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Elect The Dead
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Empty Walls by Serj Tankian Songfacts
This song is Tankian's commentary on the war in Iraq. The video shows children acting out key moments in the United States' "War On Terror," such as George Bush standing in front of a "Mission Accomplished" banner and a prisoner at Abu Ghraib.
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@Jason I would just like to correct a sentence. It wasn't an attempt on the Alfred P. Murrah building. It was successful in killing 168 people including children that were in the daycare on the first floor.
Chaz - Oklahoma City, Ok
Chase, let me tell you something. 3,000 Americans died from 9/11. 500,000 Iraqis died from the Iraq war. Stop being an annoying piece of s**t and face the fact that bush was a murderer.
Liam - Leavenworth, Ks
Bodies burning. . . It's called napalm people. . . Choking with intoxication. Come on now. Not rocket science.
James - Kansas
The song is mostly about the Armenian genocide and the Tankian's request to be recognised by the United States government as Barack Obama had promised before he was elected. No coincidence the title of the album: "Elect the Dead" referring to the millions of dead Armenians.
Eftychios Kaimakkamis - Nicosia, Cyprus
I think that by far the best explanation of the video can be found on yahoo answers ( http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20090328095645AApYFib ):
"There is no question the song is directly about the Bush administration's censorship of the Iraq war and specifically the choice to ban the media from showing caskets of American soldiers.
"Your empty walls,
Don't waste your time,
On coffins today,"
About how we are just being forced to ignore reality whether or not we even conciously acknowledge so.
"Don't you see their bodies burning?
Desolate and full of yearning,
Dying of anticipation,
Choking from intoxication,"
About both American and Iraqi casualties that the public is ignorant to.
The video which depicts the twin towers being destroyed, the statue of Hussein being toppled, and even prisoners being taken ends with the children staring at the casket outside. The children who played the war willing and enjoyed it are being seperated from the casket only by a window, an empty wall. There is nothing really there and they choose to see reality but censoring their vision would mean they still think of war as a type of game and run around enjoying it.
In summary, the song is about the government's false protections and how censoring the viewing of caskets decreases critcism of the war and helps Americans avoid the reality that people are constantly dieing from war because they are unable to view the atrocities. While I'm sure these themes can be taken into a broader scope there is no doubt Serj is directly speaking to the casket censorship." - Miss Chief ( http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20090328095645AApYFib )
Chris - Lowell, Ma
on all behalf ive been to iraq and afghnistan and personally the song is as said above its about the government not saying this and that, and that are CHILDREN will be fighting our war if we do not fix it and do it the right way
Brandon - Stafford, Va
The meaning of the song is the sides of both people in the war. The point of the children is that the U.S send young men and women to fight there war. And at the end when they see the the casket and everyone stops and looks at the funeral it represents a hopefull end where we see what we both have done.
Kyler - Jonesboro, Ar
@Thomas I agree however there is another viewpoint to the kids. It's also a representation of how most Americans think of war as something great or "Fun", especially kids, however when they see the coffins and all the deaths they realize that it's not more than death.
Simon - Indianapolis, In
Thomas, what about Semptember 11th of 2001? They came to OUR country killed OUR people. They hate us because we differ from them in ideas. Islam is supposed to be a religion of peace, yet they kill. The Kuran says killing one is like killing all of mankind.
Chase - Vegas, Nv
Emilio, if we aren't killing innocent people, what's the deal with Abu Ghraib? Or look up the news stories regarding MOAB, the bomb not the Biblical area. Look up Cluster Bomb. These are things WE, the United States of America, used in the Iraqi and Afghanistan wars. No secrets. Real life. There is NOTHING that can be considered MORE American than being Anti-War. Read up on your George Washington history and you'll see that even though he was considered a "war hero", he despised war. Was is the dumbest thing we as the Human Race can ever be involved in. Why can't we agree to just be different and accept that?
Also, to consider ANY of them "bad ones", is stupid. We are in THEIR land, not ours. That's THEIR home. THEIR houses, THEIR schools, THEIR churches, that we are infringing on. We never belonged there.
Thomas - Reno, Nv
Were not raelly killing innocent people thomas. Thats what we are trying to avoid. They kill mre of us then we do them because we dont know which ones are the bad ones.
Emilio - Abilene, Tx
The video is strong as a future Marine I hope I never have to bury a brother of mine
Corey - Richmond, Va
its a great song, but its not like he thinks, or any of you all think. its hard to know anything if you have never ben HERE in Iraq.
Tristan - Texas, Tx
- Thomas, Suisun City, CA I couldn't agree with you more. Well said. Also, it was not only Bush Jr. His father was the source of this faggotry.
Dale - New Orleans, La
I'm surprised that most people can't figure this song out. Yes, it's about the World Trade Center incident and the War in Iraq following it. The problem is that most don't realize it's being sung from a different perspective. It's being sung from the perspective of an Iraqi. That's why he says "I loved you yesterday, before you killed my family". It's a reference to all the innocent people we are killing with our bombings and shootings. The "bodies burning" is NOT a reference to the Holocaust or the Armenian Genocide. It's a reference to the soldiers who've been burned and hung in the town squares of Baghdad. "Told you to see from behind those empty walls" could have a few meanings. 1 is to see the world or the war from the eyes of the children. The other is to see the war from the life of an Iraqi citizen.
