Up the hill past 694, at the stone wall make a left,
and I will see you soon my friend if these old directions still direct.
Is the problem that we can't see or is it that the problem is beautiful to me?
The birds of Virginia are flying within you
and like background singers they all come in threes.

Won't soul music change
now that our souls have turned strange.
Once a day, twice a day...
And when on and off collide
we'll set our souls aside and walk away.

We've been raised on replicas of fake and winding roads
and day after day up on this beautiful stage
we've been playing tambourine for minimum wage
but we are real, I know we are real.

Repair is the dream of the broken thing.
Like a message broadcast on an overpass
all my favorite singers couldn't sing.
My ski vest has buttons like convenience store mirrors
and they help me see, that everything in this room right now is a part of me.

Won't soul music change
now that our souls have tured strange.
Once a day, twice a day...
And when on and off collide
we'll set our souls aside and walk away.

Realizing is how it feels inside when it happens to you.
So I took a shot of sugar like snow dumped into the blood
and children wander off into the ultra-economic
but we are real I know we are real.


Lyrics submitted by 3ric

We Are Real song meanings
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6 Comments

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  • +2
    General CommentI think as much as anything, and all the messages about what is real/fake, there is a lot of commentary on the music industry. There is reference to the way music is played and performed and a plea to musicians to drop the superficial and theatrical antics that is common in music, particularly this verse:-

    'We've been raised on replicas of fake and winding roads
    and day after day up on this beautiful stage
    we've been playing tambourine for minimum wage
    but we are real, I know we are real.'

    Raised could be taken two ways - talking about the way that music was (the music they were raised on), or literally raised, as in, touring around whilst on show. Yet there's not hate of the music itself, hence 'beautiful stage'. The idea of 'tambourine... minimum wage' is obviously a cliché, hence why it's followed by a 'but'.

    This is also re-enforced with the line, 'All my favourite singers couldn't sing'; there's a lot of criticism about the norms of the mainstream music industry in this. Silver Jews have commented in interviews that this isn't just a homage to the likes of Bob Dylan, but also a reminder to people that what actually constitutes as singing isn't always as so, and like all things, is relative to taste. "Singing" is singing, regardless of the inverted commas. This also comes into the line 'Won't soul music change' - as people's tastes change, so will what is regarded as good music.

    'Shot of sugar' probably is a cocaine reference, which also adds into the ideals of traditional musician's identity - and it makes me wonder if the narrative is referencing drugs earlier in the song as well. It's explain a lot about 'souls going strange/ Once a day, Twice a day...', although I sort of wonder if that's a side effect of the musician's life in general.

    I think there's a feeling of disorientation and loss of identity with performing, at least, and the 'we are real' is an attempt to assure. Things of beauty are related into musical ideas (birds of Viriginia in threes).

    Yet there's a laid-back approach towards it 'is that the problem that is beautiful to me?', for instance. Regardless of all this supposed superficiality, the narrative remains real, and perhaps there's not a problem with having buttons like mirrors in convenience stores, or tacky/fake things. Sometimes there's personal meaning in something tacky. I think that's also an angle this song is trying to take.

    I think there's a lot of double meanings in this song, and it's a real interesting one since there's plenty of valid and justified interpretations one can take.
    Krautfunkoon March 15, 2012   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI'm not sure, but I think this song is talking about how his music is just a reflection of his life and vice versa...
    Unrighton September 06, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI love this song so much, especially this bit:

    We've been raised on replicas of fake and winding roads
    And day after day up on this beautiful stage
    We've been playing tambourine for minimum wage
    But we are real, I know we are real.
    leahperon March 22, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General Comment"all my favorite singers couldn't sing"--I quote this whenever someone tells me how fantastic acapella is... Dylan, Lou Reed, Elvis Costello, Willie Nelson, Kris Kristofferson, etc.
    camera123on April 25, 2010   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThe song sounds like a melancholy reflection of the independent musician...and that modern music is artificial and musicians have lost their integrity. Despite the fact the narrator is 'playing tamborines for minimum wage' and struggling with artistic identity and expression, he's basically saying at least I still have my integrity and music will reflect his soul, not what other's expect to hear.
    Clownshoeson July 17, 2014   Link
  • -1
    General Comment"and like background singers they all come in threes."

    It's black background singers.
    JFISHAUFon July 30, 2008   Link

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