Song of the Day, Part Three: Vampire Weekend, “Unbelievers”

Because I was challenged by my friend Diane at Ladies Who Lunch blog, for this Song A Day Challenge, I’m supposed to post the lyrics of a favorite song for five days in a row, and explain what the song lyrics mean to me.

This song is here to occupy my made-up category of “a song by my favorite band.”

Vampire Weekend is my favorite band, even though they are, technically, sort of broken up. In January 2016, the guy on the left, Rostam Batmanglij, said he had quit Vampire Weekend to go solo. This song, “Unbelievers,” is from the 2013 album Modern Vampires of the City, their most recent album.

What do these song lyrics mean? That’s a toughie, but I’ll make a stab at it. I’ve read that this song is about being Jewish, as the lead singer, Ezra Koenig, is Jewish. And I can see that. But I think I see something broader in there, as well.

Personally, I interpret the song to refer to zealots of any denomination or credo, religious or political or otherwise, who can come to be intolerant and can be made to lash out violently and murderously at others.

However, counter to that interpretation of what it means to be a true believer is another — the idea of extending grace, or charity and goodwill to others. And the singer questions whether that extends to everyone, even those who aren’t members of a particular group.

But I didn’t write it, so I don’t know. Pop music lyrics are elliptical, and often we can pick our own story.

So here is “Unbelievers.” Much better played than read.

Got a little soul
The world is a cold, cold place to be
Want a little warmth
But who’s gonna save a little warmth for me?

We know the fire awaits unbelievers
All of the sinners the same
Girl, you and I will die unbelievers
Bound to the tracks of the train.

If I’m born again I know that the world will disagree
Want a little grace but who’s gonna say a little grace for me?

We know the fire awaits unbelievers
All of the sinners the same
Girl, you and I will die unbelievers
Bound to the tracks of the train.

I’m not excited, but should I be?
Is this the fate that half of the world has planned for me?

I know I love you
And you love the sea
But what holy water contains a little drop, little drop for me?

See the sun go down
It’s going on down, and the night is deep
Want a little light
But who’s gonna save a little light for me?

We know the fire awaits unbelievers
All of the sinners the same
Girl, you and I will die unbelievers
Bound to the tracks of the train

I’m not excited, but should I be?
Is this the fate that half of the world has planned for me?

I know I love you
And you love the sea
But what holy water contains a little drop, little drop for me?

I’m not excited, but should I be?

Is this the fate that half of the world has planned for me?

<p”>I know I love you
And you love the sea
But what holy water contains a little drop, little drop for me?

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