Wake Up

Album: Funeral (2004)
Charted: 29


  • This anthemic song deals with youthful naïveté and mortality. There is a call to action ("Children wake up!"), but it's rather abstract. What's undeniable is the power of the song in a live setting. A highlight from Arcade Fire's debut album, it quickly became a crowd favorite, typically played during their encore.
  • U2 used this track to emerge on stage during their 2005-06 Vertigo world tour shows.
  • The English Premier League soccer team Aston Villa used this as their entrance song at the beginning of the 2007-08 season.
  • Arcade Fire recorded a new version of this song for the soundtrack of the 2009 children's movie Where The Wild Things Are. The film's director Spike Jonze told Digital Spy: "I met Arcade Fire on their first record, Funeral. I loved that record and it was a record I was listening to while I wrote Where the Wild Things Are. Those songs - especially 'Wake Up' and 'Neighborhood' - there's a lot of that record that's about childhood."
  • Arcade Fire titled their debut album Funeral after several band members lost members of their family in the period leading up and during the recording of the record.
  • Funeral was one of the critics favorite recordings of 2004 and both Pitchfork Media and Rate Your Music named it their album of the year.
  • The band licensed this song to the National Football League (NFL) to use in the 2010 Super Bowl. It was agreed that all proceeds from the license would be donated to Partner's In Health's relief efforts in Haiti after the earthquake that devastated the country in January 2010.

    Arcade Fire have a personal connection to Haiti as multi-instrumentalist Regine Chassagne was born there before her family immigrated to Canada during the years of the Papa Doc dictatorship. Another Funeral track, "Haiti," was penned in tribute to Chassagne's home country.

Comments: 6

  • Bob from 95608The comment by H - seattle, wa ... comment/interpretation is 100 % SPOT ON ... are you a "adult child"? (note: for those not familiar with the term "adult child", it is NOT a demeaning term, but rather a person whose childhood was not allowed to develop in a "normal" manner because of some circumstance).
  • H. from Seattle, Wa"Wake Up" is an epiphany one has when they realize how things really are. When you realize, often not till you are an adult, that what you experienced as a child, (often times abuse of any kind), that it's not ok and that those around you who you trusted so much are not good either. It's about making sense of the things you experienced and giving validity to what happened.
  • Chuck from Joppa, Md, MdMy sense is this song--while dealing indirectly with death--is primarily about religion, and coming to grips with the fact that it's really a myth.
    "Somethin' filled up
    my heart with nothin',
    someone told me not to cry."
    This refers to being "filled up" with religion ("nothin'") as a child; being told "not to cry" or feel fear about death, because it's a "fact" that you'll be going to a happy place.
    "But now that I'm older,
    my heart's colder,
    and I can see that it's a lie."
    Now that he's grown older, he sees that religion is false--though he acknowledges that this revelation comes with increased cynicism/less blissful innocence ("my heart's colder")
    "Children wake up,
    hold your mistake up,
    before they turn the summer into dust."
    Here, he urges everyone--particularly the young, future generations--to throw off the mind-constricting shackles of religion, before "they"--those who pervert religion in order to justify war, terrorism, intolerance (racial/sexual/bigotry toward other religions), etc--end up permanently damaging or ruining the future. Turning the "summer into dust" particularly seems to suggest a religion-based war.
    "If the children don't grow up,
    our bodies get bigger but our hearts get torn up.
    We're just a million little gods causin' rain storms turnin' every good thing to
    This is maybe the most explicit passage dealing with religion. If we don't sever our umbilical connection to religion, our "bodies will get bigger" but we will never emotionally grow, and our hearts will get torn up. Those of us who are particularly devout will become destructive little "gods" ourselves, using religion as an excuse to destroy things to feed our own messianic complexes. This reminds me of events like the Crusades, the KKK's use of religion, and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict (which has much more to do with land, but where religion is often a subtext). Also note that this was written in 2004, three years after 9/11 (an attack not catalyzed by religion, but one that Islamic extremists frequently justified with religious language) and one year after the Iraq War (also not catalyzed by religion, but where--in justifying it--Bush invoked God and Christianity more than any modern president since Wilson during WWI).
    "I guess we'll just have to adjust.

    With my lightnin' bolts a glowin'
    I can see where I am goin' to be
    when the reaper he reaches and touches my hand.

    With my lightnin' bolts a glowin'
    I can see where I am goin’
    With my lightnin' bolts a glowin'
    I can see where I am, go-go, where I am

    You'd better look out below"
    The use of lightning bolts I think is highly symbolic, and still up for interpretation. Given that lightning bolts have been associated with deities since the beginning of time (think Zeus, etc), it's use is no mistake. The line "I can see where I am going" seems very peaceful and spiritual to me; he knows that there's likely not a classically-defined afterlife of angels playing harps on clouds, or a greeting of 72 virgins. But he DOES know that--whatever happens--he is destined to reach a more peaceful place when "the reaper he reaches and touches my hand." The song might be construed as anti-religious, but it is clearly NOT anti-spiritual, a fact re-enforced not only by these lyrics, but by the hymn-like quality of the song.

    In closing, I must just say: this is a modern classic, and one that will live on for decades to come.
  • Kent from Sun Prairie, WiDan Patrick plays this song at the end of his show every Friday on Direct TV channel 101.
  • Jack from Salem, Ornothing short of gorgeous
  • Dirk from Waukegan, IlBest song in ze world!!!!!
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