"Modern Man" as written by Win Butler, Regine Chassagne, William Butler, Tim Kingsbury, Richard R Parry and Jeremy Gara....
So I wait my turn, I'm a modern man
And the people behind me, they can't understand
Makes me feel like
Makes me feel like

So I wait in line, I'm a modern man
And the people behind me, they can't understand
Makes me feel like
Something don't feel right

Like a record that's skipping
I'm a modern man
And the clock keeps ticking
I'm a modern man
Makes me feel like
Makes me feel like

In my dream I was almost there
And you pulled me aside and said you're going nowhere
They say we are the chosen few
But we're wasted
And that's why we're still waiting
On a number from the modern man
Maybe when you're older you will understand
Why you don't feel right
Why you can't sleep at night now

In line for a number but you don't understand
Like a modern man
In line for a number but you don't understand
Like a modern man

Oh I had a dream I was dreaming
And I feel I'm losing the feeling
Makes me feel like
Like something don't feel right
I erase the number of the modern man
Want to break the mirror of the modern man
Makes me feel like
Makes me feel like

In my dream I was almost there
But you pulled me aside and said you're going nowhere
I know we are the chosen few
But we're wasted
And that's why we're still waiting
In line for a number but you don't understand
Like a modern man
In line for a number but you don't understand
Like a modern man

And you feel so right
But how come you can't sleep at night?
In line for a number but you don't understand
Like a modern man

I'm a modern man
I'm a modern man
I'm a modern man
I'm a modern man


Lyrics submitted by bm15420, edited by jerkyj, kiwilyrics, Scoozor

"Modern Man" as written by Regine Chassagne Jeremy Gara

Lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

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Modern Man song meanings
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26 Comments

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  • +14
    General CommentIt seems to me that this song is addressing the modern state we live in and what it means to be a product of this culture. Modernity has promoted the idea of relativism and with that has come a lack of purpose or understanding. We have no truth or objectivity and because of this "something don't feel right." Relativity provides no truth or understanding of reality.

    "In my dream I was almost there
    But you pulled me aside and said you're going nowhere"

    We cannot get anywhere with relativity and it pulls us to "nowhere." We "wait in line" for an answer but we never get one, so as a result we are "wasted." We're like a record because we always end up in the same state of waiting for something to reveal itself to us and just make sense because for many of us modernity has left us without any answers and no motivation toward discovering purpose because purpose cannot be defined.

    Also, "In line for a number but you don't understand" seems to express the wait for death. We wait for our number, or our time to die, to turn up, and in the mean time we "don't understand," which is a result of relativism. I liked that line so I thought I would elaborate on it.

    In short, this is song seems to be about the existential crisis of the modern man.




    kaveman1138on July 28, 2010   Link
  • +11
    General CommentThe Suburbs has two core themes feeding on one another which drive the album's unique emotional tension. First you have the very common and universal human pain of losing the purity of vision and experience that comes with childhood and youth. The album is just saturated with both a wistful and desperate nostalgia, the bittersweet limbo of fondly, yet futilely looking back for something which exists as nothing more than a ghost of memory, something with fading colors and a vital feeling in danger of extinction.

    But what makes this album truly great is its expression of this sense of loss in the context of a world undergoing an unprecedented rate of change, as it is bulldozed forward by technological advances and an underlying structure of corporate promoted materialism deeply entrenched in nearly every facet of our existence. This has pushed the psychological stakes for reclaiming the simple, honest, untainted mind-space of childhood to such heights that the need for it takes on an almost frantic hue.

    This is where we find Modern Man. He exists right on the fault line of the past and the future and is having a hard time coping and finding a sense of hope watching the onrush of an alien landscape erode so much of what he loved under the unforgiving crunch of accelerated time and cold tectonics. Adding to this is the societal push to "become something" to "get somewhere". Yet, how can anyone go anywhere when all the points on the map are in constant flux? Under these circumstances a person cannot help but to be nowhere...all the time.

