The Numbers

Album: Nowhere Generation (2021)
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Songfacts®:

  • When Rise Against wrote this song, wealth had been concentrated in the accounts of a very small proportion of the population on a global scale, and in their native America, it was getting more acute. In 2020, the US Federal Reserve reported that the top 1% held over 30% of the wealth, more than 15 times the bottom 50% combined. The statistics are staggering, but at what point will that bottom 50%, which owns less than 2%, take action? That's the question posed in this song, which points out that the rich have the money and power, but the poor have the numbers.
  • Rise Against is rooted in the tenets of punk rock, which call for action to fight for what's right. Even after moving up a few tax brackets with a series of successful albums, they still expect their fans to push for change, and are willing to do so themselves.

    In "Numbers," they point out that while the system is rigged, it's only standing because we let it. Most people are too comfortable to march, which they liken to being a horse that can't be bothered to buck off its rider:

    They break us like horses
    How long will we drag their plow?
  • This song opens with a Russian recording of "L'Internationale" ("The Internationale"), a song that has been associated with socialist revolutions since the 1800s, particularly in France. In a Songfacts interview with Rise Against frontman Tim McIlrath, he explained: "L'Internationale" has sort of become an anthem for the left-wing movements throughout history. Different cultures have kept the rhythm and the song the same, but they changed the lyrics to suit whatever struggle they were going through.

    I think it's like the music to the French national anthem, but we use a Russian version to kick the record off. It's just a nod to a lot of the labor movements around the world, and also to point out a lot of the struggles that we deal with today are something that we've dealt with historically."
  • The music video displays the lyrics over scenes of protests and icons of greed, with performance footage from their "Nowhere Generation" shoot (set design by Brian Roettinger, who did the album's artwork) mixed in. It was created by an activist collective called Indecline, which offered up this statement:

    "'The Numbers' has given our collective another opportunity not only to work with a band we've looked to for inspiration since their early records, but also a chance to create the kind of strong visual content that aims to inspire and educate. Beyond simply showcasing global protest movements, this video is to serve as a reminder that we are all living in a golden age of resistance and need to use our privileges to commit ourselves to wholeheartedly pulling the rope in the opposite direction. Or, to put it more bluntly, don't be like your parents' generation. Give a f--k and prove it."
  • This is the opening track on Nowhere Generation, Rise Against's ninth album. They completed most of it before the pandemic hit in 2020, but waited until June 2021 to release it.

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