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All These Things That I've Done

by

The Killers



Songfacts®:  You can leave comments about the song at the bottom of the page.

This song is about growing up and moving on from the past, trying to make yourself a better person. It was written by lead singer Brandon Flowers when he was working as a bellman at the Gold Coast casino in Las Vegas. Since this was before cellphones, he would call his friends from work and leave song ideas on their answering machines if inspiration struck.
Like their hit "Mr. Brightside," this song has two videos. The first version has The Killers singing while walking down a London street. The second version was directed by Dutch photographer Anton Corbijn, and features a surreal, dream-like sequence where The Killers, dressed as cowboys, are attacked by scantily-clad female warriors armed with boomerangs (possibly inspired by the Russ Meyer film Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!). (thanks, Donovan Berry - El Dorado, AR)
The Killers often play this as the closer for their concerts, and the lyrics, "I got soul but I'm not a soldier" have become a sing-along moment. Lead singer Brandon Flowers told Rolling Stone about the line in 2009: "I can specifically remember being in Ronnie Vannucci's garage when I wrote it that. I don't know why I wrote it, but I know I'd been listening to a lot of U2's Joshua Tree and All That You Can't Leave Behind. Some people act like that line is nonsense, and I just don't understand that. If you listen to the song, it makes perfect sense. Our fans get it."
Brandon Flowers says that Lou Reed was a huge influence on this song, as the chorus and the "gotta help me out" part were Flowers imitating Reed's delivery. Three years after recording the song, the Killers teamed up with Reed on "Tranquilize."
The song features the Sweet Inspirations Gospel vocal group, who were founded by Cissy Houston, the mother of Whitney Houston. The Sweet Inspirations sang with Elvis Presley and provided the back up vocals for Van Morrison on his classic hit "Brown Eyed Girl" as well as scoring their own Hot 100 top 40 hit in 1968 with "Sweet Inspiration."
According to Flowers, this song's bass line is "a direct rip-off" from the 2002 David Bowie track "Slow Burn."
The Killers
The Killers Artistfacts
More The Killers songs
More songs about leaving the past behind

Comments (38):

Exactly how I felt before A A
- kevin, calgary, AB
The song is related to a trouble relationship with God and religion. Brandon Flowers stated that the line "i've got soul but I'm not a soldier" means that he has a religious "soul" but is not a Christian "soldier".
- Christy, Derby, United Kingdom
i love the killers and i love this song its so awsome. all theese things that i have done by the killers! awsome!
- caity, newcastle, United Kingdom
In the instance that cold hearted boy, could be Gold hearted boy...it seems that he is trying so hard not to be changed by these things around him and that everyone needs to help each other not to be changed.
- Lisa, Santa Cruz, CA
I think every ones ideas are great, but I saw it from a slightly different view: (From the UK Version) "I wanna Stand up I wanna let go, You know You know- No you don't, you don't" I see this as a person wanting to break free, express themselves because they feel they are unable to. There is so much inside that needs to come out but due to the oppression of this act it is hard for people to do this. And it say " You know, you know - No you don't, you don't" People agree and agree, when you try to explain, but this is too personal, it is just himself what he is feeling so no you don't you don't know or understand why he is saying I wanna stand up I wanna let go!
"I wanna shine on, in the hearts of men. I want a meaning from the back of my broken hand" I (and some people) work so hard and for what? What is the meaning of existence? The only meaning we have is the meaning we give and leave for each other. (I think t his part is very philisophical and could keep going on but wont)
I think my 2nd favorite phrase in the song is "Another head aches, another heart breaks, I'm so much older then I can take." Here I see him saying so many things have happened in my life, another, and another, I've been through so much more than I can take, and all of these experiences I have had puts my mental age higher than I am supposed to be. "I'm so much older than I can take"
"My affection well it comes and goes" I am not always going to follow what others are doing and feeling. I can pretend. But what I feel and how I feel towards something is up to me. I do not want to follow every one else.
"I need direction to perfection. No No No No" A reaction to the previous line, because I am not acting like everyone else I need direction to be perfect. I can't just be myself to be perfect. and he says "No No No No" I can be "perfect" (there is no perfect) by being who I want to be, which is himself.
"help me out. Yeah, you know you got to help me out Yeah, oh don't you put me on the backburner
You know you got to help me out yeah..." He is saying that don't tell me how to act, help me be me. help me out, don't just put me in the background. We need to be helping each other, (in later lyrics he adds to this part "Your gonna bring youself down" this I think refers to people not helping others be themselves are stuck in the trap of confomitly and not originality. Do what everyone else wants from you and that is more important then what you want (NO).
"And when there's nowhere else to run
Is there room for one more son"
He's been running from these people telling him he needs to change, when everywhere becomes this way, and he is the only one left, will there be room for one more "Son" (It does very much seem like a reference to Jesus) One more person, who tried to fight the temptations.
"These changes ain't changing me
The cold-hearted boy I used to be"
The changes in this world ain't changing me, I grew out of it "the cold hearted boy I used to be", is the changes it had made him. But now he is not affected by it "These changes ain't changing me".
He goes back into the chorus
"Yeah, you know you got to help me out
Yeah, oh don't you put me on the backburner
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"
Which I explained earlier. It seems more powerful in the second chorus because you've heard more of how he feels about his surroundings.

