hello the title is australia | Reviewer: Lorne | 3/27/09
Whoa, the Holocaust reading is WAY too involved- it's interesting that the lyrics can be interpreted so widely, but I haven't seen anyone explain the lines 'And your shape on the dance floor
Will have me thinking such filth and gouge my eyes.' in the genocide theory. That is some creepy kinky stuff going on there if so. And why would they call it Australia?
Hasn't it occurred to anyone that the song might be at least partly about Australia? 'All you want is one more Saturday'- a nod to stereotypical Australian apathy and enjoyment of leisure- 'your feet in fetters' -convict past... And the whole section 'sterile hands..' to '...for you to love' could be read as a lefty description of the Australia-US 'special relationship'. Probably pretty topical at the time of the Shins' Australian tour. Just saying.
Hmmm.. Interesting! | Reviewer: Adrienne
The Jew love story theory seems valid to me, all the reasons you give are surprisingly matching with the lyrics.
The funny thing is that for the third time I read them, I finally found a meaning to me. Just saw my no-love-around life reflected. Just like these people who can't find love because maybe they are too shy or demanding. As humans we are convicted to reproduce ourselves, but some of us have some difficulties finding a relationship which means something else than biology. We can say it's better that way, ''but we know it to be quite contrary''. Also, I can see how you may find someone that won't make your life any better.
This is why ''you be damned to be one of us, girl'', the ones who are trapped in doubts, the ones who want to fly but won't.
you guys are dumb.. | Reviewer: lyndsey
Actually..the song is about a woman from texas who was basically a racist and she's horrible..its in an interview JAMES MERCER..for those of you who don't know he's the singer for the shins..
Its not about the holocaust....
She's the "HIMMLER"..
Wow | Reviewer: Anonymous | 11/13/08
This evidences the genius of the Shins on so many levels. The Shins really did a wonderful job combining a complex network of lyrics and poetic cynicism with a terribly creative melody. I don't know how they do it...
oh my... | Reviewer: Max | 11/2/08
you are right, there is no himmler in that song (that would truely be a flaw). they have by now corrected the line: ''You're humoring your coat,'' which was once ''You Himmler and your coat''.
but i totally disagree with you that the song is loosing its beauty just because it deals with a serious topic. it is rather the opposite, it shall show that there is love even in the darkest of times and places.
and by the way, did i ever once write: ''i don't accept any other interpretations, mine is the best!''?? if this would have been my intention i wouldn't have put so much effort in it.
so only because you don't like the thought that the shins might have chosen a difficult and serious setting for the lyrics doesn't mean you have to bash on me.
why don't you give reference from text? an interpretation is absolute no good without doing so...
Holocaust? Himmler? Wha...? | Reviewer: Nicole | 10/29/08
If you're hearing about Himmler and concentration camps in this song, then you must think "Love is a Battlefield" is about Hiroshima. I'd be willing to entertain almost any of the interpretations on here, EXCEPT the Holocaust because in it, the song is so narrowly construed and applied to such a random situation that it sucks the life and beauty from the song. The writer has drunk his own Kool-Aid to the point of concluding (out loud!) that he has the most accurate interpretation on here...
The song, I believe, is about admiration and resentment and the perception of freedom and the perception of constraint. An older, jaded person marvels at a young girl's youth, beauty, carefree attitude, recklessness. At the same time, he resents it, and feels that eventually life will break her of her free spirit. All of the reckless, carefree actions of his past backfired, leaving him sullen. At point, he is warning her of her inevitable future as one of life's working drones...
But towards the end, he realizes that her untamed nature is perhaps the one redeeming feature that makes her so alive in a world of androids, and that he himself has just been watching his life fade away; and he decides to follow her.
I don't think there's right or wrong interpretations (except that Himmler prattle). I just like hearing the song this way. :)
love story in a jewish ghetto | Reviewer: Max | 10/11/08
i still believe that it is a love-story about to develop in a jewish ghetto and later in a concentration camp. there is evidence to be found in the following lines:
1. the german accent in the beginning - to me it is an introduction into the topic
2. Born to multiply, - was the nazi propaganda describing jews as a ''race that only multiplies to crowd out other people such as the germans''
3. Born to gaze into night skies, - unlike other religions, jews did not have a messias. gazing into night skies is an act of waiting for something, in that case their messias.
