Strength Through Music

Album: Who Killed Amanda Palmer? (2008)
Play Video


  • This haunting song was inspired by the Columbine school shootings. On April 20, 1999, Columbine High School seniors Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold killed 13 people at their school before killing themselves. In our interview with Amanda Palmer, she explained: "When Columbine happened I was really affected. Everyone in the world and all over the country was really affected by it. But I had a special interest in it that didn't go away. I encounter so many really disturbed, angry, lonely, frustrated teenagers, because of what I do. And I think what Marilyn Manson said in Bowling For Columbine was brilliant. I was so upset, especially having been a misfit in high school. I think it was really upsetting for people to look at these kids being so demonized with so little thought given to the larger questions. And my imagination was really captured by what the quality of these boys' lives were like, as they were sitting in their rooms playing video games and plotting this catastrophe. It really was my view of the whole thing, and my emotional impulse was to actually feel real sympathy for them, because I see so many kids feeling so misunderstood, and the culture around them is so hostile. Not to say that what they did wasn't completely abhorrent. But on the other hand, when you've got a culture of 15-year-old kids going around shooting each other, you need to ask yourself bigger questions. And I think people are really afraid to ask those questions, which is: what's their cultural diet? And why would this happen?

    I certainly don't think my high school experience was as extreme. I went to a liberal New England high school where there was a lot of tolerance. And even though I stood out as somewhat of an outcast and a freak, we were bred to respect each other. And no one ever really got beat up. No one yelled names at me in the hallways. But high school is just brutal no matter what way you cut it. It doesn't matter that on the whole, people were tolerant. I still felt really isolated, and I think it's a very common teenage thing to feel wherever you are."
  • Ben Folds produced the album with Palmer and played on this track.
  • The voice at the beginning of the song comes from an animated short called Strindberg and Helium: With Iron & Sulfur. The short is based on the writings of the Swedish writer August Strindberg (1849-1912).
  • The video takes place in the halls of Lexington High School in Massachusetts, where Amanda went to school. She told us: "I've maintained a really great relationship with my high school drama teacher. I got the idea for the video in my head, and I approached him and said, 'Hey, can you loan us some kids from the drama department, and can we use the hallway?' (laughing) 'We don't have any money, we don't have a cent, so let's just shoot it in the school.' And that's what we did. That was my high school. I actually walked by my locker in that video. (laughs) And the vast majority of those kids, with a couple of exceptions, were sophomores and juniors and seniors in the drama department. If you look at the video for 'Guitar Hero,' it's the same kids. We shot those two videos in one day.

    Those two videos kind of work as a pair, because that character, the killer in the 'Strength Through Music' video, is sort of a corpse throughout the entire 'Guitar Hero' video. And in a way it's a common response, because 'Guitar Hero' is more a commentary on kids mentally tuning out of reality. So you can see the connection between the two songs, and between the two videos."

Comments: 1

  • Sandy from London, United KingdomI think this song is about a boy who shoots other people, and when Amanda says "he's only playing" she's summarising the character's view that he's only playing, having fun, and it's funny how they fall and it's good to play. It's a matter of fact and business like thing to do, as far as he's concerned, and that is a really sad thing to consider.
see more comments

Editor's Picks

Sam Phillips

Sam PhillipsSongwriter Interviews

Collaborating with T Bone Burnett, Leslie Phillips changed her name and left her Christian label behind - Robert Plant, who recorded one of her songs on Raising Sand, is a fan.

The Evolution of "Ophelia"

The Evolution of "Ophelia"Song Writing

How four songs portray Shakespeare's character Ophelia.

Deconstructing Doors Songs With The Author Of The Doors Examined

Deconstructing Doors Songs With The Author Of The Doors ExaminedSong Writing

Doors expert Jim Cherry, author of The Doors Examined, talks about some of their defining songs and exposes some Jim Morrison myths.

Chrissie Hynde of The Pretenders

Chrissie Hynde of The PretendersSongwriter Interviews

The rock revolutionist on songwriting, quitting smoking, and what she thinks of Rush Limbaugh using her song.

Jon Oliva of Trans-Siberian Orchestra

Jon Oliva of Trans-Siberian OrchestraSongwriter Interviews

Writing great prog metal isn't easy, especially when it's for 60 musicians.

Band Names

Band NamesFact or Fiction

Was "Pearl" Eddie Vedder's grandmother, and did she really make a hallucinogenic jam? Did Journey have a contest to name the group? And what does KISS stand for anyway?