What does Human mean?

The Killers: Human Meaning

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Album cover for Human album cover

Song Released: 2008


Human Lyrics

I did my best to notice
When the call came down the line
Up to the platform of surrender
I was brought but I was kind

And sometimes I get nervous
When I see an open door
Close your eyes, clear your heart
And cut the cord

Are we...

  1. 1TOP RATED

    #1 top rated interpretation:
    peculiarheadphones
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    Aug 20th 2016 !⃝

    Brandon confirmed that this song was inspired by the quote "we are raising a generation of dancers", which pretty means puppets

    "I did my best to notice
    When the call came down the line
    Up to the platform of surrender
    I was brought but i was kind"

    This is like, he tried his best to follow along with the tight regulations even though he didn't want to

    "And sometimes i get nervous
    When i see an open door
    Close your eyes, clear your heart
    Cut the cord"

    This is, when he starts to realize how unrealistic society's expectations are, and although he's nervous, he believes he needs to let go of what's holding him back

    "Are we human?
    Or are we dancer?
    My sign is vital
    My hands are cold
    And I'm on my knees
    Looking for the answer
    Are we human?
    Or are we dancer?"

    He's asking if he's truly human or just some puppet to society. He's trying to figure all of this out after so long of just blindly following orders

    "Pay my respects to grace and virtues
    Send my condolences to good
    Give my regards to soul and romance
    They always did the best they could
    And so long to devotion
    He taught me everything i know
    Wave goodbye
    Wish me well
    You gotta let me go"

    This is him trying to let go of what he thinks makes him a "dancer", what he believes is holding him back from actually being human. He knows that he is leaving someone go, but he feels obligated to do what he feels is being true to himself

    "Will your system be alright?
    When you dream of home tonight?
    There is no message we're receiving
    Let me know
    Is your heart still beating?"

    He's talking to someone who probably doesn't have these thoughts of being controlled, and he's trying to see if they truly think they are human


    Overall, this song is about letting go of what society expects of you and living how you want, being truly human and not just another mindless puppet.

  2. 2TOP RATED

    #2 top rated interpretation:
    gtilto
    click a star to vote
    Jun 23rd 2010 !⃝

    I think Human has the most fascinating lines of lyrics that I have heard in years. The inspiration of the line, "are we dancer", certainly comes from Hunter Thompson, but I think it is misleading to read too much into the original source. Flowers said that he took the line and ran with it. Hence, I am not inclined to read too much into the original inspiration for the writing of the song.

    I am more inclined to take my cues from the video, where I think The Killers indicate a different direction for understanding the underlying meaning of the song. The imagery from the video would suggest to me that the song contrasts the mortal state of being human against the possible state beyond mortality. Dancer then becomes a condition beyond what we can possibly fathom, and hence, I find the controversy surrounding the meaning of the word "dancer" altogether appropriate. We don't understand the meaning of the word "dancer" any more than we know what becomes of us upon our human death.

    I think "when the call comes down the line" is a reference to the inevitable call we all face at the end or our human lives. Hopefully we all face it with some grace: "I was brought but I was kind". We obviously will be nervous upon the call, but the song encourages us to yield to the inevitable: "close your eyes, clear your heart, cut the chord."

    At this point we don't really know what is on the other side. So we ask the question of whether we are human or whether we have a spiritual existence beyond our current lives. From the moment we are born we begin to die: "My sign is vital, my hands are cold." We keep looking for the answer. Are we human, or are we part of something that extends beyond this life - are we dancer?

    If we leave this life in style, we pay our "respects to grace and virtue". We send our "condolences to good", though we full well know not all in human life is so. We treasure "soul and romance" for it gives us hope of what's to follow. Hopefully life's treasures of "soul and romance" served us well by doing "the best they could" do.

    In the end we've known "devotion". It's what has made our spirits rise. But at the end of human life, it's time to "wave goodbye", please "wish me well", and "let me go". Those who have known me should continue on with their own human journey. But those who continue onward must face the question: "Are we human or are we dancer?"

