Exploring the Meaning Behind LCD Soundsystem’s American Dream Album


As we delve into the world of LCD Soundsystem’s album “American Dream,” one cannot help but feel a sense of curiosity and perplexity. With its intricate lyrics and haunting melodies, this album has become a reflection of our modern society’s fears and desires. In this article, we will explore the deeper meaning behind each of the songs and examine the symbolism and interpretations that make this album so powerful. From societal critiques to personal struggles with identity and mortality, “American Dream” is a journey that will challenge and captivate you.

Who is LCD Soundsystem and what is American Dream?

LCD Soundsystem
LCD Soundsystem is an American rock band formed in Brooklyn, New York, in 2002. The band’s founder, James Murphy, is a Grammy-nominated producer and musician who has collaborated with a variety of artists in the music industry. Other members of the band include Nancy Whang, Pat Mahoney, Al Doyle, Gavin Russom, Tyler Pope, and Matt Thornley.
American Dream
American Dream is the fourth studio album by LCD Soundsystem, released in 2017 after a seven-year hiatus. The album was widely praised by critics and was nominated for the Grammy Award for Best Alternative Music Album. The album features nine tracks, each with its own unique sound and meaning.

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The Meaning Behind the Songs

As LCD Soundsystem’s album “American Dream” gained popularity, many listeners wondered about the meaning and symbolism behind the lyrics. Each song in the album provides a unique insight into the band’s perspective on society and human nature. From the introspective tone of “Oh Baby” to the politically charged “Call the Police,” the album leaves no stone unturned in its exploration of the American psyche. In this section, we will analyze the meaning behind each song, exploring the themes of identity, mortality, and nostalgia. So, let’s dive into the lyrics of “American Dream” and unpack the messages hidden within. No sudden waking up, no /kissing-a-stranger-girl-dream-meaning/, or /broken-car-window-dream-meaning/ here – only meaningful and confusing lyrics.

Oh Baby

Oh Baby
Lyrics:“Oh baby, oh baby, oh baby, you’re having a bad dream, here in my arms.”
Meaning:The song Oh Baby speaks of comfort and assurance during instances of distress. The repetitive lines, “oh baby, oh baby, oh baby” suggest a gentle, soothing tone, as if to reassure someone in need. The line, “you’re having a bad dream, here in my arms,” implies a sense of protection and security. It is as if the speaker is trying to calm someone who is panicking during a nightmare.
Symbolism:This song could be interpreted as a metaphor for the need for comfort and solace in difficult times, especially during a time of crisis, such as the COVID-19 pandemic. The “bad dream” could represent the turmoil and uncertainty brought about by the pandemic, while “oh baby” symbolizes the search for comfort and security amidst all the chaos. This interpretation is highlighted by the line, “here in my arms,” which conjures up an image of human connection and support.

The song Oh Baby doesn’t really have any specific religious or cultural allusions that would require us to explore dream symbols or name meanings, but if we were to interpret it in the context of a dream, it could symbolize the need for reassurance and comfort during a troubling or fearful situation. In that sense, it could be compared to the idea of an “escalator in a dream,” which represents the ease with which we can move up or down in life depending on our perceptions and attitudes. Alternatively, in a dream context, the name Kenneth could represent stability and steadfastness, while a dream about a black snake might symbolize fear or danger. However, as the lyrics of the song don’t suggest any particular dream imagery, it’s difficult to make a direct comparison.

Other Voices

Other Voices explores the idea of self-doubt and how it affects a person’s worldview. The song begins with the lyrics “We all know this is nothing,” which could be interpreted as a commentary on the state of the world or a reflection on the narrator’s personal life. The chorus repeats the phrase “other voices, other rooms,” which suggests that the narrator is hearing conflicting opinions and struggling to find their own voice.

The final verse of the song includes the lyrics “You’re still a pushover for passionate people, are you not?” This line implies that the narrator may have a tendency to be easily influenced by others and is struggling to assert their own beliefs and opinions. The overall message of the song seems to be that it is important to listen to your own inner voice and not be swayed by the opinions of others.

