The Killers: When You Were Young Meaning
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Song Released: 2006
When You Were Young Lyrics
Waiting on some beautiful boy to,
to save you from your old ways
You play forgiveness
Watch it now ... here he comes!
He doesn't look a thing like Jesus
But he talks like a gentleman
Like you imagined when...
anonymous Apr 21st, 2008 4:54pm report
Usually young latin american girls imagine their future husbands like Jesus (while in other ethnic groups, children may imagine their lovers as a prince)... And this girl has found a man who "doesn't look a thing like jesus" because he cheated (as shown in the music video) on her and that's something Jesus wouldn't do (if he ever were together with someone) but "talks like a gentleman" He really isn't that bad, he just made a mistake.. "they say the devil's water It ain't so sweet, you don't have to drink right now, But you can dip your feet every once in a little while"
It's NORMAL for humans to sin once in a while (but it is said that Jesus NEVER sinned),
"But more than you'll ever know" meaning he's the best man she'll ever meet, that's why in the music video She stays with him...
"Can we climb this mountain, I don't know, Higher now than ever before" THEY are having a lot of problems with things they never thought they could ever have trouble with before, but.. "I know we can make it if we take it slow, Let's take it easy" they can make their relationship work if they talk about it and when time passes she'll eventually forgive him. "you play forgiveness"
SO BASICALLY the song is about appreciating the good things we have instead of asking for more... "you sit there in your heartache, Waiting on some beautiful boy to, To save you from your old ways" So Shes waiting on the PERFECT MAN, but hey, there is no such thing!! NO ONE IS FLAWLESS!
Also that only because people sin doesn't mean ALL are bad...
like I said before "He doesn't look a thing like Jesus, BUT he talks like a gentleman"
.. He may not be Jesus, but at least he's a good man!!
anonymous Apr 14th, 2007 4:48pm report
There are three characters in this song...the guy telling the story, the (presumed)girl and the guy who "doesn't look a thing like Jesus".
When thinking about a song, I think about the title... The Killers don't just pick titles because they are the lyrics most sung, they do it very deliberately. When we are young, we are innocent. The Killers also talk quite a bit about God (like in "all these things I've done")
This song totally reminds me of pretty woman... Some handsome guy sweeping in to take the girl away from her awful past. After all, what she's done isn't who she is. She's looking for salvation and forgiveness and someone to take her away. "He doesn't look a thing like Jesus, But he talks like a gentleman." To me this suggests she is settling for this guy, when she should be looking toward God for this kind of forgiveness.
The devils water usually suggests alcohol, but here, I think is referring to temptation. (ie. Adam and Eve, the serpent "devil" was tempting them) This new guy is tempting. She knows he probably isn't what she really needs, but she can "dip her feet for a little while".
I think this is something she does over and over again, and she wishes she could go back to when she was young.
anonymous Oct 21st, 2006 10:16am report
I thin this song is about a troubled girl sitting there in
"her heartache, waiting on some beautiful boy to
to save you from your old ways" (I think she has a drug problem which is ruining her life and relationships). Later it says:
"they say the devils water it ain’t so sweet
you don’t have to drink right now
but you can dip your feet
every once in a little while" (I think this is the temptation she feels to use whatever drug or alcohol she is abusing. Devil's water or fire water is another name for booze). And another parts he sings,
"we’re burning down the highway skyline
on the back of a hurricane that started turning
when you were young" (in my opinion the burning down the highway represents the fast life and the destruction that comes with the fire. Fire being a metaphor for danger, destruction, and pain. And the hurricane is the brewing problems that are building due to her problems all mounting. It is the overwhelming 'storm' that causes her to revert to a childlike state. She wishes to be young...Or at least to find a "gentleman, like you imagined when you were young". The references to jesus I belive are hallucinations that she has when she is high, seeing this guy as a spiritual figure who will "save" her, like the saying jesus saves, and the singer is trying to say to her that "he doesn’t look a thing like jesus", but the guy talks like a gentleman. Another reference to being high,
"can we climb this mountain I don’t know
higher now than ever before i
know we can make it if we take it slow" changing her life is an enormous task like climbing a mountain, but the singer thinks she can do it if she takes it on step at a time.
I know this is poorly written and organized, but you have to admit when you hear the words "devil", "old ways", "save you", "forgiveness", "hurricane", "burning", "heartache", you know this isn't just about a girl waiting for prince charming. Instead it seems that a ruined woman is wishing and hallucinating for someone to save her from her inevitable destruction, while the singer tells a more down to earth approach to escaping the forshadowed doom:
"we can make it if we take it slow
let’s take it easy, easy now, watch it go", he is offering his support and saying it is a long slow process to recovery.
