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[Verse 1]
Under the ocean
Next to a boiling vent
He’s none the wiser
Earth’s only resident

It piled up
Man it was wall to wall
Blink of an eye
And all the problems solved

[Chorus]
Let's all go play Nagasaki
We can all get vaporized
Hold my hand, let's turn to ash
I'll see you on the other side

[Verse 2]
Before the garden
When you were all alone
You made the atom
Was that some inside joke

Open the gates
And then conceal the path
Let's load the gun
And see how long they last


[Chorus]
Let’s go ring and run the bunkers
Baby won't you come outside?
Across the sea the birds are free
Let's watch them scream across the sky

Let's all go and meet our maker
They don't care whose side you're on
We’re so afraid, I prayed and prayed
Before I learned to love the bomb

[Chorus]
Let’s all go play Nagasaki
What a lovely way to die
To finally show where we all go
So no one has to say goodbye

Let's all go and meet our maker
Won’t matter whose side you’re on
We’re so afraid, I prayed and prayed
When God told me to love the bomb


Lyrics submitted by uNo2BLACK, edited by concretewater

137 song meanings
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  • +2
    My InterpretationOkay, Science Fiction has me shook, so I'm gonna try to go old school SongMeanings and provide a fairly simple interpretation of this song. I don't think this is going to be super controversial, the meaning seems pretty simple to me, but see what you think. Also, this song is pretty much the one that I can't stop listening to on this album. This, and "Desert." They both seem very of the moment, here in 2017. :(

    [Verse 1]
    Under the ocean
    Next to a boiling vent
    He’s none the wiser
    Earth’s only resident

    "[B]oiling vent" refers to thermal vents which are found at geologically active sites on the ocean floor. The ocean is so deep, it’s hard for sunlight to penetrate the water to the ocean floor, so it was long thought that nothing could live down there. But in fact, biologists have discovered bacteria that can survive near these thermal vents. The use chemosynthesis to convert inorganic molecules found near these vents into organic molecules, similar to plants converting carbon dioxide into oxygen by using the energy from sunlight. Because of this, there are other invertebrates that feed on these bacteria. So “Earth’s only resident” is likely referring to one of these creatures, since we tend not to anthropomorphize bacteria.

    It piled up
    Man it was wall to wall
    Blink of an eye
    And all the problems solved

    I think this is alluding to international political tensions. I’m not sure when this song was written, but listening to it in August 2017, it’s hard not to think of the pathological and unstable North Korean dictator testing ICBMs and short range missiles, and taunting/threatening the US with its claimed capability to strike the US. It’s also even more worrying to think about the pathological and completely unfit US president returning the taunts, and scaring the shit out of a lot of people, demonstrating himself as unserious and unstable when it comes upholding norms. It’s also possible that this is just a general comment on living in a time when more nations have developed nuclear weapons capability. That fact, combined with an increase in terrorist group activities, and an increasingly nationalistic political movement in many countries, calls into question the stability we have taken for granted since the end of the Cold War. “And all the problems solved.” Well, I suppose the Affordable Care Act debate becomes moot in a nuclear winter.

    [Chorus]
    Let's all go play Nagasaki
    We can all get vaporized
    Hold my hand, let's turn to ash
    I'll see you on the other side

    Nagasaki is one of the cities (along with Hiroshima) that the US dropped an atomic bomb on at the end of WWII. These two attacks are the only times in history that nuclear weapons have been deliberately used. “Let’s all go play” seems to mock how little some people take the threat that nuclear weapons still pose. I don’t know if I’m the only one, but “hold my hand, let’s turn to ash” reminds me of “Ring around the rosies,” which, despite being a rather macabre song, is still a childhood song. It reinforces for me the song’s ridicule of lack of sobriety on such a serious topic. Like children at recess, we just want to play, and have no concept of the consequences of our actions. Or at least not a fully developed concept of those potential consequences. “I’ll see you on the other side” suggests what happens in this life doesn’t matter if you believe we all get another shot in heaven or hell, once we die.

    [Verse 2]
    Before the garden
    When you were all alone
    You made the atom
    Was that some inside joke

    This is the kind of clever word play that made me fall in love with Brand New. It reminds me a lot of something you might hear on Your Favorite Weapon or Deja Entendu, albeit on a much, much darker song. “Garden” is the Garden of Eden, and the first man God created, he called Adam. Or was it Atom? Of course, it was an atomic bomb the US dropped on Nagasaki.