Then my favorite part:
I got soul, but I'm not a soldier
I got soul, but I'm not a soldier
I got soul, but I'm not a soldier
I got soul, but I'm not a soldier
I got soul, but I'm not a soldier
I got soul, but I'm not a soldier
I got soul, but I'm not a soldier
I got soul, but I'm not a soldier
I got soul, but I'm not a soldier
I got soul, but I'm not a soldier.......
He says it 10 times, starting off all by himself and then slowly adding in everyone around him. Until everyone erupts "I've got soul but I'm not a soldier!!!!" I've got soul: I have ideas, I can do it, I am alive ...here people are together standing up letting go! "But I'm not a soldier" But, I don't fall in line, I don't take orders, I am an individual, I think for myself!
The chorus re appears, this time he is singing for everyone who has stood up and let go with him:
"Yeah, you know you got to help me out
Yeah, oh don't you put me on the backburner
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 backburner
you're gonna bring yourself down
yeah, you're gonna bring yourself down"
Then he is content. I have made my point, I have given myself meaning. I now have meaning for the back of my broken hand, I shine in the hearts of men. he is done:
"Over and out, last call for sin"
and the very ending:
"While everyone's lost, the battle is won
With all these things that I've done
All these things that I've done"
He has beaten all of those who have become a soldier. All of the things that he has done, he stood up (for himself, and others), he let go! All of these things that are happening around him that are neg. he is able to feel better about because he tried, he didn't accept it for what he was told. he found out for him self so yes "the battle is won, With all these things that I've done"

Main message we need to help each other be who we are and not to keep trying to control each other.
- Lisa, Santa Cruz, CA
The song has been used as the soundtrack to an absolutely stunning aviation video of the 2009 Oshkosh Airventure air show. Simply brilliant. Go to the Youtube home page and search for Airventure 2009.
- James, Sept-Iles, Canada
Mar,

He says "time, truth, hearts". He says it again at 4:25.
- Barb, Philadelphia, PA
This song is one of the top 5 best songs of this decade. such a great anthem that makes you want to push give it yer all and move forward! the killers rock
- Nick, Seattle, Albania
this is my favourite song ever, I got soul but im not a soldier is such an amazing verse, i love it, the Killers are the best band ever :D
- Paris, Cardiff, United Kingdom
After I heard this song on the radio - I had to buy Hot Fuss. So glad I did, it's one of my fave records.
- Theresa, Murfreesboro, TN
Anyone knows what the songs say at 3:25?
- mar, mty, NS
This song is wonderful. Brandon has said it's about resisting temptation and that the I've got soul but I'm not a soldier part is about not being perfect.
- Kylie, Ventura, CA
The Part of "i got soul but i'm not a soilder" is part of a very Inspiring NIKE commercial first aired during the 2008 olympics.
- Logan, Anniston, AL
Love this song, its one that you dont realise has such a deep meaning until you listen to it a few more times and actually listen to the lyrics. Love it though, an amazing band. And Hot Fuss is an amzing album. Anyone agree? :)
- Louise, London, United Kingdom
I was glad to see that this wasn't one of the songs that had people arguing over the meaning...The Killers are my favorite band, and this is my favorite song...anyone who's heard it played live would know why...I love the way they leave the interpretation of the song up to the listeners, even if there is a really specific one. Personally, I've always seen it as sort of trying to find yourself, and to think on your own, for yourself...as well as a few of the other things that people have said, I agree with some of them to a certain extent.
- Michaela, Camden, NJ
Actually I think this could go back to Brandon's Mormon roots. There is a story in the Book of Mormon that takes place shortly before Christ is born. It is about a group of followers of christ who litterally have no where else to go and if a certain sign is not given they will all be killed the next morning. It seems like this song is kind of like a conversaion with the propeht Nephi in 3 Nephi in the Book of Mormon. The whole I got soul but I am not a solder refers to the fact that he was a pophet not a warrior and he needs help for his people. At the end he is told this is the last call for sin (I come in to the world tomorrow) and the battle is won by Christ Sacrifice (All these things I've Done) Just what I got out of it.
- Jared, Salt Lake City, UT
Makes me cry every time.
- Kate, Burnaby, Canada
This song is actually more relatable to the Erikson stage of Identity Crisis.