***remember this is just my interpretation, it might mean something different to someone else.
Eli (vancouver, bc, canada)
anonymous Feb 23rd, 2013 2:57am report
1st thing: girl starts out wearing white in the first half of the video. She is portrayed as virginal and pure. She goes to Church.
Then she meets a man who "Doesn't look a thing like Jesus" He doesn't in the video. He actually looks like a bad influence.
They get married, he is brooding and dark and she is bright and white and pure. They look a bit like yin and yang. They are opposite.
Even though they are so opposite they seem to balance each other out.
I think that the man and woman in this video are actually the good and bad sides to a person.
Whilst the woman is in white she is vulnerable and her husband takes advantage of her and cheats on her.
When the killers talk about the devils water, she is washing her feet. When she washes her feet she becomes a good girl gone bad.
After she washes her feet she is portrayed in a darker more commanding manner.
she wears black and red. She forgives her husband but I see the change in clothes as her becoming tougher and not willing to stand for nonsense from him.
anonymous Oct 8th, 2012 10:43pm report
The pursuit of being "rescued" by some clichèd childhood fantasy figure, a "white knight" aka - prince charming or a brave and gallant soldier, who like in the fairy tales defeats the evil that is destroying the "princess"(be it dragons or likely drugs). And he may save her, but not until many years spent enduring her life's hardship. In her mind she imagined someone as this wonderful, untouched perfection of a man, similar to that of even Jesus, yet in the end he is just a man and although he may be nothing like Jesus, she sees it just as miraculous as any biblical story about the power to heal scars, because her life has scars in need of healing by that very rescuer she has imagined for so long, to just take her away from the sadness she knows.
anonymous Jun 18th, 2012 6:21pm report
to make this song suitable for my situation:
You sit there in your heartache Waiting on some beautiful boy to, to save you from your old ways You play forgiveness Watch it now ... here he comes!
I'm a daydreamer, and there was a boy i had a big crush on, lust at first sight and never had guts to try to make a move. so i'm always in my heartache and i imagine the day we meet in the future when we're older and he'll sweep me up and save me from my old ways.
He doesn't look a thing like Jesus But he talks like a gentleman Like you imagined when you were young
he's not Jesus, he's not perfect, he's full of flaws but even though we were never friends, we've exchanged words before. he was always a sweet guy so in the future i imagine that he's still a gentleman like i remembered him.
Can we climb this mountain I don't know Higher now than ever before I know we can make it if we take it slow Let's take it easy Easy now, watch it go
It's been years since we've met and everything will be different and changed. so can we surpass our differences and past will he be the same flirty sweetheart i fell for? but we can take our time and take it slow..
We're burning down the highway skyline On the back of a hurricane that started turning When you were young When you were young
we're burning time, wasting time and the mess coagulates. the mess i've been recklessly putting myself into when i'm young..
And sometimes you close your eyes and see the place where you used to live When you were young
so when i daydream in lala land, i can remember my school, his face, where i lived, my past..
They say the devil's water, it ain't so sweet You don't have to drink right now But you can dip your feet Every once in a little while
i know i will see him in the future. he's one of those people i'll come across in my hometown and the devil's water, kinda means the gamble of everything. the risks i'll take with him and i don't have to take it but every once in a little while it might be worth trying than regretting.
and the song repeats. i'll keep sitting here and waiting till the day comes when i can have another chance with him. till i can see him again. just wishful dreaming.
anonymous Mar 10th, 2012 3:32pm report
It's about a girl who is looking for the perfect man. In this case "like Jesus". She finds another man, that isn't perfect but "talks like a gentleman" which means that he wa sweet to her. The line "we are burning down the highway skyline" means that She probably went to him to forget her past and she is forgetting her religion and childhood. Since he isn't perfect he cheated on her( as shown in the video) and that is somewhat of a lat stand for her. He probably has been making mistakes ever since this relationship and is always forgiving him.
"the devils water" means alcohol, but in this case it's sin. Since holy water takes away your original sin, this one brings you to sin a.k.a temptation. So the song says that it's ok to go into temptation once in a while, but not all the time
:3 I hope this helped :D
anonymous Feb 25th, 2012 2:57pm report
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anonymous Sep 19th, 2011 9:40pm report
This interpretation is based on the lyrics of the song and the music video by The Killers.
When You Were Young is a song about a woman who is married to a man who cheats on her. She is horrified by the experience but eventually goes back to him and forgives him.
THE LYRICS + interpretation
"You sit there in your heartache
Waiting on some beautiful boy to
To save you from your old ways
You play forgiveness
Watch him now, here he come"
This lyric is about a woman who is sitting in depression because her heart was broken when she found that her husband had cheated on her. When it says she is waiting for a "beautiful boy to save" her, I think that means she wants her husband to apologize and save her from her grief. She says "beautiful boy" because she wishes he was innocent, although that cannot be the case. She is in shock, disbelief and despair, but she still wants to be with her husband so she can only wait for her husband to be remorseful and allow her to "play forgiveness" and accept him back into her life. At the end of this verse, he approaches her ("watch it now, here he comes") and you assume it is to apologize.