    Now we only can ask this question of those who have gone before us. We must ask them "will your system be all right?" While those who have departed may "dream of home tonight", for the living "there is no message we are receiving". We want to ask them whether the hearts of their spirits are "still beating"? With our questions unanswered, we must again ask ourselves "are we human or are we dancer?"

    We're on our "knees looking for the answer". We plead with them to let us know. "Are we human or are we dancer?" Is there somthing that comes after? "You've got to let me know."

  3. 3TOP RATED

    #3 top rated interpretation:
    anonymous
    click a star to vote
    Dec 31st 2008 !⃝

    what i seemed to understand the first time i heard this song is a question: "are we human, or are we dancer" meaning, are we living life according to what we dedcide to do, have choices and live by them; or are we dancer(s): are we living a choriographed life, like a dance, with all automatic moves and no thinking of consequenses.

  4. anonymous
    click a star to vote
    May 18th 2021 !⃝

    It's a song about Mormonism. They're pretty much ALL songs about Mormonism. I cam here to say that because all of these interpretations are both wrong and stupid.

  5. anonymous
    click a star to vote
    Jan 12th 2016 !⃝

    The Hopi have the Kachina Dancer tradition. Kachinas are the embodiment of ancestral spirits. Are we human (physical, of the earth) or Are we Dancer (spiritual beings)?
    The lyrics keep contrasting life and death: vital signs=living, cold hands=dead.

    The theme centers on the life to death transition--say goodbye, cut the cord, open door, let me go, the call, heart still beating, no message we're receiving (the great unknown).
    Platform of Surrender may refer to the elevated platform where some cultures lay out their dead

    This interpretation has been marked as poor. view anyway
  6. anonymous
    click a star to vote
    Jun 6th 2013 !⃝

    This song is written from the perspective of either a male or female adult entertainer. The lyrics tell the story of his or her losing innocence for the first time in the first two verses and loss of feeling completely human and somewhat like a machine in the last verse. The chorus expresses the lingering spiritual confusion, loss of vitality, and cry to God after innocence is lost.

    I did my best to notice
    When the call came down the line
    Up to the platform of surrender
    I was brought but I was kind
    And sometimes I get nervous
    When I see an open door
    Close your eyes
    Clear your heart...
    Cut the cord

    Are we human?
    Or are we dancer?
    My sign is vital
    My hands are cold
    And I'm on my knees
    Looking for the answer
    Are we human?
    Or are we dancer?

    Pay my respects to grace and virtue
    Send my condolences to good
    Give my regards to soul and romance,
    They always did the best they could
    And so long to devotion
    You taught me everything I know
    Wave goodbye
    Wish me well..
    You've gotta let me go

    Are we human?
    Or are we dancer?
    My sign is vital
    My hands are cold
    And I'm on my knees
    Looking for the answer
    Are we human?
    Or are we dancer?

    Will your system be alright
    When you dream of home tonight?
    There is no message we're receiving
    Let me know is your heart still beating

    Are we human?
    Or are we dancer?
    My sign is vital
    My hands are cold
    And I'm on my knees
    Looking for the answer

    You've gotta let me know

    Are we human?
    Or are we dancer?
    My sign is vital
    My hands are cold
    And I'm on my knees
    Looking for the answer
    Are we human
    Or are we dancer?

    Are we human?
    Or are we dancer?

    Are we human
    Or are we dancer?

  7. anonymous
    click a star to vote
    Jun 10th 2012 !⃝

    Someone told me it was about being gay?

    This interpretation has been marked as poor. view anyway
  8. anonymous
    click a star to vote
    Apr 20th 2012 !⃝

    Well when I heard this song, I thought the opposite of what most people seem to be saying. I believe Flowers is talking about a course we plan to follow in our life. Human is the typical socially acceptable person (Romance, good, devotion, all those things he is saying goodbye to), while "Dancer" is used the same way human is. Not as a noun, but as an adjective. Dancer refers to people who are free from social code so to speak. Dancers literally dance through life, doing what feels right and forgetting about what other people are thinking. But I didn't write the song, and I think its insulting to the artist to proclaim a definite meaning of a song...it may be something very personal that we may never know. Thats just what it means to me :)

  9. anonymous
    click a star to vote
    Mar 18th 2012 !⃝

    It's about death.

