In the suburbs I
I learned to drive
And you told me we'd never survive
Grab your mother's keys we're leaving

You always seemed so sure
That one day we'd be fighting in a suburban war
Your part of town against mine
I saw you standing on the opposite shore
But by the time the first bombs fell
We were already bored
We were already, already bored

Sometimes I can't believe it
I'm moving past the feeling
Sometimes I can't believe it
I'm moving past the feeling again

The kids wanna be so hard
But in my dreams, we're still screaming and running through the yard
And all of the walls that they built in the seventies finally fall
And all of the houses they built in the seventies finally fall
Meant nothing at all
Meant nothing at all
It meant nothing

Sometimes I can't believe it
I'm moving past the feeling
Sometimes I can't believe it
I'm moving past the feeling and into the night

So can you understand?
Why I want a daughter while I'm still young
I wanna hold her hand
Show her some beauty before this damage is done
But if it's too much to ask, if it's too much to ask
Then send me a son

Under the overpass
In the parking lot, we're still waiting
It's already passed
So move your feet from hot pavement and into the grass
'Cause it's already passed
It's already, already passed

Sometimes I can't believe it
I'm moving past the feeling
Sometimes I can't believe it
I'm moving past the feeling again

I'm moving past the feeling
I'm moving past the feeling

In my dreams, we're still screaming
We're still screaming
We're still screaming

Lyrics submitted by RickButt, edited by razer951

The Suburbs Lyrics as written by Regine Chassagne Jeremy Gara

Lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

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The Suburbs song meanings
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  • +21
    My Interpretation

    The dreams you had as a kid in the suburbs with your friends are so quickly forced through the meat grinder of life that that they began to fade, even back then you were "already bored". And today while only a remnant of those feelings exist you find yourself "moving past" them again, and you only realize it when you look introspectively and it baffles you cause you know before long those feelings and dreams will be gone.

    Hopefully I can have a daughter too while I'm young, before I'm lost to the mediocrity of the real world.

    ytmndon June 05, 2010   Link
  • +13
    General Comment

    This album is about the inevitable destruction of the west. It says there will be no sudden explosion, no atom bomb, no religious apocalypse to wipe the slate clean. Instead western society will simply decline to the point of social captivity and the dominance of the few over the many. This song portays someone's life at the start of this innevitable and slow apocolypse. The song starts will a happy — go — lucky honky tonk piano. The basic and mostly major chord structure jangles along nicely the only blemish being Am to E which sound oh so slightly wrong. “In the suburbs I learnt to drive” the lyrics are told reflectively with a sense of innocence, of living a normal life with a family and a car. The author tells through the eyes of innocence how he is forced away from a friend who was 'standing on the opposite shore' but “by the bombs fell we were already bored”. Society doesn't care, it has come to accept the violence, the hatred, this is normal. In the chorus the bass becomes heavy and distorted, creating an more ominous tone compared to the blissfully ignorant verse. “somtimes I can't believe it, I'm moving past the feeling”. Sometimes the author is able to step out of the brainwash of society, the media etc and see the madness that is unfolding around him. But he is moving past the feeling, these moments are becoming rare, he is beginning not to care, he is coming to accept the madness. And all the while the heavy bass pounds along relentlessly. The second verse is quite specific in that it details how 'kids wana be so hard' (they have grown up in a world which trains them to be soldiers) and the peace movements of the past have ultimately failed, “and all of the houses they built in the 70's finally fall, meant nothing at all it meant nothing”. When the second chorus hits ethereal strings accompany the bass creating a sense of great loss as your heart rises to your throat. This mirrors the shame of the author at the failure of society and his inability to change it or even acknowledge it within himself. He must hide this feeling, he must tell himself that it is wrong to feel this way and that these feeling are crazy. He must move past the feeling and into the night. “So can you understand why I want a daughter while I'm still young?” Can you understand why he would want to show his daughter the beauty of the world before it is destroyed. Why he would want to remind himself that there was once another world in another time. He is begging for this. But if its too much to ask, he will have a son and he will accept defeat in the face of overwhelming darkness. He will submit himself and sacrifice his children to this monster. In his heart the author knows that the point of no return has been passed, the world will never be the same again. “So move your feet from hot pavement and into the grass” (the safe comfortable suburbs, surrender) “Cause its already past, its already already passed”. “We're still screaming”

    gregattackon June 24, 2012   Link
  • +9
    General Comment

    It's very conflicting being a kid from the suburbs who has escaped, originally full of distain for what you leave behind, the monotony, the cookie-cutter ways, but at the same time realizing that the best times of your life were those when you were bored out of your gourd with your friends in your youth. The song really touched me, and I'm just going to go through it bit by bit and let you all know what it meant to me. It may not be the meaning they were going for, but it's how the song touched my soul.

