Drumming Bird – “American Spirits” Lyrics Meaning

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Written By Joanna Landrum

Joanna holds a BSc in English Literature and uses her expertise in literary analysis to uncover the deeper meaning of her favorite songs.

Drumming Bird’s “American Spirits” is a profound commentary on the American experience, woven through personal and national narratives. The song intricately dissects the often-glossed-over aspects of American culture, history, and identity. It’s about the conflict between the country’s ideals and its realities, particularly focusing on the aspects of religion, heritage, and societal norms.

The songwriter paints a picture of the struggle to reconcile personal beliefs with a nation’s troubled history. It’s a reflection on growing up in a society with predetermined notions of right and wrong, and the eventual realization of the many shades of gray that exist in reality.

Curious about how a song can capture the essence of a nation’s soul? “American Spirits” does just that. So, let’s uncover the layers of this compelling narrative.

“American Spirits” Lyrics Meaning

“American Spirits” opens with a stark contrast between the teachings of a “white and prestigious” Jesus and the reality of the songwriter’s life. This juxtaposition sets the tone for the entire song, highlighting the conflict between the idealized American values and the actual experiences of its people.

The reference to the “pledge of allegiance” and the renunciation of smoking weed symbolize the societal norms and expectations ingrained from childhood. Yet, the song quickly dives into the harsher realities, such as the friend’s suicide and the feeling of abandonment by the religious figure they were taught to rely on. This paints a picture of disillusionment and the realization that the promised support systems may not always be reliable.

The chorus, “Oh lord, can you hear it? The American spirit,” is a cry for recognition of the underlying struggles and inconsistencies in the American ethos. The songwriter questions the authenticity of this spirit, suggesting that what is often celebrated as the ‘American way’ might be just a veneer hiding deeper issues.

The lyrics then delve into the history of the land, referencing the displacement of the Cherokee and the erasure of Native American narratives in favor of a whitewashed history. This part of the song is particularly poignant, as it confronts the listener with the uncomfortable truths of America’s past.

As the song progresses, it becomes a meditation on the loss of innocence and the realization that the “master plan” and the “natural good in man” might be more idealistic than realistic. The repeated references to smoking, both literally and metaphorically, serve as a symbol of the coping mechanisms people adopt to deal with these realizations.

The Story Behind “American Spirits”

The song was born out of a period of introspection and realization for the songwriter. Growing up with certain beliefs and values, only to see them challenged by the realities of the world, can be a jarring experience. This is the state of mind that permeates “American Spirits.”

The songwriter’s journey through disillusionment reflects a broader narrative experienced by many Americans. The realization that the country’s history is more complex and darker than what is often taught in schools or preached in churches led to a deep sense of betrayal and the need to express these feelings through music.

The lyrics are a response to this awakening. They’re an attempt to reconcile the teachings of youth with the realities of adulthood, of living in a country that is both beautiful and flawed. It’s about coming to terms with the fact that the American spirit, while resilient and proud, is also tainted by its history of oppression and injustice.

In essence, “American Spirits” is not just a song. It’s a journey through the heart of America, an exploration of its soul, and a commentary on its spirit. It’s a mirror held up to the nation, asking it to take a long, hard look at itself.