Musically, “Other Voices” features pulsing synths and a driving beat, creating a sense of urgency that fits with the song’s theme of inner turmoil. The repetitive chorus also adds to the feeling of being stuck in a cycle of doubt and confusion.

| Interpretation | Explanation |
| — | — |
| Self-doubt | The song explores the idea of struggling to find one’s own voice and being swayed by the opinions of others. |
| Inner turmoil | The pulsing synths and driving beat create a sense of urgency that fits with the song’s theme of internal struggle. |
| Importance of self-discovery | The lyrics imply that it is important to listen to your own inner voice and not be swayed by others. |

I Used To

“I Used To” is a nostalgic song that reflects on the past and how it affects the present. James Murphy, the lead singer, reminisces on his youth and how different his life was back then. The song opens with Murphy’s hauntingly beautiful vocals: “Oh, I used to think about, time and what it means / oh, I used to think about, everything.” Then he goes on to describe how his priorities have changed over time.

  • Verse 1: In the first verse, Murphy describes his reckless younger days, singing “I used to dance alone, in my underwear / I used to wait, ’til everyone had gone upstairs.” He also talks about how he used to stay up all night, dreaming about the future and all the things he wanted to accomplish.
  • Chorus: The chorus is a bittersweet reflection on how time changes everything. Murphy sings, “But now I’m just too old / And it’s been too long / And the body’s all worn out / And the body’s all gone.” He realizes that he can’t do the things he used to, but he still feels the weight of his youthful dreams.
  • Verse 2: In the second verse, Murphy discusses how his past relationships have affected him. He laments, “I used to wait, for everyone to fall apart / I used to wait, for every single broken heart.” He also acknowledges how he used to take his friends and family for granted, singing, “Oh, I used to treat my kids, like they were children.”
  • Chorus: The chorus is repeated again, driving home the message that time waits for no one.
  • Bridge: The bridge of the song reflects on the passage of time and how it affects us all. Murphy croons, “And all my friends, they used to be, invincible / But now they just, drink too much, and say ridiculous things / And I used to be, one of them, you know? / And I still am, I guess, I just don’t feel, as swervy.” He recognizes that he and his friends are getting older, but they’re all still trying to hold on to their youth in some way.
  • Outro: The song ends with a repetition of the chorus, further emphasizing the theme of change and loss.

Overall, “I Used To” is a powerful meditation on the passing of time and how it affects us all. While it can be a melancholy experience to reflect on the past, the song ultimately encourages us to appreciate what we have in the present. The lyrics use nostalgia as a tool for reflection, and the result is a beautiful, emotional song that has resonated with fans of LCD Soundsystem.

Change Yr Mind

“Change Yr Mind” is a song that deals with the change in oneself and the fear of losing identity. James Murphy, the lead vocalist, sings about how one can change their mind and shed their previous beliefs and attitudes, but in doing so, they lose a part of themselves. In the first verse, Murphy reflects on his past and how he has changed since then: “I guess I’m older now, I knew I’d change somehow”. He acknowledges that people naturally change over time, but that change is not always easy.

The chorus of the song addresses the idea of losing oneself in the midst of change. Murphy sings, “You’re still a pushover for passionate people, you see explosions that nobody else can see”, which suggests that in trying to please those around us, we can lose sight of our own beliefs and passions. This idea is reinforced in the second verse, where he sings, “It’s not the truth, but you believe it, so I’ll just mouth the words”. This line suggests that people often say what others want to hear, rather than what they truly believe.

The bridge of the song features a repetition of the line, “You’re still a baby to me”, which can be interpreted in a few different ways. On the one hand, it can be seen as a comforting phrase, indicating that no matter how much one may change, they will always be loved and accepted. On the other hand, it can be seen as condescending, implying that the one who is changing is still immature and inexperienced.

Overall, “Change Yr Mind” speaks to the fear of change and the struggle to maintain one’s identity in the face of a constantly shifting world. The song encourages listeners to embrace change but also to hold onto their core beliefs and values.

How Do You Sleep?

One of the tracks in LCD Soundsystem’s “American Dream” that stands out with its darker tone and harsh lyrics is the song “How Do You Sleep?”. The title itself is already a provocation, a challenge to an unknown person. The song was written by James Murphy in response to a former bandmate and producer, Tim Goldsworthy, who allegedly left the band without any explanation.

