Oh, sweet thing
Zion doesn't love you
And Babylon don't love you
But you love everything
Oh, you saint
America don't love you
So I could never love you
In spite of everything

In the dark of this place
There's the glow of your face
There's the dust on the screen
Of this broken machine
And I can't help but feel
That I've made some mistake
But I let it go
Ya Hey

Through the fire and through the flames
You won't even say your name
Through the fire and through the flames
You won't even say your name
Only "I am that I am"
But who could ever live that way?
Ut Deo, Ya Hey
Ut Deo, Deo

Oh, the motherland don't love you
The fatherland don't love you
So why love anything?
Oh, good God
The faithless they don't love you
The zealous hearts don't love you
And that's not gonna change

All the cameras and files
All the paranoid styles
All the tension and fear
Of a secret career
And I can't help but think
That you've seen the mistake
But you let it go
Ya Hey

Through the fire and through the flames
You won't even say your name
Through the fire and through the flames
You won't even say your name
You say "I am what I am"
But who could ever live that way?
Ut Deo, Ya Hey
Ut Deo, Deo

Outside the tents, on the festival grounds
As the air began to cool, and the sun went down
My soul swooned, as I faintly heard the sound
Of you spinning "Israelites"
Into "19th Nervous Breakdown"

Through the fire and through the flames
You won't even say your name
Through the fire and through the flames
You won't even say your name
Only "I am what I am"
But who could ever live that way?
Ut Deo, Ya Hey
Ut Deo, Deo

Through the fire and through the flames
You won't even say your name
Only "I am that I am"
But who could ever live that way?
(Ya Hey)
Ut Deo, Ya Hey
Ut Deo, Deo


Lyrics submitted by SongMeanings, edited by bobduck, sulra, Mellow_Harsher, Folaeli, DjDabs, akjsdbshbd, lindstyl

Ya Hey Lyrics as written by Ezra Koenig Rostam Batmanglij

Lyrics © BMG Rights Management, Kobalt Music Publishing Ltd.

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Ya Hey song meanings
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33 Comments

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  • +24
    My Interpretation

    It's about God. "Ya Hey" is a play on "Yahweh," the name sometime attributed to the one true Lord. Not supposed to be spoken, either, so I suppose the approximation is a play on that too. When Moses asked God His name in the bible, he only replied "I am that I am."

    Interesting flip to the script of the old question "If God really loves us, why do terrible things happen?" Ezra seems to be asking "How can God love such terrible things?"

    Hamderbeekon May 03, 2013   Link
  • +13
    Song Meaning

    Here is the Meaning of the song as Ezra Koenig Intended: (The person being addressed throughout the whole song is God)...

    [Oh, sweet thing]: reference to George Harrison’s ‘My Sweet Lord’.

    [Zion doesn't love you]: Zion: a place name used as a synonym for Jerusalem, refers to their unfaithfulness.

    [Babylon don't love you]: if even God’s own people don’t love him, his enemies, represented by “Babylon,” definitely don’t.

    [But you love everything]: talking about God's ability to love all people.

    [America don't love you, So I could never love you, In spite of everything]: a callback to a similar line in “Unbelievers” ‘if I’m born again, I know that the world will disagree’. using America as an example as it is a heavily Christian nation.

    [In the dark of this place, There's the glow of your face]: a reference that God offers comfort in hard times. As “dark” as things get, He offers light.

    [There's the dust on the screen]: metaphor for the human body as a vessel that gathers dust and breaks.

    [Of this broken machine]: reference to the biblical story of Isaiah, who when standing in the light of God and His angels realized just how unclean he was. He thought himself unworthy to be in God’s presence.

    [And I can't help but feel, That I've made some mistake, But I let it go]: as everyone knows that deep down they are "sinners" but they don't really care.

    [Ya hey]: reference to "Yahweh" (meaning God) but as the Lord's personal name can't be used in vain they decided not to say it all together, hence 'Ya hey'

    ((The 3rd section is a reference to Exodus 3. Where God has seen the suffering of his children in Egypt and has come to rescue them through sending Moses to bring them out of Egypt and into the promise land))

    [Through the fire and through the flames]: reference to Exodus 3:2 where God calls to Moses from within a bush on fire.

