Music Discussion: All These Things That I’ve Done by The Killers

There are some great discussions going on this week. Thanks for all the participation! I don’t want to stop the previous discussions, but am going to go ahead with the next song because Nikki is pretty much out of pocket after today and this is her pick.

All These Things That I’ve Done by The Killers
When there’s nowhere else to run
Is there room for one more son
One more son
If you can hold on
If you can hold on, hold on
I wanna stand up, I wanna let go
You know, you know – no you don’t, you don’t
I wanna shine on in the hearts of men
I want a meaning from the back of my broken hand
Another head aches, another heart breaks
I’m so much older than I can take
And my affection, well it comes and goes
I need direction to perfection, no no no no
Help me out
Yeah, you know you got to help me out
Yeah, oh don’t you put me on the back burner
You know you got to help me out, yeah
And when there’s nowhere else to run
Is there room for one more son
These changes ain’t changing me
The lone-hearted boy I used to be
Yeah, you know you got to help me out
Yeah, oh don’t you put me on the back burner
You know you got to help me out, yeah.
You’re gonna bring yourself down
Yeah, you’re gonna bring yourself down
Yeah, you’re gonna bring yourself down
I got soul, but I’m not a soldier (X 10)
Yeah, you know you got to help me out
Yeah, oh don’t you put me on the back burner
You know you got to help me out, yeah.
You’re gonna bring yourself down, yeah.
You’re gonna bring yourself down
Yeah, oh don’t you put me on the back burner
You’re gonna bring yourself down
Yeah, you’re gonna bring yourself down
Over and in, last call for sin
While everyone’s lost, the battle is won
With all these things that I’ve done
All these things that I’ve done
If you can hold on
If you can hold on

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20 thoughts on “Music Discussion: All These Things That I’ve Done by The Killers

  1. Megan says:

    I had no idea of the context he was coming from when I heard this song over and over (and for some strange reason, didn’t manage to look anything up on this one beforehand). So I was left to my own (sadly lacking) interpretation and what it sort of means to/for me.
    I listen to this line here: “And my affection, well it comes and goes I need direction to perfection, no no no no” and man, it hits me right where I am in just about everything.
    Quiet times? my affection comes and goes
    Wife-ing? my affection comes and goes
    Mothering? my affection comes and goes
    Desire to be in the church? my affection comes and goes
    There are so many areas in my life, some tangible, some not so, in which if I can’t get it PERFECT, I don’t even want to bother. And in areas in which I have obvious struggle, I do desire “direction to perfection” and then I don’t: no no no no
    Help me out. Indeed.

    Like

  2. kristen says:

    I love this song. It’s cryptic and deep but also FUN. And, the vagueness lends to it being able to be used in a variety of ways like this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pap1MEfSOGI
    I interpret the song much like Nikki does.
    I think that the “I’ve got soul but I’m not a soldier” is about having a relationship with God but not wanting to be a soldier in the Mormon army (go on missions, etc.)

    Like

  3. Claudia says:

    I wonder if the soldier line is about him not wanting to be a fall in line yes man. Not just mormon missions, but christian legalism without relational connection and love- obedience for obedience sake and not for the sake of love. rambling thoughts

    Like

  4. Nikki says:

    While I’ve heard many interpretations of this song, the ones that resonate with me the most are those which presuppose a religious theme. Brandon Flowers himself said that his Mormon upbringing heavily influences his writing–he admitted to a tension he feels between doing what he knows to be right but wanting to enjoy “worldly” life experiences as well; his smoking and drinking habits (alcohol AND coffee–oh my!) make him quite the rebel. And even with that in mind, one can speculate on various nuances of word and meaning. The Killers don’t publish their lyrics for a reason; they do love to be cryptic.
    While I could happily ramble on with my interpretation, I’ll try to keep it brief.
    The first two lines of the whole song set the tone. It reminds me of the story of the prodigal son–specifically, the son’s realization that he is at the end of his rope and returning to his father is the only option left. LIkewise, the speaker in this song knows that all his idols have failed, and he’s beginning to wonder if his religious upbringing really could have the cure for his alienation: “When there’s nowhere else to run, is there room for one more son?”
    I love these lines: “If you can hold on, hold on.” Notice he didn’t choose to say “If I can hold on.” Deep down he recognizes that he has abandoned God, and his only hope is that God has not abandoned him.
    “I am so much older than I can take
    And my affection, well it comes and goes
    I need direction to perfection, no no no no”
    Here I understand the speaker’s affection which comes and goes to be for God. He realizes his own attempts to love God on his own are not enough for eternal security; he asks God for help (the chorus) and not to be put on the back burner–not to be forgotten or overlooked.
    Also notable is the repeated sentence, “I’ve got soul, but I’m not a soldier.” I’d love to hear your take on that line, and also if anyone else thinks the gospel choir that chimes in here contributes to make the song thematically Christian.
    At the conclusion of the song, he has decided that he has experienced worldly pursuits and pleasures: “Over and in, last cal for sin…” He goes on to understand that while no one has all the answers, the Creator does: “While everyone’s lost, the battle is won” (cf. 2 Cor. 5:21). He ends the song expressing again his hope that God has not abandoned him.
    On the whole, the song seems to be addressed to God as a plea for help, a longing to be understood, and a cry to be rescued from his feeling of alienation.
    Yikes, so much for brief–there’s a lot to process in this song. Sorry y’all!

