What does All These Things That I've Done mean?

The Killers: All These Things That I've Done Meaning

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Album cover for All These Things That I've Done album cover

Song Released: 2004

All These Things That I've Done Lyrics

When there's nowhere else to run
Is there room for one more son
One more son
If you can hold on
If you can hold on, hold on
I wanna stand up, I wanna let go
You know, you know - no you don't, you don't
I wanna shine on in the hearts of...


    #1 top rated interpretation:
    click a star to vote
    Feb 29th 2008 !⃝

    The song is about atonement for past misdeeds and the need to mature and become a better person. However the people who Flowers needs atonement from aren't willing to give it or believe he has the capacity for change.

    If you watch the US version of the video, you see each of the various scantily clad women holding up numbers. This is because the scenes are out of sequence. The numbers represent the proper order of the scenes. The video starts with the last scene as Flowers gets attacked from behind and knocked into a puddle. The woman who threw the boomerang is the same woman that slaps him in the face from Scene 1. In Scene 1, Flowers is obviously returning home after a night on the town. Fresh lipstick from another woman still on his face. Hence the reason for the slap. Next he takes a shower and slips in the tub. In Scene 2, you see all the band members falling from the sky into a trailer park, clad in cowboy outfits (looks like somewhere in Las Vegas). This is obviously a dream sequence, because Flowers is lying unconscious in the tub from the previous scene. For most of the video, they are outlaws running from the people they've wronged. The women eventually catch up with the band in the end and exact their justice with boomerangs. The women can represent ex-girlfriends, wives or even an entire family. Whatever they are, they haven't forgiven them. Having given up on Flowers, the woman walks away. End of video.


    #2 top rated interpretation:
    click a star to vote
    Jan 16th 2007 !⃝

    i think it's about wanting to BE someone. desperately. and the plea for help is more abstract...he needs "direction to perfection" and to himself, but doesn't know where to find it. He's addressing the world, I think, when he says "don't you put me on the backburner". He doesn't want to be shrouded in obscurity/mediocrity.

    as for the "soldier" bit, I think it's about not wanting to conform. He's got soul, and wants to share it with the world, but cannot do all that is expected of him by society. I loved that bit best, even though I may be looking at it in an entirely WRONG light. :)


    #3 top rated interpretation:
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    Jan 28th 2007 !⃝

    The interpretation of this song is simple: he is asking for help from God.

    Line by line interpretation:
    "When there's nowhere else to run, is there room for one more son." - asking if God can take him under his wing, the other son mention being Jesus.
    "You know, you know - no, you don't, you don't." - saying that God understands because he understands all, but in the same way doesn't understand because he has never experienced sin.
    "And my affection, well it comes and goes." - his love for God comes and goes as he travels through life.
    "I need direction to perfection." - obvious, since God is the only one without sin.
    "Yeah, oh don't you put me on the back burner." - perhaps the line that proves this theory the most. The first meaning of putting someone on the back burner is to set it aside fo r later. It can also be interpreted to mean hell. He needs God's help to absolve him of sin.
    Of course, there are several ways to interpret perhaps the most famous line in the song:
    "I got soul, but I'm not a soldier."
    He is basically saying that he believes in God, and that he has faith, but he is not willing to fight, since he is unsure of how to do so.

    While I may not have explained it very well, take the general idea that he is speaking to God and run with it. The song will make more sense when you listen with that in mind.

  4. anonymous
    click a star to vote
    Jul 14th 2022 !⃝

    People naturally make this song mean something that suits them personally. But it's really a collection of fragments of consciousness. The band strung the fragments together in a stream of time. They organized the collection by relating tones played on musical instruments. The song tells no single story as a whole. But as fragments, the message is clear: everybody send $5 to the author of this post yeah, yeah.

  5. anonymous
    click a star to vote
    Aug 14th 2021 !⃝

    A lot of people are over reading this. A guy got his girlfriend pregnant, this is their 'discussion'. End of story.