  10. Jamie Eldringhoff
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    Mar 18th 2012 !⃝

    i think the song is about childbirth, passing from the womb into the new life. when the call came down the line meaning that its time young one. the platform of surrender meaning ready at the birth canal. i think we are all a bit nervous when we see that first "open door". yea i think its all about the birth transition.

  11. marlowe
    click a star to vote
    Dec 24th 2011 !⃝

    THE REAL INTERP!

    I did my best to notice when the call came down the line-
    he did his best to understand when he felt a some kind of call on his life

    Up to the platform of surrender- he was at an alter

    i was brought but i was kind- someone led him there and he went but really had not made a decision

    and sometimes i get nervous when i see an open door- He did not want to commit to this way of life out of fear,the words "open door" are interesting also, Jesus said for us to open the door and he would come in

    close your eyes, clear your heart, cut the cord- means pray, ask forgiveness, be born anew

    Are we human or are we dancer- are we in control of our life or are we like puppets and controlled by something else

    my sing is vital, my hands are cold- He knows he is alive( vital signs) but his hands are cold because they are not doing the work they need to do

    and I'm on my knees looking for the answer- ok this is obvious here!!!

    If you are interested in more interp of this song let me know!!

  12. anonymous
    click a star to vote
    Sep 18th 2011 !⃝

    I think the meaning of this song is when you "cut the cord" means to begin life.

  13. anonymous
    click a star to vote
    Sep 11th 2011 !⃝

    This could very well be a simple song about unbridled self-expression through dance. I interpret it as Ecstasy effects and transitions on the dance floor in a nightclub. This goes beyond just lyrics but also reading the melody and tempo changes too.

    "I did my best to notice when the call came down the line" - waiting in anticipation of the 'kick'.

    "Up to the platform of surrender
    I was brought but I was kind" - realisation, euphoria and acceptance of the high

    "And sometimes I get nervous
    When I see an open door" - a good song comes on, the urge to dance begins, ready to go, just has to cross that line of self-consciousness

    "Close your eyes, clear your heart
    And cut the cord" - lets loose (its a ready-set-go tempo)

    "Are we human, or are we dancer?" - High and loves dancing so much that this could possibly be the greatest activity in his existence

    "My sign is vital, my hands are cold" - my heart is beating fast, but my hands are clammy

    "And I'm on my knees looking for the answer
    Are we human, or are we dancer?" - There is nothing else i'd rather be doing, i live to dance. He is hoping/praying that the rest of his life can be this happy. Those around him are also dancing; he feels a sense of solidarity. "we"

    "Pay my respects to grace and virtue
    Send my condolences to good
    Give my regards to soul and romance
    They always did the best they could

    And so long to devotion
    You taught me everything I know
    Wave goodbye, wish me well
    You've got to let me go"
    - In a euphoric state, Dancer shrugs off all the burdens of daily life, lessons learned, mistakes, cultured morals and convinces himself that he is dancer, not human, therefore above human rules and dramas won't apply to him. However, he tips his hat to grace/virtue/romance/etc., considering them necessary for the 'human' race.


    "Will your system be alright,
    When you dream of home tonight?"
    Can Dancer stay happy when the club (dancer's home) closes and the music ends and all he has are blurred memories of dancing there, drained energy and decreased happy hormone levels.

    "There is no message we're receiving
    Let me know, is your heart still beating?"
    Can dancer be happy/alive without music and as the x effects drain away?

    Makes perfect sense to me.

  14. anonymous
    click a star to vote
    Jun 12th 2011 !⃝

    basically, The Killers are trying to teach us that we are being controlled and everything we do is like a dancer, in a group and unable to do your own thing because you have a sequence kind of thing, or are we human, with a mind of our own. simple.

  15. anonymous
    click a star to vote
    Feb 24th 2011 !⃝

    It's based on a hunter s thompson quote google it!!!.

