White people are so scared of black people
They bulldoze out to the country
And put up houses on little loop-dee-loop streets
And while america gets its heart cut right out of its chest
The Berlin wall still runs down main street
Separating east side from west
And nothing is stirring, not even a mouse
In the boarded-up stores and the broken-down houses
So they hang colorful banners off all the street lamps
Just to prove they got no manners
No mercy and no sense

And I'm wondering what it will take
For my city to rise
First we admit our mistakes
Then we open our eyes
The ghosts of old buildings are haunting parking lots
In the city of good neighbors that history forgot

I remember the first time I saw someone
Lying on the cold street
I thought: I can't just walk past here
This can't just be true
But I learned by example
To just keep moving my feet
It's amazing the things that we all learn to do

So we're led by denial like lambs to the slaughter
Serving empires of style and carbonated sugar water
And the old farm road's a four-lane that leads to the mall
And our dreams are all guillotines waiting to fall

I'm wondering what it will take
For my country to rise
First we admit our mistakes
And then we open our eyes
Or nature succumbs to one last dumb decision
And america the beautiful
Is just one big subdivision

Lyrics submitted by aur0ra

Subdivision Lyrics as written by Ani Difranco


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Subdivision song meanings
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  • 0
    General Comment

    this song always amazes me and breaks my heart- i live in a rich suburb so find it applies quite well. I won't be a hypocrite though- the verse about someone lying in the street i find too- when i was younger I felt so sad about them and now I guess I see it usually as a plea for alcohol, something less than a person. Beautiful, haunting song

    littlenightowlon July 18, 2002   Link
  • 0
    General Comment

    this is such an amazing song. i am a dancer and the first time i heard this song was watching it performed at a dance competition. it literally brought me to tears listening to the words as they intertwined with the dancing. everything about this song is true. i live in a place that used to be a small farming town that is now overpopulated and pretty much busting at the seams. there's terrible traffic, malls and shopping centers everywhere, and new housing developments going up in the place where there used to be forests. the line " the old farm road's a four-lane that leads to the mall" really hits home because where i come from, that statement is completely true.

    RockOn947on March 18, 2003   Link
  • 0
    General Comment

    On the 2003 live album "Sacramento," Ani says that she wrote this song about her hometown of Buffalo, NY, and all of the details ring so true for me.

    "The Berlin Wall runs down Main Street" - Buffalo is still unfortunately a very segregated city, and Main Street is the dividing line between Black and White/Asian/Latino communities. (Ethnicity map: buffalorising.com/2010/09/race-and-ethnicity-buffalo.html)

    "The ghosts of old buildings are haunting parking lots" makes me think of a specific parking lot I walk past frequently at the corner of Swan Street and Michigan Ave, where Maria Love's Fitch Creche used to stand. The building next to it is still there and you can see the ghostly outline on the brick where the smaller building used to be. The Fitch Creche was the first daycare in the United States and an important piece of history, but it was torn down in the 90s for a parking lot and now you'd never know what had been there if it weren't for the internet.

    And I know what you mean about people on the street. When I first moved here from the suburbs, the sight of homeless people really moved me and I remember seriously considering offering to let them stay at my apartment (but I had roommates who would sensibly object, and I was just plain scared). At this point I've become used to it. It's kind of sad the things we can get used to.

    wildflowerfeveron September 17, 2012   Link

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