    The Suburbs is so brilliant at capturing these ideas. 1000 years from now I imagine it being studied as an important psycho-textural analysis of what it meant to be alive in 2010. Modern Man is right where I am, where so many of us fear we are, on the verge of losing everything pure, spontaneous, and vital to an incomprehensible future descending upon us like a rushing flood and in whose wake we see so much of the new world forming around such rank and polluted waters.

    Progress was once the darling of futurism. But now this optimism can, at best, only exist saddled under weary apprehension. The direction is highly uncertain so there is still hope, but all the signs point to an existential strain so great it will rip us to shreds.

    psychicwhooshon August 12, 2010   Link
  • +3
    General CommentI have been checking sonmeanings.net for years but didn't get an account until this cd. It's absouletly monumental. An essential album for us wandering post-collegiate 20-somethings.

    And youre right kaveman this song echoes with existential angst.

    "Want to break the mirror of the modern man"- perhaps an allusion to black mirror? Neon Bible was critical about external influences- religion, government, etc... This album seems to be more self-reflective and searching for personal/band identity in light of the times.

    "Maybe when you're older you will understand
    Why you don't feel right
    Why you can't sleep at night now"

    The gnawing we have all felt alone in our beds or out in a busy street- this "modern" world can be isolating. We're all running this rat race to acquire wealth, possessions, status- who made these fucking rules and why are we still buying into this propaganda to live happily?

    Also does anyone else hear the guitar riff to Jesse's Girl by Rick Springfield in this song?
    CasmirPulaskion August 04, 2010   Link
  • +2
    General Commentdont become a "modern man" meaning don't become one who waits for something special to happen to them. stop day dreaming and go out and catch your own dream.
    harley101on September 27, 2010   Link
  • +2
    General CommentBuy a ticket and you might win the lottery. That's what the modern man's role is in society. Just play the game, join the system, take part in the rat race. The modern world as a result of industrialisation and capitalism saw modern man standing in line in a factory adding a cog to each good produced, you just waited till the conveyor belt brought the good to you and repeated the action ad infinitum. A good illustration of this is Chaplin's Modern Times. But as capitalism's reach has grown the modern man has been trapped in this action that preserves the overall status quo. People can only dream of escape - they can only worry about the small stuff, join the line at the bank, in the airports, at the supermarket, keep coming to work and hope for that lottery - the promise of escape that will never come.
    jadedgypsyon January 09, 2011   Link
  • +1
    General CommentReminds me a bit of the Dan Mangan song robots. "Modern Man" = Robot
    kidsonbuseson August 09, 2010   Link
  • +1
    My InterpretationIt's like they took the main guy in Neon Bible and medicated him to oblivion. Arcade Fire has never written this mellow before, but I actually really like it.
    KnightofNion August 22, 2010   Link
  • +1
    MemoryI cried the first time I heard this song
    sanguinolentuson December 08, 2010   Link
  • +1
    General CommentThis is a totally different twist on on the meaning of this song. It is entirely personal and from someone who is probably quite a bit older than the others who have commented.

    I think the "Modern Man" is the modern "male". One who "In my dream I was almost there" to his goals and ambitions. But was pulled aside by another (wife/girlfriend/family/responsibilities) and as one of the "the chosen few" gave up his traditional role as a man to support them, embracing a more modern concept of social roles. So he "wait[s] in line" for "his turn", but "the clock keeps ticking". Eventually, he starts losing the "dream I was dreaming/And I feel I'm losing the feeling". He feels "wasted" and knows "something don't feel right". And regular people don't understand. He wants to "break" his image because it all, "Makes me feel like [nothing]/ Makes me feel like [nothing]."

    Just thoughts and feelings from a middle-aged man.

    john0921on May 03, 2011   Link
  • +1
    General CommentBelieve it has to do with the loss of innocence ..like the whole album reflects back to a more predictable, simple way of life..Now that we live in Mc World of globalized, instant access to eveerything ..the dangers of the 'web' and the end of the innocence and the way that an older generation experienced the world
    pato777on July 15, 2016   Link

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