"He doesn't look a thing like Jesus
But he talks like a gentleman
Like you imagined when you were young."
Knowing that he has cheated on her, he no longer looks like that "beautiful boy" she wanted and he doesn't look a thing like Jesus. But, he talks like a gentleman which is a quality she has valued and wanted in a man since she was a child. So, even though he no longer can be what she dreamed of when she was a child, she can still see good qualities in this man.
"Can we climb this mountain? I don't know
Higher now than ever before
I know we can make it if we take it slow
Let’s take it easy, easy now, watch it go"
This verse is about the couple dealing with the problems in their relationship and their ability to move forward. This new sin (the husband cheating on the wife) is the most difficult issue they have had to deal with; it is a higher mountain than ever before. The next sentence I believe is from the husbands ensuring her that "I know we can make it if we take it slow."
"We're burning down the highway skylines
On the back of a hurricane that started turning
When you were young
When you were young"
In this verse the image is of the couple driving fast over long stretches of highway in rough weather. I believe this is referring to the the argument the couple has when they finally confront this new problem. During the argument, they don't just drive through this new highest mountain (they do not just discuss the issue at hand that he cheated on her) but they drive through the whole skyline (in other words, they revisit past problems as well). The lyrics say that they are riding on the back of a hurricane that started turning when you (in this song "you" refers to the woman) were young. I believe this is talking about her upbringing. The writer of the song says the problem (the hurricane) didn't start when he cheated on her. The problem started when she was young and dreamed of the perfect boy who would be like Jesus. Although she did not know it, she was setting herself up to be unhappy with her husband because she set her expectations too high - no one can be like Jesus and free from sin.
"They say the Devil's water it ain't so sweet
You don't have to drink right now
But you can dip your feet
Every once in a little while"
The Devil's water in this paragraph is sin and temptation - more specifically the husband's sin of cheating on his wife. "It ain't so sweet" because although it feels good for a hot second, it has long-lasting consequences on his relationship with his wife. "You can dip your feet every once in a little while" means it's okay if it's only the tip. No just kidding. I think this is a sad lyric because it is from the husband's point of view. He thinks sin is inevitable and that it is okay to dabble in sin every now and then. It's a sad lyric because it implies that he will probably cheat on his wife again.
"You sit there in your heartache
Waiting on some beautiful boy to
To save you from your old ways
You play forgiveness
Watch him now, here he come"
The first time this verse played I think it was more hopeful that all could be forgiven and forgotten. This second time, I'm not so sure. It doesn't sound like he's going to change and it sounds like the wife is going to go through this heartache over and over in the future.
"He doesn't look a thing like jesus
i said he doesn't look a thing like jesus
but more then you'll ever know
(Talks like a gentleman)
(Like you imagined when)"
Damn straight he doesn't look like Jesus. Rotten poo head. When the writer says "but more than you'll ever know" I think he is trying to say that his love for her is pure despite his sins. That's why he looks more like Jesus than she can perhaps understand. But the writer doesn't no anything about anything. He is a rotten poo head and this is a SAD SONG no matter what the writer says.
anonymous Mar 18th, 2011 3:26pm report
In the lyrics to "When You Were Young", there are three people - the lovestruck girl, her prince, and the storyteller.
This song, in my opinion, talks about a girl and her search for a man who will rescue her from 'her old ways'. I think it means a girl who is relying on a knight in shining armor to come and take her out of a bad place, and when he comes, he's nothing like how she imagined - he 'doesn't look a thing like Jesus'. He still 'talks like a gentleman', though, and she lets herself be carried off.
From here, the story can diverge in two different directions, neither specified by the song. Both are somewhat implied. Either the prince isn't all the girl ever hoped for, but he still 'talks like a gentleman' and is the best she'll ever get. OR the prince is not what she wanted, and maybe what she imagined when she was young is not what she really needs.
anonymous Jan 17th, 2011 1:54pm report
I believe that this song is about discovering someone who you believe is flawless but is actually not that good for your well being.
It is about someone who you find, who you believe is wonderful and loving and fantastic but really, they treat you horribly.
Because of your love of that person you let them step all over you, while blindly, you go on loving them.
You let yourself fall under the delusion that everything with that person is ok and you know that everything is going wonderful, when really you know how terrible things are.