4. All you wants one more Saturday. - saturday is shabbat, also the day on which the messias should arrive.
5. They gonna buy your life’s time - is a reference to the holocaust to me. although, the nazis did not ''buy'' but took the lifetime of far too many jews.
6. So keep your wick in the air and your feet in the fetters
‘Till the day
We come in doing cartwheels - live a ''correct'' jewish lifestyle and the messias will arrive. the day will be celebrated (till the day we come in doing cartwheels).
7. You be damned to be one of us, girl, - if you were jewish in that time, you would have been damned. also, it says that both the lyrical ego and the girl he/she is about to fall in love with are both jewish.
8. You keep them folded in your lap,
Or raise them up to beg for scraps, - people who have to live in such conditions usually pray (folded in your laps) or beg. so the scene propably takes place in a jewish ghetto.
9. You know he's holding you down
With the tips of his fingers just the same. - maybe the entire nazi state is meant here.
10. Will you be pulled from the ocean,
But just a minute too late, - i still believe this line is about the americans, who came too late to liberate europe and the jews.
11. Or changed by a potion,
And find a handsome young mate
For you to love. - to me, ''or changed by a potion'' is a metaphor for living under a different identity to escape
the horrors of the holocaust. and by ''handsome'' is meant ''german'', because otherwise the different identity would not work.
12. You'll be damned to pining through the windowpanes, - the girl or person the lyrical ego talks to is being brought into a concentration camp by train. he/she is damned.
13. You know you'd trade your life for any ordinary Joe’s,
Well do it now or grow old. - clearly, sarcasm is used here because if the person does not manage to escape he/she definitely won't grow old.
14. Your nightmares only need a year or two to unfold. - nightmares are often about dying or something bad happening. so it is clear to me that whoever the lyrical ego talks to was brought into a concentration camp. there one did not live longer than ''a year or two''.
15. I felt like I should just cry,
But nothing happens every time I take one on the chin, - the lyrical ego has lost hope to get out alive and death is certain so he/she won't cry not even under physical suppression.
16. You don't know how long I've been,
Watching the lantern dim,
Starved of oxygen, - in these lines it is not clear, whether the lyrical ego is addressing the listener or the person (maybe the girl) who just came into the concentration camp. but it is certain that the lantern is a metaphor for the jewish people in the concentration camp who are slowly dying. the lantern dims because it ''starves of oxygen'', means the people are being killed in the gas chambers.
17. So give me your hand,
And let's jump out the window. - this is the last invitation to a self-determined action. the lyrical ego and the girl are refusing to die the way they are forced to (which is an act of rebellion) but because death is inevitable they chose to end their lifes on their own to be together in death (mustn't necessarily be jumping out of the window).
cynical guy taints girl | Reviewer: anonymous | 10/5/08
I personally this is about a guy's cynical, jaded view on life, and how that affects a girl he's in love with- he eventually "taints" her soul. "All you want is one more Saturday"- it's like how she was in the beginning, maybe a young adult, interested in friends and fun. then, "he's holding you down/by the tips of his fingers..." The only thing I'm not sure about is whether the "he" is the singer, or a different guy altogether; thoughts?
Holocaust?? | Reviewer: Anonymous | 9/22/08
Stephen, I must admit I don't see all the religious and Holocaust references that you see in this song. Rather than a frustration with religion, I think a frustration with the restrictions of life in Western society are expressed in this song.
I think that your analysis of the lyrics "and your shape on the dance floor / will have me thinking such filth and gouge my eyes," is incorrect. Judaism does not teach that there is anything sinful about sexual thoughts or desires. I also think that these lyrics prove that the subject of this song is a female whom the singer is referring to in this line.
You talk a lot about "prudish, Jewish behavior". I'm not really sure what you mean by that but I'm sure that any religious Jew wouldn't consider such "Jewish behavior" to be something negative. People who choose to be religious love their religion and the lifestyle.
