“The Getting By” by The Killers
The title of this song (“The Getting By”) is based on an expression that people often use colloquially to point to the idea of like barely surviving. For example, if you were to ask someone how they are doing and they’re response is akin to ‘getting by’, that assertion generally has an economic undertone. That means they are just making enough to pay the bills or what have you.
But it also speaks to one’s overall morale. In other words, another insinuation behind that statement is that the individual who makes the said statement is depressed. And for lack of a better word, the person has resigned to the fact that at the moment life is indeed unfulfilling.
Lyrics of The Killers’ “The Getting By”
And it is specifically within such a context that it is utilized in this song. This is yet another on the band’s “Pressure Machine” project that is set in a small town. The Killers, as a unit, are from Las Vegas, which is by all accounts a very-colorful city.
But frontman Brandon Flowers has lived in a relatively-small town or two during his upbringing. So it is likely upon his experience and recollections that songs set in this environment are based.
And as presented in the intro, the town is a cool place to grow up. It definitely doesn’t appear, as depicted, to be filled with the same types of stresses and dangers which characterize big city life.
But from the intro you may also get the feeling, as ultimately buttressed by the outro and the song itself, that it’s also pretty boring there. Or let’s say that the peacefulness and predictability of places like the minor ‘hoods of Utah, where Flowers grew up, is made possible by such localities’ monotony and lack of overall excitement.
A Frustrated and Disappointed Narrator
So getting to the song itself the vocalist, who is stuck in such a setting, appears to be on the verge of going mad.
Well, he isn’t actually losing his mind in the literal sense. Rather, as alluded to earlier, he is disappointed with his present life as well its perceived trajectory, i.e. staying on this selfsame course. And this disposition is not only founded in the perceived limitations of his environment but also his faith.
In terms of the latter, the vocalist seems to have formerly been under the impression that God was going to miraculously make his life fulfilling, so to speak. That is to say that “his people”, i.e. the particular population the singer belongs to, settled there under the belief that this land was a divine blessing to them.
And to note Flowers, who is obviously a religious fellow, grew up as part of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. This is a sect of Christianity that apparently does hold such beliefs in relation to certain parts of Utah. And it can be further said that this prophecy-related disappointment also has the vocalist disillusioned in terms of his ideological view of the afterlife, or something like that.
Indeed there is a lot more going on in this song beside just the singer suffering from a midlife crisis, if you will.
And let’s conclude by saying that the entire situation to the vocalist is akin to him feeling let down by God. But that said, being who he is, Brandon is still holding onto the faith that one day the things will improve, even if he can’t perceive how so at the present.
Quick Facts about “The Getting By”
This is the final song on the playlist of The Killers’ seventh-studio album, Pressure Machine. Island Records released the entire project on 13 August 2021.
This tune was co-written by Brandon Flowers, The Killers’ frontman since day one. And the roster is rounded out by co-founder Dave Keuning as well as Mark Stoermer and Ronnie Vannucci Jr.. The the latter have also been down pretty much from the beginning.
The other co-writer of the song is Jonathan Rado. Rado also served as one of its two co-producers, the other being Shawn Everett.