    [ut Deo]: meaning 'as God' in Latin

    [You won't even say your name]: In Exodus 3:13,14 Moses said to God “Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ Then what shall I tell them?”

    [Only "I am that I am"]: God said to Moses, “I am who I am. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I am has sent me to you."

    [But who could ever live that way?]: ‘as when non-believers were confronted with such global indifference and outright aggression, they would ask 'why you would not announce your existence with absolute certainty?'’ (Anyone who’s lost faith in religion will have posed this question )

    [Oh, the motherland don't love you, The fatherland don't love you]: a reference to how Jerusalem, the birthplace of all 3 major world religions is an area of constant conflict even though it is the mother of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Therefore this violence would suggest that they don’t love God because of the constant conflict in the birthplace He created.

    [The faithless they don't love you, The zealous hearts don't love you]: faithless (meaning atheists), zealous hearts (people having eagerness and ardent interest in pursuit of something "may be a reference to scientists").

    [All the cameras and files]: a man of faith said hidden eyes could see what I was thinking'.

    [All the paranoid styles]: Like The Paranoid Style in American Politics, Richard Hofstadter’s seminal work in historical theory from 1964.

    [All the tension and fear, Of a secret career]: reference to Moses trying to get out of his God given vocation, or to G-d refusing to reveal himself as divine when He is present in the world.

    [And I can't help but feel, That you see the mistakes, But you let it go]: as God knows all our sins but chose to forgive us despite all odds.

    [Outside the tents]: it's meant to allude to the fact that Moses and his followers lived in tents. [on the festival grounds]: the festival of Sukkot (read about it here: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sukkot) re-stages the event every year.

    [19th Nervous Breakdown]: reference to a Rolling Stones song of the same name, which is about male exasperation with unhappy, spoiled women.

    I felt like Da Vinci trying to decipher this song :), the Lyrics where written by a number of people including "Ezra Koenig" please rate & I hope this helps

    wassimon June 18, 2013   Link
  • +7
    Song Meaning

    This song is in reference to Yahweh, or our God. However the name of the song is a play on words due to the fact that in order to prevent themselves (the Jews) from ever using the Lords personal name in vain they decided not to say it all together (hence the name Ya Hey). The "through the fire and through the flames" portion is in reference to Exodus 3:2 where God calls to Moses from within a bush on fire. The main point of Exodus 3 is that God has seen the suffering of his children in Egypt and has come to rescue them; through sending Moses to bring them out of Egypt and into the promise land. In Exodus 3:13,14 (NIV) Moses said to God “Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ Then what shall I tell them?” God said to Moses, “I am who I am. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I am has sent me to you.". Therefore I think that Ezra is saying to God, how can you love them (Israelites/Jerusalem/Zion) and rescue them when they do not love you Lord? He is showing sympathy for God by saying how can you love so much and not get any credit? This song is showing Ezra's adoration for God's unfailing and unconditional love for his children.

    purplebluewhiteon May 18, 2013   Link
  • +7
    My Interpretation

    A song about questioning God's existence and the hypocrisy of religious people.

    "I can't help but feel that I made some mistake, but I let it go" means that everyone knows that deep down they are "sinners" but they don't really care. Religious people are only religious when it helps them.

    "And I think in your heart that you see the mistakes, but you let it go" means that a supposed omnipotent God would be able to rid the world of injustice, but somehow God does not act. He won't even say his name.

    If God exists and allows the world to be the way it is, then how could this God live with himself?

    Who could ever live this way?