In the lyrics of the song, Murphy expresses his frustration and anger towards Goldsworthy, accusing him of betrayal and undermining his efforts to keep the band together. He sings, “You spent the first five years trying to get with the plan / And the next five years trying to be with your friends again.” The bitterness in these lines is palpable, and it’s evident that Murphy feels that Goldsworthy has let him down.

The song’s chorus is particularly biting, with Murphy repeating the line, “How do you sleep?” He seems to be questioning Goldsworthy’s ability to live with himself after what he’s done. The lyrics continue with, “You’ve been kept underground / Well, is it even a conundrum?” The metaphor of being kept underground suggests that Goldsworthy has been hiding away in shame.

Throughout the song, there are references to personal and emotional turmoil, with Murphy singing lines like, “Love comes in spurts” and “Curtain call, comeuppance.” These phrases add to the emotional weight of the song and emphasize the sense of hurt that Murphy is expressing.

Overall, “How Do You Sleep?” is a powerful and cathartic track that showcases Murphy’s ability to channel his emotions into his music. The song is a reminder that even successful and famous musicians are not immune to conflict and betrayal. It also serves as a cautionary tale about the importance of communication and honesty in maintaining relationships.


One of the most danceable tracks on the album is “Tonite“. It is a commentary on the music industry and its current state. The song opens with the line, “Everybody’s singing the same song/it goes ‘tonight, tonight, tonight, tonight, tonight…’”, which criticizes the lack of creativity and originality in modern music. The song then goes on to describe the monotony of clubbing and the insincerity of it all, as James Murphy sings, “Everybody’s singing the same song/can’t you see I’m anxious?”

In the second verse, Murphy makes a reference to the popular EDM DJ David Guetta, saying, “Like a thought that never changes/all the Gucci in the world/never gonna make you feel better”. This line may suggest that regardless of money, fame, or success, the emptiness of the music industry will always remain.

The chorus of the song emphasizes the repetitive nature of the music, where Murphy sings, “You’re all getting wasted, talking s**t, but you know we’re gonnafeeling okay/tonight, tonight, tonight”. The line “feeling okay” might suggest that people go out to clubs and party, even though they know the state of the world is undesirable.

The song gives the impression that people go out to forget their problems and lose themselves in the repetitive rhythms and sounds, which could act as a commentary on our society’s way of dealing with its issues. The song may allude to the idea that people often ignore deeper issues and emotions through superficial means, like clubbing.

Call the Police

Call the Police is a song that explores the theme of societal breakdown. James Murphy describes a world that is chaotic, violent, and dangerous. He paints a picture of the world that is falling apart, and he urges the listener to take action before it is too late.

The lyrics of the song are cryptic and open to interpretation. However, one interpretation is that the song is a commentary on the state of the United States at the time of the album’s release. The references to “the reds and the pinks” might be alluding to the political divide in the country. The lines “you’ll never do anything we ask of you” and “everybody’s singing the same song for ten years” could be referring to the government’s failure to address the needs of the people, and the stagnant music scene, respectively.

The refrain “business gon’ chew you up, throw you away” emphasizes the notion that capitalism is devouring the people, leaving them unfulfilled and worthless. The chorus “call the police, there’s a madman around” is repeated throughout the song, suggesting that the only solution is to ask for help from the authorities.

However, it is unclear whether the police represent a solution or the problem. Murphy’s lyrics suggest that the police might not be trustworthy or competent enough to handle the situation. This ambiguity is highlighted by the line “use a truncheon or a belt / turn that noise down, or else.”

In the end, the song leaves the listener with a sense of frustration and helplessness. It is uncertain what can be done to fix the problems that Murphy outlines. However, the song’s title, “Call the police,” suggests that action is necessary, even if it is not clear what the right course of action might be.

In conclusion, “Call the Police” is a thought-provoking and powerful song that raises questions about the state of society and the role of authority. The lyrics are open to interpretation, but they offer a bleak and unsettling vision of the world. The song encourages the listener to think critically about the issues that it raises and to take action to address them.

American Dream

Arguably the most significant track on the album, American Dream served as the album’s title track and the center of the record’s message. The song was a meditation on the state of American society and the disillusionment and disappointment that many people felt in the wake of the 2016 presidential election and the subsequent political and social unrest.