When there is no where left to run
(All your ideas and viewpoints, convictions, quality of life are challenged.)

Is there room for one more sun (sometimes son?)
(With the ammount of greatness in the world, to achieve such requires superhuman measures. It's nearly impossible to place yourself into a position of real importance when looking at it from the bottom. The sun being the perhaps the most prominent feature of someone on earth and often referenced in literature or as some have said, "the son" in references to "The Prodigal Son" or in many cultural beliefs that only the firstborn son recieving the wealth of the family line.)

If you can't hold on....
(When it seems nearly impossible to continue doing anything, possibly even living.)

Hold on.
I want to stand up, I want to let go
(Referencing a need to announce your presense to a larger group of people, perhaps the world, in a way that forces attention.)

You know, you know, no you don't...
(Stemming from the belief that most people will have an understanding but when searching, finding only oneself to be truely understanding.)

I want to shine on in the hearts of man.
(Shakespeare wrote something extremely reminiscent of this, and in his time inspired mankind to remember him and -usually- improve themselves through his work.)

I want a meaning from the back of my broken hand.
(We work and hope for meaning in what we do. The broken hand symbolizes how much work has been done but how much more could yet remain with the reference not being placed to a more serious body part such as the back.)

Another head aches, another heart breaks,
(A play on words from the cliched idea based nouns "headache" and "heartbreak" symbolizing both the ones the singer has had and with the playing the ones that he witnesses. A strong showing of empathy in attempt to connect with a world that is possibly discongruent with what should and should not be within his mind.

I'm so much older than I can take.
(The artist is now experiencing thoughts and ideas that modern society does not massively express as thoughts of someone his age. For example, at 21 most people are thought to be binge drinkers and college students, yet many people experience thoughts concerning their future at large and for purpose and meaning, which is a role typically held for philosophers of great age. These thoughts are trying, perhaps moreso than the singer feels he should have at his age.)

And my affection, well it comes and goes.
(While trying to decide what is and isn't important, a person experience Erikson's Identity Crisis will feel that the ideas of, for example, mercy are one day all important, but then the next see the worth of justice and value it so strongly that mercy is completely overshadowed into near cruelty.)

I need direction to perfection
Many pyschologists argue that the struggle for self-identity is confounded and/or solved in the realization that identity is formed not only in our belief system, but in what others believe us to be."

no, no, no, no, no, no, no
(Contrarily, many believe that in examining oneself only for the self by the self only, is the only way to achieve personal harmony and happiness. It is also believed that this is just fill for the chorus.)

Help me out, yeah
(A pleading to a figure, sometimes supernatural, for help to find the self.)

You know you got to help me out, yeah
(A self-imposed belief that someone owes you explination to whom it is that you are.)

Oh don't you put me on the backburner, you know you gotta help me out.
(If the person cannot or doesn't help, the problem cannot be solved.)

And when there is no where else to run, is there room for one more sun? These changes, ain't changing me.
(Having once defined the self, seeing the change of view can bring fear or denial. Someone experiencing these things will oft believe they are not changing and that it is the world changing.)

The cold hearted boy I used to be
(Upon realization that the world is probably not changing the self in examination of the past notices faults and change.)

You're going to bring yourself down
(The self begins to feel that if they are to be helped, it will only hinder those helping. To see the turmoil and disaray of their life, others might be hurt by it.)

I've got soul but I'm not a soldier
(Finding a strength inside oneself but seeing that it is not enough to conquer. Soul being strength, soldier being strength tempered. The choir joining may symbolize the variety of people that feel the same.)

Time, truth and hearts
(A testing, to test the heart, the test of time, the test of truth. All referenced in Erikson's book.)

Over and over again
(Despite all the conflicts)

Last call for sin,
(The self finally discovers who it is and completes the tasks of indulgent self-realization to move into what the self should now do.)

When everyone's lost, the battle is won with all these things that I have done
(The self is now identified and/or in cases of justification, the person sees that while they've failed to save everyone, they have succeeded in trying. In doing the little good for the self that was possible when it was possible.
- Grant, Chaffee County, CO
a) "When there´s nowhere else to run, is there room for one more son?" That´s what first got to me, When I´m desperate and I kill myself,would God still forgive me and let me in? Then he answers to himself and tells himself, "If you can hold on, HOLD ON!"

b) "Another head aches, another heart breaks
I am so much older than I can take
And my affection, well it comes and goes
I need direction to perfection" I interpreted ir like once more my heart is broken, I can´t take it any more, my love comes and goes. Talk to mee, tell me what to do, I wanna be like you.

c) "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
You're gonna bring yourself down" Here it really came clear to me to he was talking to. He is saying, don´t leave me for later, I need you now, you gotta bring yourself down (from where you might ask) well from the cross. Get yourself down from that cross and come here and help me.

d)"I got soul but I´m not a soldier" When I think that you can say that it means: Im human, I´m alive, but there are many things I can´t stand, handle or live with.

e)"Over and in, las call for sin, while´s everyone´s lost, the battle is won with all the things that I´ve done" Maybe he did some good stuff and he did get the help he needed.

