What does Hands Held High mean?

Linkin Park: Hands Held High Meaning

Album cover for Hands Held High album cover

Hands Held High Lyrics

Turn my mic up louder I got to say something
Light weights step aside when we come in

Feel it in your chest the syllables get pumping
People on the street they panic and start running

Words on loose leaf sheet complete coming
I jump on...


    #1 top rated interpretation:
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    Dec 4th 2007 !⃝

    Can I also point out the way the song seems to follow the political time-line of a war. It could be any war. not just the current middle-east.
    At the start, he talks about speaking out and how he's singing this so that more people could possibly add their voices and stop the war from happening. Then he talks about how he can see through all the different lies that the politicians are making and the way they are just using the public and not caring for their reaction beyond their own well being:
    "These ------- are laughing their way to the bank and cashing the check
    Asking you to have compassion and have some respect"

    The second verse then explains that we all know what's going to happen and that it's going to be horrid, yet no-one does anything to help.
    "In my living room watching but I am not laughing
    Cause when it gets tense I know what might happen
    World is cold the bold men take action
    Have to react or get blown into fractions"
    Then there's a change of scene and we're over in the fighting country, with war atrocities such as the boy dragged under a jeep.
    then we've got this line which I've noticed something new:
    "Do you see the soldiers they're out today
    They brush the dust from bullet proof vests away"
    This could be referring to the inadiquacy of the UN, who are meant to go and help yet all they can do is sit and watch and clean their uniforms.
    He then goes on to talk again back home, about the effect of war on the family.
    "My dad he's got a lot of fear I know
    But enough pride inside not to let that show
    My brother had a book he would hold with pride
    A little red cover with a broken spine"
    I'm not 100% certain on this, but I get the feeling that his father has been conscripted or called to service. As for his brother and the quote and the ending I'm completely at a loss. It seems significant but I can't see it personally. I like the current interpretations we've got (not so sure about the Communist thing. even if it is a Karl Marx quote).
    "With hands held high into a sky so blue
    As the ocean opens up to swallow you"
    I think it may have something to do with the general high hopes of everyone crashing. e.g. The politicians hoping to gain something from a war, then losing popular support and gaining nothing.

    Finally I want to draw attention to the ending of the two verses:
    "1.And the rest of the world watching at the end of the day
    In their living room laughing like "what did he say?"
    2.And the rest of the world watching at the end of the day
    both scared and angry like "what did he say?" "

    This is what first made me see it. The change from them innocently laughing and saying "what did he say" as if they didn't believe that he would actually go to war, then they are scared and angry after they've seen the war on TV.

    Now, I'm not sayng this is right, as you can see the argument is a bit broken, but I'm just highlighting a new level to people.
    criticism welcome.


    #2 top rated interpretation:
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    May 19th 2009 !⃝

    "Like they understand you
    in the back of the jet,
    When you can't put gas in your tank.
    These fuckers are laughing their way
    to the bank and cashing their check
    asking you to have compassion and to have some respect."
    i personally think that part is talking about all the rich people telling you to support the war, knowing it hlps them. In reality, they don't know, or care, what its doing to us middle class/poor people. also telling you to respect them, when don't respect you, which is where they might be trying to mention the 'golden rule', "treat others how you want to be treated".
    but hey, I'm just 15... my opinion doesn't matter, I'm not old enough to understand things going on in this dog-eat-dog world. <3


    #3 top rated interpretation:
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    Dec 9th 2008 !⃝

    Another possibility for the little red book is the Qur'an, which often has a red cover, and that would davetail nicely with the imagery of the mosque being destroyed.

  4. anonymous
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    Jun 12th 2017 !⃝

    The song is aimed straight at "Dubya" (then-president George w bush) and his false allegations of wmd's in iraq. "The leader just talks away stuttering and mumbling for the nightly news to replay"... Have you ever heard dubya talk? If he hadn't been the us president, the whole world would have been the laughing at him. Actually, while he was just the presidential candidate, a lot of the world did laugh at him...

  5. anonymous
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    Sep 21st 2015 !⃝

    Couldn't "The sky so blue" also mean that it is a friendly and peacefull Protest against the "old system"?
    It's just an idea....

  6. anonymous
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    Sep 10th 2015 !⃝

    My guess on the little red covered book is that it's the Marine Corps' Guidebook of Essential Subjects, which is issued to every Marine in bootcamp, and originally had a little red cover. Common book to see in a warzone, making the quote mentioned in the song more personal to the owner, since they are the subject of the quote...

  7. anonymous
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    Jul 13th 2014 !⃝

    I think that its about war as many people have said but that isnt my point i have a small thing to help some arguements u can choose to accept or decline my info music is the most important thing in my life so im only 14 and i love linkin park ive been following since i can remember but fort minor (mike shinoda) has a song called where'd you go witch the music video describes someone close to him probally family member im pretty sure its his brother who goes to war thats where the whole verse where his father and the little red book. With a broken spine is mentioned

  8. anonymous
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    May 28th 2012 !⃝

    I think the red book is probably Marxist because of the connotations of the color red (and no one would ever write in Qur'an)

  9. anonymous
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    May 22nd 2012 !⃝

    The first verse can refer to Gandhi's life, wanting to protest for peace, British out of India, his arrests, and the whole world laughing because no one else in history used or heard of non-violence protesting. Just my opinion.

