Democracy by The Lumineers

A bonus track from the III album, the Lumineers presented this uplifting song reflecting what democracy had meant in the US in the past and how it possibly could be again in the coming years.

From the wars against disorder

From the sirens day and night

From the fires of the homeless

From the ashes of the gay

Democracy is coming to the USA

The Lumineers tell us democracy came because of “the wars against disorder, from the fires of the homeless”. That these pressing problems had made the people rise and consequentially, for leaders to act.

The Lumineers describe vividly, the source of frustration:

It’s coming from the sorrow in the street

The holy places where the races meet

And they implore us to go on, to never stop seeking democracy for everyone, despite facing major setbacks such as “reefs of greed” and “squalls of hate” in the chorus:

Sail on, sail on

O mighty ship of state

To the shores of need

Past the reefs of greed

Through the squalls of hate

Sail on, sail on, sail on

In the dramatic bridge with the violin playing in the background, they depict the gray picture they have of the country, the good. And the bad. Despite the USA being “the cradle of the best”, the band still thinks “that the heart has got to open in a fundamental way”.

The cradle of the best, of the worst

It’s here they’ve got the range

And the machinery for change

And it’s here they’ve got the spiritual thirst

It’s here the family’s broken

That the heart has got to open

In a fundamental way

The band also assert their feelings for this country without stating their political inclinations:

I’m sentimental, if you know what I mean

Oh, I love the country, but I can’t stand the scene

And I’m neither left or right, I’m staying home tonight

Getting lost in that hopeless little screen

Overall, the song is a great and pleasantly surprising touch to the album. It was an unexpected song nevertheless it drove the message home. That The Lumineers know that democracy is coming to the US, despite all the terrible things that have happened. The band also declare that they don’t favor a particular political inclination but instead hold to the stubborn hope that things will get better soon.

I hope you find this song eye opening, wistful, and that the song makes you hopeful for America again, too.

I hope you think of this song when the elections loom. And ask yourself, what is it you really want?


senior studying economics + psychology. occasional writer, ambivert, and can be found in coffee shops

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1 Comment on "Democracy by The Lumineers"

9 months 10 days ago

Lenard Cohn wrote that song 20 years ago. It was poignant than and it surly is now.