“Jerusalem, New York, Berlin” by Vampire Weekend
Like many of Vampire Weekend’s songs, this track deals with a lot of heavy symbolism. As such, only Ezra Koenig, who wrote the song, as well as those he feels inclined to share related knowledge with may understand the meaning of certain passages. But on the surface, there still seems to be some general themes that can be derived from “Jerusalem, New York, Berlin”.
As such, it seems that Koenig, himself being a Jew, is singing about the State of Israel. More specifically, he presents this nation as one that has a “big dream” but at the same time “can’t make it real”.
For instance, in this track, he references 1917, the year in which a document called the Balfour Declaration was signed which basically led to the establishment of Israel. But he states that “now the battery is too hot” and other terminology alluding to a flawed state of being.
Jerusalem, New York and Berlin are mentioned in the chorus apparently within the context of idealizing a “wicked world”. These are locations, particularly Berlin and Jerusalem, which hold a significant place in Jewish history. However, the direct connection between this trio is unclear, though it may be just that Koenig added “New York” to give the track a more-global perspective.
Meanwhile the third verse appears to be a statement against anti-Semitism, particularly in terms of individuals being on the lookout that a strong “genocidal” sentiment as manifested in the Holocaust never rematerializes.
Ultimately this is a well-written song based on Koenig’s personal Jewish perspective of profound global events using intricately-woven metaphors. And hopefully this interpretation of “Jerusalem, New York, Berlin” has done an accurate job of capturing the key points that he wanted to set forth.
Interesting Facts in relation to this song
- It is perhaps also worthy to note that Ezra Koenig was actually born in New York City.
- As alluded to earlier, Ezra Koenig is the sole writer of this track. He also produced it in collaboration with Ariel Rechtshaid.
- “Jerusalem, New York, Berlin” was released on 3 May 2019 by Spring Snow and Columbia Records as the final song on Vampire Weekend’s 2019 album. That album is titled Father of the Bride.
- In addition to the likes of “Harmony Hall” and “Unbearably White“, this track is one of the popular tracks on the Father of the Bride album.