“A staircase that you march up to the scandal of it all”The image of climbing a staircase can represent progress and growth, but in this context, it hints at the struggle and difficulty of achieving the American Dream. The “scandal” suggests that those who do reach the top often do so through corrupt or unethical means.
“You took acid and looked in the mirror/Watched the beard crawl around on your face”Drug use and self-reflection are both themes that have been explored in LCD Soundsystem’s music before. Here, the lyrics imply a sense of disillusionment and a loss of identity as the speaker sees themselves in a distorted and uncomfortable way.
“Oh, we know the fire awaits unbelievers/All of the sinners, the same”This line references the idea of a fire and brimstone-style afterlife and suggests that everyone, regardless of their actions in life, will face the same punishment. It could be interpreted as a comment on the religious or moral hypocrisies of society.
“But oh, who are you really, and who am I?/Who are we? What will we be?”The repetition of the question “who” highlights the theme of identity and the speaker’s uncertainty about their place in the world. It could also be read as a larger societal question about the direction and future of the country as a whole.
“American dream/But I get to sing into your ear again”The title of the song and the album, “American Dream” is given a new context in these lines. Rather than representing a universal ideal, it is now a personal connection between the speaker and the listener. The act of singing into someone’s ear could be seen as an intimacy that is missing from society at large.

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The Symbolism and Interpretation

The Symbolism And Interpretation
As we dive deeper into the lyrics of LCD Soundsystem’s “American Dream,” we can uncover layers of symbolism and interpretation. The lyrics explore complex themes such as society and politics, identity crises, and mortality. Each song on the album provides a unique perspective on these themes, and it is up to the listener to decipher their meaning. It’s akin to interpreting a dream – like trying to make sense of a caged tiger dream meaning – where the symbolism can be profound yet puzzling. In this section, we will analyze the symbolism and interpretation of the album, examining how each song adds to its thematic depth and complexity.

Reflection of Society and Politics

LCD Soundsystem’s “American Dream” delves deeper into reflecting the society and politics of America. The lyrics touch on various issues such as income inequality, racial discrimination, and political corruption. The song “Oh Baby” tells a poignant story of love and loss, while “Other Voices” takes a more critical look at the state of politics in America today.

In “I Used To”, LCD Soundsystem reminisces about the past and how America used to be a beacon of hope and progress. However, in the following track “Change Yr Mind”, the band acknowledges how difficult it is to effect change in a toxic political climate. Similarly, “How Do You Sleep?” takes aim at the current American political system, questioning the motives of certain political figures and the impact their actions have on society.

In “Tonite”, the band addresses the rise of technology and the effect it has on society. The lyrics suggest that the constant bombardment of information has caused people to become desensitized, leading to a lack of emotional connection.

“Call the Police” is a call to action for people to stand up against injustice and fight for change. Similarly, in “American Dream”, LCD Soundsystem confronts America’s dark history of racism and discrimination, urging the country to face its past and work towards a better future.

LCD Soundsystem’s “American Dream” offers a solemn reflection on the state of America today. It addresses several issues prevalent in society and politics, shedding light on the difficult realities faced by many Americans. The lyrics serve as a reminder that change is needed, and that it is up to all of us to make a difference in the world.

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Identity Crisis and Nostalgia

One of the prominent themes explored in the “American Dream” album by LCD Soundsystem is identity crisis and nostalgia. The songs present a sense of longing for the past, reminiscing on the good times and questioning the current state of things. The track “I Used To” encapsulates this theme, with James Murphy crooning “And we all know this is nothing / Sometimes I miss the world I knew”. The lyrics depict a struggle to come to terms with the changes that have occurred in both the personal and societal spheres.

The song “How Do You Sleep?” explores this theme through highlighting the discontent and unrest that comes with living in the modern world. Murphy sings about feeling overwhelmed and lost in a world that doesn’t seem to have a clear path. He questions “Standing on the shore / Facing east, I can’t see it / Admitting now I hear it / But I’m never near it”. The symbolism of the shore and facing east may represent the journey towards spiritual enlightenment, yet the narrator admits to being unable to attain it.

