What does Empty Walls mean?

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Serj Tankian: Empty Walls Meaning


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Song Released: 2007

Empty Walls Lyrics

Your empty walls,
Your empty walls,

Pretentious attention,
Dismissive apprehension,
Don't waste your time,
On coffins today,
When we decline,
From the confines of our mind,
Don't waste your time,
On coffins today...

Don't you see...


    #1 top rated interpretation:
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    Dec 2nd 2007 report

    You are all wrong. The first line is "pretentious ATTENTION", not "pretentious adventures". This is straight from the Serj Tankian website and if you have any ears at all, it is clearly ATTENTION. I am a fan of Serj and if you were, too, you wouldn't fuck up his lyrics. Sad.

    As for my interpretation - it's about how war needs to stop in general. Not one war in particular, not one single incident, not the Armenian Genocide or the Holocaust alone; all violence and conflict must end. The whole meaning of the album, "Elect the Dead", is based upon Serj's belief that civilization is dead. It's up to us to find a means of continuing existence with each other through love and peace.


    #2 top rated interpretation:
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    Mar 1st 2009 report

    I really think the "from behind those empty walls" refers to the media, that we should try to see what is going on over there and try to find out for our own from something other than a maybe biased TV station. Each put their own spin on what we see going on.

    I believe he is for the war but wants to show people what is really going on over there. The part in the video where they break down the door and go inside and drag the kid out and spray him with silly string (kill him) is a very powerful point.

    I would say he used kids just so that it would hit home more on people, seeing kids fighting and dying is a little more powerful. Or maybe that this whole war is childish? but once again some of the statements he had the kids acting out weren't childish, the car bombing, tearing down the statue.

    The Marines putting the body into the coffin shows that Americans are dying, sacrificing over there. He moves it from children to the actual fact of the matter, real Americans are dying.

    So in closing I would say he is trying to open peoples eyes to see it in many different points of view, if you have a wall up you can't see in that direction so you don't know what is going on over there. And the rest is just to get peoples attention of the violence and war that was going on for and our own people were dying to stop.

    Maybe he just wanted to make this video so people would stop being so close minded and maybe even support our own who die for a cause instead of holding them accountable, even if you don't agree, you should still support the people who protect your life in my opinion.


    #3 top rated interpretation:
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    Jun 14th 2009 report

    I think this song is against America/the government.
    and against war.
    the soldiers die for their country.
    but for nothing. and the civilists have to suffer, too.
    bush abused his power and the people were too stupid to admit that he was a cruel bastard.

  4. anonymous
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    Aug 20th 2021 report

    Yeah this guy, according to my quite dim, narrow understanding of reality is a complete moron and none of the events that lead up to the creation of this song make any sense. If the airplane was aimed at the runway then why didn't he land? Why did they cause a shark attack? It is not that hard to be different. And frankly 411, no I mean 311 ;) I mean wait 911 ; /... thanks a lot ? Oh and maybe it's just the same eons old song happening over and over and this is just irrelevant information...

  5. anonymous
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    Aug 21st 2017 report

    I think wen he says:
    Don't waste ur time on coffins today. Don't you see there bodies burning deslate and full of yearning dying of anticipation choking from intoxication. I want you to be left behind those empty walls.
    I think this means:
    To open ur eyes and see wats really going on. Don't waste time on coffins because we don't need them don't u see the bodies burning. The people there are deslate and yearning meaning they have nothing the poor and just want better for themselves and they want it more than anything in the world. Dieing from anticipation they been waiting generations for something better choking on toxication mean there choking of toxic fumes from burning the bodies

  6. anonymous
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    Apr 19th 2013 report

    Another aspect, which perfectly fits into the interpretation of this song, critizising and describing the war on (t)error and the Iraqwar in particular is Serj's dress at the beginning of the video! After the towers collapsed, he could be described as uncle Sam, visiting a funeral or something (He wears his typicall beard throughout the whole video and a stovepipe hat, just like uncle Sam). His colours (almost only black) could stand for the different ways in which the american ghost and dream had died:
    - there is no hope
    - uncle sam, the old idol, is powerless
    - it is the end of the american values