  6. dinotrex
    click a star to vote
    Jul 3rd 2021 !⃝

    The song is a two-way head conversation by the character. One side talks about the things he's done as unforgivable. His other side says "don't give up on yourself, you can become a better person." "I've got soul but I'm not a soldier." The soul part is obvious as he has a conscience. When things get tough in our life, we "soldier on." Don't give up on yourself, no matter how bad and "soldier on" (which I've often said to myself when things get tough.) The back burner part is don't procrastinate and ignore the things you've done, out of sight/out of mind. Deal with it now.

  7. anonymous
    click a star to vote
    Jul 2nd 2019 !⃝

    To the woman who most recently posted about the gene thing - you're right and also about the manliness/womanliness thing. Maybe it's me getting a bit obcessed with those issues because of my own. My brother said ever heard of confirmational bias. So you can look for the meaning that most suits what you're previous experience etc has told you.

    Artists often write lyrics that are a bit obsure so the listener can find their own meaning I've been told. Makes sense as people are scratching their heads on some lines. Only the songwriter knows what they thought but its interesting what people think because it's about their own interpretation being personal to them, their own bias.

  8. anonymous
    click a star to vote
    Jul 1st 2019 !⃝

    It's about a man who is thinking of all the things he had done.

    First question? I'm a woman. You mean you don't have the genes of your parents or ancestors? I still have the genes of my parents and ancestors even if I don't procreate! Don't argue that! Study about humans! Study science!

    Second question? the manly and strong, it's what I had read from the news, and articles okay. I'm not a man, remember? I'm a woman! The reason why I answered about the man... the man is the topic not the woman! hello? we are talking about the lyrics! Even if both man and woman don't procreate they are both strong. Man are still manly and Woman are still womanly. Don't argue that!

    About your last question? Please seek your answer from the writer of this song or ask you friends or closest lover. Check the highest meaning at songmeanings. I can't answer your complicated question, wait for others to answer your question okay.

  9. anonymous
    click a star to vote
    Jul 1st 2019 !⃝

    For the guy or woman who wrote about genes - people are so selfish, they think that the genes they carry are THEIR genes, well no they're not they're a unique combination of genes from countless people past going back to Adam and Eve, as I am a creationist I don't believe that they lived that long ago. Even if they did, the genes are not YOURS, you didn't make them! So some genes going on from your auntie can be the genes in you too, even if you don't pass them on personally because you didn't procreate.

    As for the image of being manly and strong, is that mainly because you have a kid? A man from an infertile couple might take exception to that. Is a woman less of a woman because she's ugly or even if she can't procreate- one of the warmest women I knew who took care of me was infertile but I didn't think of her as not having the most important quality of a woman!

    And does this really have a bearing on the real meaning of the song? How does he want to shine on in the hearts of men? And why does he say is there room for one more son? Mormons aren't like the Jehovahs who believe only a number of people get saved. But it doesn't make a lot of sense if he's thinking of having a baby, why would he ask if there's room for it? So what does it mean?

  10. anonymous
    click a star to vote
    Jul 1st 2019 !⃝

    It's about a man who is thinking of all the things he had done.

    For the recent comment, men think that having kids gives them the manly image and strength. Too many questions... When a man dies, his genes is transferred to his kids, especially if his kids are boys, when they marry, his surname and genes will transfer to the next generation. Even if he gives birth to girls, his genes is still transferred. Even he dies physically, his spirit lives on. His genes continues because he had kids. Of course, kids honor their parents.

    But not everyone are destined to have kids. To the 42 year old woman, why feel useless? Everyone is useful and important even if you don't have kids. Are you married? have an in vitro, adopt, or be content of having no kids. Talk to your spouse. If you are single, be content of being childless, you can still be an aunt to other people's kids.

    Being childless should never let you down, serve others and you will never feel useless.