    The way it came off to me, I don't think the verses are meant to be chronological, they're just snippets of a childhood spent in the 'burbs in the 70s and 80s. You learn to drive, your friends joke that you're going to kill them all, but who care, you're the one with the license, let's grab the keys and go.

    The suburban war seems more innocent to me, more like the imaginary wars you'd dream up with the kids from the other side of the subdivision - but by the time you set out all the rules and home-bases and such, that ever-present boredom struck and everyone wanted to run off and do something else.

    Kids do want to be so hard. They're always in a hurry to prove that they're grown up and don't want to show weakness through emotions because acting "like a baby" is the last thing you ever want to do, yet those times of unabashed joy, running and screaming through the yards are the things that stick with you for years later. Those memories are often all that there is left now, since the walls to these subdivisions and even whole sections of housing we grew up with are now being razed or are in such terrible states that our memories no longer mesh with what's present reality. All we have now are the dreams, the memories, so what was it all worth? What did it all mean?

    Having a kid when you're still young means that there may still be a few of those physical touchstones around while you're raising your own, show them the beauty that made up the pillars of your memories while you can... daughters may be a little more receptive to such talk, since you often have to flesh out what's there with words instead just sights, but of course, you'll do your best if you end up with sons as well.

    Back to the teen years, hanging out in the parking lots or under the overpasses, anywhere you can just be together away from possible parental meddling, just waiting for the time that you can get out of there, away from all this nothingness, yet that nothingness is already moving into the past, it's already gone, and you're just too young without enough perspective to realize it at the time.

    Sometimes I can't believe it, I'm moving past that feeling again, of finding out that everything I thought would always be there is no longer there, that everything moves on. You get to a point in your late 20s or in your 30s were it really starts to smack you in the face, constantly, over and over that this is true, and every time you move past that feeling it comes again and again.

    I hope to have kids before I'm just so jaded to the fact that nothing is permanent in life, so that I can still experience the beauty of a new world with them as well instead of being a dead anchor of reality, killing all joy with the fact that it's all temporary...

    wednesday181on December 06, 2010   Link
  • +8
    My Interpretation

    I like your ideas neah. I tend, rightly or wrongly, to look at things with a longer lens and I see this more as immediate aftermath of the apocalypse. After "The Day After" in the 80s, we grew up believing not was the apocalypse possible, it was probably around the corner. When it comes, we aren't caught by surprise. i don't know that I would be bored with it, but this could be the logical conclusion of realized expectation. I suppose in some respects that anarchy that follows the apocalypse could be liberating. Maybe it's a mixed bag.

    The lyrics about wanting a girl to show the beauty of the earth before it is spoiled is haunting. In my interpretation, having a child would be the most selfish act on could perform. How could someone conceive child knowing that the end was nigh? I've had two boys, deliberately and selfishly, with these thoughts in mind.

    Obviously, I know that Arcade Fire didn't have the oil flow in the Gulf of Mexico in mind when they wrote this, but this is all I hear when I listen to this song. This is one of the most haunting songs I've heard in a while and it brings tears to my eyes at every listen. I melt when the horns finally make their appearance on the stage at the end. We're still screaming.


    reytomason May 29, 2010   Link
  • +4
    General Comment

    I love this song! Lots of interpretations here. I'm not sure what it might mean exactly, but when I listen to this song, it reminds me of back when I used to live in a suburban neighborhood over 7 years ago. It gives me a nostalgic feeling of when I was a young kid, and would run around with my friends, playing a bunch of "pretend" games. "In my dreams we're still screaming, and running through the yards". And now that I've moved miles away from my childhood friends, and now that they've grown older and moved on with their lives, even if I went back it wouldn't matter. It seems like my 9 years living there "meant nothing at all" but to have left me with memories of a world I can never relive.