    Like

  5. Megan says:

    I had no idea of the context he was coming from when I heard this song over and over (and for some strange reason, didn’t manage to look anything up on this one beforehand). So I was left to my own (sadly lacking) interpretation and what it sort of means to/for me.
    I listen to this line here: “And my affection, well it comes and goes I need direction to perfection, no no no no” and man, it hits me right where I am in just about everything.
    Quiet times? my affection comes and goes
    Wife-ing? my affection comes and goes
    Mothering? my affection comes and goes
    Desire to be in the church? my affection comes and goes
    There are so many areas in my life, some tangible, some not so, in which if I can’t get it PERFECT, I don’t even want to bother. And in areas in which I have obvious struggle, I do desire “direction to perfection” and then I don’t: no no no no
    Help me out. Indeed.

    Like

  6. kristen says:

    I love this song. It’s cryptic and deep but also FUN. And, the vagueness lends to it being able to be used in a variety of ways like this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pap1MEfSOGI
    I interpret the song much like Nikki does.
    I think that the “I’ve got soul but I’m not a soldier” is about having a relationship with God but not wanting to be a soldier in the Mormon army (go on missions, etc.)

    Like

  7. Claudia says:

    I wonder if the soldier line is about him not wanting to be a fall in line yes man. Not just mormon missions, but christian legalism without relational connection and love- obedience for obedience sake and not for the sake of love. rambling thoughts

    Like

  8. Nikki says:

    While I’ve heard many interpretations of this song, the ones that resonate with me the most are those which presuppose a religious theme. Brandon Flowers himself said that his Mormon upbringing heavily influences his writing–he admitted to a tension he feels between doing what he knows to be right but wanting to enjoy “worldly” life experiences as well; his smoking and drinking habits (alcohol AND coffee–oh my!) make him quite the rebel. And even with that in mind, one can speculate on various nuances of word and meaning. The Killers don’t publish their lyrics for a reason; they do love to be cryptic.
    While I could happily ramble on with my interpretation, I’ll try to keep it brief.
    The first two lines of the whole song set the tone. It reminds me of the story of the prodigal son–specifically, the son’s realization that he is at the end of his rope and returning to his father is the only option left. LIkewise, the speaker in this song knows that all his idols have failed, and he’s beginning to wonder if his religious upbringing really could have the cure for his alienation: “When there’s nowhere else to run, is there room for one more son?”
    I love these lines: “If you can hold on, hold on.” Notice he didn’t choose to say “If I can hold on.” Deep down he recognizes that he has abandoned God, and his only hope is that God has not abandoned him.
    “I am so much older than I can take
    And my affection, well it comes and goes
    I need direction to perfection, no no no no”
    Here I understand the speaker’s affection which comes and goes to be for God. He realizes his own attempts to love God on his own are not enough for eternal security; he asks God for help (the chorus) and not to be put on the back burner–not to be forgotten or overlooked.
    Also notable is the repeated sentence, “I’ve got soul, but I’m not a soldier.” I’d love to hear your take on that line, and also if anyone else thinks the gospel choir that chimes in here contributes to make the song thematically Christian.
    At the conclusion of the song, he has decided that he has experienced worldly pursuits and pleasures: “Over and in, last cal for sin…” He goes on to understand that while no one has all the answers, the Creator does: “While everyone’s lost, the battle is won” (cf. 2 Cor. 5:21). He ends the song expressing again his hope that God has not abandoned him.
    On the whole, the song seems to be addressed to God as a plea for help, a longing to be understood, and a cry to be rescued from his feeling of alienation.
    Yikes, so much for brief–there’s a lot to process in this song. Sorry y’all!