The reason he used kids in this is easy. The old white guys in D.C. never fight their own wars anymore. They send the children of the nation. Anyone 18-26 is eligible to go fight a war for someone elses ambitions. Who will get the credit if it's a success? That's right, the old white guy in power, not the soldiers who risked everything on someone else's whim. ( Yes, I realize I write this as Obama is President, but he didn't start this war. Bush did. It's Bush's war.)
The American people have no consideration for anyone or anything but themselves. He's trying to get the American's to think about someone else for once.
Thomas - Suisun City, Ca
I agree with JC Rock's holocaust theory, but the video is clearly against the war in Iraq. Maybe Serj is killing two birds with one stone.
Logan - Wal., Ar
First of all, Serj can't make it any clearer on what he is trying to get across. This is about our government and the things they do to minipulate the opinions of the public to win the support of the whole nation. Our government attacked its own people on 9/11 to push forth the agendas to go to war in Iraq. They used our hurt and hate to make us want to go over there and look for these "terrorists", when all they wanted to do was go over there and occupy a country that has everything we need. OIL! We ran over there as soon as we could and we have been there since. From the twin towers being taken out, to the attempt on Oklahoma City bombings, to the flights that went down. If none of that had happened, the public would have been weary to go to war, but with a mind set of hurt and anger and hate, you know we all wanted to go over there and kick ass. Its a corupt government, and we need to get rid of most of them. We are supposed to have the control and we have none. This country is going down fast, I don't know if we can stop it or not. But thats wat Serj was saying, and at the end of the song, the main result is our Men and Women of the military are the ones that pay the ultimate price! Collateral Damage to our government that doesn't care if we die!
Jason - Houston, Tx
scott, from NY , i think the whole children thing is a way to say how badly our country is being led and how the government act like children
Edwin - Guayama, Puerto Rico
Serj Tankain was A member of the Band System of a down, which has been in hiatus since 2006 after Ozzfest.
John - Marlborough, Ma
Serj is so inspirational! look at how many o us have started writing on this page just to share our views on it
i mean im just in highschool but i know exactly what everyone is talking about
you just have to open your eyes to the government and see what the truth is
i think this is basically what sej is trying to teach us
Go Serj !
Hannah - Statesville, Nc
i think a little bit of the i loved you yesterday before you killed my family part goes back with serj a little about how he is armenian and they tried tto kill his family in the armenian genocide
Hannah - Statesville, Nc
its about the terror thats been going on since 911 just watch the video it explains it
Dean - Daytona, --
I think Zach from Atlanta is right. The video clearly is about the "War on Terror", but the lyrics are about the Armenian genocide.
Garret from LaCrosse: Do you really believe that the bombing of important buildings is the cause of the war? You have to be joking... 9/11 was an inside job, it has been proven many times, and the "terrorists" are not terrorists in my opinion, but freedom fighters. Terrorism is manipulating someone or a group of people through fear, terror. Bush said there was a terrorist threat, people were afraid of it, so they supported Bush, cuz they thought he will help. Sounds like terrorism to me...
Attila - Dunavarsány, Hungary
I think that although the video is clearly about the war in iraq that the song is about the Armenian Genocide, if you think about where Serj is from, Armenia. The empty walls are referring to the borders of the counrty, somehow like the borders being empty of people or of justice or something (the borders idea came from the special edition of the Elect the Dead CD). The bodies burning was like saying that they dont have time for proper burials with a coffin and such, so they just burn the bodies. He is saying "I want you to see from behind these empty walls etc..." sort of like the John F. Kennedy "Let them come to Berlin speech....". He's basically saying that people are saying its not that bad or whatever but he's responding saying "Well if you say its not that bad why dont you come here and see what its like". Dont know if thats true but it sounds good to me.
Zach - Atlanta, Ga
well, the holocaust theory is a good one, and not necesarily wrong, but consider tankian's background. this could be referring to the very similar armenian genocide, which occured first. the video is clearly an iraq war statement, while the lyrics can be interpreted as a genocide reference. all of these may be true, tankian is good at double or even triple entendres
Ian - Chilli, Oh
The part with the bear represnted the pulling down of the staute of saddam hussien
Josh - Cleveland, Oh
I think this song is also about suicide because kids pull down a teddy bear from a building from block as if someone was jumping off a building.
Gage - Rome, Ga
This song is about the war in Iraq i think. Because in the video it shows kids acting out scenes of bad things that happened like terrorist attacks. One of the scenes is the twin towers burning, because a girl built two exact same towers then a boy flew a plane that crashed into it. It is also about the holocaust because it said "Can't you see their bodies burning?" I have heard that Adolph Hitler burned peoples bodies in a dark silent room. I think he flew the ashes to another country and in the other country they thought it was snow. I'm not sure if that's exactly what happened but it was some thing like that. Although this is what I think the meaning of the song is. Well that's all I got so hope you understand this.