    ZedZangetsuon July 31, 2010   Link
  • +4
    General Comment

    This album is so good that it physically hurts.

    allmyliesareonlywisheson August 04, 2010   Link
  • +3
    General Comment

    There is a lamentation here that pervades Butler's voice itself, and seems to permeate into the very essence of that paradigm of urban, urbane life vs. the perhaps more bucolic vision of the suburban. The truly solemn incantation, "I want a daughter while I'm still young" perhaps drives directly at that identifying characteristic of the hip youth, the inability to commit to any concept of family before reaching the age of forty, a paternal instinct that seems to have been quashed by an unending quest for the continuance of the laid-back responsibility-free ethos of this generation; that of the perpetual party-slacker. The overarching theme is one of lost innocence in this world of child-like adults who can't even maintain their own property, let alone raise a child without realizing how incredibly hot pavement can become in the broad mid-day sun and suggest to move on to the cool, cool grass. They are still screaming, from the pain. From the ineffable pain.

    Overall I would rate this song approximately 8.532 out of a possible 10.

    palindromicon July 29, 2010   Link
  • +3
    General Comment

    There surely is a muted sense of childish perspective that permeates through the song. Not only does it appear in the lyrics ("I learned to drive..grab your mother's keys" stanza 1) but also in the music itself--the simple guitar and piano echoing in the background. As the song progresses, it is noted that there are more twists in musical construction than can be afforded for a pure childish perspective--"moving past the feeling" takes on a rhythmic beat akin to motion. The repetition seems to cry for attention when paired with the serene whine of the violin in the background. All of these seem to confirm and reflect the idea that this is a person looking back on his/her transformation into a new adulthood as a form of adulteration, not a rite of passage.

    Whether or not this speaks specifically about a physical apocalypse ("the first bombs fell") or if it is part of a larger metaphysical undoing is likely to be a point of contention. Whichever you decide, I think for the speaker the idea of the latter is just as potent as the former--and neither are mutually exclusive. (The world's end will produce that feeling, and that feeling will feel like a World's end).

    The certainty of the oncoming suburban war captures that childhood attraction for ideal with less understanding. A call to arms, for some children, seems heroic. "By the time the first bombs fell" might be an indication of an actual conflict or struggle that they might have to endure, but yields nothing but a sort of callous dismissal when confronting the childhood mind. It never erodes them because they never participate, and in fact leaves them "bored" of war, detatched.

    As some of you have pointed out above, the song captures the essence of disillusion quite well. Each stanza provides this sliver of a memory, and each time falls prey to the rhythmic beat of "moving past the feeling." What is left is the haunting "screaming" from his dreams--perhaps once part of a childhood game or even the fear of something minor, now transmuted into the loss of idealism by the waking nightmares all around.

