What does A Dustland Fairytale mean?

The Killers: A Dustland Fairytale Meaning

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Album cover for A Dustland Fairytale album cover

Song Released: 2009

A Dustland Fairytale Lyrics

The Dustland fairytale beginning
Just another white trash county kiss in '61
Long brown hair and foolish eyes
He looked just like you'd want him to
Some kind of slick chrome American prince
A blue jean serenade
Moon river what'd you do to...


    #1 top rated interpretation:
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    Sep 1st 2015 !⃝

    You know what it means if you're unfortunate enough to lose a parent to a terminal illness. This story is almost identical to my mom's. I've heard her story about getting married to my dad and it WAS a miracle. She was a 26yo single mom (I have an older half-sister), he was 20yo all-American Prince Charming, she thought she never had a chance. And then for many years there was "happily" but not "ever after". She got diagnosed with cancer when I was 10. I didn't take it seriously at first because I believed that the world was good and good girls would never die, and of course, my parents were indestructible and nothing bad could ever possibly happen to them. As the illness progressed, my mother was getting weak and sleeping a lot. I started to grow angry, because I couldn't understand why she wouldn't just get up and whip it, after all she pulled off one miracle before, why wouldn't she do it again? (the line "is there magic in the midnight sun, or did you live it in the '61" - the question is, was that the only thing that was worth living for, how about your children - me - are we not worth fighting for? we need you!) And my heart wanted to believe that she would be OK, and when my mind told me for the first time that the worst can happen I tried to ban the thought (like "mind is poison" line in the song), because maybe somehow my faith could keep her safe and any doubt would destroy her. And then she still died and my belief in fairy tales and anything good in the world just crashed. Yes, I wanted to run away, like Brandon said - away from the world where the good girls die - because it was so unfair. She was only 43, why could she not live into her 70s and 80s, like everybody else's mom. I didn't know who and what to blame, at first I "had my money in my palm" because I was so sure she would beat it. And then I watched my dream castles crush, and my mother losing her beauty and her interest in life (Cinderella "looking for a nightgown" ). So I kinda "took my money and I run away" in my mind. I hated the world where the bells wouldn't ring and the good girls died, so I just wanted to be somewhere else, where "the dreams roll high" which is the way the world should be. My mind went in circles, blaming her for living me and not making a miracle happen again, and the world for being so wrong for living me without a mother at the age of 15. I believe the song is about a very similar experience, and Brandon is so awesome to describe what I was just trying to say in so few words. Now, many years later, I see it from an adult perspective and I understand what happened - but the pain is still there, for the loss of both, my mother and my childhood belief in the Fairytale world where the good would always win. I know now it was not her fault, or mine, and not a matter of anybody's faith, and bad things do happen to good people for no reason whatsoever. It's just the memories that the song brings, that make me cry every time I hear it.
    Ellen Raymond-Jones, in memory of Lana Raymond.


    #2 top rated interpretation:
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    Feb 9th 2009 !⃝

    This song is about Brandon's parents meeting in '61. His father was an alcoholic until Brandon was 5 years old, then "change came in the form of revelation, set his soul on fire," is about his father becoming Mormon and quitting drinking. His mom knew he'd come around. The kingdom under seige is his mom's cancer, and he is pleading with her to fight it, to stay alive.


    #3 top rated interpretation:
    click a star to vote
    Sep 10th 2009 !⃝

    Hey everyone,
    This song is a difficult one to interpret mainly because of all the metaphor's that he uses throughout the song but I think I have figured most of it out.
    The first part of the song from the beginning to "I don't believe you" is all about his parents meeting and his own problems with his father. He is describing how his mother fell in love with his father because at that time he looked like she wanted him to and he serenaded her with the song "Blue River." So when he asks "Blue River what'd you do to me?" he is saying that if it were not for that song, he would have a better father.

    The second part, I believe, is about his life at home. He looked at his mother as this beautiful woman that just needs a break from this like. The lines about the devil, are referring to him realizing that there was going to be a big fight coming between his parents. He turned the other way while they were fighting because at his young age he couldn't do much but, he had faith that his mother(the pawn) would win the fight.

    The third part is about his father's conversion to the Mormon church and becoming a better person. His mother states she knew this day was coming. He continues on stating how is mother begins to act like nothing was ever wrong and the past years never existed. The song then goes into his view on his father's new beliefs. "Go gives us hope but we still fear we don't know" He thinks that God is there to give people hope but deep inside they fear they are wrong. "The mind is poison." Likely refers to the fact that his father thinks these thoughts are not pure. "Castles in the sky, sit stranded, vandelized. The drawbridge is closing." This could mean many things but I think that this is a reference to his mother's dreams. They have been torn at and the "drawbridge" to those dreams is not going to be open much longer. His mother is getting to the point of no return. This is probably him talking about their move to Utah

    Yet again after stating his mother needs a break, he sings about the trouble he foresees. The lines leading up to "The Valley of the Great Divide", probably refers to him leaving everything behind and running away to live with his aunt back home in Nevada(home of the great divide mountains).