The album is rife with symbols of nostalgia, with references to music icons, outdated technology and pop culture. In “Tonite”, Murphy reflects on the changing landscape of music, singing “The working title was “A Reminder” / Until we find the true contender / Until they say, “Here lies the greatest singer / Who never once had a hit””. The lyrics bring attention to musicians that were never commercial successes, perhaps suggesting a longing for a time when fame wasn’t the be all and end all.

The theme of identity crisis and nostalgia in “American Dream” explores the longing for a simpler time or purpose, struggling to come to terms with personal changes and discontent with the current state of society. It’s a relatable topic that speaks to the human experience of grappling with change and loss.

Mortality and Fear of Death

Mortality and fear of death is a theme that is present throughout LCD Soundsystem’s American Dream album. The lyrics suggest that the fear of death is a universal concern, and that society is obsessed with trying to delay the inevitable.

In the song “Oh Baby,” James Murphy sings, “Before you know it, you’re old / It’s happening now / It happened to me, and it can happen to you / I’m on a roll.” These lyrics suggest that aging and mortality are inevitable, and that one can only hope to make the most of the time they have.

Similarly, in “Tonite,” Murphy sings, “Everybody’s singing the same song / It goes ‘tonight, tonight, tonight, tonight, tonight, tonight’ / I never realized these artists thought so much about dying.” This lyric suggests that artists, like everyone else, are preoccupied with their own mortality.

Another song that deals with mortality is “How Do You Sleep?” In this track, Murphy sings, “But you’re still a pusher / And I’m on the list to be a faker / But I’m throwing out the list / ‘Cause all I want is an elevator / Away from the kids.” These lyrics suggest that the speaker is tired of the rat race and just wants to escape it all – including the fear of death.

LCD Soundsystem’s American Dream album confronts the fear of death head-on. The lyrics suggest that everyone is preoccupied with their own mortality, and that society’s obsession with youth and vitality can be just as detrimental as it is helpful.

Internal Link: It is interesting to note that LCD Soundsystem is not the only artist to explore the fear of mortality in their work. In fact, many artists throughout history have grappled with this concept in their own unique ways. (For more on the symbolism of mortality in art, check out this article on hole in the ear spiritual meaning.)

Impact and Reception

The impact and reception of LCD Soundsystem’s “American Dream” has been nothing short of exceptional. The album, released in 2017, received critical acclaim and has left a lasting impression on fans and music lovers alike. It’s fascinating to delve into the varying interpretations and discussions surrounding the album, especially considering James Murphy’s hiatus from LCD Soundsystem before its release. The album’s reception has been multifaceted, drawing attention to a variety of themes and issues explored throughout the album. Let’s explore how this album impacted the music industry, as well as its significance in contemporary culture.

Reviews and Criticisms

LCD Soundsystem’s American Dream received critical acclaim upon its release in 2017. The album was praised for its bold and honest commentary on society, politics, and personal struggles. The Guardian called it a “defiantly uplifting triumph,” while NME described it as a “stunning return” for the band after their hiatus.

Critics also highlighted the album’s musical style, with Pitchfork noting that it “keeps the band’s classic sound intact,” while also incorporating new elements that make it sound fresh and relevant. Additionally, The Independent praised the album’s “haunting and beautiful” melodies, and Rolling Stone described it as “LCD’s best album yet.”

However, not all reviews were positive. The New Yorker criticized the album for its lack of originality and for treading familiar ground, and The A.V. Club called it “disappointing” and too focused on nostalgia. Despite these criticisms, the album was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Alternative Music Album and was included in several year-end “best-of” lists.

American Dream’s impact on both critics and fans alike was undeniable. Its commentary on society and personal struggles resonated with many, and its musical style showcased LCD Soundsystem’s ability to evolve while staying true to their roots.

Legacy and Influence

Legacy and Influence

The release of “American Dream” marked the return of LCD Soundsystem after a lengthy hiatus. It was met with critical acclaim and was listed by many publications as one of the best albums of 2017. The album also had a significant influence on contemporary music, particularly in the indie and electronic genres.

