Written By: u/potlah
Author Note: A nice little story to back up 21st Century Breakdown’s themes and lyrics. Hope you all enjoy it!
Song Of The Century
The album kicks off with Song Of The Century, somewhat of a prelude to the story of 21st Century Breakdown. The lyrics depict a country going into a war (louder than bombs) and losing (losing the fight). Both sides are fighting viciously with no signs of giving up, and the civilians are clearly losing a lot because of their government (era of static and contraband). However, the civilians hold on as government propaganda succeeds to persuade the masses (leading into the promised land). In general, the song can be seen as a popular song played during the war times and remembered greatly for its influence throughout the country (they’re playing the song of the century of panic and promise and prosperity). The song can be seen as a beacon of hope for soldiers and the civilians to sing along to in dark times (tell me a story into that good night, sing us a song for me).
21st Century Breakdown
After setting the general tone and background for the album, 21st Century Breakdown serves as an introduction for our main character, Christian. It can be implied that Christian was turned into an orphan due to war (welfare child) and was the youngest of his siblings (last one born). Christian currently resides in a more industrial area (teamsters, refinery sun) and it is clear he is not fit for industrial work (never made it as a working class hero). He objects the public norm and makes many claims that his co-workers are all just government pawns (my generation is zero). Christian experiences his first breakdown and feels like he’s losing his mind the longer he stays (20th century deadline). He feels lost and alone and doesn’t know what to do due to this alienation (lost but never was found).
Inside his head, he feels more and more twisted (made of poison and blood) as he feels like a stranger to the people he’s known for so long. He begins feeling paranoid (condemnation) as he begins to slowly realize the truth of how the country is run and the government has absolute power over everything (homeland security could kill us all). He sees how the country has brainwashed the children through subliminal messages of how the enemy is constantly threatening the country (video games of the tower’s fall), and that everyone should work hard for the country to overcome these hard times. He wants to reject and push it all away, but he’s only himself and to the eyes of everyone else, his views are delusional.
Over time, Christian begins to seek and find others within Nixon that shares the same views as him (we are the class of 13, we are the desperate in the decline). He begins to rally and start a small revolt in his local factory to gain the attention and support of the masses against the government. As the leader of the revolt, Christian begins his speech in front of the workers. He states how like the others, he is a long lost nobody, lost within the system of the ignorant powers above. He goes on about how the government are all bastards from 1969 and should’ve been gone a long time ago, but their influences are still lingering. All the fighting is done and the lost war has done nothing but left the poor and lost (like Christian) dead or alive, implying that the government couldn’t care less about them and that they are all free labour for them.
Christian states how he has worked faithfully all his life (I am a nation, a worker of pride) but he has realized all his hard work means nothing as he has never been acknowledged or paid properly to live a reasonable life (scars on my hands and the means to an end, is all that I have to show), and the only thing he has gained is the pain and suffering of working for nothing (swallowed my pride, choked on my faith, given my heart and my soul, broken my fingers). He also claims that he has had to lie for the sake of saving himself many times from conscription (waiting room, waiting for judgement day) because he’s seen how his family and friends have turned out after the war (flowers left over the grave).
He is simply frustrated with how incompetent the government is and how manipulative and constricting they are towards the people they claim to protect. Christian mocks this form of liberty and the freedom to obey as nothing but words to make the people have faith in the broken system. Before he is able to say anymore, the government officials storm in to stop the revolt (don’t cross the line). In the music video, this is the part where the colours come in, a possible reference to how Christian is thrown into reality as his whole life up to this point has been a lie. Christian now has to face the government head-on as he has been marked as a traitor and defector to the country.
His life of working as a factory worker is over as now he has to face the harsh reality of how traitors are dealt with. In his final moments, he screams how he can’t sleep at night from the fear of wasting his life and that the people should believe in what they feel is right, and be able to see from heroes and cons instead of being brainwashed minions. Christian is thrown into an SUV and brought to prison (Know your enemy music video).
Know Your Enemy
The start of the song is mostly a show of Christian’s internal conflict whilst being transported away from home. This action from the government finally affirms Christian’s thoughts and paranoia and sets them as facts in his head. He feels only hate as he sees the government as his enemy. In his head, he begins to get angrier as he feels his whole life up to this point has been a complete lie and he just feels used. Finally reaching the prison, Christian and his band of rebels are thrown into an execution field covered by walls.