    Open the gates
    And then conceal the path
    Let's load the gun
    And see how long they last

    “Open the gates and then conceal the path” might mean that God created the power of the atom to be within reach of humanity, but didn’t provide us with the capacity to understand the importance of that power. Or the dangers of it. Invoking the image of a loaded gun again reinforces the idea that the power of the atom has always existed, but it took life on Earth billions of years to learn how to access it (or just six thousand years if we’re sticking with the Biblical theme). It’s potential energy, potential violence, potential death. How long can we last with this knowledge? Will we be able to overcome our prejudices and limits as a society, and resist blowing each other up in the most devastating way possible? Or maybe it’s just inevitable that an accident will occur that kills everyone. It’s not hard to imagine, with nuclear disasters like Chernobyl and Fukishima.

    [Chorus]
    Let’s go ring and run the bunkers
    Baby won't you come outside?
    Across the sea the birds are free
    Let's watch them scream across the sky

    I’m honestly not sure what to make of this chorus. The only thought I have immediately is that the birds screaming across the sky are actually bombers. If our underwater friend from the first verse is the last resident on Earth, it seems to imply all other life has perished. These could be automated bombers, or drones. Or maybe they are missiles themselves.

    Let's all go and meet our maker
    They don't care whose side you're on
    We’re so afraid, I prayed and prayed
    Before I learned to love the bomb

    The maker doesn’t care what side you’re on. This is one of the most powerful lines in the song, in my opinion. Think about why wars are fought. Many (though not all) are fought between people who worship a different god. And whether you think of this in the context of the Cold War, or a more modern us vs. Islamic terrorists, or us vs. North Korea, we tend to think of ourselves as the good and moral people, and them as the corrupt and unprincipled and morally abhorrent. But in the end, a nuclear war kills people regardless of your beliefs. Even if one bomb went off somewhere remote on the other side of the world, there are ecological impacts from the fallout that will go much further. Especially if the bomb goes off in the atmosphere. Learning to love the bomb could suggest that he has decided to “let go and let God,” in other words, he has freed himself from worrying about the bomb because there’s nothing he can do about it, so why worry? This is before the end of the world, of course. It could also mean he loved the bomb because of the security it promised. No one’s going to nuke us, because we’ll nuke them back. Well, this song shows how misguided that trust is.

    [Chorus]
    Let’s all go play Nagasaki
    What a lovely way to die
    To finally show where we all go
    So no one has to say goodbye


    This is lovely because it is quick. No one bickers afterward. No one worries about consequences. No one has to say goodbye. This is very nihilistic view.

    Let’s all go and meet our maker
    Won’t matter whose side you’re on
    We’re so afraid, I prayed and prayed
    When God told me to love the bomb

    This verse subtly changes “Before I learned to love the bomb” to “When God told me to love the bomb.” This removes agency from the storyteller. He didn’t really learn to love the bomb, at least not willingly. He was forced to. He had no choice because the bomb was always there. In the potential of the atom. The atom has always been there. So this could be viewed either as the inevitability of humanity’s scientific knowledge outpacing it’s moral understanding, or it can be seen through the lense of the proponents of the nuclear arsenal, proselytizing the necessity of nuclear weapons.

    Overall this is a fantastic song. I love the barely audible “radio chatter” throughout the song. It adds to the idea of the nuclear war. “There goes the siren again.” As disturbing as I find this song in 2017, and as unsettling as it is to have an actual lunatic responsible for launching these world-changing weapons or not, I still think this is a beautiful song. I’m just impressed yet again by BN’s continual progression. I hope they don’t “stay 18 forever,” and continue to make new music, but if this is their last album, it’s a hell of a note to go out on.
    concretewateron August 25, 2017   Link
  • +1
    My InterpretationThis song is a most overt reference to both the science fiction great, Stanley Kubrick's, "Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Love the Bomb," as well as the current 2017 geopolitical climate (which, coincidentally, the 53 year old film still somehow manages to relate to as well).

    I don't think it is much deeper than that.
    bjn714on November 01, 2017   Link

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