"Helicopters" as written by and Steven/robertson Page....
This is where the helicopters came to take me away
This is where the children used to play

This is only half a mile away from the attack
This is where my life changed in a day,
And then it changed back
Buried in the din of rotor noise and close explosions
I do my best to synthesize the sounds and my emotions
This is where the allies bombed the school,
They say by mistake
Here nobody takes me for a fool, just for a fake
Later at the hotel bar, the journalists are waiting
I hurry back to my guitar while they're commiserating

And I'll be leaving soon
I'll be leaving soon

Just as soon as we were on the ground,
We're back in the jet
Just another three-day foreign tour we'd never forget
It's hard to sympathize with all this devastation
Hopping 'round from site to site like tourists on vacation

And I'll be leaving soon
I'll be leaving soon

I can't help anyone 'cause everyone's so cold
Everyone's so skeptical of everything they're told
And even I get sick of needing to be sold

Though it's only half a month away, the media's gone
An entertaining scandal broke today, but I can't move on
I'm haunted by a story and I do my best to tell it
Can't even give this stuff away, why would I sell it?
Everybody's laughing, while at me they point a finger
A world that loves its irony must hate the protest singer

So I'll be leaving soon
I'll be leaving soon
I'll be leaving soon
I'll be leaving soon


Lyrics submitted by ojms

"Helicopters" as written by Steven Page Ed Robertson

Lyrics © Warner Chappell Music, Inc.

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Helicopters song meanings
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21 Comments

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  • +2
    General CommentThe term "allies" does not apply just to WWII, it applies to all wars really, they used in it Korea, Vietnam, The Gulf Wars...

    This is just a simple anti-war song in my opinion, told from the point of view of a soldier/songwriter living through it.

    And am I the only one who hears a sample of the MASH theme song in the bridge?
    pinkoon August 19, 2005   Link
  • +1
    General CommentTalking about helicopters in taking him away, it isn't from WWII, since helicopters were not used for war then (They may have been a very rare use of them, but nothing to comment on).

    I would think more of Vietnam.

    "Everybody's laughing, while at me they point a finger" To me, this line is talking about the Protestors (Of Vietnam) and how they would throw stones at them as they returned, etc, even though it was not their choice to go fight.

    A very strong song, especially the line,
    "This is where the children used to play"
    theunicycleguyon January 31, 2006   Link
  • +1
    General CommentThis is a great song

    I agree with Project Shadows. This is all about journalists.

    The first part is all about how a journalist is surveying a war scene. He says this is where his life changed (from seeing the carnage) but we know it doesn't really affect him (his life changes back in an instant). His whole goal is to make violence and war "sensational" for viewers.

    At the hotel he meets with other jaded journalists (who take him for a sensationalist fake). He'll be leaving soon, as he says.

    He treats his job (which is looking and reporting war scenes) as a vaction. He spends three days here, three days there and doesn't really care about the victims of war. He's shallow as hell.

    He claims "everyone's so cold" "everyone's so skeptical" and that the audience is jaded and is only looking for prime time viewing (justifying his actions).

    Half a month later, every journalist has forgotten about the war and dying people in whatever country. They're all covering an entertaining scadel. He can't move on, he's got to report it. So he starts making a big fuss about it, and everyone who no longer cares laughs at him.

    That's just my opinion.
    Occams_Harmonyon April 16, 2006   Link
  • +1
    General Commentwhat a great song. I grew up with this album. this might be the best from the album.
    T_D_Phoenixon June 22, 2006   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI feel as though its about vietnam, as that was the war that symbolizes the mass bombings of an area and the extensive use of helicopters to jump from site to site.

    Also, maybe "An entertaining scandal broke today" refers to watergate?
    Zhfcon July 27, 2007   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI'm surprised no one's mentioned the last few lines -- they completely change the meaning of the song. The narrator keeps mentioning that he'll be leaving (presumably the country) soon. He hates the journalists because they don't really care or understand what happened. At the end, though, the chorus is used in a very different context:

    "A world that loves it's irony must hate the protest singer... so I'll be leaving soon."

    Leaving, not the country, but the WORLD. At the end of the song he decides to kill himself because he can't escape the memory of what he saw, and because the world seems completely blind to it.
    TheTANKon May 23, 2008   Link
  • +1
    My InterpretationThe narrator himself is fictional, but is rather obviously patterned after singer Bruce Cockburn, whose "Lovers in a Dangerous Time" was covered by BNL as part of the Cockburn tribute album "Kick at the Darkness".

    The first half of the song recounts a fictionalized version of Cockburn's visit to Guatemala (updated for the purposes of the song into a late 1990s Balkan war), and how it inspired his "If I Had a Rocket Launcher".

    "This is where the helicopters came"

    telegraphs this straight away by alluding to the first line of IIHaRL: "Here comes a helicopter, second time today".

    The first half of "Helicopters" has the singer tagging along with a bevy of TV reporters covering a Kosovo-like conflict. The reporters see him as nothing but an opportunist:

    "Here nobody takes me for a fool, just for a fake"

    This interlude of tragedy and horror makes for quite a jarring addition to his routine as a performer:

    "Just as soon as we were on the ground, we're back in the jet"
    "Just another three-day foreign tour we'd never forget"

    (shades here also of Cockburn's "Tokyo")

    In the second half he is disheartened at how easily the press moves on from the war to the next "important" story.

    "Though it's only half a month away, the media's gone"
    "An entertaining scandal broke today, but I can't move on"

    He tries to use his song to draw attention to the real tragedy of the situation...

    "I'm haunted by a story and I do my best to tell it"

    But "Helicopers" suggests that times have changed since Cockburn's era--the singer's efforts are greeted with ridicule. People have become so jaded that they assume he's just one more self-promoting windbag. He is indignant at this; after all, he hasn't profited by his choice of subject.

    "Can't even give this stuff away, why would I sell it?"

    The song suggests that no-one today would follow Cockburn's example because no-one dares to speak in earnest to a public that is incorrigibly cynical;

    "A world that loves its irony must hate the protest singer"

    and so the days of the protest singer have passed, possibly never to return.

    "I'll be leaving soon"
    TheForbinProjecton July 08, 2010   Link
  • 0
    General CommentNo one has commented on this yet? It always shocks me when some of my favorites have no comments!
    this song is pretty deep but fun and well written at the same time. I"d love to know what this was written about. I'm sure its about a real event but i'm lost as to what it might be.
    Kayla610on May 04, 2003   Link
  • 0
    General CommentWell, a simple google search told me. They were asked to play a concert in Colorado for the survivors of Columbine by Teen People magazine. THey refused because they realized this was just a marketing ploy for Teen people magazine, and not something truly meant for the survivors of Columbine.
    yay for BNL taking a stand. Much respect.
    Kayla610on May 04, 2003   Link
  • 0
    General CommentWell, Kayla, it's a good theory, but I'm not quite convinced. Some of the things they say in the lyrcis seem to suggest an event that occurred during WWII. For example:
    "This is where the Allies bombed the school, they say by mistake."
    "Just another three-day foreign tour we'd never forget."
    Both of which seem to suggest that the song is written from the perspective of someone else at the sight of WWII bombing sites, not necessarily themselves at Columbine (although they could be making a comparison between that event and their Columbine concert request).
    Imnotsureon February 18, 2005   Link

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