Christian thinks quick and rallies his men to prepare to fight (overthrow the effigy, burning down the foreman of control). He tells everyone to fight for their lives (bringing on the fury, the choir infantry) and make it an effort to at least leave a mark and impression before dying (rally up the demons of your soul). Christian, relying on adrenaline (well…. violent energy), charges on without a second thought. Guns begin to fire as the rebels fall one by one (blood’s been sacrificed) but thanks to the frontline’s sacrifice, the men are able to make it to the executioners.
The executioners not expecting the rebels to fight and charge so viciously are taken aback and quickly beaten down (give me, give me revolution). Eventually, the rebels take over the small section with their newly acquired weapons and make their way towards the rest of the prison to see if there are rebels like them to be freed. The rebels search high and low and fight their way to victory and total control over the prison somehow. Jail after jail is unlocked as the rebels gain a huge number of supporters. This is where Christian first meets Gloria.
¡Viva La Gloria!
After settling down, the rebels take some time to rest and set up the prison equipment to track and see if any government militia is coming for them. Christian gets some alone time with Gloria ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°) and finds out she’s the rebel leader of another sector in the country. From here on, the scene turns into a flashback, with Gloria recalling her times and reasons for becoming a rebel. She says how she was born into the rebellion and was taught since young that the government is lying (eternal youth is a landscape of the lie). Over time, she rose in ranks and overtook the position of leader.
She shows her scars from the fights she was in (cracks of my skin, gun for hire) and the main battle that brought her into prison (say your prayers and light a fire, we’re gonna start a war, it’s what we waited for). She still remembers her name being graffitied onto walls and the sleepless days she spent fighting all night (found a home in all your scars and ammunition, made your bed in salad days amongst the ruins) with her loyal rebels (jilted crowd). Eventually, from constant attacks from the government, she lost too many rebels to be able to sustain their fighting (ashes to ashes) and she had to begin her escapade from the military.
From the winter to the end of autumn, the rebels kept running and hiding from the government, with some being caught occasionally (fallen through the cracks). Gloria continues to run and fight instead of giving up as she feels she has the need to avenge and continue the dreams of those who have fallen (don’t put away your burning light, don’t lose your faith, don’t let the bonfires go out). As time goes on, her name and reputation become but a legend to those who lived where she was born (banners burning down) as she gets further and further away from her hometown.
Her promises to bring amnesty to the brokenhearted and a season for everyone to always remember are but stories in the past now. However, for those who remember her, they all wish that she would send out a message as they would be more than willing to help her out. From rebels that have lost their way and made it back home, to the friends she had who didn’t follow her path, they all feel lost without Gloria’s guidance and leadership. Over time, all of Gloria’s followers had either died, been captured, or wandered away from their goals, leaving Gloria a lone runner.
Before The Lobotomy
The song picks up on the flashback with Gloria waking up one day in the captivity of the government. She was on the brink of death when the government found her. She recalls dreaming of another place and time where she and her family would be living happily instead of rags and crappy living conditions. As she begins to slip into unconsciousness, she begins hallucinating the voices of the rebels singing of their washed up dreams and remembers all of them dying and drenched in gasoline to dispose of their bodies in the rain. All that remains now is the silence and comfort of death as the laughter and songs of her companions are now but distant memories (in the underground).
Her story reminded Christian of his own past. The phrase life before the lobotomy may refer to how this was back when Christian was still a brainwashed fool working under the government. Before he ‘cut out’ the part of his brain that was controlled like a puppet by the government. Christian recalls he was giving a eulogy for his fallen friends and brothers in the war within his circle of workers back at the factory (sign of my love a lost memory) and this was when he began to look at a different point of view instead of being a puppet.
He says how his past self is enough to make himself sick, and that he was nothing but a mindless labourer (cast a stone and throw a brick) without a dream or reason to live for himself. The death of his close friends and family members was a wake up call (when the sky is falling down) and his days of being a government toy was over as his goals set by the government (Christian’s lesson is what he’s been sold) were nothing more than small motivations to keep the workers going (burned your dreams into the ground).
