"Survivor Guilt" as written by Zach Blair, Joseph Principe, Timothy Mcilrath and Brandon Barnes....
Block the entrances
Close the door
Seal the exits
Because this is war

All gave some
Some gave all
But for what
I want to know

Carry on
Don't mind me
All I gave was everything
And yet you ask me for more
Fought your fight
Bought your lie
And in return I lost my life
What purpose does this serve

A folded flag
A purple heart
A family all but torn apart
I fought with courage to preserve
Not my way of life, but yours

Carry on
Don't mind me
All I gave was everything
And yet you ask me for more
Fought your fight
Bought your lie
And in return I lost my life
What purpose does this serve

The cowards preach from pedestals
With words and courage and resolve
But one thing that'll fuck 'em all
'Cause is freedom isn't free

They send our daughters and our sons
To deserts under burning suns
A sacrificial slaughter to fill
The pockets of the weak
An artificial enemy
Are we so easily deceived?

Come, carry on
Just walk away
How many more sent to their graves
In this lesson ignored?
I fought your fight
Bought your lie
And in return I lost my life
What purpose does this serve?
What purpose did I serve?


Lyrics submitted by WillCreary, edited by robbie101, untitled12

"Survivor Guilt" as written by Joseph Principe Brandon Barnes

Lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

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Survivor Guilt song meanings
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17 Comments

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  • +15
    General CommentI think its about the self destructive nature of countries and how they always end eventually. The start of the song basically shows that all great powers have come to end and its saying how is America any different.

    Then if you listen to the rest of the song and a focus on the lyrics I agree it could be talking about Iraq but I think its just war in general and how the people who actually fight the war are not the people who necessarily vote or make decisions for the country. It sought of shows the idiocy behind war that it's the old man that declare it but the young men that lose their lives for it. I think its meant to link to the idea that nations will come to end no matter how much they may try and fight it.

    "What purpose does this serve?
    What purpose did I serve?"

    These two lines some up the entire song. People die for no real reason. Hardcore Americans will read this and say for some stupid reason that their government has fed them that the war has a just reason. But does it? People die all the time but the point of this song is to say that young people die for an old man war and in the end the super powers that we all know will perish because thats just what history has taught us. No world super power can last forever so whats the point of fighting in a war for a country that will not last. Some Americans not all so I'm not taking a swing at the country but some believe that their country is going to last forever, these people are blinded by pride and thats what this song is trying to get at. I think.
    Indieboy2506on March 18, 2011   Link
  • +6
    My InterpretationIt's interesting to listen to this song and read these comments as I am an American soldier currently deployed to Iraq, the place that several commenters have opined this song may be written about. I just downloaded the album tonight while at an MWR wi-fi hotspot on our FOB.

    The first thing that needs to be said that hasn't yet been pointed out is that "Survivor Guilt" is something that happens to people, particularly soldiers, who experience a traumatic situation such as a buddy's death in combat. People with survivor guilt find fault with themselves, believing that their survival was a mistake that may have resulted in the traumatic event. "Joe wasn't supposed to have gone on that patrol. It should have been me. He's dead because I didn't go on that patrol."

    McIlrath is clearly talking about war in the Middle East. Folded flags and Purple Hearts symbolize the casualties of war. The song's protagonist seems to be a fallen soldier, demanding an explanation of the cause that sent him to his grave. A cause he once believed in. McIlrath claims we are engaged in war against an artificial enemy, invented to line cowards' pockets. By giving voice to this fallen soldier, McIlrath gives voice to his own survivor guilt.

    I've never completely agreed with Rise Against's politics. I don't fully agree with all of the claims McIlrath makes in this song, having personally spent nearly two years of my life on the ground in Iraq, working closely with Iraqi citizens. Nevertheless, I've always been a fan of McIlrath's passion and eloquence. His words are powerful, and this is another great RA song.

    My favorite line from this one: "I fought with courage to preserve not my way of life but yours." Amen, Tim.
    oussanon May 01, 2011   Link
  • +1
    General CommentSeems like this song's about the Iraq war. The reason I say that is that is that it seems as if the narrator is saying that there's no point to the war. Fill the pockets of the weak could refer to the profit oil brings to oil companies who are 'weak' morally of physically. Just my read on it.

    Another great song.
    wsoxfan1214on March 11, 2011   Link
  • +1
    Song MeaningIn case anyone's wondering the diolouge comes from the movie Catch22. And i don't think it's about the Iraq war. I remember Tim saying he doesn't like writing a song about a specific country so i think it's just about war. It's like Hero of War in the sense that it's told from the perspective of someone who's gone to war and deostroyed their lives there.

    But yeah it's a great song.
    heavenknows606on March 13, 2011   Link
  • +1
    Lyric CorrectionSome of these lyrics are incorrect.

    ["what are you talking about? America isn't going to be destroyed"
    "never? Rome was destroyed, Greece was destroyed, Persia was destroyed, Spain was destroyed.
    All great countries are destroyed. Why not yours? How much longer do you really think your own country will last? Forever?"]