    Like

  9. Megan says:

    Hi Melody – glad you joined in. I don’t think anyone (here) is trying to mix Mormonism and Christianity – we all know them to be two distinct things and to the best of my knowledge, everyone participating in the discussion (for certain the five who chose songs) are all Christian believers. Our goal is to find meaning and truth in songs from the popular culture. Since most of us (I think all of us) are coming at this from a Christian perspective ourselves, then it makes sense that the truth and meaning we find in these songs are from a Christian perspective.
    Does that help?

    Like

  10. Sean says:

    Can we find truth in secular things? Absolutely! Do we have to be mindful of inferring things that may not have been implied? Absolutely!
    I think Nikki nailed this song and songwriter. The guy from the Killers thinks that Christianity and Mormonism are the same, so he will use Christian imagery. More importantly, he is a creature in God’s image, made to worship and serve his Creator, and he will be restless until he does so. As a lapsed Mormon who has lived up the Secular Western worldview to its full and found himself empty, he is falling back onto the only answers he knows–his theistic Mormon upbringing. He is expressing the desires that EVERYONE has when they reach the end of their rope; he just uses theistic themes from his Mormon background, and the well-known story of the prodigal son.
    So . . . He is certainly not preaching the gospel, but just as certainly he is crying out for it–as best he can using his theistic-upbringing. It is that yearning in the songwriter that Nikki was defining, probably better than he could himself.

    Like

  11. Megan says:

    Hi Melody – glad you joined in. I don’t think anyone (here) is trying to mix Mormonism and Christianity – we all know them to be two distinct things and to the best of my knowledge, everyone participating in the discussion (for certain the five who chose songs) are all Christian believers. Our goal is to find meaning and truth in songs from the popular culture. Since most of us (I think all of us) are coming at this from a Christian perspective ourselves, then it makes sense that the truth and meaning we find in these songs are from a Christian perspective.
    Does that help?

    Like

  12. Sean says:

    Can we find truth in secular things? Absolutely! Do we have to be mindful of inferring things that may not have been implied? Absolutely!
    I think Nikki nailed this song and songwriter. The guy from the Killers thinks that Christianity and Mormonism are the same, so he will use Christian imagery. More importantly, he is a creature in God’s image, made to worship and serve his Creator, and he will be restless until he does so. As a lapsed Mormon who has lived up the Secular Western worldview to its full and found himself empty, he is falling back onto the only answers he knows–his theistic Mormon upbringing. He is expressing the desires that EVERYONE has when they reach the end of their rope; he just uses theistic themes from his Mormon background, and the well-known story of the prodigal son.
    So . . . He is certainly not preaching the gospel, but just as certainly he is crying out for it–as best he can using his theistic-upbringing. It is that yearning in the songwriter that Nikki was defining, probably better than he could himself.

    Like

  13. colin says:

    “we all know them to be two distinct things”
    Mormonism is a sect of Christianity
    just like Christianity is a sect of Judaism

    Like

  14. colin says:

    “we all know them to be two distinct things”
    Mormonism is a sect of Christianity
    just like Christianity is a sect of Judaism

    Like

  15. Craig says:

    Colin, you might want to revisit your history on this one. Christ certainly has Jewish roots and fulfills the Old Testament Scriptures, but Joseph Smith and Mormonism are not any kind of comparable fulfillment of Christianity. Check it out.

    Like

  16. Craig says:

    Colin, you might want to revisit your history on this one. Christ certainly has Jewish roots and fulfills the Old Testament Scriptures, but Joseph Smith and Mormonism are not any kind of comparable fulfillment of Christianity. Check it out.

