Once a great iron works
Stood at the end of my street
And they hauled in The Monitor
Fit her with armor
For to save the union fleet

The River James was on fire
As The Merrimack thundered and raged
And she seemed so colossal and so unstoppable
Until the two engaged
And inside the sound
A deafening din, round after round, again and again
Shattering down, shattering down, shattering down

The neighborhood's quiet at night
But sometimes my ears still ring
And you think I'd understand
That a rock-n-roll band
Doesn't mean a blessed thing
But I picture the poor crew stunned
When the cannons did finally subside
How they stand on the deck
With the sun at their neck
And they wonder if they're still alive
And I try to shout
But none of them hear
They're moving their mouths
But the blood in their ears
Is running down, running down, running down

And we're singing la da da da da da
And we're singing la da da da da da
And we're singing la da da da da da
But what then?

It's stunning to know I've survived
But I'm not sure what I'm fighting for anymore
And when I break another string
And continue to sing
Is that courage? I'm not sure.
When the ironclads drifted apart
Still blue and still gray
The men shoveled in the coal
And worked the pumps in the hull
Just like every other day
And none of them knew
Oh, none of them cared
How much it just changed right then and right there
They just carried on, carried on, carried on

And we're singing la da da da da da
And we're singing la da da da da da
And we're singing la da da da da da
But what then?

And we're singing la da da da da da
And we're singing la da da da da da
And we're singing la da da da da da
But what then?

Lyrics submitted by vivi chang

The Monitor Lyrics as written by Justin Rice Christian Rudder

Lyrics © ROUGH TRADE PUBLISHING, Kobalt Music Publishing Ltd.

Lyrics powered by LyricFind

The Monitor song meanings
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  • +1
    General Commentthis song is amazing.. just the picture it creates is so haunting
    wolflikemeon December 09, 2006   Link
  • +1
    General Comment"It's stunning to know I've survived
    But I don't know what I'm fighting for anymore
    And when I break another string
    And continue to sing,
    Is that courage? I'm not sure"

    ----This song to me talks about how any war, even a just war, can leave men questioning if it was worth it. Also, the song does an excellent job of pointing out "how much it just changed right then and right there". It is often overlooked just how profoundly this first modern naval battle changed the nature of warfare the world over.
    rintintinearon October 28, 2008   Link
  • +1
    General CommentThe context for a song about this battle is hinted in the song: The Monitor became the Union's first ironclad warship at a shipyard in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, where band members were living ("Once a great ironworks stood at the end of my street"). Incidentally, "The Same Fire" was written about that same building burning down, and was released a month after this song during the year of monthly EPs.

    For all the song's splendid historical detail about the ships and the battle, it's being used as a metaphor in line with some of the earlier comments about how we undertake these difficult transitions in our lives and how that actually affects our day to day workings vs. internal life.

    Also, Bishop Allen can time travel (clearly) and were playing on the deck of one of the ships (though they won't reveal which) during the battle.
    celestialblenderon August 07, 2010   Link
  • 0
    General Commentthis song is fucking awesome.
    fursoftasfuron January 08, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General Commenti would love to have a chat with christian and justin about this song.
    suckeranddryon October 13, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General Comment:) hes singing about my state!
    i have no idea what this songs supposed to mean, i just know it talks about the civil war. and the battle of the monitor and the merrimack and the james river in virginia.
    pimpmylizon November 05, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI think Bishop Allen (the band...I don't know specific names, so the band is a "he" for further purposes) is questioning the meaning of life without living through something like this. He recognizes moments he has pushed through, and does so, yet can only continue to the question life. He is examing how some men that live through things gain a better respect for life, and for that, he respects them.
    blueoftheskyon November 08, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThis is such a great song. I think it calls into question "What is bravery?" "What is life?"

    Things that seem important to us pale in comparison to things that have happened to other people. Is it courage for him to keep playing when he breaks a string? In context of other musicians, then yes. In context of a battle between the two fiercest war machines of the Civil War, and the men trapped inside of the giant iron machines shoveling coal while they feel their ship shaking and rattling with each hit? Not at all.

    It's a beautiful song that makes us think about context and life. Just because we're not bravely manning a post in a ship that could sink at any moment without us even knowing doesnt mean we dont face our own trials that seem important and difficult to us.
    daybreaker2on January 20, 2009   Link
  • 0
    General CommentIts stunning to know that so many folks don't know their countries history. The Monitor and the Merrimack is a well documented naval engagement during the War between the States. The fight is considered the precursor to future naval battles. This song is a narrative of the battle between the two ships. The speaker is aboard/watching over the Monitor. Its pretty straight forward. I am standing on the Merrimack's deck during the whole song.
    larkin127on May 29, 2010   Link

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