    The next set of lines is describing Nevada as a horrible place where it does not snow, dreams are forgotten, and plants don't grow. Most importantly, it is the place where "good girls die." He believes that this is where his mother began to die when she met his father.

    The final verse is the most touching and saddest of them. He sees his mom is closer to death. He is begging her not to go because everyone still needs her here. "Is there still magic in the midnight sun?" Could be a reference to her brown eyes. He is asking if she still has life(magic) in her eyes or if she left that spark of like in the eyes of his father back when he wooed her with his singing back in Nevada.

    All of this is just opinion and some of the information may not be as accurate as I think it is. Hope everyone likes this look at it though. :-)

  4. anonymous
    click a star to vote
    Aug 26th 2021 !⃝

    Its about humans falling love on earth forgetting an interplanetary destiny.
    Basically making the best of a bad situation.
    It's about star gates off world.
    It's about humanity being stranded in a dead part of the universe.
    It's about humanity being led by a queen who is mortal rather than immortal.
    The devil would be those who rule and quarantine earth.
    Cinderella looking for a nightgown is her being led to sleep or the dream of illusion of the world. Women being led away from their power and put to subservient sleep.
    Devil wrapping up his hands getting ready for a showdown is how the elite have all the resources preparing to harvest or harm humanity.
    I got my money on a pawn is betting on humanity to overcome their confinement.
    Castles in the sky are off world humans stranded as they have no means to travel interplanetary distances, there is no bridge, there is no open stargate.
    An American prince would be the young reborn on earth that's the limit, white trash.
    Cinderella don't go to sleep is begging the feminine force to awaken because she is the queen and our leader.
    Change came in the form of revelation means we are learning about our quarantined status.
    We fear what we don't know means we fear other world life because we don't know what the civilizations rules are.
    The mind is poison is about how our minds are weekend and poisoned by the ruling elite and kept divided since the Tower of Babel through a variety of means.
    Out where the good girls die means no Immortalality for earth humans no matter what you do.
    She knew you'd come round means eventually humans will awaken quarantine and seek to emancipate ourselves.
    Decades disappear refers to the quarantine since biblical times.
    God gives us hope means that God is the quantum vacuumed and it contains all things so we have hope no matter how bad our situation is.

  5. anonymous
    click a star to vote
    May 6th 2021 !⃝

    I’m an American, a Mormon, from the desert, my family lives in Vegas, and I’m close to the same age as Brandon, so I will take a crack at it.

    It’s a picturesque description of his parents when they first met. When I look at my dad’s old pictures, with his hair shiny and slick, he sort of looks like a slick, chrome American prince too. His dad was a typical, blue jean wearing, working class man from the desert. Moon River was a popular song that came out in the early 1960s, made famous by Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s.

    His father converted to the faith of his mom when he was a young child. His mom was holding out for it and knew he would eventually come around.

    “The decades disappear like sinking ships, but we persevere, God gives us hope, but we still fear what we don’t know. Her mind is poison”

    This is Brandon coming to the realization that even though he was raised with the belief that families can be together forever, and that there is more than this life, it is still scary to face. His mom was diagnosed with brain cancer (in the 1950s they used to take entire classes of schoolchildren to go watch the atom bombs go off in the desert, they didn’t know the long term effects). That is where the metaphor “her mind is poison” comes in.

    “Castles in the sky stand stranded, vandalized. Drawbridge is closing. Now Cinderella don’t you go to sleep, it’s such a bitter form of refuge. The kingdom’s under seige, everybody needs you”

    The fairy tale is not having the happy ending they all hoped for. The castle is falling apart, the princess is slipping away. As his mom’s cancer was winning the battle, it was devastating to face the reality that they would lose her, because she was the backbone of the family. I feel a personal connection to this, my sister slipped into a coma and died the same year as Brandon’s mother. I know exactly the sentiment of not wanting the princess to fall asleep, it is such a bitter form of refuge, especially when we all needed her here.

    “The devil’s wrapping up his hands, he’s getting ready for the showdown. I saw the ending when they turned the page, I put my money on a pawn tonight”

    I interpret this as an acknowledgment and a hope of things unseen. As Latter Day Saints, we know that death is not the end, that isn’t how the story ends. We know how the final showdown turns out and the story ends. He is placing his bets on that.

    You can hear it in the triumphant coda. The twist of this song is that the dustland fairytale is does indeed have a happy ending once and for all.

