It's a war on war
It's a war on war
It's a war on war
It's a war on war

It's a war on war
It's a war on war
It's a war on war
There's a war on

You're gonna lose
You have to lose
You have to learn how to die

Just watching the miles flying by
Just watching the miles flying by
You are not my typewriter
But you could be my demon
Moving forward through the flaming doors

You have to lose
You have to learn how to die
If you want to want to be alive, okay?

You have to lose
You have to lose
You have to learn how to die
If you want to want to be alive

You have to die
You have to die
You have to learn how to die
If you want to want to be alive, okay?


Lyrics submitted by OwnPersonalDemon

War on War Lyrics as written by Jay Bennett Jeff Tweedy

Lyrics © BMG Rights Management, Warner Chappell Music, Inc.

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War On War song meanings
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31 Comments

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  • +3
    General Comment

    this song reminds me of the Mayan origin myth, in which the playful founder-twins have to fight against the serious and warlike gods in a ballgame. the twins are fighting for their survival and for their fun way of life. in order to win, one of the twins must sacrifice himself (they use his head as a ball). in the end they win, and he comes back. the notion that its a war on war reminds me of balancing the seriousness of life and of course, death, with the joy that is possible if we learn to embrace death and enjoy life as much as possible. how can you be expected to really live, if you are constantly worried about the risk?

    kimgarbowon March 05, 2006   Link
  • +2
    General Comment

    To me this sounds like a drug addiction. You are not my type writer, but you could be my demon

    He's saying that I dont need to be on drugs to write songs, but drugs could destroy him.

    I think the message is that he has to suffer withdrawals, the low ends of drug addiction to truly give up. that's why he has to die to win the war (to give up drugs)

    bleach2470on May 10, 2008   Link
  • +1
    General Comment

    Jeff Tweedy and the band wrote YHF before sept. 11, so apparantly "War On War" has no connection the War On Terrorism. Have a listen to the recording of them at The World Carfe. He mentions all this during the interview!!

    Anyway, I really have no clue what he's referring to in this song, with all that in mind...

    suitenoiseon June 26, 2005   Link
  • +1
    General Comment

    I still have no idea what this one means, but it's so catchy :) The part about learning how to die in order to really live seems to be a recurring Wilco theme. Echoes Christianity, but I suspect Tweedy is referring to any number of transforming experiences in which a person completely submits to some overwhelming force and comes out a changed person.

    At any rate, I love the lyric, "You are not my typewriter/ but you could be my demon moving forward through flaming doors."

    walkinjingleon July 02, 2005   Link
  • +1
    General Comment

    kimgarbow, awsome connection with the Myan myth.

    I would suggest the war is Life versus Death. Obviously death will ultimately win and you (or your Life) will lose. Then, the War on War would be coming to terms with your own eventually death and learning how to live your life in enjoyment of each moment.

    However the lines "You are not my typewriter / But you could be my demon moving forward through flaming doors" does throw me through a bit of a loop. They stand out as the only lines that aren't repeated and being the most cryptic. Perhaps the narrator doesn't want "you" to just stay with him, remind him of things, and take letters for him; however if "you" want to stick around when the war is over, he'll throw you through the gates of hell to save his own soul. Hmm... that sounds a bit more savage than I thought it would.

    little_strangeron July 25, 2006   Link
  • +1
    General Comment

    What is war? It's a battle, a campaign, a fight against something. But it's also a metaphor for death, struggle, and pain. So a war on war is, in this context, I think, a fight against struggle, pain, and all the unpleasantries in life. It's the Prozac culture, in which everyone has some sort of unalienable right to be happy.

    But if you want to truly live, "you have to lose, you have to learn how to die if you wanna be alive." If you truly want to experience all the depth and complexity of life, you have to take your lumps, and lose your war on war. That doesn't mean you don't fight; you should always struggle to end your war, but when you lose, that's when you really live.

    This is a really cool song; I love it.

    stupid_nameon September 08, 2006   Link
  • +1
    General Comment

    "You have to learn how to die, if you want to be alive."

    It sounds a lot like something Jesus once said, that if you give up your life, or give up on just seeking things for yourself and learn to give your life to God and to other people, then you will find life. That's what I think of when I hear it, but I don't know if Tweedy is really into Jesus or not.

    rs1203on September 04, 2008   Link
  • +1
    General Comment

    "You have to learn how to die, if you want to be alive."

    It sounds a lot like something Jesus once said, that if you give up your life, or give up on just seeking things for yourself and learn to give your life to God and to other people, then you will find life. That's what I think of when I hear it, but I don't know if Tweedy is really into Jesus or not.

    rs1203on September 04, 2008   Link
  • +1
    General Comment

    IT HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH THE WAR ON TERRORISM. More likely the war within yourself.

    Blackburnon November 24, 2010   Link
  • +1
    My Interpretation

    Ok people first off the song isnt literal.. isnt about death lol or even war/military.. the main lyrics in this song is:

    "You have to learn how to die, if you want to be alive."

    Which means we all make mistakes/wrong choices in our life which we must learn from/which makes us a better person .. OR TO BE ALIVE... that's what i get from it.. in order to live properly/content you must make mistakes.. thats it.

    RupeshPatel27on June 05, 2013   Link

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