  11. anonymous
    click a star to vote
    Jun 30th 2019 !⃝

    It is so obvious to me and yet only one person mentioned it, and yet not with the true meaning. The line, is there room for one more son means he wants a baby with this girlfriend (he couldn't say baby as it wouldn't rhyme). The reason he wants a baby is because he believes that is the best way he can shine on in the hearts of men, because he believes that actually raising a child that's his is the best way to leave his significance upon the world. The reason I say this is, is partly that is my fear as a childless 42 old woman that that is the best way to leave your significance, and so I am near to useless, and also because in an interview he said the song was about his fear of mortality and then he said, will I ever have kids? Was that what he was thinking at the time he wrote the song? He had only just married and was thinking of kids but he was also afraid of dying. Why was having kids the thing he thought was most significant before he died? That is what haunts me! And that fits with the scenes in the video, about him philandering, rather than all the religious stuff. Maybe he believes God wants him to have kids to honour him most in life!

  12. anonymous
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    Apr 20th 2017 !⃝

    Ok fact this song is abou Brandon when he choose not to serve a mission as LDS missionary, as told before he was struggling with the decision to serve as missionary, he keeps active at church until today but sometimes as Mormon man we get bad critics for not serve a mission so that's why he said I have a soul! I believe in this but in doing something else

  13. anonymous
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    Aug 6th 2014 !⃝

    Even though I'm not particularly religious it occurred to me years later that this song sounds like it comes from Jesus while on the cross, both talking to himself to keep his courage up and to humanity to learn from his sacrifice:

    (When there's nowhere else to run
    Is there room for one more son
    One more son)
    The world has gotten bad enough "nowhere else to run" that there is one more of God's "sons", (Jesus) that will join it.

    (If you can hold on
    If you can hold on, hold on
    I want to stand up, I want to let go)
    Jesus telling himself to not give up even though it is difficult and also for his sacrifice to inspire future people.

    (You know, you know - no you don't, you don't)
    While he has lived as a normal person among people (you know), he is the only one without sin (you don't)

    (I want to shine on in the hearts of men
    I want a meaning from the back of my broken hand )
    He wants his sacrifice to mean something, direct reference to his broken hand (part of the crucifixion)

    (Another head aches, another heart breaks
    I am so much older than I can take)
    The weight of his sacrifice and his divine nature are weighing on him. Also, the blood drain and slow asphyxiation from crucifixion would likely cause headaches to say the least.

    (And my affection, well it comes and goes
    I need direction to perfection, no no no no )
    A confession from him that internally his faith wavers sometimes as well, no more so than his final test.

    (Help me out
    Yeah, you know you got to help me out
    Yeah, oh don't you put me on the backburner
    You know you got to help me out )
    A simultaneous plea to his Father to help him end the pain but also to humanity to not let his sacrifice be in vain, that people need to help themselves as well.

    (And when there's nowhere else to run
    Is there room for one more son
    These changes ain't changing me
    The cold-hearted boy I used to be)
    Repeat of first stanza, and defiantly declaring that even this brutal death isn't going to change his divine nature. "Cold hearted boy" may be a stretch, referring to the missing period in his life from the Bible, possibly when he was younger and trying to deal with the revelation that he was holy and eventually had to be sacrificed.

    (Yeah, you know you got to help me out
    Yeah, oh don't you put me on the backburner
    You know you got to help me out
    You're gonna bring yourself down
    Yeah, you're gonna bring yourself down
    Yeah, you're gonna bring yourself down)
    Repeat of the plea to be helped, but toward the end he reminds himself that he will bring himself down (come back down from Heaven after dying to be resurrected).

    (I got soul, but I'm not a soldier)
    He is fighting for humanity, but not in a physical way as a soldier. His weapon is his soul.

    (Yeah, you know you got to help me out
    Yeah, oh don't you put me on the backburner
    You know you got to help me out
    You're gonna bring yourself down
    Yeah, you're gonna bring yourself down
    Yeah, you're gonna bring yourself down)
    Repeat of the above stanza, but I like to think this time instead of asking for help from God and reassuring himself he has accepted his fate and is now speaking to people and asking them to live better lives, to not forget his example, and to remember to not fall back into sin.

