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The Meaning Behind The Song: Shipbuilding by Suede

The Meaning Behind The Song: Shipbuilding by Suede


Shipbuilding by Suede is a hauntingly beautiful song that delves into the human cost of war and the moral dilemmas faced by individuals during times of conflict. As a fan of Suede, this song has always touched me deeply and resonated with my own personal experiences.

The Lyrics

The lyrics paint a poignant picture of the sacrifices and inner conflicts faced by individuals and their loved ones during war. The song begins with the lines, “Is it worth it? A new winters coat and shoes for the wife, And a bicycle on the boy’s birthday.” This immediately sets the tone for the song, highlighting the material concerns juxtaposed with the impending doom of war.

The chorus, “It’s just a rumour that was spread around town, By the women and children, soon we’ll be shipbuilding,” encapsulates the uncertainty and anxiety felt by those waiting for their loved ones to go off to war. The lyrics touch on the rumors and hearsay that circulate, further fueling the fear and apprehension in the community.

The second verse adds another layer of complexity to the song. The protagonist’s son says, “Dad, they’re going to take me to task, But I’ll be back by Christmas.” This line captures the innocence and hope of youth in the face of impending danger. It also emphasizes the impact on families, particularly the children who have to say goodbye to their fathers and wait anxiously for their return.

The bridge, “With all the will in the world, Diving for dear lives, When we could be diving for pearls,” is a profound line that speaks to the futility of war. It questions the priorities and choices made by society, highlighting the irony of diving into war when there could be more valuable pursuits.

The final verse touches on the aftermath of war, where the shipyard reopens and the next of kin are notified. The line, “Oh, it’s all we’re skilled in, We will be shipbuilding,” reflects the cyclical nature of war and how it becomes the only skill and livelihood for some communities.

Personal Reflection

This song has always struck a chord with me, not only because of its haunting melody but also because of the deeper message it conveys. Growing up in a military family, I witnessed the impact of war firsthand. The fear and anticipation before deployment, the toll it took on my loved ones, and the heartbreaking stories of sacrifice and loss made this song resonate deeply within me.

Shipbuilding by Suede captures the essence of the human condition during war. It reminds us of the moral dilemmas faced by individuals, the sacrifices made by families, and the devastating consequences of conflict. The lyrics and emotive melody combine to create a powerful and thought-provoking piece of music that continues to be relevant today.


Shipbuilding by Suede is a timeless song that explores the human cost of war, the choices individuals face, and the sacrifices made by families. Its introspective lyrics and haunting melody serve as a reminder of the lasting impact of war on individuals and communities. This song continues to resonate with audiences, bridging the gap between personal experiences and universal emotions.

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