    Like

  17. Jane says:

    Hi everyone, I stumbled across this site via google and have found the above thread very interesting.
    Up until now I didn’t really know of Brandon FLower’s religious background (and I call myself a die-hard killers fan, I’ve probabaly spelt his name wrong too…..) I just love the way the music makes me feel, and every time I feel at the end of my rope listening to this track really helps. Here’s my interpretation
    “I wanna stand up, I wanna let go
    I wanna shine on in the hearts of men”
    This to me signifies how one wants to take control, let go of petty things, be a man and do great things, so that after he’s gone, his name will live on among the world.
    “I want a meaning from the back of my broken hand
    You know, you know – no you don’t, you don’t”
    It seems at the same time he is greatly confused by the world he wants to achieve great things in, as if he wants to find a purpose in his actions. The whole “you know…” line I thought was aimed at someone who was very close to him and realising that even this person doesn’t understand his confusion, his alienation from the world.
    “Another head aches, another heart breaks
    I’m so much older than I can take”
    Seems to me to be saying that time is uncontrollably fading away and he feels like he still hasn’t achieved what he needs to.
    “And my affection, well it comes and goes”
    The love for his dreams are fickle, there are times where nothing seems worth it at the moment.
    “I need direction to perfection, no no no no”
    Is a desperate plea for help when you just need that guidance (I would say this line is similar to another in their other song Why Do I Keep Counting: Help me get down, I can make it…)
    “These changes ain’t changing me
    The lone-hearted boy I used to be”
    He is still that same boy deep down, lonely, unable to connect and it feels as if everything around him is changing, apart from his sentiments.
    He’s got the sentiment, he’s got the soul, but he’s not implementing it. Also clever word play.
    So….a lot different from the above interpreations. But I was wondering does it really matter if the meaning I make of the song is different to that originally intended. Being as mysterious as they are, can the band really expect fans to not make what they want of their music?
    I guess it boils down to the age old problem of the intentional fallacy. I agree with William Wimsatt and Monroe Beardsley: The poem is not the critic’s own and not the author’s (it is detached from the author at birth and goes about the world beyond his power to intend about it or control it.) The poem belongs to the public.
    But still do you think they would find it disappointing if The Killers knew the audience in a concert hall singing in all their euphoria is with passion that is based on their own delusions? I hope fans like me are not undermining the reason why The Killers became artists in the first place.

    Like

  18. Jane says:

    Hi everyone, I stumbled across this site via google and have found the above thread very interesting.
    Up until now I didn’t really know of Brandon FLower’s religious background (and I call myself a die-hard killers fan, I’ve probabaly spelt his name wrong too…..) I just love the way the music makes me feel, and every time I feel at the end of my rope listening to this track really helps. Here’s my interpretation
    “I wanna stand up, I wanna let go
    I wanna shine on in the hearts of men”
    This to me signifies how one wants to take control, let go of petty things, be a man and do great things, so that after he’s gone, his name will live on among the world.
    “I want a meaning from the back of my broken hand
    You know, you know – no you don’t, you don’t”
    It seems at the same time he is greatly confused by the world he wants to achieve great things in, as if he wants to find a purpose in his actions. The whole “you know…” line I thought was aimed at someone who was very close to him and realising that even this person doesn’t understand his confusion, his alienation from the world.
    “Another head aches, another heart breaks
    I’m so much older than I can take”
    Seems to me to be saying that time is uncontrollably fading away and he feels like he still hasn’t achieved what he needs to.
    “And my affection, well it comes and goes”
    The love for his dreams are fickle, there are times where nothing seems worth it at the moment.
    “I need direction to perfection, no no no no”
    Is a desperate plea for help when you just need that guidance (I would say this line is similar to another in their other song Why Do I Keep Counting: Help me get down, I can make it…)
    “These changes ain’t changing me
    The lone-hearted boy I used to be”
    He is still that same boy deep down, lonely, unable to connect and it feels as if everything around him is changing, apart from his sentiments.
    He’s got the sentiment, he’s got the soul, but he’s not implementing it. Also clever word play.
    So….a lot different from the above interpreations. But I was wondering does it really matter if the meaning I make of the song is different to that originally intended. Being as mysterious as they are, can the band really expect fans to not make what they want of their music?
    I guess it boils down to the age old problem of the intentional fallacy. I agree with William Wimsatt and Monroe Beardsley: The poem is not the critic’s own and not the author’s (it is detached from the author at birth and goes about the world beyond his power to intend about it or control it.) The poem belongs to the public.
    But still do you think they would find it disappointing if The Killers knew the audience in a concert hall singing in all their euphoria is with passion that is based on their own delusions? I hope fans like me are not undermining the reason why The Killers became artists in the first place.

    Like

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