Refugee by Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers Lyrics Meaning – Unpacking the Anthem of Perseverance


You can view the lyrics, alternate interprations and sheet music for Tom Petty The Heartbreakers's Refugee at Lyrics.org.
Article Contents:
  1. Music Video
  2. Lyrics
  3. Song Meaning

Lyrics

We did somethin’ we both know it
We don’t talk too much about it
Ain’t no real big secret all the same
Somehow we get around it
Listen it don’t really matter to me baby
You believe what you want to believe
You see you don’t have to live like a refugee (don’t have to live like a refugee)

Somewhere, somehow somebody
Must have kicked you around some
Tell me why you want to lay there
And revel in your abandon
Honey, it don’t make no difference to me baby
Everybody’s had to fight to be free
You see you don’t have to live like a refugee (don’t have to live like a refugee)
Now baby you don’t have to live like a refugee (don’t have to live like a refugee)

Baby we ain’t the first
I’m sure a lot of other lover’s been burned
Right now this seems real to you
But it’s one of those things
You gotta feel to be true

Somewhere, somehow somebody
Must have kicked you around some
Who knows, maybe you were kidnapped
Tied up, taken away and held for ransom
It don’t really matter to me
Everybody’s had to fight to be free
You see you don’t have to live like a refugee (don’t have to live like a refugee)
I said you don’t have to live like a refugee (don’t have to live like a refugee)
You don’t have to live like a refugee (don’t have to live like a refugee), ah , ah

Full Lyrics

When ‘Refugee’ blasted through the airwaves in 1980, it was more than just another cut off ‘Damn the Torpedoes’; it was a sonic lifeline. Beyond the hallmark organ riff and Petty’s earnest vocal delivery lay a concoction of raw emotions and a narrative that would resonate with anyone who ever felt cornered by life’s harsh realities.

The song’s defiant spirit and rousing chorus became a battle cry for those longing to escape their metaphorical chains. But to truly appreciate ‘Refugee,’ one must dive beneath its rock veneer to explore the poignant themes and expressive lyrics carefully etched by Tom Petty and his band, prompting listeners to seek liberation within.

A Dissection of Disguised Desperation

Petty’s choice of a ‘refugee’ as a metaphorical subject is a masterclass in songwriting. The lyrics paint a picture of a person trapped by their circumstances, or perhaps by their own resignation to defeat. It’s an exploration of what it means to feel displaced, not in the sense of geographical displacement, but rather in an emotional and existential sense.

This feeling of entrapment and desolation is a universal affliction, and Petty taps into this shared human experience with empathy and grit. The brilliant juxtaposition of rock and roll energy with the thematically somber content charges the song with a sense of urgency and relevancy that transcends time.

Unraveling the Veil of Silence

The opening lines of ‘Refugee’ immediately set a tone of something unspoken yet universally understood: ‘We did somethin’, we both know it, we don’t talk too much about it.’ Petty captures the essence of a shared secret, an underlying tension that exists within so many relationships – personal or otherwise.

The decision to move past this unaddressed issue without dwelling on it suggests a resilience, a choice to continue pressing forward rather than becoming ensnared in the past. Petty delivers these words with an almost indifferent tone, depicting the necessity of emotional survival.

The Refrain That Became a Rallying Call

The insistent chorus ‘You don’t have to live like a refugee’ operates on multiple levels. It’s a reassurance, a challenge, and a promise all at once. As Petty sings ‘You don’t have to live like a refugee,’ he’s not just talking to the character in the song; he’s speaking to every listener who felt hemmed in by unseen forces.

It’s perhaps this refrain that gives ‘Refugee’ its timeless quality. Petty’s message is as relevant in the personal struggles of today as it was four decades ago, speaking to a human truth about the desire for autonomy and freedom.

The Hidden Meaning Behind Petty’s Words

‘Refugee’ is deceptively simple in its structure, yet each verse is a carefully laid brick in the larger narrative arch. One of the song’s most powerful messages is its commentary on resilience: ‘Everybody’s had to fight to be free.’ It’s a statement on the human condition, an acknowledgment that struggle is an inevitable part of life’s journey.

In this light, ‘Refugee’ becomes not just a character’s lament but also an inspiring ode to fighting against one’s circumstances, a reminder that obstacles are universal, but so is the capacity for overcoming them.

Memorable Lines That Echo Through Generations

While the entirety of ‘Refugee’ resonates with raw power, certain lines cut particularly deep. For instance, ‘Somewhere, somehow, somebody must have kicked you around some’ speaks to the commonality of suffering and the shared scars we all bear. It’s a moment of solidarity that Petty offers, recognizing that no one’s pain is truly isolated.

Another gem, ‘It don’t really matter to me baby, You believe what you want to believe,’ speaks to the autonomy each person must possess in the face of hardship. Petty isn’t just telling listeners to overcome; he’s empowering them with the choice of how to interpret and face their challenges. This autonomy was hallmark Petty, a theme evident across his storied songbook.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may also like...