  16. anonymous
    click a star to vote
    Feb 10th 2011 !⃝

    Although interpretations are just that, there are certain pieces of information that Brandon Flowers acknowledges in interviews that are at least reasonable indicators of what the song is about- at least in his mind.

    The line “Are we human or are we dancer?” comes from a Hunter S. Thompson quote “America is raising a generation of dancers.” Thompson is commenting on the lack of individualism that he sees pervading America these days. He is critical of a large portion of American society “falling in line,” and following social norms, much like dancers follow meticulously choreographed sequences without deviation.

    Thus the song is largely about embracing the spirit of the unknown, despite the fear and risk involved. It is this fear that the “American dancers” surrender to. Much like being “brought to the platform of surrender” and giving in.

    The singer recognizes the temptation of giving in, but urges (potentially himself) to “cut the cord” and leave the safety of the norms. “My signs are vital, my hands are cold” is probably a juxtaposition in sentiment. He is reassured that he is doing the right thing because he feels “vital” rather than detached (like the mindless dancer), but at the same time the break from convention is quite scary, leaving his hands cold (numb). The song is about the internal questions the singer has as to whether or not it is possible to really march to the tune of a different drum, or if we ultimately have to give into convention to function.

    Now as far as the rest of the song goes where it almost seems like he is addressing someone directly, “you’ve got to let me go”. Flowers makes mention in an interview that his reference to “devotion,” conjured images of his parents. All the subsequent lines can be interpreted, at least indirectly, to the up-bringing Flowers had in a home of mutual devotion and encouragement with parents who have been married for nearly 50 years. Literally THEY have prepared him, or figuratively the singers up-bringing, has prepared him “they taught me everything I know” to go out into the world on his terms.

    As far as the lines “pay my respects to Grace and Virtue……” it is not clear if he is rejecting these sentiments because they are stifling, or at least societies interpretation of them are stifling (ie…doing drugs is not good) or if he is simply tipping his hat at them as they have helped govern his view on life.
    He is now striking out on his own, and encouraging all those figures of his past that helped shape him, to trust him to take the plunge into becoming a self made man. “Wish me well”

    Although the singer has taken this plunge, he is still uncertain of whether or not he can maintain his rejection of convention. He is “on [his] knees looking for the answer.” Before the ending chorus he makes one final plea “you’ve got to let me know” Urging someone to reassure him that (perhaps even his parents or figurative representation of reassuring past) one can in fact make it being your own man and defying convention.

    As Hunter S. Thompson wrote often of Vegas it is easy to see the Killers affinity to him, as this is their hometown. Furthermore, the Killers were heavily influenced by the post punk rock scene, whose content often surrounds a rejection of standards and conventional behavior.

    Now, as to the dancer vs dancers confusion. Flowers mentions that it was his own artistic choice (and says it almost defensively, again defying convention). My guess is that Dancer is suggestive of a type of being or existence- like Human. Perhaps he chose Human over Humans because- “Are we Humans?” sounds slightly too scientific or clinical, where as “Are we Human?” certainly yields more existential imagery.

  17. anonymous
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    Jan 8th 2011 !⃝

    I think this song refers to the Christian religion. "And I'm on my knees, looking for the answers." refers to praying. And "Are we human or are we dancer?" is asking if they are simply human or if they are something much more then that. And in many lines it seems as though as he is trying to speak directly to God, "You gotta let me know, Are we human or are we dancer?"

  18. anonymous
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    Dec 19th 2010 !⃝

    I adhere to L1ghtchaser2 interpretation. Regarding the gramatical issue of "are we dancer" instead of dancerS, I think "dancer" here is a sort of "adjective" pretending to have the same literary weight as "human". He could sing "are we humanS or are we dancerS" though he sings are we human or are we dancer, appealing the meaning of Hunter Thompson quote.In fact it is an invented adjective, hence thats why Flowers says he is allowed to do what he wants, in this case, in order to give the wanted sense to his lyrics. If the words used for this goal are not gramatically correct,what can be understood as "artistic license", is beacause there is no adjective to describe "when someone is dancer".

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