The Killers: Human Meaning
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Song Released: 2008
Get "Human" on MP3:Get MP3 from Amazon
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
anonymous Nov 8th, 2010 11:15am report
This song is about dance parties with alcohol and how we could realize maybe we don't know exactly what human is.
That is my sentiment, and I feel this is a call for people to think about everything being human entails. So we can be better humans, while we still get our dances in of course.
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."
anonymous Feb 3rd, 2010 2:30pm report
I think this song is saying are we acting and doing things for ourself or are we controlled by other things and people around us like the goverment for example that's just what I think
anonymous Jan 21st, 2010 1:44pm report
The song is about the actual time we die. Dancer to me represents moving on past this life like when u dance in a club like Berlin those of u who don't live in chicago don't know. But to me it is about al the things that you did the best you can to live and believe in. Then youmove on. Or it could mean nothing.
danceprometheus Dec 13th, 2009 12:04pm report
It clicked when I watched their official music video, with the animals... It seems very obvious he is talking about death, "up to the platform of surrender," "cut the chord", and he is earnestly on his knees asking "Are we human or are we dance?" and there are some tigers, in the video, and they swap faces on picture frames of themselves, etc....namely, reincarnation, or some sort of transformation after death.
The sad thing is though, I believe the answer is the only transformation we have is turning into worm food, then their poop, then maybe dirt, and so on, there is no concsiousness or immortalness of the soul.
Being a bit of a Luddite this song hadn't even made into onto my radar, but now it's cropping up all over the place and I was intrigued to know more. I first heard it on Saturday evening at a friends fortieth B'Day celebration, and thought it was an old track from his collection, obviously a popular choice scos it had everyone up dancing and joining in. Then his wife tld me that he had done a sermon on it, (he's an Anglican Minister. I obviously wasn't at the original, but I did get the very potted version. Are we human or are we dancers? (That was how I heard it and didn't find out about the big grammar debate until later, so don't know what mate heard either). To my mate this means do we continue exercising our free will and thus be Human, or do we accept the Holy Spirit into our lives and become dancers or as my lent study notes said just last night, 'Jesus Christ invites everyone to join the dance, whatever our successes or failures might be.' (think of the song 'Dance, then wherever you may be, I am the Lord of the dance said He.) And as if that wasn't 'godincidence' enough, Radio 1 was still playing when I came in from work as I hadn't turned over from when my husband was listening this morning, and what should be playing. And so I came and Goggled, saw all the huge debates about the lyrics and here I am now!
I don't think there is a right or wrong answer, the lyrics speak to you based upon your personal experience and where you are at right now, but for me it has become something very special and profound.
anonymous Mar 10th, 2009 3:27pm report
Dancer refers to puppets and human refers to humans. There's no "s" because they are both words describing people, you don't say are we means or are we nices? Puppets represent the fact that are we going to let people control us or are we going to be free like humans. Therefore "cut the cord" means let the puppets go. "Platform of surrender" represents the stage and the nerves are represented in the next line. The third verse about fellings and good things represents things that puppets say goodbye to. "My sign is vital, my hands are cold" represents the signs the puppet is getting and the hands are cold because a puppet is cold because puppets have no heart. It is DANCER!
anonymous Feb 7th, 2009 2:22pm report
Ok. This is what it REALLY means, you silly, silly people. There is a famous journalist in Britain that the songwriter admires. The journalist has a quote where he says America is raising a generation of dancers. He later went on to explain that he meant this generation are very conforming, they are like puppets who will "dance" when told. Ergo resulting in the lyrics "Are we human or are we dancer?" As for the rest of the song, frankly, I don't care.
anonymous Jan 5th, 2009 1:09pm report
The more understandable version of this song is the book "Brave New World" by Aldous Huxley. (and perhaps Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury)
To me, this song talks about a partying way of life: Are we dancers? Is dancing (partying) all we live for? (Or are we human and therefore have a larger purpose?)- Note that Hunter S. Thompson said America is "raising a generation of dancers."
Ultimately, this is a song, too, about nihilistic beliefs:
"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
so long to devotion . . ."
These "useless" sentiments are dying out. And also:
"There's no message we're receiving."
Also, the decline of exploration and curiosity:
"Sometimes I get nervous when I see an open door"
We've become so comfortable and spoiled . . .
"Cut the cord" might be talking about growing up and breaking free of the corrosive trash culture.
"My signs are vital/My hands are cold" has a contradictory feel that could be questioning what "living" really means: are you "living" if all you seek is pleasure? What does it mean to be human? He's on his knees, forced down by the magnitude and importance of this question, praying that he can find the answer. As we all are . . .
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