  10. anonymous
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    Feb 20th 2012 !⃝

    reading through i find that people are over thinking most of it. they want to get their point across as easily as possible, and so i start with the end, with hands held high into a sky so blue... victory. throwing your hands in the air because you proved victorious over your competitor and using a cold color like blue in the sky to show the calm/ happiness now that war is over. however, as the ocean opens up to swallow you, is there to make the listener think. it could relate to pearl harbor with the navy ships sinking or any ship for that matter sinking and never being found.

    ”healing the blind,
    I promise to let the sun in.
    Sick of the dark ways,
    we march to the drumming.”
    -my favorite line because people always overlook the main message. for the blink its simply relating to the bible when jesus healed the blind man so he can see. the US thinks theyre jesus because theyre healing the blind so to say. which is developing countries like iraq and afghanistan. when they feel they can see just fine. for the drumming its saying that were fighting for all the wrong reasons. the revolutionary war was very symbolic of freedom and war drums played a big role too. we think were fighting for peoples freedom but culture comes into play and people disagree.

    now when stating Amen, its talking about the dead soldiers. not talking about garbage like separation of church and state,and all the other over-thinking that everyone does. the author is painting the most clear picture possible. not trying to make a complicated rhyme thats impossible to figure out.

  11. anonymous
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    Feb 1st 2012 !⃝

    The book with the little red cover is "Quotations from chairman Mao" it was a book of compilations of quotes and statements from the former leader or the chinese communist party. it was published between 1964-1976. It was often printed small and bound in a red cover so that it was easy to travel with.

  12. anonymous
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    Dec 27th 2011 !⃝

    I think it's about war and how it effects the world and/or a big middle finger to George W. Bush.

  13. anonymous
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    Dec 1st 2011 !⃝

    It's ironic at times like this you pray
    But a bomb blew the mosque up yesterday
    My brother had a book he would hold with pride
    A little red cover with a broken spine
    On the back, he hand-wrote a quote inside
    "When the rich wage war it's the poor who die"

    I just think that you guys might have these parts a little incorrect. The Koran is often made in a red cover, and as he talks about the Mosque I believe he is referring to the Islamic religion. And yes we do have a desire to pray at these times but we are over there blowing up their religious sanctuaries.

  14. anonymous
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    Nov 4th 2011 !⃝

    this song is about any war thats happened like the gulf wars, falkland wars, and the current war on terrorism. you should listen to linkin parks song 'wretches and kings', which seems to talk about dictatorship. the first part could be from a soldiers view of war, the second part about a childs view of living in the war. there is nothing glorious or heroic about war. open to criticism.

  15. anonymous
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    Oct 16th 2011 !⃝

    Most interpretations here fail to use textual clues and what I call the "monkey rule." When you arbitrarily group sections ideas may seem "to pop out," but most of them are fabricated by your imagination. Furthermore, what I call the "monkey rule" is when analyzing a text, the interpretation that makes the most sense and is generally simplest is right (Imagine you wake up one day and go downstairs to find your kitchen a complete mess. The drawers are pulled out, cabinet doors on the floor, silverware everywhere, and the faucet leaking. You see the window is open. You could say that a monkey came in and made a huge mess and left, but a way better interpretation is that you got robbed.)

    So the line that most people are confused about:
    "With Hands Held High
    into a sky so blue
    as the ocean opens up
    to swallow you."

    This in no way represents sadness or death. The sky and the color blue and the ocean ALL represent freedom, peace, and unity in the literary world. The hands held high here is the unifying factor that elevates us to be one among the sky and the ocean. If you think about it, it's rather simple: the entire song is grounded (no pun intended) on the ground in very specific situations. I would venture to say this song has multiple war-torn scenarios in it. Then the end it is all unified in the vastness of the sky & ocean. I hope you all see the transition from ground -> air/ocean

  16. CRL
    click a star to vote
    Sep 13th 2011 !⃝

    The first verse of this song I think talks from the perspective of an American frustrated with Bush's endless War and the corruption in American politics, especially shown in the lines:
    "And these fuckers are laughing their way to the bank and cashing the check.
    Asking you to have compassion and have some respect."

    The second verse I think is actually from the viewpoint of an Israeli or Palestinian watching the war, started by the Americans, unfold. The imagery and ideas, bombs everywhere, mosques being blown up, soldiers out on the streets, a little boy holding a 'little red book' that's probably a reference to the Qu'ran.

    Then the final chorus I think is actually about September 11th itself. The 'hands held high into a sky so blue' line could be a metaphor for the towers themselves, or the hands of people watching in shock. Then 'As the ocean opens up to swallow you' could refer to the rivers and ocean around Manhattan, or even Manhattan itself swallowing the towers into a cloud of dust.

  17. anonymous
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    Jul 31st 2011 !⃝

    The red book with the broken spine is the holy bible which has a broken spine probably because of violence and war or it has a significant meaning : it broke because god was so angry or it could not withstand the sins of people

    This interpretation has been marked as poor. view anyway
  18. anonymous
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    Jul 10th 2011 !⃝

    I think that wha he meant with thdrugged kid under a jeep is that the kid is an orphan, maybe his parents were killed during the war so he is drugged to feel less pain.

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