    TFerroon May 29, 2013   Link
  • +5
    My Opinion

    Well, I understand the meaning of this song just like it was previously explained, however I think it's not about losing faith. I think it's about still having faith, but feeling let down. Like "nobody loves you anymore and I'm having hard times in loving you because this word is crazy and you don't even tell me your name! How can you live with that?" - Like if Ezra had this close relationship with God and he is sad that God is not showing himself never and that he's watching the whole word losing their faith, but he still wants to believe, he just doesn't know how anymore. It's like Ezra is discussing his relationship with God "I made my mistakes and you made your mistakes and we only let it go".

    And somehow, I think that Ezra intended to show that even those who say they love God, they don't really love God, everyone wanted him, wanted all the miracles, but they don't really love him. It's a really REALLY deep song and as every great piece of art, it can be seen by several perspectives :)

    lucasemgon June 03, 2013   Link
  • +4
    General Comment

    Like Mostlyghostly said, it's about Yahweh, or God. It basically seems like a breakup song with God. Ezra is mocking God for continuing to love everyone even as the world stops believing in him. He points out all the contradictions of "God"- he is portrayed as this awesome figure who loves us all no matter what, yet sometimes he does silly and seemingly pretentious things like tell us what his name is, and refuse to stop bad things from occurring to the people he loves. So Ezra is over God. Yet, there are still times in the darkness where he feels the presence of some higher being and "can't help but feel that he's made some mistake." And sometimes he feels God in music, which is what he is describing in the spoken part. But he still can't get over all the silliness of the idea of God- "Who could ever live that way?"- and thus has lost his faith.

    sam71191on May 08, 2013   Link
  • +3
    My Interpretation

    My interpretations are quite similar to wassim's, but I have different ideas on some particular lyrics, so these are my interpretations of these lyrics. Read wassim's interpretation before reading this.

    "Through the fire and through the flames, you won't even say your name" is asking "if God exists, why won't he just show himself?". It does indeed refer to the Exodus story of "I am that I am". The "though the fire/flames" bit refers to suffering and evil, so the line says "in this evil world you won't even show yourself".

    "Paranoid styles" refers more to the secret fear some (perhaps most) believers feel that God is always watching you, like a Big Brother kind of thing.

    "The tension and fear of a secret career" is referring to a double-life some believers live, the life they don't live in Church or at home or wherever. They see it as a kind of act of hiding from God, a bit like the Jonah story.

    "And I can't help but feel, That you see the mistakes, But you let it go" refers to the mistakes of this world, the war, pollution, corrupt governments etc. This line questions God's caring of the world, saying that he sees these horrible things but just lets them go. It is asking "if you exist, then how can there be evil and suffering?". This line is a bit like the "through the fire and through the flames" line.

    Daaanieeelon July 26, 2013   Link
  • +2
    General Comment

    This seems to me to be about trying to find a sense of individuality in the modern world......most people back themselves up against ideals of nationality or religion or societal structure, and here he points out that that's all fake, when it comes down to it none of these things will really support you or help you.

    Cyberghoston May 08, 2013   Link
  • +2
    My Interpretation

    Well, this song is about God obviously, and I think it is referring to the nature of God. "through the fire and through the flames you won't even say your name" I think Ezra is saying that despite all the terror happening in the world, God won't even utter his name. He then muses "who could ever live that way?" which insinuates that God couldn't just ignore all the terrible "fire and flames" if he had the power to change it.

    I like the personal touch Ezra gives to this song, it seems almost like it could be song to a woman or lover, but it is sung to God. When he says "oh sweet thing" it really drives the personal connection that Ezra may have with a supreme being.

    Then when he sings about Babylon, Zion, America, and others not loving God,he is IMO talking about how people don't really love God. I don't think it is necessarily referring specifically to unbelievers, because he later says "the faithless" which seprates them from the other groups. I think he is saying that: even places that proclaim to be in tribute to you(Zion, Babylon, America) don't really love you but rather they worship you to meet an end. I think part of the meaning of this song can be found on other tracks on this album.

    rockyspineon May 16, 2013   Link
  • +1
    General Comment

    Adding to Sam and Mostlyghostly, the ya hey weird auto tune parts do refer to God, because "ut Deo" is like a God in Latin.

    sulraon May 09, 2013   Link

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