"The Black Market" as written by and Tim Mcilrath....
A currency of heartache and sorrow
The air we breathe is stale with mold
To shadows we are slaves digging deeper every day
But emptiness is growing so old

Headlamps light the tunnels we wander
They shimmer and they dance on the walls
We're lost inside these caves as the chances of escape
Grow slimmer 'til there's no chance at all

This ink, it travels from the page
Up my hand and to my veins
Choking on those stories I've told
If there are words here left to say
I just want to let you know

I'm falling on my knees right now
I'm covered in the mess I made
These colors used to wash right out
But now they are a part of me
And I've been searching for a remedy
When all along it's been in front of me
I need you here, I need you now
Right now

We traffic in the blackest of markets
Trade misery like diamonds and gold
The angst that we exchange for applause or petty praise
Is finally now taking its toll

But there's a world above the ground
A life that we can lead
We're washing off the dirt from our clothes
I don't want to live without
I just wanna let you know

I'm falling on my knees right now
I'm covered in the mess I made
These colors used to wash right out
But now they are a part of me
And I've been searching for a remedy
When all along it's been in front of me
I need you here, I need you now
Right now
Right now

(Black stains) they mark me like a letter
(Won't fade) cracking under the pressure
(Black stains) nothing stays gold

There's a world above the ground
A life that we can lead
But we're lost deep down in these holes
And I've seen the way out
Now I just want to let you know

I'm falling on my knees right now (black stains)
I'm covered in the mess I made (won’t fade)
These colors used to wash right out (black stains)
But now they are a part of me
And I've been searching for a remedy
When all along it's been in front of me
Your voice it washes the stains away
(Wash the stains away)
(Wash the stains away)


Lyrics submitted by internettoughguy56

"The Black Market" as written by Joseph Principe Brandon Barnes

Lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

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The Black Market song meanings
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4 Comments

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  • +4
    General CommentA breakup in a song is a typical kind of story behind many songs. For example taylor swift. Although, in this case Rise Against made this song a delight to listen to, and think about what the story is behind this song. It is about a breakup, because "emptiness is growing so old" he misses her and feels incomplete without her. So, he has suicidal thoughts, "colors used to wash right out" is the blood stained clothes that he has due to self harm.
    DJTorch26on July 31, 2014   Link
  • 0
    My InterpretationThis is my favorite song on their new album! The melody change between the verses and the chorus catches you off guard and is really unique. The fact that they can make that change sound so fluid is a testament to their talent.
    As for the meaning, it seems to be about the depressive phase after a breakup. Although that's a rather cliche meaning behind a rock song, they pull it off in an interesting and original way.

    A currency of heartache and sorrow
    The air we breathe is stale with mold
    To shadows we are slaves digging deeper every day
    But emptiness is growing so old
    [Their relationship centered around trading pain and misery, but it was always the same and it became too redundant. They remain slaves to their own misfortunes.]

    Headlamps light the tunnels we wander
    They shimmer and they dance on the walls
    We're lost inside these caves as the chances of escape
    Grow slimmer 'til there's no chance at all
    [There are glimpses of hope, but the longer they remain in the dark about who they are and what they're doing, the harder it is to achieve it.]

    This ink, it travels from the page
    Up my hand and to my veins
    Choking on those stories I've told
    If there are words here left to say
    I just want to let you know
    [Pretty self explanatory. With each song he writes, he becomes submersed in his past issues.]

    I'm falling on my knees right now
    I'm covered in the mess I made
    These colors used to wash right out
    But now they are a part of me
    And I've been searching for a remedy
    When all along it's been in front of me
    I need you here, I need you now
    Right now
    [He used to be able to suppress this depressive feeling, but now it has consumed him. Now that he is aware of this he also becomes aware that it was this person's presence that helped him with misery, but she is long gone.]

    We traffic in the blackest of markets
    Trade misery like diamonds and gold
    The angst that we exchange for applause or petty praise
    Is finally now taking its toll
    [They look for attention to hold off negativity, but it doesn't work for long.]

    But there's a world above the ground
    A life that we can lead
    We're washing off the dirt from our clothes
    I don't want to live without
    I just wanna let you know
    [Again, pretty self explanatory. We can leave this all behind us and try to get on with our lives.]

    (Black stains) they mark me like a letter
    (Won't fade) cracking under the pressure
    (Black stains) nothing stays gold
    [His struggle with pushing out the negativity. He can keep it at bay for awhile, but it always comes back.]

    Your voice it washes the stains away
    (Wash the stains away)
    (Wash the stains away)
    [A plea for her to come back and relieve his depression.]

    That's just my interpretation.
    kimdraculaon July 28, 2014   Link
  • 0
    General CommentIt's not a breakup guys, lol

    This song is about Tim (and everyone else in RA I'm assuming). In this song he tells his fans that everything that he is fighting for and protesting against is starting to get to him. Before it was easy to talk about the negative things in the world but he's been doing it so long it's starting to make him feel weak (he talks about this again in awake too long). He will never stop writing music for us, but he wants us, his fans to all know that he needs our support to keep going. . .
    Nullroxon August 19, 2014   Link
  • 0
    My InterpretationI believe "The Black Market" they refer to is either pharmaceutical companies making money off of mental illness or mental health clinics themselves.
    See:

    We traffic in the blackest of markets
    Trade misery like diamonds and gold
    The angst that we exchange for applause or petty praise
    Is finally now taking its toll

    "Trading misery like diamonds or gold" being the mental illness filling the pockets of pharmaceutical companies. "The angst that we exchange for applause or petty praise" is reminiscent of an inpatient program where a patient sits in a circle of their peers and talks about their insecurities and struggles. They are often praised or hugged or patted on the back, all of which only do so much for their illness. This comes from personal experience.
    rickroberts95on April 18, 2017   Link

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