    Block the entrances
    Close the doors
    Seal the exits
    Because this is war

    All gave some
    Some gave all
    But for what
    I want to know

    Carry on
    Don't mind me
    All I gave was everything
    And yet you ask me for more
    Fought your fight
    Bought your lie
    And in return I lost my life
    What purpose does this serve?

    A folded flag
    A purple heart
    A family all but torn apart
    I fought with courage to preserve
    Not my way of life, but yours

    Carry on
    Don't mind me
    All I gave was everything
    And yet you ask me for more
    Fought your fight
    Bought your lie
    And in return I lost my life
    What purpose does this serve?

    The cowards preach from pedestals
    With words like courage and resolve
    But what they meant was fuck them all
    Because freedom isn't free

    They send our daughters and our sons
    To deserts under burning suns
    A sacrificial slaughtering to fill
    The pockets of the weak
    An artificial enemy
    Are we so easily deceived?

    ["You're a shameful opportunist. What you don't understand is that it's better to die on your feet than to live on your knees.
    "You have it backwards. It's better to live on your feet than to die on your knees. I know."]

    Carry on
    Just walk away
    How many more sent to their graves
    In this lesson ignored?
    I fought your fight
    Bought your lie
    And in return I lost my life
    What purpose does this serve?
    What purpose did I serve?

    -------

    Taken from the ENDGAME booklet, credit to WillCreary for the narration.
    droneeon March 16, 2011   Link
  • +1
    Song MeaningYou must know that every Rise Against song is about true events, but is also a metaphor. Because you also have to understand the war is not just in IRAQ, it is everywhere. Single people fighting for their lives every day. Come along with me through this lyrical representation.

    This is about protecting yourself from broken people on all levels. People who are spinning their wheels and based on their decisions will never go anywhere. Those are the kind of people that drag you down.

    "Block the entrances, close the doors
    Seal the exits cause this is war"

    If we don't evolve and gain infallibility to protect ourselves, to seal the broken walls around our selfs where they can reach into our hearts, we will suffer. They will bring us down.

    "All gave some, some gave all
    But for what I wanna know

    Carry on, don't mind me
    All I gave was everything
    And yet you ask me for more
    Fought your fight
    Bought your lie
    And in return I lost my life
    What purpose does this serve?"

    You reach out to others and give them pieces of your life to try to rescue them, and you end up fighting their wars. You start living their lies as your life. And in return you get nothing, but losing yourself.

    "You're a shameful opportunist! What you don't understand is that it's better to die on your feet than to live on your knees."
    "You have it backwards. It's better to live on your feet than to die on your knees. I know"

    This is about living, not sacrificing. God doesn't want you to die for God, God wants you to live for yourself. This world is for the glory of you. Don't throw that glory away for sacrificing the most valuable thing to God and you--your life.

