Thursday, July 30, 2009

Song Interpretation - Green Day "21 Guns"

My wife asked me to look over the lyrics of 21 Guns by Green Day and here's my interpretation of what they may have meant when writing the song:

Do you know what's worth fighting for,
When it's not worth dying for?
Does it take your breath away
And you feel yourself suffocating?
Does the pain weigh out the pride?
And you look for a place to hide?
Did someone break your heart inside?
You're in ruins
This was straight-up anti-war, pretty easy to comprehend right? Like a soldier that wanted to go fight for his country because of the pride he feels, but then he gets there and realizes he's fighting for some guy sitting in his office eating ice cream. The soldier panics because he hears gunfire and whatever, and just wants to be back home, so that's the pain...does it outweigh the pride?

One, 21 guns
Lay down your arms
Give up the fight
One, 21 guns
Throw up your arms into the sky,
You and I
EDIT: My interpretation of this one was HORRIBLE, so here's a good interpretation from a commenter...
With war there is death and when you have one gun (participation in war), you get 21 guns (you die), either physically or emotionally.
My interpretation is one = one person. 21 guns MAY stand for the soldier just being young and 21 years old with his whole life ahead of him. Why 21? I don't know, maybe he has a cousin or something that he wrote this for that was 21 when he went into the service. "You and I" = "join me, I'm not fighting in this stupid war for oil, neither should you."

When you're at the end of the road
And you lost all sense of control
And your thoughts have taken their toll
When your mind breaks the spirit of your soul
Your faith walks on broken glass
And the hangover doesn't pass
Nothing's ever built to last
You're in ruins
Again pretty straight-forward...back to the soldier that just keeps thinking and freaking out and finally starts to lose it "end of the road, lost all sense of control, thoughts have taken their toll" and then he talks about how this soldier is questioning his faith in God because of the things he's seeing, dead children, shooting other people in the head that he doesn't even know, etc. "The hangover doesn't pass..." like the next day he wakes up, he's still out in Iraq or whatever when normally a hangover goes away the next day, but not this one. "Nothing's ever built to last" is his faith in God and humanity.

One, 21 guns
Lay down your arms
Give up the fight
One, 21 guns
Throw up your arms into the sky,
You and I

Did you try to live on your own
When you burned down the house and home?
Did you stand too close to the fire?
Like a liar looking for forgiveness from a stone
This one's tough, but here's my first thought: Maybe the soldier FINALLY makes it back to the United States after a few years of being at war....and maybe he has nobody to come home to that cares about him, maybe his parents shipped him off because they couldn't pay for college or whatever, hence his reason for going off to fight...and he's living on his own for really the first time in his life after seeing some truly horrific things in combat. "burned down your house and home" Could be literal or figurative. Literally = he came home to live with his parents and concocted some scheme to burn the house down because he hated it. He hated that his parents for putting him in the situation to go to war and just snapped one night and burned the house that represented some of his anger. Figuratively = "house and home" could be his old ideals (faith in God, love for America and wanting to fight for his country) and childish thoughts. When soldiers come back from war they instantly mature like 20 years because of the stuff they witness every day. "Did you stand too close to the fire" Again literal or figurative 1) he stood there watching the house go down in flames because he was happy to see it go or 2) "the fire" is another meaning for "the war" and he got way too entrenched in the war, which ruined him inside for the rest of his life.

When it's time to live and let die
And you can't get another try
Something inside this heart has died
You're in ruins
Definitely a "shout-out" to the Beatles messages of peace, and this soldier wishes he could just live and let the memories of war die and that he could just get a re-do of his life and get the option of not going to war, but he can't. "something inside this heart has died", more like everything in him has died.

One, 21 guns
Lay down your arms
Give up the fight
One, 21 guns
Throw up your arms into the sky

One, 21 guns
Lay down your arms
Give up the fight
One, 21 guns
Throw up your arms into the sky,
You and I
Same as I said earlier. Just don't go to war, kids! It screws you up!

12 comments:

index.php said...

good read...

Anonymous said...

21 guns is a reference to dead solders, as in a 21 gun salute. At military/police/fd funerals there is usually a salute in which 21 rounds are fired by an honor guard of 7 (3 shots a piece).

Anonymous said...

didn't mean to type "fd" on the end of that as they do not do a 21 gun salute.

Perno said...

Well that makes a lot more sense, but what about the "One" prior to 21 guns? Is it like One nation, 21 guns? Thoughts? Who are you btw?

Anonymous said...

I've not yet heard the song, but based on reading the lyrics I'd guess they're trying to say something along the lines of: with war there is death and when you have one gun (participation in war), you get 21 guns (you die), either physically or emotionally.

Perno said...

Great now I'm embarrassed at how off I was on the "One, 21 guns" section. You guys are a great help, well done.

Kelly O said...

Awesome interpretations, I really enjoyed reading them. I never listened to the lyrics of this song before, I love when songs are meaningful. =)

Edward David said...

One, 21...
These numbers somehow have a very different but significant message to us Filipinos. Bcoz you see our dearly beloved modern-day heroes Cory and Ninoy Aquino died on August 1 (2009) and August 21 (1983), respectively.

I can almost see the lyrics of this song being re-written in the context of the "yellow revolution" now being re-lived and afire again in the Philippines.

Anonymous said...

I think the one means when we are at war, we all die physically or emotionally. Other than that, parallel with the interpretation given above I think the song is clearly and directly about America and it's relationship with the rest of the world (especially the Middle East.)

Kat said...

This song isn't necessarily about an actual war. It could be about a couple always at war (fighting constantly about everything and nothing) and finally realizing that it's not worth it. One of them has to give in in order for the relationship to work.

Anonymous said...

I thick one 21 guns refer to one men to whom 21 guns slute at his end of life when whish is worth for

Anonymous said...

I thick one 21 guns refer to one men to whom 21 guns slute at his end of life when whish is worth for