I used to listen to this song when I borke up with my girfriend, I was always drink as hell, then se came back. He did get down form there, he did help me.
- Bernardo, Torreon, Mexico
I think this song is about someone who's trying to change, but needs help
- Katie, Tuscaloosa, AL
"I wanna shine on, in the hearts of men. I wanna make it from the back of my broken end".
Explicit homosexual referance as in Somebody told me "Breaking my back just to know you're name..." This is a classic subtle method of revelation... Shared by other openly bisexual fronted bands such as e.g. Placebo.
- PainDrain, Forbidden City, Other
Does anyone else see a connection to Catcher in the Rye? (And no, I am not one of those people who is obsessed with it.) The part about the "back of my broken hand" first got me thinking about it, and really a great deal of the song matches the book. After all, as s from Boston says at the top of the page, it is about growing up and trying to become a better person-- or to avoid becoming a worse person, as Holden struggles to do.
- Allison, Dallas, TX
The only good song the Killers have done (so far), really.

The movie The Matador closes with this song.
- A.J., Chicago, IL
all their songs are awesome! The Killers are the best ever!!
- molly, edwardsville, IL
My Favorite part is the intro with the guitar to the part with i got soul but im not a solider then the sequence which is awesome and hten the coir singing the phrase it sounds awesome im listening to it on my ipod
- alex, st louis, MO
Ok, first off I haven't seen the video so I have no idea what the band is actually trying to convey. but the lines "I got soul but I'm not a soldier" is taken from an old vietnam era anti-war song. When I first listened to this song I thought it was catchy, then when I really paid attention to the lyrics I realized that this song has a double meaning 1st. an anti-war song (ie the lines "everyones lost but the battle is won" that means in war everybody loses because of all the dead son's and daughters on both sides, yet the battle is won by one country.. so it's asking at what price are our stupid wars won?) 2nd. there seem to be allot of underlying riddles and even almost direct quotes from the bible specifically. but some of the things he says contradict himself.. almost on purpose, like he's fighting an inner war.. I found some interesting viewpoints on this site and another that I haven't even considered untill now. I wish I could speak to the songwriter and ask what this song means to them... b/c untill then we will never actually know what it means. thank you.
- Ben, charlotte, NC
Best Killers song, by far. One of the few good songs around now. (Last Years, 2005 & 2004)
- Johnny, Los Angeles, CA
The Killers do have an unusual way of choosing their names, as they choose a line that doesn't seem of particular relevance, but maybe its their way of pointing out certain parts that matter..what do you guys think? xx
- Cara, Perth, Australia
Gosh, is this about Jesus or what.
- Spencer, Lexington, SC
brialliant song. didn't see the vid. but in my head it seems fab.
- Paul, Galway, Ireland
The Killers rock. All their songs kick-butt.
- Maura, Orlando, FL
The Music Video to this video is actually confusing but if you put the parts together it will make sense. When the numbers are held up, that means what order it is in the video. So, all of the events are rearranged in a confusing way. That means at the beginning when his face is in the puddle, it is actually the end when the lady hits him in the back with the boomarang. Try to put them together next time you see it based on the different numbers, it will then make sense!
- Stephen, South Charleston, WV
This song is really great and I like the different sections. The music video was cool but it confused me.
- Adam, Lakeville, CT
I love the song. The music video rocked. Did anyone notice that when he's in the shower that no matter how many times he got his face wet, his eye makeup did not come off or even run?
- Diz, York, PA
I love this song! I love the music video. If you have or haven't noticed, when he's in the shower in the vid, no matter how many times the water goes over his face, the eye makeup never came off... or even ran. Just something I wanted to say.
- Diz, York, PA
This song seems to go on the shelf with some of U2's Joshua Tree-era stuff. Gospel overtones, with lots of undeniable Christian imagery; but not the clumsy blandness of Contemporary Christian music. The themes of sin, forgivness and redemption are never tired... I love it!
- Matt, Bossier City, LA
great song i love it
- Heather, StONy BroOK LoNg IslAnd, NY
This songs video is cowboy based,but the song rules
- George, salisbury, CT
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