so unreasonable

    little do they know anarchism doesn't have to be all revolution and setting the world on fire, anarchism can be anything you want it to be, that's the beauty of it
    GypsyWagonon May 19, 2010   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI love how this song seems to suggest that Tom Gabel is finally out from the weight that being at the forefront of a brutal movement like the crusty punk rock anarchy scene can put you under. I love the opening frames of the video for this song. When that uber catchy riff (and whisper ah ah ah ah vocals) start pumping up and Gabel runs into the frame I just got kind of washed over with this feeling that he's finally free of all that mock-idealism fueled drama that's been nipping at his heals for so long. Against Me! were worshiped for songs like T.S.R and Walking is Still Honest etc (as they should have been) and then when they moved on and made New Wave the got crucified. Listening to this song you can almost hear them saying "you may call us capitalist traitors and sell out pussies but while you were busy gossiping we were making the catchiest music of our lives. That's my song meaning interpretation for you.

    As a bonus check them out performing this on Leno (youtube.com/…). He calls them "One of the best punk rock bands ever." I hope this song makes them ten million dollars.
    rolliebon June 23, 2010   Link
  • +1
    My Interpretationwait there's rules to being punk rock? sounds like hot topic finally got to punk. another take on this song is that maybe the punk scene wasn't accepting of laura jane grace. a scene that accepts the unacceptable but still wont accept you. the revolution was a lie or just one of those ideas that you always talk about but never really goes anywhere.
    holdingontowateron September 06, 2012   Link
  • 0
    General CommentGreat song. I think it's "They set their rifle sights on me" though.
    jimmyjamesp7on March 13, 2010   Link
  • 0
    General CommentIf this can happen to a group like AM!, it can happen to many others.

    I felt a bit sad when I realized what this song was about.
    Skuitar21on May 10, 2010   Link

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