Gage - Rome, Ga
ok, bear with me here.
if u listen to the lyrics,
and go form exactly what he says,
it sounds like he is talking about the
"I want you to see from behind those empty walls": Walls are sometimes used as grave sites.
They are empty, meaning they never buried those they killed. When he wants you to see behind them, hes saying to look from their perspective.
"When we decline, from the confines of our mind
Don't waste your time, on coffins today":
Hitler was a smart man in the brain sense, but a (sic) freak when it came to the killing off of the jews and such. He had much brain-power, but declined greatly when they tested on the bodies of the living and the dead. Wasting time on coffins means that they just burned them. There was no need for coffins whatsoever.
"Don't you see their bodies burning?
Desolate and full of yearning
Dying of anticipation
Choking from intoxication":
This one is kind of self-explanitory.
"I loved you
You killed my family":
This could mean how alot of Germany, Jews, Polish or any ethnic that suffered liked the idea of Hilter as leader, but soon changed their minds as he killed so many of their own kind.
Jc Rock - Millbrook, Al
i have to disagree on the iraq part. i believe that it is more on the twin towers if you watch the vid.
Robert - Columbia, Tn
what i get out of this song is how we think it's ok here in america cause we don't see the results of the war and it's outcomes from overseas and how that familys of the people of iraq our left in poverty without husbands,wives and how the media blinds us to make us believe their has been barely any damage done only to their troops
Andreq - Mackinaw, Il
I feel the song is about this:
From our homes in the states the war in iraq is just a news story, but peoples "CHIRLDREN" are dying day after day, and that this matter is NOT A GAME. The american people should recongnize that we are at war with a country for no reason. We kill people because they want to get rid of our troops who have no f**king reason to be in there country.
Steve - Philadelphia, Pa
It is about the Iraq war. Unfortunately, we are in quite a pickle with that precarious situation... Even if we pull out now, then the terrorist groups will most likely just recover, using a new rallying cry of "We pushed out the mighty Americans! HAH!" And get more followers... Then I do believe I detect a cycle? Bomb of important building -> War on Iraq -> Pull Out -> Terrorists rally -> Rinse and repeat...
Garrett - Lacrosse, Wi
"I want you to be left behind those empty walls!"
Who's Serj talking to?
Airk - Skagway, Ak
I also see it as a song about how Bush left people in Iraq to long. I think the lines "When we decline, from the confines of our mind
Don't waste your time, on coffins today" Means that there are so many people who will not be barried because of the condition of their body.
Nick - Toledo, Oh
i think the song has a meaning toward how the gov raises your kids. through schools and books and stuff. the subliminaly communist ways of teaching in socitey. in all of our history books and movies we watch at school it talks about the japanese internment camps and how we only did it to protect them... that is complete bull $h!t. we did it to them because we didnt know which ones were spys so we took them all.
Erik - Brownwood , Tx
the way that Serj described the song himself was 'how can children so innocent cause such terror later on in life?'. The rest you can kind of imagine.
Michelle - Dallas, Tx
And when she calls for a kid in a tank to come is suppose to represent the war in iraq pretty much.
I just find it funny how Serj talks about how bad our government is when his hometown government SUCKS a left nut. Lol. But i still love him.
Josh - Bloomsburg, Pa
In the begining when the airplay runs into the little girls two blow towers its suppost to represent the twin towers and a airplain crashing into it
Its pretty neat.
Josh - Bloomsburg, Pa
No people it is about serj telling i forget his name the drummer that it was a mistake to break the band up.
Josh - Bloomsburg, Pa
i think this song is about how even though on paper the war in Iraq is going well, many people are dieing, many of them innocent, and the leaders of our nation can speak of how well the war is going all they want, but they don't truly see how the war is going, they don't see everybody who is killed in the line of duty, they aren't there, they don't see the death and destruction. the video for this song is nearly entirely acted out by children, this i am sure was to prove a point, to prove that it will be our children fighting the war in the future, and our children will be dieing . Also, at one point in the video there is a child standing in front of a banner saying "Mishin Akomplishd" this inccorect spelling is showing that even thoguh our children may not be fighting in iraq now, they will be suffering for it still, the war requires money, money that could be spent on things that will benefit society, such as education, not cause death.
Robert, good luck in Iraq
Scott - New York, Ny
I think that the song is about how us as Americans might think that the war in Iraq is making enough progress to stay with it. While the suffering Iraqis are still waiting for things to happen, other then their families getting killed. I think that the chorus is meant for us to see the war through the Iraqi's eyes
Chris - Springfield, Pa
or it means iraqi didnt mind us or trading with us but we killed most of their families
Ricky - Memphis, Tn
I think it means the person had no problem with wars or Iraq until they lost someone close to them because of it.
Angela - Sylacauga, Al
what does it mean, "I loved you yesterday, before you killed my family."
Brianna - Ilost, Wi
Im a Marine, I havent been in long and havent gone to war yet, but the end of the video just reminded me, I never want to have to bury a brother of mine.
Robert - Camp Lejuene, Nc
This is the best song on elect the dead! it is such a remarkable song!
Cortney - Grand Junction, Co
great song check out the acoustic version, in my opinion it's much better
Nick - Edmonton, Canada
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