I think it is quite clear from the lines that come after "the dodo's conundrum" that it is not a reference to extinction but an inability to fly or achieve ones goals.
I don't see, if this song is written from the point of view of a religious Jew, why he would make a reference to Jesus??
Also I don't agree with your interpretation of the last verse.
I think that "Watching the lantern dim / Starved of oxygen" refers to watching a persons spark of life dim, their happiness and imagination dissipating, starved by the dull world around them.
I can't imagine that any prisoner in a death camp would "offer his hand to Himmler". And I don't think that "So give me your hand/And let's jump out the window." is a reference to suicide at all. I think it is more likely to be about taking a risk but potentially finding that you can fly.
I hope that it was not intentional but it does seem that some of your opinions expressed in the interpretation of this song are a little bit on the anti-Semitic side. Just remember that the Holocaust is a very sensitive subject and should always be treated with care.
Re: Holocaust | Reviewer: Max | 8/30/08
I absolutely agree with Stephen. There are too many references to the Holocaust that can't be ignored. To support his interpretation, I found these aspects: The German accent at the beginning, is already introducing the topic. In ''Will you be pulled from the ocean, But just a minute too late'', the ocean could be a metaphor for the Americans, who came from over the ocean but couldn't save, relatively speaking, a lot Jewish people. ''Starved of oxygen'' is definitely a reference to the gas chambers. And honestly, Himmler and the entire Nazi-state (''...and your coat'') in a pure love song wouldn't make too much sense to me...
So I only wanted to say that Stephen's interpretation is most accurate, thank you for this one!
Re: Holocaust | Reviewer: Max | 8/27/08
I absolutely agree with Stephen. There are too many references to the Holocaust that can't be ignored. To support his interpretation, I found these aspects: The German accent at the beginning, is already introducing the topic. In ''Will you be pulled from the ocean,
But just a minute too late'', the ocean could be a metaphor for the Americans, who came from over the ocean but couldn't save, relatively speaking, a lot Jewish people. ''Starved of oxygen'' is definitely a reference to the gas chambers. And honestly, Himmler in a love song wouldn't make too much sense to me...
So I only wanted to say that Stephen's interpretation is most accurate, thank you for this one!
Holocaust | Reviewer: Stephen | 8/17/08
Although, there is enough interpretation room to see this as simply a dissipitating love story or virginal confrontation, I believe this song is telling the story of a Jewish prisoner in a German concentration camp. There are definite Jewish referneces in the lyrics that follow the lines of a life of prudish, Jewish behaviour.
There are lines where Jewish stereotypes which were created by the Nazi's are used. "Born to multiply" is the Nazi belief that the Jew were just useless creatures endlessly bredding. "Born to gaze into night skies" may be a religious reference as the Jews wait for the messiah. And finally, "All you wants one more saturday" is a reference to the Jewish Sabbath.
Fetters is a type of chain or force that holds one back and so the song is most likely being song about a prisoner. Also, the person being sung about is supposed to have their hands "folded in your lap / or raise them up to beg for scraps," which is an example of more typical prisoner behaviour. When he speaks of the "dodo's conundrum," Mercer is refering to the potential extinction of the Jewish race. At one point, the song shifts into a "We" point of view and this takes the place of a first person speaker. When in the first person, the singer proclaims that "you be damned to be one of us, girl." This refers to the Jews as a race which has been condemned by the Nazi's, maybe even punished by God.
The middle portion of the song is a first person story told by the prisoner about his past. He was always a Jewish, religious prude who followed all the rules, yet was not exempt from the world of temptation. When he sees her "shape on the dance floor / will have me thinking such filth and gouge my eyes," he sees her beauty, but forces himself to not think about such sexual things because of his religion. When he mentions the "selfless fool who hoped he'd save us all," the prisoner thinks of Jesus who came to forgive sins, yet this Jewish man claims he does not need forgiveness because he'd "never dreamt of such sterile hands."