    proofplzon August 05, 2010   Link
  • +3
    General Comment

    This song is about abandoning rebellion. The music video is incredible! If you pay attention it mirrors the lyrics to a tea and illustrates the song meaning. My interpretation of it may not be 100% correct though but it really made me think so I figured I'd share my thoughts. In the opening scene we see the busboy coming home early in the morning. Because of how the video ends we know he did something to betray his friend. I assume he slept with his gf, but he may have committed a crime to bring about the police sirens we hear in the distance. When the song begins we hear a honky tonk piano which gives the song a happy innocent vibe. "The suburbs" represents the USA or any country that isn't war torn (arcade is form Montreal so Canada or America, same thing). "Learned to drive" really means learned about political corruption. "Told me we'd never survive" is quite literal actually, anyone that preaches politics from a rebellious viewpoint always seems to stress that the world is coming to and end, or that were headed for tyranny because no one is doing anything etc. The song is narrated from the busboys standpoint talking to his rebellious influence which is the boy who beats him up at the end. His rebellious friends that they will one day "fight in a suburban world" meaning that one day all the corruption they fear would effect their daily lives as the kids live in a suburban world. When the lyric "your part of town gets minor" is sung the video depicts the kids looking towards a city being bombed. Again they are from the suburbs or "America" where its safe and they can watch all the horror in the world from a distance. "Standin on the opposite shore" means they are taking a rebellious attitude. By the time the first bombs were dropped on Iraq however, the kids had lost some of their interest in opposing the government. The whole concept of losing interest in rebellion is echoed in the chorus "moving past the feeling". My interpretation of the song is that the conflict that arises with the boys represents the conflict that any self proclaimed rebel will face at some point in his life. The boys relationship with the girl represents the boys rebellion all together. When the next verse comes in there is an errant guitar sound that emulates sirens, the honky tonk is still there but much quieter. This is when we see the first soldiers in the suburbs. The boy and his gf are under the overpass and still in love showing that the kids are still rebels. The next scene shows the boy on top of the busboy, signifying that he is still influenced by his rebellion. "All the walls/houses that they built in the 70's finally fall". Anyone who knows about the 70s knows that it was a time of revolution and change in terms of equal rights. Many people dedicated their lives to ensure that government oppression would cease to exist, and unwanted wars like Vietnam wouldn't take place. And yet here we are again bombing a country that many Americans did not want to bomb. Their fight "meant nothing at all". We also see the boys pass a destroyed wall as the relative lyrics are sung, and leave the garage of some house with the lights off, which makes it seem abandoned. The boys ride past the police as the lyric "Im moving past the feeling" is sung, however this chorus ends with "and into the night" at the very moment the music video setting turns to the night and the boys expressions turn from carefree to scared. The honky tonk is no longer heard as the song seems real eerie. Down the street they notice the army dragging someone to the side of the road. "I want a daughter while Im still young" is the justification for abandoning their rebelliousness when they realize that to grow up in the world and go on with your life means to give up any cause or fight you may have, and to just focus on taking care of your family. At this point the busboy is watching the army march down the street trough his window while he's holding his baby sibling as he and his friends look very scared and worried. The boy is hugging his gf signifying they are still rebellious. The next scene shows the 2 boys being searched by police when the one boy gives the busboy a look as if he knows that he has been betrayed. The lyric "move your feet from hot pavement and into the grass" made me take a second look at the song. I noticed that throughout the entire video the boys are playing on pavement while they are rebellious, except for the beginning where the busboy is on the grass. The artist is conveying that being rebellious is hard like standing on hot pavement and orders his rebellious side to just move to the grass where it is soft and easy on your feet "because its already passed", saying the rebellious attitudes have past and the kids want to grow up. I really was puzzled by the busboy texting in the parking lot and noticing that his bike had been destroyed, I assume the rebellious boy did it out of anger. But then we see the rebellious boy running on pavement as the grass/pavement lyric is sung. In the next scene the busboy is wandering through a crowd at a party and sees the rebellious boy with a new haircut talking to his gf. He then gives the busboy a dirty look, one can only assume she had confessed to being unfaithful with the busboy. The 3 friends are seen running across a grass field, thus signifying they have all conformed and are no longer rebels. They seem to be trying to save the busboy from an attack. As they realize they are too late they are screaming for the rebel to stop hurting the busboy while we hear "were still screaming" being sung. In the literal story the boy cries because the busboy had sex with his gf, but metaphorically he is crying because his rebellious cause has been defeated as the arcade fire are conveying that they have been won over by conformity. Im still not sure that i have it figured out, I could have it all wrong, but I feel the grass analogy probably holds some truth. Its just my take on the video. Thanks for reading.

    theactualtruthon January 05, 2014   Link
  • +2
    General Comment

    The part about wanting a daughter now is incredible. ive been thinking about it all day and i see it as wanting a daughter to show beauty to because of the tenderness of a girl and how she would take it in. i mean, you would still show a boy the same things but its different, with a little girl you have to protect her until the day you die. how he says "if its too much to ask" i think hes talking to "god" in a sense, and means if its too much to ask that the world be beautiful still for her to see it then send me a son because a boy has a harder edge and could face a crumbling world with more chance of survival. All in all i think the song is about harnessing your time left on this planet because the good times and going to be over soon. get off the pavement and into the grass, infrastructure falling... Gorgeous song about a world going bad and living in such a pinnacle time.

    DandelionKidon June 10, 2010   Link

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