  7. anonymous
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    Mar 19th 2013 report

    This whole song is about the war on terrorism. In the music video, it starts with a girl, and two block towers. The girl is America. A boy(extremists) throws a toy plane. It knocks down the two towers. 9/11. She calls upon a kid with a toy tank. They start play war. They pull down a Teddy bear, which undoubtedly symbolizes the statue of Saddam Hussein(serj is using children to send his message). America calls upon it's military and declares war on Al Queda. Pretentious attention-we are spending too much time in an area that does not require it. We are wasting our time, doing nothing. Dismissive apprehension-they are dismissing the fear of unpleasant omens. When we decline from the confines of our mind-within their minds, the soldiers know they are doing wrong. They don't act upon though. Bodies burning-the soldiers dying. Desolate and full of yearning-they have lost all hope, and yearn for home. The empty walls-what the government shows us. He wants us to see byond that, see the destruction it has caused. I left you yesterday before you killed my family-I'm not sure. Either it's a soldier letting a terrorist live, who then attacks a city, where the soldiers family lives, or the opposite. Probably the former. I believe he used children in the video for a few reasons. 1) children are powerful images. 2) when the parents of soldiers see them fighting, they still see their children. 3) shows how children, learning of this, play it out, not knowing how horrific it truly is

  8. anonymous
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    Jul 8th 2012 report

    "Empty Walls," a song performed by the Armenian-American singer and songwriter, Serj Tankian, criticises the American government of false protection and manipulating the minds of the public in order to win support of the whole nation. The song uses the extreme examples of the war in Iraq which followed the 9/11 tragedy, as an excuse to occupy the country while they dig out and transport the country's rich supply of oil. The song tells the tale of how the "great" nation of America, cleverly devised and triggered the attacks of a "minor" country, in order to indulge in their supplies. In the title, "Empty Walls," it is referring to both the meaningless waste of time and effort from the troops and the pointless emotions felt by the suffering people, from both sides of the wall.

  9. anonymous
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    Jan 14th 2012 report

    This song is about looking at the war form the perceptive of Iraq.

    Your Empty Walls, that what Iraq is there nation is destroyed.

    Pretentious attention, like were looking at the problem form are perceptive but were not looking at the whole picture so we are pretentious.

    Dismissive apprehension, to apprehend something is to understand but were dismissive we only care about the truth that make us look good.

    Dont waste your time on coffin today, get out of iraq there no need for more deaths.

    Don't you see their bodies burning?
    Desolate and full of yearning
    Dying of anticipation
    Choking from intoxication

    Don't you see all the pain and suffering these people go through? Then you wonder why they want to attack us...

    I want you
    To be
    Left behind those empty walls

    I want you to live in there shoes so you can see it form there eyes.

    Taunt you
    To see
    From behind those empty walls

    I dare you to look at it form there perceptive.

    I loved you
    Yesterday, before
    You killed my family.

    We caused them to hate us, before they were are allys.

  10. anonymous
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    Aug 19th 2011 report

    Well I see that most of your guys topics are that this song shows that war needs to end and what not. Well let me say this, im 13 years old with my all my ancestors in wars and soon my brother is gonna be in it, I asked him "why cant there me peace and no war?" He told me back "What choice we got?" Just think about 9/11. We had 2 choices, go to war and lose thousands of lives or stay and show the other countries that hate us that we wont defend ourselves and possibly prepare for upcoming attacks. Either way we were fucked. "What choice we got?"

  11. anonymous
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    Jul 24th 2011 report

    I'm pretty sure its about the iraq war using all the information u guys gave me thanks .

  12. anonymous
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    Jun 13th 2011 report

    Just a comment, the "Empty walls" piece makes me think of a blank white room, and the chorus seems like it's directed at someone who did something wrong.

