“Built By Nations” by Greta Van Fleet

Some have suggested that the subject of Greta Van Fleet’s “Built By Nations” is actually a soldier. And that does make sense considering that Greta Van Fleet references a “wounded warrior” in the chorus. And we are thankful to them for doing so, or else this track’s meaning may well fly straight over our heads. Yet and still, of course what we are putting forth here is just a theory.

Devil’s Road

First we see that this character, “a man”, is being forced to “walk the devil’s road”. If this is a soldier we are referring to, then of course “the devil’s road” is a locality akin to a battlefield. And yes, we know that there are both compulsory and noncompulsory soldiers. But at the end of the day, even if someone signs up for the army under their own initiative, if the call comes to suit up they “must” comply, just as the vocalist is saying. 

Then as far as this person “churning up the Earth below”, certainly as war has been waged for the last century or so, it invariably results in considerable environmental damage.

The Brotherhood

Next, we see that the subject actually has brethren. But apparently they aren’t blood related, nor are they comrades in the truest sense of the word. Rather they are “bound” to each other, or let’s say forced to be by each other’s side. And their brotherhood is one which has been “built by nations”. So based on the theory above, their allegiance to each other would be centered on a common nationality.

And perhaps you are thinking to yourself, ‘what’s wrong with that?’ Well, then the singer goes on to elaborate that these selfsame individuals have ‘no pride to call (their) own”. So it comes off as this: if these are in fact troops we’re talking about here, then they aren’t actually patriotic. Rather the feel is like they’re more or less doing a job.

But of course a line of employment where “a man must kill” is not your conventional job. In fact on the battlefield, his mandate to take the life of another is even more important than preserving his own. 

So let’s just conclude, as far as the verses go, that GVF are depicting the reality of being a soldier in a negative light.

Thesis Sentiment of “Built By Nations”

The above can also be put forth as the thesis sentiment of this song. We know better than delving too deep into the metaphors at hand, because Greta Van Fleet are the masters of ambiguous imagery. In other words, their songs are more about sentiment than understanding what’s being said. 

And on that note, we’ll close in the same way we began, by pointing out that the whole soldier theory is a hypothetical explanation of “Built by Nations”. For at the end of the day, whatever battle it is that the subject is going through, one thing we know for sure is that it is not only having a negative effect on him but also his ilk. Furthermore, it even goes on to negatively affect the environment in which he is situated.

Lyrics for "Built By Nations"

Release Date of “Built By Nations”

This is the fourth track on the playlist of “The Battle at Garden’s Gate”, Greta Van Fleet’s sophomore album. This is a project which was brought to us via the collaborative efforts of Republic Records and Lava Records on 16 April 2021.

Writers and Producer

The writers of this song are Sam Kiszka, Danny Wagner, Jake Kiszka and Josh Kiszka – also known as the members of Greta Van Fleet. And it was produced by Greg Kurstin, whom they worked alongside throughout the entire Garden’s Gate project.

Greta Van Fleet

Greta Van Fleet hails from Frankenmuth, a part of Michigan where it’s safe to say very few of us ever heard of beforehand. Even though the band’s official formation dates back to the year 2012, they really became active in terms of dropping records during the latter part of the 2010s. 

As a matter of fact they dropped two EPs in 2017 and then followed up with a full-length album in 2018. And the second of those EPs, “From the Fires”, actually won a Grammy Award (Best Rock Album) in 2019, which isn’t bad for a group who at that point were virtually unheard of.

And from its early showing a week after being released, “The Battle at Garden’s Gate” may prove to be a bit hit also. For instance it topped the Ultratop Wallonia Belgian Albums listing, in addition to breaking the top 10 of the UK Albums Chart.

"Built By Nations"

3 Responses

  1. Anonymous says:

    IMHO, Built By Nations is about a soldier who is home, and the damage done to his psyche. “The wounded warrior” has wounds that can’t be seen. “The trouble gets so loud” in his head. GETS SO LOUD!! Imagine an arena with everyone singing along to that at the top of their lungs. Sounds like fun.
    What a great album. Rock and Roll!

  2. Anonymous says:

    This country was taken from “the nations”. And the wounded warrior ? Native Americans? And “ kill in your home” ?? Just a thought… I’m one of the “ First Nations. Oneida WI. Hope someone can look closer at that theory

  3. Melissa Jordan. Oneida Nation WI says:

    I want to say that this is describing a Native warrior. “ no pride of their own” “ killing his home?.., standing at the cavern. Natives prefer to be called the First Nations. Just another view.

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