The prisoner truly wants a "handsome young mate" and he would "trade (his) life for any ordinary Joe's." The singer challenges the prisoner to change now before he "grow(s) old" with religious burden and before his time is up. Because of his past, the prisoner's "been alone since you were twenty-one / You haven't laughed since January." Although he pretends that his Jewish life led by rules is "so much fun / but we know it to be quite contrary."
I think this may be hitting closer to the mark than any of the other interpretation I have read on this page. Although some share themes, I dare other interpretations to explain why Himmler (leader of the German concentration camps, who later commited suicide), is mentioned in the last verse. The prisoner seems to be pleading with Himmler and saying that for a long time now he has been slowly dying and "watching the lantern dim." In the last lines, the prisoner seems to offer his hand to Himmler and suggests that he has either accepted his own inevitable death in the gas chamber, that he will kill himself just like Himmler will or that he has finally given up his religion. The ending is definitely up for more interpretation. Hope you enjoyed that and see that there are just too many Jewish references and symbols about religious piety in this song to be ignored. Looking for feedback.
So | Reviewer: Daniel
Although some of your interpretations are interesting (and correctish), this entire album tells a story of a boy who is an existentialist and has convinced himself (sort of) that life is like a chore (sort of). In this song, he meets a girl and is trying to tell her that she would never want to be like him, but decides to "date" (For lack of a better word) anyways. He's trying to tell her (You'd be damned to be one of us girl) that although there is knowledge in his mind, it's dangerous knowledge because it can completely distress someone.
Multi-layered Song. | Reviewer: Pete | 8/5/08
this song is awesome. it has so many interpretations to choose from, well... to me, it has to do with this guy whose waiting for someone.
That's why it's called Australia, because she seems to be emotionally distant from him, it's like shes half-way around the world. maybe the other person has many ralationships before, and actually is being held down in one of those relationships. he talks to this girl, always waiting for her, and he thinks he's the only guy stupid enough to fall for someone who doesn't care about him in that way. he faces extintion or... "the dodo's conondrum" because of this. he tries to convince her, but actually sees that maybe she want's to live a normal life with some stupid and "ordinary joe". The girl has been alone some time now, "since she was twenty-one" but no matter how many times he appeals to her, she doesn't seem to want anythig with him.
Anyway, the last part of the song is kind of an invitation to this girl, maybe for the last time.
Just my interpretation of this song though, maybe it means something entirely different for you...
growing up, obbviousslyy | Reviewer: Dominique
This song is about growing up. Why it's called Australia, I really don't know.
The first line, "time to put the eargoggles on, no", already says that there is something on its way that the audience or the receiver or whoever should prepare for -- something they don't necessarily want to prepare for.
I don't think that "born to multiply" should be taken literally. As we grow from children to teenagers, we multiply in number of friends. Young people like to be in large groups... like to enjoy their "Saturdays". But the underlining threat is that adulthood is coming. So, although young adults wish they had "one more Saturday", they know that soon enough "you'll be one of us" (us meaning adults).
Although adolescence is an extremely difficult time, looking towards adulthood is just as bad, if not worse. On the one hand, teenagers want the freedom, the individuality, and all the other benefits that come with being an adult. But on the other hand, they don't know how to go about getting it. For fear of messing up, most teenagers don't look forward to growing up.
That ambiguity is the idea behind the "dual tone". The childhood dream of making a difference and/or becoming successful struggles with the reality that not everything is that simple.
Then... I'm not really sure whats going on. Maybe the song is alluding to the notorious difficult relationships that all young adults seem to go. "You know he's holding you down"... and then eventually she finds love. I don't know.
The realities hit harder than expected, "Your nightmares only need a year or two to unfold", and you realize that you're alone, sad, and life is not the way it's "supposed" to be. In fact, it's "quite contrary". So, here you are, all by your self, without your youth and your fun, which streamlines right into the next stance. "You haven't laughed since January. You try and make like this is so much fun"
The end of the song suggests a difference topic. I can see how virginity might be derived from that. But since so much of the song points towards the topic of growing up, and since the shins are "of that age", then I thought it was only right to explore that idea.