This is also where Christian reveals he turned to smoking and alcoholism to forget about his losses (learn to forget, whiskey shots and cheap cigarettes, I’m not in love cause I’m a mess) and that he also nearly died from overdosing (I got so high I can’t stand up). He compares himself to the refugees that flooded the country during the war, is no different to them as he is treated the same by the government. He feels worthless despite being a citizen of his country and says that the government’s propaganda was successful from keeping him from making his own dreams and goals.
Similar to Gloria, in his final moments, before he nearly died, he dreamt of another of another place and time where he and his family would be living happy and alive. A place where his friends were alive instead of dead in the war.
After the night Christian nearly died to overdose, he wakes up with an extreme case of a hangover (got under the grip between this modern hell). He looks around to find plenty of broken bottles and some shredded paper next to him. He pieces them together to find that he had failed to enroll in a higher paying job. He remembers pieces of last night and remembers being extremely angry at his rejected job interview (fire in my veins, pouring out like a flood) and in his destructive, drunk state (diabolic state) he broke the thin walls and some furniture in his tiny, run-down apartment.
He begins to disillusion himself as a God of his own world (I am the chosen one) and does random drunken things. Most of the song is just drunk talk (return man to ape) and Christian fighting his inner demons (toxin your reservoir) to incite his violence onto the public. The phrase, man to ape, can also refer to how being drunk can cause a person to act how they normally wouldn’t (iHeart-radio anyone?) and cause them to act in a somewhat barbaric fashion. Toxin your reservoir can also be an indirect way of saying he’s intoxicated.
Last Night On Earth
After Christian’s Inferno, Christian and Gloria stop their conversations as they are called to begin to make plans to continue their rebellion. The rebels stated that the government is closing in and that the rebels have to make a move quick before the prison is retaken and the rebels are killed. After much discussion, it is decided that Christian would be left to take care of the prison as a distraction to keep the government at bay while Gloria and the others continue to gain more support in another state. Specifically, they have been tasked to attack the church (East Jesus Nowhere) where the pope works.
The two rebel leaders exchange their goodbyes as Gloria move away from the prison in the SUVs with her rebel squad. They promise to see each other again soon as Gloria fades out of view. As the SUVs approach the border, the government officials come up to check for identification (something like in Planet of the Apes where the area the humans live in are covered by walls and has a gated entry). The officials are taken out quickly as the SUVs drone in onto the church. Moments before reaching the church, the SUVs are attacked by the military.
Gunfire is exchanged with Gloria’s side winning as they push onwards to the church. As they reach the entrance, an SUV appears with reinforcements. One of the rebels hands Gloria a postcard from Christian with the lyrics of Last Night on Earth being the poem he had written for her (such cheese, much plot). With new found motivation and joy, Gloria pushes on with DETERMINATION.
East Jesus Nowhere
Inside the church, the Pope is carrying out the usual Friday prayers (raise your hands now to testify), unaware of what’s happening outside. Clearly the creator of a cult of personality, he uses his words to twist the minds of religious followers under government influence (confession will be crucified, sacrificial suicide like a dog). Racism and sexism are present within the church and the indoctrination for conscription is clear to the children attending the church (white boys, black girls, soldiers of the new world). The pope tells them not to question anything and to follow whatever he and the government portray as the truth (put your faith in a miracle, join the choir, church of wishful thinking).
Midway through his speech, Gloria busts in and orders everyone to get down. She heads towards the Pope and grabs him with her gun against his neck (fire burns today of blasphemy). The usage of the word genocide and sirens of decay refers to Gloria’s plans on attempting to persuade the church followers to shake off their beliefs and ‘kill’ the cult of personality (infiltrate the faith fanatics). Gloria sarcastically does a confession and makes statements of how she finds the support of the cult to be nothing but a belief that makes people doubt their own abilities as individuals (threw my crutches in the river of a shadow of doubt).
The Pope attempts to sway the attention that Gloria has gotten by telling the people to say a prayer and donate to the church’s causes as it relies on the people’s support to stay alive. He whispers in a sly tone to Gloria how his uniform is flattering as he bought it using all the donations given. Gloria tells him to shut up (I never asked you a goddamn thing) as the Pope quickly threatens her by stating how she has no idea who she’s up against (don’t test me, second guess me, protest me, you will disappear).
