"I'm Afraid of Americans" as written by and Brian Eno David Bowie....
Johnny's in America
Low techs at the wheel

Nobody needs anyone
They don't even just pretend
Johnny's in America

I'm afraid of Americans
I'm afraid of the world
I'm afraid I can't help it
I'm afraid I can't

I'm afraid of Americans
I'm afraid of the world
I'm afraid I can't help it
I'm afraid I can't

I'm afraid of Americans

Johnny's in America

Johnny wants a brain
Johnny wants to suck on a Coke

Johnny wants a woman
Johnny wants to think of a joke

Johnny's in America

I'm afraid of Americans
I'm afraid of the world
I'm afraid I can't help it
I'm afraid I can't

I'm afraid of Americans
I'm afraid of the world
I'm afraid I can't help it
I'm afraid I can't

I'm afraid of Americans

Johnny's in America
Johnny looks up at the stars

Johnny combs his hair
And Johnny wants pussy in cars

Johnny's in America
Johnny's in America

I'm afraid of Americans
I'm afraid of the world
I'm afraid I can't help it
I'm afraid I can't

I'm afraid of Americans
I'm afraid of the world
I'm afraid I can't help it
I'm afraid I can't

I'm afraid of Americans

God is an American
God is an American

I'm afraid of Americans
I'm afraid of the world
I'm afraid I can't help it
I'm afraid I can't

I'm afraid of Americans
I'm afraid of the world
I'm afraid I can't help it
I'm afraid I can't

Yeah, I'm afraid of Americans
I'm afraid of the words
I'm afraid I can't help it
I'm afraid I can't

I'm afraid of Americans

Johnny's an American
Johnny's an American

Johnny's an American
Johnny's an American
Johnny's an American


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"I'm Afraid of Americans" as written by David Bowie Brian Peter George Eno

Lyrics © THE ROYALTY NETWORK INC., TINTORETTO MUSIC

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I'm Afraid of Americans song meanings
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57 Comments

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  • +7
    Song Meaning'Johnny' in the song is from 'John Doe' which is used to identify an unknown victim of a crime.

    'Coke' is NOT cocaine, but Coca-Cola, a worldwide image of America. Even in countries that are anti-America, they still love Coke.

    This song is simply saying that America and Americans are shallow and destructive; instead of adding to the world in a meaningful way, they take the basest and the easiest path.

    Compare THIS song about America to the song he wrote earlier in his career, 'Young Americans' and you can see how his views of America and Americans have changed.
    jsbst18on December 19, 2008   Link
  • +6
    General CommentI think in the song Mr. Bowie is expressing his fear of the Americanisation of the world:

    "I'm afraid of Americans
    I'm afraid of the world"

    He's afraid he is also being absorbed into the American culture against his will:

    "I'm afraid I can't help it
    I'm afraid I can't."

    And yes, he goes on to describe the things Americans seem to be obsessed with nowadays. Thinks like getting high, getting laid, and getting material posessions.

    "God is an American" has a double meaning. One, most Americans view god as a version of themselves. The biggest bible-thumpers in America are also the biggest patriots (generally speaking), be they military people or just people who like to scream "USA! USA!" at the top of their lungs. And two, God is the controller of the universe according to christian mythology, and in reality, Mr. Bowie feels that America is gaining control of the universe, hence god and America are the same thing.

    That's my take.
    RedDollShoeson August 25, 2010   Link
  • +3
    General CommentI'd be afraid of Americans too if Trent Reznor were chasing me around with that lustful look in his eye. :-]
    hairyliberalon November 25, 2004   Link
  • +3
    General CommentThe connotation of this song is obvious: David Bowie is worried about the state of American culture...afraid of it even. Like he says, "Nobody needs anyone. They don't even just pretend." Every man is a castle in America (everyone living the rugged individualist's wet dream), and there is no cohesive culture to speak of. There is no respect, not even recognition, for one's neighbors and fellow men and women here. So, inevitably, there is vast exploitation and manipulation...hedonism enabled via stepping on the toes of others...validated through the antiquated belief systems called modern religions. Some would say Americans are so boisterously arrogant and selfish as to call god (gods?) one of their own. Many have validated this country's financial and technological success in this way. David Bowie sees this greed, arrogance, carelessness, and exploitation and worries for the world. After all, the world has looked to America in the past for direction.

    Ironically, when this song was first released, we knew not what the last 8 years could possibly hold for American culture. But it seems as if David Bowie's worst fears have actually materialized. Our self-centered culture has finally caught up with us. Now the world must pay for it.
    rog27on December 09, 2008   Link
  • +3
    General CommentI am in love with this song, people. Bowie + Treznor = Dream Team
    exacerbatingon November 19, 2009   Link
  • +2
    General Commentwow... this ^^ is exactly what is wrong with the states and what he was writing about (i know the songs not about iraq ) .....just America's supposed "manifest destiny"
    sam_I_amon April 02, 2005   Link
  • +2
    General Comment"God is an American..."

    Sends shivers down my spine each time I hear it. Just totally captures how egocentric the average U.S. citizen can be.
    unoit4realon February 04, 2010   Link
  • +2
    Song Meaningunoit4real wrote:

    "God is an American..."

    Sends shivers down my spine each time I hear it. Just totally captures how egocentric the average U.S. citizen can be.

    >>>>

    I get shivers too, but I think the song ends on a very different note. The whole video, for example, you see Bowie creating all these illusory fears for himself. About US violence, about the things Americans are interested in and pursue. Then whenever he brings himself back to reality (taking a second look, maybe that means thinking for himself rather than listening to the media), he sees that the fears are irrational. That Americans are not gun-loving nuts (at least not the ordinary Americans, the people he sees in the video). The priests and the police (societal order) do their job, citizens (the young African kids, the old man, the girl who is doing spray paint art) are all reasonable. Each time, they look at Bowie like HE is the weirdo (and they do this, because HE IS). At the end, the "Day of the Dead" is probably the heaviest part of the whole song. As here you can see all the people Bowie thought were violent (the priest, Jonny, the others), having what you could understand as a celebration of life. I'd say the most cool thing about the end is Trent carrying his own cross. And don't put religion into that either. Just look at it as a symbol. Trent could be carrying nothing more in opposition to what Bowie's prejudices were.
    aglorinczon August 27, 2011   Link
  • +1
    General Commenti didn't read every post so if i repeat something someone already said im sorry but i always thought this song was about capitalism and how me and my fellow americans only want things and as the rest of the world becomes capitalist hes scared they will start to act the same way.
    spookykidon June 19, 2003   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI don't think the song's a real overview of American culture - I think it's a look at the ugly side of it. In the video, half the time the guy is seeing things, so it's like, this is his perspective, and it's not totally wrong, but it's not all like that.

    That said, I think it's an awesome look at that ugly side. It seems more like an attack on consumer culture than America, it's just that consumer culture is so huge in America, and in turn, America has this huge influence on the world. Amen, plutoniandoll - that 'god is an american' bit is very powerful. And hard to work out! I think it's in line with this being a look at the ugly side of America, it's like - God made America so powerful, so is he Johnny's God? Does he want everyone to be a white middle class capitalist with 2.4 kids, does he say thou shalt not kill unless there's a trespasser, in which case get your gun; sure, invade Iraq, yeah, Coca-cola and pussy and cars is all there is to life?
    lizeyon July 07, 2007   Link

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