I'm not sure if this is correct, I say this because word for word it fits a similar situation I have.
anonymous Jun 12th, 2010 6:42pm report
i agree with the top rated interpretation, but the whole "when you were young" thing was never explained. I think he means that she had a rough childhood, so she started using drugs and alcohol, and now she wants "some beautiful boy to save her from her old ways" - she wants someone to help her quit. "we're burning down the highway on the back of a hurricane that started turning when you were young" since she started abusing while she was young, she made a mess that just got bigger and bigger as she grew up, and now she's in the middle of that mess - "hurricane" - that started turning when she was young
anonymous Apr 29th, 2010 4:41pm report
This song can have many different meanings but there is oen that speaks mostly to me.
A Woman has suffered in the past with a man , 'You sit there in your heartache, waiting on some beautiful boy.' She's waiting for the perfect man to come along, to save her from her lifes eariler mishaps.
'He doesn't look a thing like jesus but he, talks like a gentlemen.' He isn't the perfect guy, but he'll do because his everything she imagined when thinking of a guy she'd want to be with.
'Sometimes you close your eyes and see the place where you used to live.' She'll continue to look back because she's not happy with the man she's with now, it's not real, it's nothing compared to the Guy she used to have.
Watch this youtube video to the song to understand my meaning (I did NOT make the video!)
anonymous Mar 11th, 2010 3:57pm report
This song is about me.
I am a married man, in love with a girl from Belfast. For years.
She (G) takes off with lads from time to time, Buddhist types, but it ends the same. They don't resemble JC.
She don't take the devil's water, cos in vino veritas.
And she remembers where she once lived, near me.
When she was young.
I play this song in my car at full volume and cry for our life that never was.
anonymous Feb 24th, 2010 2:35pm report
I think this song is about a girl wanting a perfect guy but knows that's not possible so she accepts that he talks like a gentlemen and could be everything she wanted or dreamed I LOVE THIS SONG so it really does not matter if know one agrees that's just how I feel
Aquamantor Feb 22nd, 2010 2:34am report
I think that this is a song about a relationship with a huge age difference.
"He doesn't look a thing like Jesus, but he talks like the gentleman that you imagined when you were young."
Basically, this kid whose with her isn't perfect, but he brings her back to the time when she dreamed about the "perfect guy". (it's common for girls to dream of this, only to be struck down eventually by the realization that people are all human, and that any guy they go out with will have problems)
Basically, she's sitting there in sorrow, in her heart-ache, waiting for some wonderful person to come along, and there he comes. The way he talks to her and the way he is reminds her of those days when she fantasized of an amazing man who would sweep her off her feet.
There are references to the age difference, and the problem it presents. "Can we climb this mountain? I don't know." They're in love, but she very well might be old enough to be his mother. Can they get away with this? Will it work? Maybe, if they take it slow, it will.
She's in the car with this young man, "burning down the highway skyline" and he's driving like a kid, damn fast, driving like no one her age. She closes her eyes, and goes back to her old house, goes back to when she was young like him.
The devil's water is a reference to how potentially sinful this relationship is. "You don't have to drink it, but just dip your feet" Can be a number of different things. My interpretation: Every once in a while, she'll have to deal with being looked at as a cougar, when in reality she truly loves this guy. That won't make it any more accepted. She's not "drinking" the devil's water, because it's not outright evil, however, she's dipping her feet into it. She's doing something that's wrong in society's eyes.
That's my interpretation, I know it's pretty different, but that's always what I imagined.
anonymous Dec 15th, 2009 12:08pm report
Think: "We could have a good time together, but you're too hung up on finding Mr.Right -- a school girl's dream that never comes true."
This is a deliciously sarcastic song which lampoons the object girl's taste in men -- she has rejected the singer, presumably; he is possibly an ex. "When you were young," is a metaphor for her naive nature; the sweet girl who falls for the wrong sort of boy. She has probably claimed that she has matured and is looking for the right sort now, but still rejects the narrator -- he insolently points out that her next new boyfriend is the same type as the last, "He doesn't look a thing like Jesus..."
"You sit there in your heartache, waiting on some beautiful boy to save you from your old ways"
Illustrative of her laughable intentions to break the cycle of her own bad judgment. Note the dripping sarcasm -- I love it!
"...sometimes you close your eyes and see the place where you used to live / When you were young."
This connotes her school-girl mentality and provides the underpinnings for the song: A girl romanticizing about attraction, rather than seeing it as the labyrinth it always is.
The "Devil's water" passage is a bit muddy, but possibly hints to her that she shouldn't reject him categorically but possibly consider that they are more alike than she cares to believe (She has placed herself and her ideal man on a pedestal. Perhaps if she stepped off her pedestal she might see the singer as the good match he thinks he is for her.)
The enigmatic, "More than you'll ever know," ending simply punctuates the disconnect between reality and her youthful, romantic idealism. This bemoans her naivete' and, by contrast, demonstrates the author's grim acceptance of reality.
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