“Rebellion (Lies)” by Arcade Fire

“Rebellion (Lies)” by Arcade Fire is almost entirely symbolic and metaphorical in its approach, but it isn’t such that a meaning cannot be ascertained, especially when taking Win Butler’s explanation of Rebellion into consideration. 

Well said explanation is, all wording considered, a bit out there itself. But what it most discernibly points to is the vocalist attacking marketing culture, or let’s say the fact that now marketing and culture have become pretty much intertwined.

Win doesn’t like it that many of us are living in a situation where someone is always trying to sell us something, whether you want them or not. So the implication behind that sentiment seems to be him acknowledging that sometimes we are being advertised to without realizing it, or something like that. 

Indeed while explaining the premise behind this piece, Butler seems to imply that even Arcade Fire itself ranks amongst such forces, i.e. not being entirely altruistic in their professional endeavors. So it’s like even while listening to this song you’re being marketed to, so to speak.

The Lyrics of “Rebellion (Lies)”

But with that out of the way, the lyrics themselves aren’t actually about economics. Instead as presented, it can be said furthermore what’s being marketed to us, as criticized above, is ideas. 

Verse 1

So for instance, in the first verse, we find the vocalist lambasting the notion of “sleeping” which, in context, would imply a person adopting a docile mind-state, as if they are not under constant socialization-based attacks, which he concludes that we are. 

And with that in mind the vocalist proceeds to lash out against fear itself, or let’s say, all things considered, it being used to direct people’s thoughts and actions.

Verse 2

Meanwhile in the second verse what the singer appears to be saying, further along the lines of “sleeping”, is that ‘dreaming’, as even espoused by some prominent socializing agents, is not a good thing. Instead it is within our dreams, in a manner of speaking, that our worst selves proceed to come out. 

Or as inferred in the refrain that follows, dreaming itself is a form of sleeping, and “sleeping” makes one more vulnerable to believing the lies they are being fed.

Verse 3

The third verse is not as easy to understand. But once again going back to Win Butler’s explanation, this appears to be the part of the song where he really begins to espouse the rebellion. 

In other words, if someone is bullying you, as the unspecified antagonists of this piece are portrayed, then hiding from them is not going to solve the problem. 

Also, this verse seems to be laden with a keep-it-real type of ideology. So not only are agents of socialization guilty of being untruthful, but so too are we on an individual level.

Some More Lyrics

Finally, the first half of second refrain, which precedes the outro, seems to be countering all of the fear-based lies we are fed by rather encouraging us not to be afraid to go out and experience life more fully. 

In Conclusion

That said, all of the above are theoretical understandings of this piece, since neither the lyrics nor the explanation upon which they are based are straightforward.

But it does seem pretty clear, if nothing else, that what the vocalist is spazzing against is all of the untruthfulness in the system. Therefore, it would logically be such that he’s ultimately calling for a “rebellion”.

Lyrics for Arcade Fire's "Rebellion (Lies)"

When did Arcade Fire release “Rebellion (Lies)”?

“Rebellion (Lies)” is the penultimate track on the playlist of “Funeral”, Arcade Fire’s first-studio album. 

Moreover it served as the project’s fourth single. It was released by Rough Trade Records on 12 September 2005. This was just a couple of days before the album itself came out.

Credits for “Rebellion (Lies)”

Arcade Fire is acknowledged as the entity which wrote and produced this track. Officially, the band consisted of the following member when “Rebellion” was dropped:

  • Win Butler
  • Régine Chassagne
  • Richard Parry
  • Tim Kingsbury
  • William Butler
  • Howard Bilerman

Success of “Rebellion”

“Rebellion (Lies)” made it onto the top 20 of the UK Singles Chart. It did the same on the Canada Rock Top 30. 

The track has also been certified platinum up north, with Arcade Fire being native to Montreal. Additionally, this song is known to be a fan favorite and regularly serves as the group’s closer during live performances.

Rebellion (Lies)

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