    "Don't you see their bodies burning? [Making someone feel guilty for war]
    Desolate and full of yearning,
    Dying of anticipation, [Basically saying that the soldiers want to come home]
    Choking from intoxication,[We're all "choking" (suffering every day) from the facade that's put in front of us.]
    Don't you see their bodies burning?
    Desolate and full of yearning,
    Dying of anticipation,
    Choking from intoxication,
    I want you to be left behind those empty walls, [Preventing this "person" from doing harm]
    Told you to see from behind those empty walls, [Watch what you've caused (like watching war on a tv screen)]
    Want you to be left behind those empty walls,
    I told you to see from behind those empty walls,
    From behind those empty walls,
    From behind those empty walls,
    The walls!
    From behind those empty walls...

    I loved you yesterday, [Neutrality/alliance between countries]
    (From behind those empty walls...)
    Before you killed my family, [War-motivated attack]
    (From behind those empty walls, the walls...) [Almost seems to be hinted at Bin Laden, who made videotapes IN HIDING "behind empty walls" and sent his people to cause terror in America]"

    Just saying whatever. I dunno.

  13. anonymous
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    Jun 12th 2011 report

    There is also a part of the video where it shows a toy plane flying right into two building block towers, which may represent the twin towers going down?

  14. anonymous
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    Jun 2nd 2011 report

    It's about the Brutal Armenian Genocide Bodies burning, the sky is over (meaning the plains being shot down.

  15. anonymous
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    May 14th 2011 report

    I figured by empty walls he meant guantanamo bay, empty walls being the wire fences that the facility is made from. Maybe not?

  16. anonymous
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    May 11th 2011 report

    Plane hits tower. *reenactment of 9/11**cue "don't you see the bodies burning."* little kids kick open door and bring family outside, family looks distressed *cue reference to marines raiding iraqi house* you killed my family *cue reference to civilians sometimes were accidentally shot* little kid in a tank * cue reference to armored assault on iraq during gulf war* basically the bodies burning is a reference to 9/11 and the bomb that the us used on iraq during gulf war that killed a lot of civilians. The yearning and burning part is a reference to the bomb 9/11 and the fact a lot of US casualtiesare caused by explosives, note the rocket launchers the kids had. This song doesn't JUST refer to the Iraq conflict... it can refer to any conflict where a larger power defends on a weaker power, such as civilians

  17. anonymous
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    May 11th 2011 report

    I think the whole song is about the music industry today.

    The "empty walls" are most of the mainstream things today, that people are "dismissively apprehending"

    And Serj is telling us not to waste our time on "Coffins today" (the media today)

    When "we decline" from the confines of our mind, we're slowly waking from the "coffins of today"

    The chorus is about people awakening from this parrade of uselessness, burning in the realization that it's all a joke, therefor, "full of yearning."

    Again, Serj tells us to see from behind those empty walls, telling us to see from behind this useless drivvel.

    (Yes, I have seen the video, the video can have a different meaning then the song y'know)

    And that's my take

  18. damagedpenguin
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    Mar 5th 2011 report

    Here's what i think this song is about:

    "Your empty walls"
    The empty walls of a coffin, because the body inside is just a shell.

    "Pretentious adventures, dismissive apprehension"
    Soldiers get excited to go to war/people are eager to enlist because the government makes it look good.

    "Don't waste your time on coffins today"
    Don't bother going to war because lives are wasted.

    "Don't you see their bodies burning, desolate and full of yearning, dying of anticipation, choking from intoxication"
    Soldiers are excited to fight, only to die.

    "I want you to be left behind those empty walls, taunt you to see from behind those empty walls"
    He wants those who send soldiers to wall to be the ones left in the coffins, so they can know and feel what they're doing to others.

    Again, I think the title refers to a coffin, mainly a soldiers coffin, possibly that of someone who was a victim of war or terrorism.

    The music video:
    Setting this in a day care where the war is played out shows yet another generation being raised during war. This is what they're raised with and they won't know any different (cycle of violence).

    The re-enactment of 9/11 also shows that the "empty walls" may be the coffin of someone who died because of terrorism.

    The soldier's funeral at the end also supports the idea of the "empty walls" being a soldier's coffin.

    Because the children are witnessing this funeral, it shows them that war isn't as fun as it seems. It's essentially a wake up call.

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