    chino69on May 16, 2011   Link
  • +1
    My InterpretationRise Against has always been overtly clear in their hate for war. Such songs as “Hero of War” make this clear. This song is similar to Hero of War, but not so much the individual soldier’s view of war so much as how we should be seeing it, for the truth of what it is: pride.
    The beginning of this song (not given in these lyrics) include a conversation between two characters whereby they discuss countries and how they’ve fallen. One of the points given is: “All great countries are destroyed. Why not yours? How much longer do you think your little country will last?”, followed by a brief pause and an uncertain answer: “Forever?”. Although not part of the lyrics themselves, this demonstrates how brainwashed citizens of America are into believing that we are superior, above-the-law, and totally invincible when, in reality, we are anything but.
    The first verse of this song gives a typical image- blocking entrances, closing doors and sealing exits. Locking down a building or structure during a firefight. Typical imagery of typical war. The next line, however, is a common U.S. military saying, “All gave some, some gave all” (reference to losing a life fighting), but followed by a question “But for what?, I want to know”. Why did these soldiers need to die? Why did they need to fight? What were they fighting for that was worth dying? Rise Against (which I will now abbreviate as RA for simplicity) calls authority into question for sending our soldiers to die.
    The refrain is probably the most touching and depressing part of this song. A soldier has returned home, only to find out most people truly don’t even recognize him. Most people don’t know his trauma, what he has witnessed and gone through. There’s no trumpet blazing or red carpet rolled out in front of him, no one pays him any attention, thanks, or respect, hence “Carry on, don’t mind me.” RA recalls what the soldiers have gone through: trauma, lost appendages, lost sleep, P.T.S.D., comrades’ (friends’) deaths, being subjected to taking the lives of others, missing out on important life events and being forced to be stripped from their families, etc etc. The soldiers have veritably given their lives to the war, to defending this ‘great’ nation, and in return for giving everything, sometimes even their lives, they receive nothing in return. Most are even called back to war, being asked to give even more to their country after they just gave everything they thought they could. They’re asked to once again place their life in the hands of a government that loves its war. “Fought your fight, bought your lie, and in return I lost my life.” The lyrics in this part are self-explanatory, with the ‘lie’ being the government brainwashing them, us, into believing war is necessary. War is glorious. War is how heroes are made. War is how we make our country better. War is how we help other countries find the right government. War is how we solve problems. In return for being brainwashed into believing this, those brave enough to take up the fight die. Again, ‘what purpose does this serve?’ is RA calling into question the authority of the government and what gives them the right to ask people to go die overseas.
    The next verse is a family’s approach to someone serving overseas. A fallen flag and a purple heart (which can also be given for injury while serving) are signs of someone who has died in service. Clearly, in this verse, someone has died (obviously). ‘A family all but torn apart’ is how families are literally being torn apart by this- they say goodbye to their loved ones for months, even years, on end, thinking in their head that the government will protect them and keep them safe, that they will see them again, which many tragically now know to not always be the case. Their loved ones don’t return with medals strapped onto their chest or pride radiating from their faces, they return in coffins. These families never got to say goodbye to loved ones, or give their final words to them, or be with them at their passing like when someone dies of old age. Instead, one of their family members is stripped away from them, and they are instantly forced into coping with the fact that the person they had once known is now gone forever. “I fought with courage to preserve not my way of life but yours”. This is not natural, no one wants to live like this or have this happen. The only person who is happy with this, what is happening, is the government.
    Next we come to the song’s bridge. “The cowards preach from pedestals with words of courage and resolve”. The cowards here are the politicians, asking brave men and women to go do something that they themselves would never be able, or want, to do. The words of courage and resolve is the brainwashing that they do, rallying the people into a fervor until they are asking to be sent overseas, thinking about how great it must be if what the politicians said is true. The media portrays these traumatized people as superhuman heroes, and young men and woman think that they, too want to be like that. “But one thing that'll fuck 'em all ‘Cause is freedom isn't free”. What they don’t tell the masses, the people signing up, and what inevitably shatters their beliefs, is the fact that freedom truly isn’t free. People die. People go mad. People who return from war are changed. They’ve seen and experienced things no one ever should, fearing for their lives and the lives of those around them for days on end.
    Next RA speaks out against recent wars in the Middle East, things like operation ‘Desert Storm’ where soldiers are forced to fight for their lives in a foreign, desolate land in a blistering heat that they are not used to, laden with countless utilities and in an army uniform. Hostile, painful, horrible conditions. ‘A sacrificial…of the weak.’ The politicians and government don’t care about how many people die or how many suffer. What they care about is one thing: The money they earn from weapons production during war. The money they make by attacking other countries. ‘An artificial…easily deceived?’ Can we not see that they are attacking others without rhyme or reason? How can we be so easily brainwashed into thinking another country, innocent men and women, are our ‘enemies’? How can we think that war is the only option?
    Then we come back to the discussion between the two men that started this song. The first, who thought America would last forever, tries to defend the government: ‘What you don’t understand is that it’s better to die on your feet than to live on your knees’. What he means is that it’s better to die fighting for what you believe (America) than to live in servitude of someone else (like America before the Revolutionary War). The other man disagrees and counters this claim ‘You have it backwards. It’s better to live on your feet than to die on your knees.” If we live an upright, correct life (on our feet), what do we have to fear from other countries? We don’t have to worry about them attacking, subjugating, and executing us (die on our knees). If we don’t go invading other countries for the purposes of money, if we as a country don’t forcefully interfere in the affairs of other countries, then we as a country are safer than any amount of military could makes us.
    ‘Come…lesson ignored?’ Let’s stop and think this through. Don’t blindly follow and do what they tell you. We’ve ignored common sense for too long, and it’s time we finally listen to it, because what we are doing right now is throwing lives against the wall in an endless scheme to generate government revenue and increase their power, and our dependence, upon them.
    Snyder2018on July 09, 2015   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI want to add my 2 cents but indieboy has pretty much summed it all up.
    sknauffon March 22, 2011   Link
  • 0
    Song Meaning I'm not a great translater of songs, but To me this song was about how a dead soldier is talking about how He fought someones fight and bought the polotical lies and lost his life and he's asking "what for?" I think that what he's saying is that many people are dying for someone elses way of life.

    I really like the lines "The cowards preach from pedestals
    With words like courage and resolve
    But what they meant was fuck them all
    Cause freedom isn't free"
    I think it's saying that cowards are telling the soldiers to fight, saying their couragous and all, but really they don't care, just sending all the soldiers to the grave, and telling the people that freedom has a price of its own.

    In the very beggining with all the talking I think it's saying that Nationalism is taking a toll on our poloticians as they think that America is an unstoppable nation that will never fall, yet the other man who to me sounds like a captured terrorist is saying that all nations fall eventually and we should watch out.
    In the middle of the Song where its talking again I think it's saying that The polotician doesn't care about us and saying that he'd rather die on his feet to live on his knees, but the terrorist is less brutal than the poloticians saying that life is the best gift you can possibly have and should live on your feet and not die on your knees.
    lostresemblanceon May 02, 2011   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThe meaning probably has more depth in the book "Catch 22".

    I think it means that countries seduce the young into fighting wars to preserve the continuity of the countries.
    mikestuffon November 01, 2011   Link

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