Mama, they try and break me

The window burns to light the way back home
A light that warms no matter where they’ve gone
They’re off to find the hero of the day
But what if they should fall by someone’s wicked way?

Still the window burns
Time so slowly turns
And someone there is sighing
Keepers of the flames
Do you feel your name?
Did you hear your babies crying?

Mama, they try and break me
Still they try and break me

Excuse me while I tend to how I feel
These things return to me that still seem real
Now, deservingly, this easy chair
But the rocking stopped by wheels of despair

Don’t want your aid
But the fist I make
For years can’t hold or feel
No, I’m not all me
So please excuse me while I tend to how I feel

But now the dreams and waking screams
That ever last the night
So build the wall, behind it crawl
And hide until it’s light
So can you hear your babies crying now?

Still the window burns
Time so slowly turns
And someone there is sighing
Keepers of the flames
Can't you feel your names?
Can't you hear your babies crying?

But now the dreams and waking screams
That ever last the night
So build a wall, behind it crawl
And hide until it’s light
So can’t you hear your babies crying now?

Mama, they try and break me
Mama, they try and break me
Mama they try
Mama they try


Lyrics submitted by elmoz, edited by Ashram

Hero of the Day song meanings
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110 Comments

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  • +5
    General CommentI think this song is far more personal to James than being about soldiers off to war but everyone is entitled to their interpretation. It has a great dream like quality, rich in symbolism. Ultimately it is about James' feelings toward his mother. Remember that he starts the song addressing his mother.

    There is a tradition where a lighted candle is lit and left in the window to help travellers find their way back home. In this song it sets a metaphor of the home being the family and the love that holds the family together. That love keeps a person returning to their family, their mother, throughout the journey of life. The travelers represent the author who like all children sets out on the journey of life looking to be cared for. A hero is someone who saves you, protects you and cares for you. This also the role of a mother. The Hero of the Day that he seeks is his mother.

    But in this case something is wrong because the window itself is lit on fire suggesting that the person at home is over zealous in their desire for the travellers to return. Their love could actually destroy the home. The idea of being overwhelmed by his mother's love is common in James lyrics, like the Apron strings around his neck in Mama Said or the fury he feels in Dyer's Eve. And just as in Dyer's Eve he feels unprepared to face the world due to being sheltered from it by his mother, James expresses that same fear and anger toward his mother because now that he is on this journey and she is gone he feels vulnerable to the world and worries that he may fall by someone's wicked ways. He wonders if his mother can hear her baby crying, does she know the pain he feels? All he can hear is her sighing. Now that she is dead all that remains is the whispers of her voice in her mind.

    As the song progresses you feel that transition from the soothing mellow intro that is like being cradled by his mother's love to that furious anger expressed as the music breaks into the verse about the dreams and the waking screams which is him living through the pain and anger he feels toward a mother he can no longer reconcile with. And then of course the song ends with the repetition of the whole point of the song, that the world is trying to break him and his need to feel her love again. Always James wants love but is afraid of it because love is control to him.
    DirtyRottenImbon January 24, 2015   Link
  • +2
    General Commentgreat song by a great band. METALLICA FUCKING ROCKS
    laquishaon June 16, 2002   Link
  • +2
    General CommentYeah I agree that it's definitely about war...

    'These things return to me that still seem real
    Now, deservingly, this easy chair
    But the rocking stopped by wheels of despair'

    Maybe talking about flashbacks but now he's safe..

    'Don't want your aid
    But the fist I make
    For years can't hold or feel'

    He doesn't want anyone's help..

    But now the dreams and waking screams
    That ever last the night

    Again,flashbacks..

    'So can you hear your babies crying now?'

    In agreence that this could be vietnam reference as when the war was on Johnson was preoccupied with it and ignored problems at home in America...

    meh
    grungeJUNKIE03on June 24, 2009   Link
  • +1
    Song MeaningFirst, this is a fantastic song because it can mean so many different things to so many different people. That said, let me give what it means to me.

    The first part of the song is a reference to soldiers going off to war and how there thoughts are always on home. The line "if they should fall by someone's wicked way" is about falling in battle.

    The second part is about how so many soldiers continue to fight the war after they come home. "no, I'm not all me" is about how a soldier is forever changed into a different person by war, while "things return to me that still seem real" is a clear reference to PTSD, along with "but now the dreams and waking screams that ever last the night".

    I think the song refers to how a soldier going off to war is "the hero of the day" and then how different it is when they come home. Even things like "don't want your aid", clearly about how a lot of soldiers try to deal with PTSD themselves instead of seeking help.
    Just my 2 cents worth.
    tigsdadon August 10, 2010   Link
  • +1
    General CommentHero of the Day Interpretation: Personal victory is within our reach. Each person in this war is fighting not to win, but to find their honor.
    What if someone fighting, dies in vein?
    The fight is so long and hard, it's easy to become discouraged. Keepers of these inner flames that thirst for honor, can you acknowledge
    the ones who care about you, praying for your safe return from your journey? Your loved ones want you with them, not your dream of
    personal conquest. Will the enemy break my will? They haven't relented. Now this fight seems so vein, remembering the reason I was brought here.
    It seems I can relax now, I've remembered the reason for the fight, I shall deservingly sit on the chair of righteousness. But it's too late, I can't return
    back to the way things were because I now live in shame for my vanity. I've made these mistakes, and now I have to reconcile them without confiding
    in the ones I've loved, I have to do it myself(or with God). I've become a hardened person fighting this war. I've lost the ability to feel.
    Please excuse me while I fight my inner demons so that I can save myself from making anyone else a hardened person. So I seek emotional shelter while
    I recover from the trauma of fighting, until I've cleansed myself of the demons(little metal things coming out of the kid's ear, unconsciousness is the
    wall in this case). The war in my mind continues, I have to fight these demons before it's too late and I can never feel emotion again. Mama, they try
    and break me while I cleanse myself of these inner demons. They try, but I will put up my best fight. Even if I fail, at least I've tried. The metal
    demons are expunged from the kid's mind, the inner battle will eventually die down and peace will be restored.
    theronon December 30, 2011   Link
  • +1
    Song MeaningThis song is about love, a broken heart, returning home with battle scars of a woman who is now looking for a new hero of the day.

    They’re off to find the hero of the day
    But what if they should fall by someone’s wicked way?

    Mama, can't you hear your baby crying?
    heroofthedayon May 16, 2015   Link
  • 0
    General CommentLost in the world with only one person to look to. This sentence basically sums everything up for me. Both released versions of this song are awesome, but I like to think the S&M version is better due to the deeper, melancholy sounds to it. To me, the one person I can look to to understand my feelings and thoughts is myself, so naturally, I find this song to be of great intriguing value to myself.
    Listen and Feel.
    mo0stahon January 14, 2002   Link
  • 0
    General Commentit's pretty vague lyrically, as it seems to almost be talking about different things. what i feel he is saying is similar to mo0stah, but it involves looking up to someone who is not quite the hero of the day you thought they were.
    DrivenInHiFion March 11, 2002   Link
  • 0
    General Commentcould this be a reference to the vietnam war? i recall, vaguely, reading that Hetfeild's brother was a protester back in the day. one might certainly read that way, and it just seems there's that consistent theme there, of someone gone that's not coming home.
    shoelesszon May 01, 2002   Link
  • 0
    General CommentIt's about people who like to worship the people in the media and all, when the people you really should be is who you meet in everyday life.
    King Nothingon May 03, 2002   Link

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