    (Over and again, last call for sin
    While everyone's lost, the battle is won)
    He and the criminals crucified with him are about to die, but in doing so they will ascend to heaven and triumph over the sins of humanity with absolution.

    (With all these things that I've done
    All these things that I've done
    (Time, truth, hearts))
    A final reminder to remember his teachings, most importantly his final lesson (the sacrifice for mankind) and what he has given (time on Earth away from his Father, the truth about sin and forgiveness, and the heart to sacrifice for all the sinners)

    (If you can hold on
    If you can hold on)
    With his final breath not asking anything from himself, but still encouraging and inspiring future generations to fight the good fight.

    Anyway, just my two cents!

  14. anonymous
    click a star to vote
    Aug 28th 2012 !⃝

    The song is about the lead singer brandon flowers not serving an lds mission! For a short time he was less active but now he is strong in the faith but hes saying even though he didnt serve he will spread the gospel. There are some mormon terms in the song

  15. anonymous
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    Apr 10th 2012 !⃝

    I actually live really close to where Brandon Flowers used to live (Provo, UT) and I've met at least two of his (somewhat distant) relatives. I've been told that the song is about a struggle between him and God, and how he wants to make the right choices in the Mormon church, but doesn't want to be an outcast in the rest of the world's eyes. The lines "I've got soul but I'm not a soldier" sort of fits a Mormon mission, and how some people feel about it. They want to make the right choices, and they feel like they are sometimes, but they're just not ready to give two years. Mormons know how it is haha.

  16. anonymous
    click a star to vote
    Apr 8th 2012 !⃝

    My interpretation, which comes after reading the lyrics and watching the video, is that the song is about asking his current girlfriend not to be turned off by his good-timing, rock star past, and possibly to forgive some infidelity.
    Basically he's saying: "I'm not the perfect boyfriend, but if you work with me I can change" (if you can hold on/you gotta help me out/don't put me on the backburner/I need direction to perfection) As far as infidelity: another head aches (he has a hangover) another heart aches (she's saddened by his drunken adventure). This is backed up in the video when he comes home with lipstick on his face, she slaps him, then we see him looking guilty in the shower. Later we see all the cowboys taking turns riding someone else's horse and being pursued by attractive, scantily clad women. The women throw boomerangs at them (despite his best efforts his past bad behavior has come back to him). In the end of the video, he ends up with his face in a pool, just like how he started. His bad behavior did come back and bite him and now he's just like he was before.
    I see a lot of people interpreted it in a religious sense. I'd never thought about it like that, maybe the "is there room for one more son?" line is what directed people this way. In the context of my interpretation, I took it as possibly meaning he's revealing that he had children by other women to his current gf, and his past was so promiscuous, these sons pop up without warning to him.

  17. anonymous
    click a star to vote
    Oct 12th 2011 !⃝

    Definitely a plea to God for help, but the real meaning comes clear when you take into account the authors latter day saint background. In the LDS faith, young men at the age of 19 serve a full time two year mission, where they often go to other countries and preach the gospel. The lead singer made the choice not to serve, because the band was starting to take off. The song includes a lot of his feelings about the decision, and not wanting to be placed on "the back burn" for not being able to serve. "I've got soul, but I'm not a soldier." He has the conviction and the desire, even though he never actually made it to the mission field, where missionaries often say they are in "God's Army."

  18. anonymous
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    Jun 26th 2011 !⃝

    If you guys actually watched the video you have to watch it in order. Theres 7 scenes. Its a story of him continuing to cheat on his girlfriend with other girls, so he seeks help from god but he questions his faith.

    The video is all over the place but thats because you have to watch it from number 1 to number 7. In that order and it will make sense

    0:00 = 0

    1:11 = 1

    3:51 = 2

    1:43 = 3

    0:31 = 4

    2:24 = 6

    3:18 = 5

    4:22 = 7

    watch them in that order, its the numbers the girls hold up.

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