Gloria is clearly infuriated and questions him loudly about his made up beliefs (who’s allowed to breed) and how his religions are nothing but a tool to control the poorly educated for the missionary politicians and their colleagues (cops of a new religion). The pope does nothing but laughs at her before he is killed with a bullet through his head.
The scene changes back to Christian and his situation at the prison after the death of the Pope. The walkie talkie buzzes on as news about the Pope spreads around the rebels. But there is no time to celebrate as Christian and his crew are under heavy fire from the government. The song is in the perspective of the leader of the government as he claims how he is the Caesar of the country and no one can stop him. He states how the rebels have caused him a slight fever and brought him into a state of grace, giving him the goal of purging the rebels and seizing the day with his victory. He says to God how he will make the infidels pay with his army of assassins.
The phrase call of the banshee may refer to Gloria as the governor realizes her presence in the revolt. He had believed her to be dead and a relic of the past, but somehow she has returned. The governor says how the rebels’ love for their country (orgasm, spasm of love and hate) will only divide the country (what will divide us, the righteous and the meek?) with their fetish for justice. The usage of orgasm could also mean that the governor wants to kill the rebels before they reproduce and make more rebels.
As the fight goes on, the governor catches sight of Christian and remembers him from a few days back. Apparently, Christian ended up on the television and radio waves during his little riot against the factory. The governor notes this and tells the military to radio his voice in. The gunfire stops for a while as the rebels are confused by the lack of attacks. A crackle envelopes the air as the governor’s voice sparks into the background. Through the power of radio waves, the governor uses the speakers mounted on one of the vehicles to send a message to Christian and gang (call of the wild).
He mocks Christian by saying how he will kill Gloria (death to the girl at the end of the serenade) and that he is the true justice within the country. He refers to the rebels as parasites along with several insults before buzzing off. The battle continues (vendetta, Beretta, fire and desire) as both sides refuse to back down. One of the government soldiers (killjoy from Detroit) take the spotlight as he says how he is also fighting for his beliefs (I feed off the weakness with all my love) and the rebels won’t make a difference at all.
The fight seems to be at a stalemate before Christian begins his bombardment of Molotov Cocktails to sway the enemy fire. But alas, all is in vain as the government only amps up their reinforcements (call the peacemaker). As the reinforcements arrive, Christian feels disgusted as the government is willing to send younger people and elderly for battle (now the caretaker’s the undertaker).
The fight ends with carpet bombings from aircraft (call up the Gaza) completely desecrating the area. It is clear to everyone that the government is willing to kill the rebels at any cost (death to the ones at the end of the serenade). Serenade might refer to the fighters who are fighting for their own ‘freedom’, the rebels fighting against the government, and the army fighting for the freedom of the government’s rule. Dust covers the entire area as the status of all the fighters are unknown.
Last Of The American Girls
This song is somewhat of an interlude to the story. It’s basically who Gloria was before she fought as a rebel. Before becoming the leader, Gloria lived a normal low key life as an unknown in her state aside from the rebels. As a normal rebel grunt, she did graffiti and secretly convinced people to join the rebellion (little book of conspiracies right in her hand). As one of the few prominent female figures within the rebels, she is stated to be a paranoid endangered species headed into extinction, the last of the American girls.
She seemed to be quite successful, making enough money for an overcoat, a bike and enough to afford for a holiday. However, deep inside her heart, she despised all these corporate bullshit (runaway of the establishment incorporated, won’t cooperate). At her old hidden rebel camp, she would play vinyl records and sing with her fellow rebels and be great friends with them (sucker for all the criminals breaking the laws). She is known to be faithful to the rebels and would give her life for them (come in first for the end of western civilization, hero for the lost cause).
But of course, in the eyes of the public, she’s nothing but a natural disaster.
The story cuts back to the present where Gloria has reached the prison. After receiving many distress signals, Gloria successfully reaches the prison with her new found supporters to find it in shambles. Although the dust has settled, the amount of debris made it hard to determine whether there were survivors (desperate but not hopeless, I feel so useless). The term Murder City refers to the huge amount of casualties in the area. It has reached midnight making it even harder to find things in the dark.