  6. Mab
    click a star to vote
    Aug 21st 2018 !⃝

    Just recently got right back into the Killers. I think this a brilliant song. It was ages before I ever saw the video to this, and isn’t it beautiful? I love how good these guys are telling stories in their songs, and this track in particular has very narrative lyrics. There are some pretty comprehensive write-ups already on here so I won’t repeat, but here’s a couple of things that always struck me…

    Moon River – Breakfast at Tiffany’s (with the song Moon River) came out in 1961, and I'm sure that's not coincidence.

    Cinderella looking for a nightgown… well, without knowing the very personal backdrop of the story, I always just took this to mean that the girl with long brown hair and foolish eyes didn’t want to go out and party any more: she wanted to settle down, with her bloke, and go to bed instead of going out! And the slick chrome American prince kinda looked a gift horse in the mouth.

    Castles in the sky – I always associate this with daydreaming, like the little kid in Les Miserable singing about her castle on a cloud where she doesn’t have to sweep floors. It’s like someone (presumably the girl in the video, but maybe the boy – or maybe they both did, together) had some great old daydreams, ambitions, aspirations… but they’ve been abandoned, let go of, or worse – deliberately destroyed. Kinda bleak.

    Also, always thought the “sky won’t snow” line might be a reference to the Eagle’s Desperado refrain (Don't your feet get cold in the winter time? / The sky won't snow and the sun won't shine), which is about someone who’s wasted their life – had the chances to make the right choices but f***ed up instead. Again could just be coincidence but I like to think it’s a nod.

    All in all there’s something so fatalistic about the song: like the story of these two people was already written and they never really stood a chance: they were doomed, like in a fairytale. Or, maybe more likely, it’s already happened, been written in stone, and no amount of hindsight or pleading or reasoning or begging from Flowers is ever going to be able to change it.

    Just my two cents’ worth. Great song :)

  7. lyn1979
    click a star to vote
    Jul 19th 2014 !⃝

    If you were very close to your mom and you watched her get sick and die. You would understand the meaning of this song. There are those that will argue that it's not about when she died because he wrote it before that but there is a time when if your mom is very sick that you realize she wont make it. You don't want to believe it but that moment does come that to me is what he realized before he wrote the lyrics and he knew he would be there to see it when she passed. "I saw the ending where they turned the page
    I threw my money and I ran away" is self explanatory about that.

    This song is meaningful to me cause I watched my mom get sick and die and she meant everything to me...I feel his pain...

  8. anonymous
    click a star to vote
    Jul 15th 2011 !⃝

    this song reminds me of my grandmother.. she was diagnosed with lung cancer last summer and died around christmas, and i always used to listen to this song with her. everytime i hear this song i cry.

    no one, and i mean NO one can interpret this song and say they know the true meaning until theyve seen the whole thing right in front of their eyes.

  9. Love4TheKillers
    click a star to vote
    Nov 11th 2010 !⃝

    This whole song is about Brandon Flowers' parents meeting and their life together as they grow older. It focuses a lot on His mothers cancer and is dedicated to his mom and Dave (the lead guitarist) mother.

    Saw Cinderella in a party dress,
    But She was looking for a night gown
    I saw the devil wrapping up his hands,
    He's getting ready for the show down
    I saw the minute that I turned away
    I got my money on a pawn tonight

    When it says .."saw cinderella in a party dress but she was looking for a nightgown." i think he is talking about when his mom was diagnosed with cancer and she is getting ready to pass away and getting ready to lay on her death bed which is why she is looking for a nightgown.

    "saw the devil wrapping up his hands he's getting ready for the showdown" i think it talks about his mom's battle against cancer and how she was trying to fight it.

    "all the good girls die"
    i think it is talking about how his mom was close to dieing and Dave's mom died.

    Well that's my small interpretation. i could be completely wrong, oh well :)

  10. anonymous
    click a star to vote
    Oct 12th 2010 !⃝

    It is literally a fairy tale about a cinderella love story placed in the dusty midwest. It makes references between the actual story and the parallel fairytale in a metaphoric way.

    It is largely in the past tense because it talks about how they were in love, and then he left and the decades disappeared and he came back and found that the girl had changed but the place and the situation were still the same. He sings about getting back what they had (the "castles in the sky" bit).

    As the song crescendos he realizes what has happened and leaves (i took my money and i ran away) but he ends up in the same sort of place.

    This interpretation has been marked as poor. view anyway
  11. anonymous
    click a star to vote
    Sep 3rd 2010 !⃝

    Moon river is a song from breakfast at Tiffany's w/ Audrie Hepburn if you listen to the lyrics of that song I think you'll find that he is saying he doesn't believe her.