In terms of its legacy, “American Dream” solidified LCD Soundsystem’s place as one of the most important bands of the 21st century. The album showcased the band’s continued ability to craft songs that are both poignant and danceable. It also cemented James Murphy’s position as one of the most visionary musicians of his generation.

The album’s impact can be seen in the work of many contemporary artists. For example, indie rock darlings Vampire Weekend have cited LCD Soundsystem as a major influence on their music, while electronic producers such as Disclosure have also praised the band’s work.

Ultimately, “American Dream” stands as a testament to the enduring power of LCD Soundsystem. The album’s themes of identity, mortality, and nostalgia resonate with listeners of all ages and backgrounds. It is a timeless work that will continue to inspire and influence musicians for years to come.

LinkAnchor Text
/escalator-in-a-dream-biblical-meaning/Escalator in a dream
/black-snake-dream-meanings/Black snake in a dream
/picked-up-dream-meaning/Picked up in a dream
/dream-about-zombies/Zombies in a dream
/caged-tiger-dream-meaning/Caged tiger in a dream


In conclusion, LCD Soundsystem’s “American Dream” is a complex and thought-provoking album that delves into the themes of identity, society, mortality, and more. The lyrics and musical arrangements are intricate and powerful, showcasing the band’s talent for producing music that can both move and challenge the listener.

Through their exploration of the American Dream, LCD Soundsystem offers a nuanced critique of society and politics. They tackle issues such as income inequality and political corruption, shedding light on the flaws and shortcomings of the supposed “land of opportunity”. The album also examines themes of nostalgia, loss, and mortality, grappling with the inevitability of death and the fear of what comes after.

Overall, the album is a testament to the continued relevance and impact of LCD Soundsystem. Their unique blend of punk, dance, and electronic music has influenced countless artists that followed in their wake. “American Dream” is sure to be remembered as one of their most significant releases, and an enduring part of the cultural landscape.

As we continue to grapple with the complexities of contemporary society, the music of LCD Soundsystem will undoubtedly remain an important and insightful soundtrack to our times. With their incisive lyrics, potent musical arrangements, and bold artistic vision, they have left an indelible mark on the world of music, and will be remembered for many years to come.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why did LCD Soundsystem break up?

LCD Soundsystem initially disbanded in 2011 with a farewell concert at Madison Square Garden. Reasons for the breakup included exhaustion and the desire to end on a high note.

Why did LCD Soundsystem reunite?

LCD Soundsystem reunited in 2016 with the release of their album “American Dream” and a subsequent world tour. Lead singer James Murphy has cited the importance of creative expression and the desire to connect with fans.

What inspired the lyrics of “American Dream”?

The lyrics of “American Dream” were inspired by James Murphy’s personal experiences with aging, mortality, and disillusionment with American culture and politics.

What is the meaning behind the song “How Do You Sleep?”

“How Do You Sleep?” is a scathing critique of former LCD Soundsystem bandmate and co-founder Tim Goldsworthy. The lyrics suggest betrayal and feelings of anger and hurt.

What themes are explored in “Tonite”?

“Tonite” explores themes of artifice and authenticity in modern society, as well as the role of technology in shaping culture and communication.

What message does “Call the Police” convey?

“Call the Police” speaks to the anxiety and uncertainty of living in a politically charged and divided society. The lyrics encourage the listener to stand up for their beliefs and take action.

What does the song “I Used To” refer to?

“I Used To” is a reflection on the passage of time and the inevitability of change. The lyrics suggest a longing for the past and a sense of loss or nostalgia.

What is the significance of the album title “American Dream”?

The album title “American Dream” can be interpreted as both a celebration and a critique of the quintessentially American pursuit of success and happiness. The lyrics often explore the gap between the idealized version of the American Dream and the reality of modern life.

What is LCD Soundsystem’s legacy in the music industry?

LCD Soundsystem is regarded as a seminal band in the indie rock and dance punk genres, known for their innovative blend of electronic and live instrumentation. They have influenced a generation of musicians and continue to be celebrated for their unique sound.

What are some other albums or songs that have similar themes to “American Dream”?

Other albums and songs that explore themes of identity, politics, and mortality include “The Suburbs” by Arcade Fire, “The Idler Wheel…” by Fiona Apple, and “OK Computer” by Radiohead.


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