Despite it being in the dead of night, Gloria and the rebels are still wide awake after the riot and in shock of the result of Christian’s last stand. The rebels begin to have negative thoughts as they see the prison in shambles, thinking that all their battles will only end the same way (demonstration of our anguish). Their little victory towards the Pope had no meaning (empty laughter has no reason) if they were to lose most of their men in the process. Gloria and her rebels feel pathetic, as they are meant to be the last call of reinforcements that were supposed to save the prison rebels.
Suddenly, a voice calls out. Turns out, one of the rebels have found survivors! Gloria rushes over to find that Christian had managed to save everyone, even the military soldiers! Apparently, the governor decided to bomb the area, inclusive of the army. Both sides decided on a truce to find cover from the bombings, where they found an underground bunker thanks to the knowledge of a soldier who used to work there. Christian quickly excuses himself for a toilet break (which survived since it’s inside the underground bunker).
As Gloria chit chats with the new rebels, she realizes that Christian’s been gone for a while now. She heads to check on him to hear the sound of sobbing. She sees Christian sitting down on the floor, crying. Gloria sits next to him to find out what’s wrong. He expresses his fears in the upcoming battle and his uncertainties that they could even hold their ground against the government (we’ve come so far, we’ve been so wasted). He says how against the government, he feels like the rebels are just ants waiting to be squashed.
It had only been a few days, but the fear on Christian’s face is clearly shown from his usual emotionless look. Gloria hugs him and begins to monologue.
¿Viva La Gloria? (Little Girl)
She recalls the time she was alone and running away from the government. After losing all her men, her faith in herself began to waiver (your heart is dying, your soul is purging). Thoughts of suicide lingered (love and razor blades) but she never had the time to give in to her thoughts as she had to keep on running (run away from the river to the street) to avoid being captured and killed. She was nothing but a TR-8R (you’re a stray) with nowhere to go (no place like home when you got nowhere to go).
At many times, she nearly died from hunger and paranoia (your life is calling) and the nightmares and hallucinations of her allies that died along the way (charlatans and saints of your abandon). Her days were clearly numbered as she couldn’t lie forever to keep her life going (lifeboat of deception is now sailing, dirty liar, junkie preaching to the choir). It is revealed that she had to steal and hurt others countless times just to feed herself (running with shears) and she really had no reason to live (in the wake, all the way no rhyme or reason) other than to just survive because of her delusion that she had to live for the sacrifice of her rebel companions (unholy sister of grace).
Due to her carelessness, she was eventually caught on the streets by the police (traces of blood always follow you home) and brought to prison. The only reason she was kept and not executed immediately was that she was a valuable source of intel for the government regarding the rebels and their identities.
Restless Heart Syndrome
Christian recalls the time he nearly died from the overdose. Ever since the start of his addiction, his life was just never the same. He eventually checked in with the doctor for rehab (I’ve got a really bad disease, it’s got me begging on my hands and knees, so take me to emergency). But despite all of the rehab and his overall recovery, Christian still can’t shake off the pain of the loss of his friends and family (somebody take the pain away, it’s like an ulcer bleeding in my brain). As time goes on, the doctor gets sick of Christian’s nagging and gives him heavy sedation to keep him at bay (I’m elated, medicated).
Christian knowing the medication is but temporary, is constantly reading the news in his free time about cures for broken hearts and feeling insecure. He tells his co-workers about his suicidal tendencies and his fears but everyone seems to just shove it off like it’s nothing much (you’d be surprised what I endure) and tells him to just ‘shake it off’ and ‘be happy’ (what makes you feel so self-assured). The medication eventually causes heavy paranoia as Christian turns slightly crazy (I need to find a place to hide, you never know what could be waiting outside). He is afraid of dying and being forgotten like his friends and family (accidents you could find, it’s like some kind of suicide).
