“Neighborhood # 3 (Power Out)” by Arcade Fire

Win Butler has offered a couple of explanations for “Neighborhood # 3 (Power Out)” which, if taken altogether, makes the piece sound more complicated than it actual is. But that noted, as implied by the subtitle, the genesis of the lyrics date back to an actual blackout – and an extended one at that. But as referred to lyrically, the ‘hood being devoid of light is a metaphor. What the “light” represents is something like a mass awakening or understanding on a spiritual level.

You can view the lyrics, alternate interprations and sheet music for Arcade Fire's Neighborhood # 3 (Power Out) at Lyrics.org.

Also to note, the aforementioned blackout was caused by an ice storm. And ice also plays a symbolic role in this piece. What it represents is a concept like people being cold on the inside, i.e. being devoid of “dreams” and “plans”, both of which can be said are normal to the human experience. So to counteract this reality, we have the vocalist basically encouraging people to be more aggressive in pursuing an edifying life. This is apparently what Win meant when he explained this primarily bleak-reading piece as also possessing an uplifting side.

So putting all of this together, it can be ascertained that the vocalist sees the world, or at least “Neighborhood #3”, as being a place in which people are discouraged. Therefore he is calling on some type of conscientious, truly-meaningful effort to be made to internally enliven residents and especially the children. Butler perceives these kids as being particularly vulnerable to said malady due to improper guidance (i.e. being raised by the aforementioned types of individuals). 

At some point, he also puts the onus on the individual – it can be said adults in particular – to effect the desired change in their own lives.

Lyrics of Neighborhood # 3 (Power Out)

Facts about “Neighborhood # 3 (Power Out)”

This track is from “Funeral”, the first LP that Arcade Fire ever put out. 

Four current members of the band participated on that project. These musicians are:

  • Win Butler
  • Régine Chassagne
  • Richard Parry
  • Tim Kingsbury

At that time they were joined by Howard Bilerman, who left the group shortly thereafter.

The entire Arcade Fire crew is credited with producing “Neighborhood #3”. They are also credited with co-writing it. However, they didn’t compose it alone. They worked alongside Josh Deu in that regard.

It’s important to state that co-writer, Deu, was one of the original members of the group.

The music video to this track was put together by an outfit known as Plates Animation.

“Neighborhood #3” appeared on the Canada Rock Top 30 ranking. It also performed comparably on the UK Singles Chart.

There are actually four “Neighborhood” tracks found on “Funeral”. And keeping true to the chronology, this particular song served as the third single from the album. It was released as such, via Merge Records, on 22 May 2005.

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