  12. anonymous
    click a star to vote
    Mar 9th 2010 !⃝

    The Dustland fairytale beginning
    Just another white trash county kiss in '61
    Long brown hair and foolish eyes
    He looked just like you'd want him to
    Some kind of slick chrome american prince
    A blue jean serenade
    Moon river what'd you do to me
    I don't believe you
    (He talks about his mother and father meeting and their first kiss. He says that his mother was a fool for falling for him at the time as, from Brandon's own words, his father wasn't the best guy to fall for)

    Saw Cinderella in a party dress,
    But She was looking for a night gown
    I saw the devil wrapping up his hands,
    He's getting ready for the show down
    I saw the minute that I turned away
    I got my money on a pawn tonight
    (As if he's watching them meet - he see's that his mother is looking for somebody to love and how his dad (the devil) is getting ready to be that person. He turned around and doesn't want to know what happened next)

    Change came in disguise of revelation
    Set his soul on fire
    She says she always knew he'd come around
    And the decades disappear like sinking ships,
    But we persevere
    God gives us hope
    But we still fear
    We don't know
    Your mind is poison
    Castles in the sky, sit stranded, vandalize
    The drawbridge is closing
    (His father finally saw sense, and gave up alcohol as he was an alcoholic and he joined the Mormon Church. It took them decades to sort everything out, but they persevered and got somewhere because God gave them hope. He still believes that his dad's mind has poison in it but is trying to get rid of it. The castles (the bottles of drink) are now stranded and vandalised as no one is touching them. That chapter is closing)

    Saw cinderella in a party dress,
    But she was looking for a night gown
    I saw the devil wrapping up his hands,
    Hes getting ready for the show down
    I saw the ending where they turned the page
    I threw my money and I ran away
    Straight to the valley of the great divide
    (Partly the same reason as before. He saw the relationship ending before anyone else did. So he ran away from his home in Utah and went to Nevada - Valley of the Great Divide)

    Out where the dreams all hide
    Out where the wind don't blow
    Out here the good girls die
    And the sky won't snow
    Out here the birds don't sing
    Out here the fields don't grow
    Out here the bells don't ring
    Out here the bells don't ring
    Out here the good girls die
    (He wishes he'd stayed in Utah because everything in Nevada is bad, nothing good happens to the right people.)

    Now, cinderella don't you go to sleep
    It's such a bitter form of refuge
    Why don't you know the kingdoms under siege
    And everybody needs you?
    Is there still magic in the midnight sun?
    Or did you leave it back in sixty-one?
    In the cadence of the young mans eyes
    Out where the dreams all hide
    (He finds out that his mum has cancer and is dying and it's such a bitter way to die. He telling her that she can't leave them because everybody needs her. He asks if there is any life left in her or did she leave that back when his mother and father met)

  13. anonymous
    click a star to vote
    Jul 22nd 2009 !⃝

    It's about both his parents meeting, i.e in 61, and how they got together. 'A dustland fairytale' refers to his parents meeting in a trailer park where they lived. When flowers says about 'cinderella now don't you go to sleep,' it's about his mother, who ahs a brain tumour. It's a message for her to hang on for a little longer.

  14. anonymous
    click a star to vote
    Jul 21st 2009 !⃝

    What about the fight scene? That has nothing to do with Breakfast at Tiffany's or Flower's parents meeting.

  15. goodgal
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    May 22nd 2009 !⃝

    Brandon said this himself in interviews that it is about how his parents met. Another love story.

  16. anonymous
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    Mar 22nd 2009 !⃝

    Like some people said I am of the opinion that the song is based on Breakfast at Tiffany's theme notably because the soundtrack of this movie is the song which is played when they leave the stage at the end of their concerts.

    This interpretation has been marked as poor. view anyway
  17. anonymous
    click a star to vote
    Feb 25th 2009 !⃝

    Like most people have said, the song is based on his parents meeting + his mother's struggle with a brain tumour. However, it is also highly possible Flowers used the themes from Breakfast at Tiffany's to bring this out - it's really quite clever. And overall an amazing song, with deep and meaningful lyrics.

  18. anonymous
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    Feb 23rd 2009 !⃝

    I know that many people say this song is solely about Brandon's parents meeting and falling in love, but I think it also has a lot to do with the movie Breakfast at Tiffany's. Brandon shows that he clearly knows the movie in his lyric about "moon river". There are too many coincidences such as 1961 was the year the movie came out. Holly Golightly had long brown hair and was extremely foolish. She too was in search of a rich husband and ultimately almost married a prince. She wears a pink party dress that is very much in the Cinderella style and almost perfectly quoted from the movie is "looking for a nightgown". Holly is a good girl who has been wounded by love and resides in her delusions and search for money but a young man tries to wake her up. This song seems to me to combine a classic movie and Brandon's parents falling in love.

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