He gets to the point where he becomes almost emotionless, distancing himself from the past (what ails you, is what impales you) and forcing himself to protect himself by being alone all the time. Eventually, he comes to the point where he realizes his medication is healing him and stops taking them in an effort to kill himself (I am my own worst enemy) which ultimately makes him better as the medication was causing the anxiety issues in the first place. The withdrawal symptoms are harsh as Christian battles with himself to keep himself alive (you are your own worst enemy). In the end, Christian survives and realizes the true enemy at hand after battling himself for so long (you’re a victim of the system). It is somewhere after this point that 21st Century Breakdown takes place.
Horseshoes And Handgrenades
Christian and Gloria realize that they had spent too much time talking and decide they should get back to their rebels. They head back to the surface world with the rebels and begin discussing their next move against the government. The crew of rebels come to the conclusion that the media is the best way for them to get the word out and effectively dominate the country in a short amount of time. With the salvaged radios, the ex-military soldiers call for assistance from their allies to help them overthrow the government.
After much convincing (I’m not fucking around, deceivers and cheaters), they get the help they need in the areas around the main radio stations. The rebel forces head on in the remaining working vehicles towards the nearest rendezvous to receive reinforcements. Eventually, the crew make it to the nearest radio station where they plan their attack (gonna burn it all down, gonna rip it out). The rebels claim their dominance as the radio waves and televised media are taken over one by one by the rebel forces.
The betrayed soldiers mock the governor for betraying them (slap me around, knock me out, missed me, kissed me now you better kick me down) and that they were lucky enough for them to have such control over the country’s media now because of the governor’s lack of care in settling his jobs in killing everyone (almost only really counts in horseshoes and handgrenades). Christian says how everything the governor throws at him at this point is only for him to destroy to the ground now, and that he is willing to push his luck to shoot him down.
With the massive broadcasting, many riots and rebellions are started as remaining independent news anchors broadcast the chaos on television (demolition, self-destruction, want to annihilate this age-old contradiction). The signal for revolution had been given, and now the whole country is in utter, anarchist chaos.
The Static Age
As the riots intensify, the radios eventually go silent as the military leaves them to aid in the uprising. The sound of static fills the on radios (can you hear the sound of the static noise blasting out in stereo?) getting rid of the lies of the government that used to be broadcasted (slogans on the brink of corruption). Love refers to nationalism and speeches from the governor, religion being the cult of personality and murder referring to the propaganda of rebels and other countries being bloodthirsty troublemakers. Memories of the past war which led to the corrupt government flow through the nation as they realize who was their real enemy the whole time (visions of blasphemy, war and peace screaming at you).
Bigger companies begin to withdraw from the country with their remaining goods and money as it descends further into chaos (Coca Cola execution). Billboards are being vandalized and everyone’s true desires are finally being shown after being locked up for so long (conscious on a cross and your hearts in a vice, all I want to do is I want to live batteries not included). Everyone is sick of high prices and low pays, having sometimes only their minds to keep them sane (your state of mind are what you own that you cannot buy, what’s the latest way that a man can die, screaming hallelujah?).
The rebels proclaim their victory (this is how the west has won, silence of the rotten/forgotten screaming at you) as everyone now has the truth shown to them. However, amidst the chaos, the governor had one more trick up his sleeve.
Within all the chaos, Christian and Gloria had been pinned down by the governor’s handful of elite forces as their rebel forces had left them to move on to aid the neighbouring rebels. Not expecting the ambush, both of them take cover in a nearby house (as seen in the music video). Unarmed and dazed, the two can do nothing but wait and hope they escaped. Suddenly, gunshots penetrate the thin walls of the house without warning. Within the gunfire, the two share their trademark kiss in the video and on the cover of the album.
Over time, the gunshots stop as the rebel forces arrive to save the two rebel leaders. Christian and Gloria walk outside, hand in hand to talk to the governor face to face for the first, and last time. They look down on the governor who has several gunshot wounds, saying how he’s so willing to send people to fight his battle that he himself isn’t willing to die for. As a last ditch effort, the governor pulls a pistol and points it at the couple threatening them. The rebels raise their guns but Christian orders them to stand down (21 guns, lay down your arms).
Christian asks if he feels good about letting his people die for such a pointless conflict (does the pain weigh out the pride) whilst Gloria tells the governor he’s in ruins and will never understand the people’s true dreams and wishes. The two remark how the governor has never been in their shoes, and he’ll never know what it’s like from a normal person’s point of view such as Christian’s addictions (hangover doesn’t pass) Gloria’s rebel life spent on running away (your faith walks on broken glass). Both of them remark their loss of friends and family (thoughts have taken their toll, mind breaks the spirit of your soul) and that it’s time for the governor to move on (nothing’s ever built to last, you’re in ruins, lay down your arms).
The governor barely coughs out his reasoning (did you try to live on your own, when you burned down your house and home) referring to the times he was in war killing innocent lives and allies to climb in ranks, eventually turning into somewhat of a dictator. He says he knows his own sins (liar looking for forgiveness from a stone) and that he has lost so much he just wants to be on top so he never has to lose anything again, no matter the cost (something inside this heart has died). He succumbs to his injuries and drops dead (live and let die). The old system is dead for good.
The song starts off with a modified version of Song of the Century. It’s purpose is to pay respects to the fallen rebels that have been fighting against the corrupted government for years now (sings like American Eulogy, dawn of my love and conspiracy, forgotten hope).
As the riots begin to settle down, more problems begin to surface as mass hysteria starts amongst the people. The problem with the rebellion was the fact that no actual governing party was set to take over, and thus the country has fallen into a state of anarchy with people running amok and lawless (red alert is the colour of panic, neighborhood’s a loaded gun). The destruction of the radio towers have made it difficult for communication (elevated to the point of static) and the lack of information makes it easy for criminals to carry out their actions (creating a feeding ground for the bottom feeders of hysteria). The end result of the rebellion is shaping to be a disaster without a leader (deaf mute misleading the choir, the punchline is a natural disaster sung by the unemployed) and people are beginning to fight for their own made up laws (fight fire with a riot).
People influenced by the old government in ways such as the cult of personality are killed due to their misguided beliefs (the martyr is a compulsive liar when he said “it’s just a bunch of niggers throwing gas into the….”). These riots begin to disrupt the very things that keep the country running (tapped into the reserve) and burning America to the ground. The rebels who are looking for a leader to make the situation better begin to look high and low for Christian and Gloria to stop the country from breaking down any further, but they are nowhere to be found. The modern world that was dreamt of by the rebels, is now shaping into something uninhabitable.
The riots eventually seem to quiet down as new laws are made by rebels in individual states (I am a nation without bureaucratic ties). Although there are some who disagree with the new systems (class of 13 in the era of dissent) who are mostly just misfits who are trying to get a kick from being a rebel (last of the rebels without a common ground) and criminals who are giving to their temptations (hostage of a soul on a strike to pay the rent). It is clear that some areas have rich scammers taking advantage of the new economy (take a ride beyond the ‘up to date’ and the neo-gentrified) although the choice of sales is now in the control of the consumers instead of being dominated by the sellers (value of your mind is not held in contempt).
The states are confident they can run much better than the old system can (I can hear the sound of a beating heart, that bleeds beyond a system that is falling apart). People now are less concerned about their wages as systems such as minimum wage is implemented, so people don’t have to worry about their future, their modern age. The end of the song shows how the mass hysteria of the modern world is slowly dissipating as states begin to settle down and have their own ways of running themselves without being under the single rule of a dictator.
See The Light
The scene cuts back to Christian and Gloria, shown driving around America (crossed the river, fell into the sea) to see the state of the country while recalling their wild journey (scratched the surface, in the mouth of hell) and the things they did to get here (running out of service, in the blood I fell). Now, they just want to enjoy their lives in their new world (I just want to see the light) and not waste their lives on fighting anymore (I don’t want to lose my sight).
Christian’s had enough of pills and alcohol and Gloria has had enough of being chased down pool halls. They just want to be free and experience the beauty of life as it is (drank the water from a hurricane, set a fire just to see the flame). The lyrics can also be seen as Christian and Gloria trying out things for the first time that they were too scared to do under the old government.
They eventually make it to a desert where they made their home on higher ground, far away from everyone else. The old government is gone forever, but it’s never too late to make a new and better one. But that job is not up to Christian and Gloria. Instead, they’ll leave it to the hands of fate to deal with the rest as they’ve already set the pavement taking the liars down, and leaving the country in the hands of the people.