deCODED: Vampire Weekend "Diane Young"

We break down the lyrics from the ACL Festival performers...



New York natives Vampire Weekend will be appearing at this years' ACL festival for both weekends, and to prepare for the performances, we thought we'd break down the lyrics to one of their biggest songs at the moment. Releasing their third album, Modern Vampires Of The City, earlier this year, their single "Diane Young" is currently the band's no.2 lyric on MetroLyrics, so we wanted to take a better look at the lyrics to understand them just in time for their festival appearance. Check out what we think the lyrics mean:

You torched a Saab like a pile of leaves
I'd gone to find some better wheels
4, 5 meters running round the bend
When the government agents surround you again


Let's face it: when it comes to Vampire Weekend lyrics, the band really knows how to confuse their listener. Looking at this first stanza in "Diane Young", we really just have to assume that the song is about, well, dying young (see the play on words?), so this section of lines is about going against the law. Setting an expensive car on fire is a pretty great metaphor: it's essentially taking what society considers "luxury" but then saying "screw you" to the man and going against the grain.

If Diane Young won't change your mind
Baby, baby, baby, baby right on time


The chorus itself is a little easier to figure out — it sounds like leas singer Ezra is singing ride on time instead of right on time. What we get from this is that if dying young, the theme of the song, doesn't concern you, then keep on riding! If you're too cautious, you'll miss out on the ride of life.

Out of control but you're playing a role
Do you think you can go til the 18th hole
Or will you flip-flop the day of the championship?
Try to go it alone on your own for a bit


The second stanza continues with the song's theme as Vampire Weekend touch on YOLO culture. When people adopt that way of thinking, it usually comes off as if they're playing it up: aka a role. Can you REALLY live that way? Using a golf metaphor, can you make it all the way to the 18th hole (going though life) without changing your mind halfway through (flip-flopping)? With the last line, they ask of people adopting this culture to step back and think about what they really want without any of society's influence.

Irish and proud, baby, naturally
But you got the luck of a Kennedy
So grab the wheel and keep holding it tight
Til you're tottering off into that good night

The third stanza touches on luck, characterizing a person who claims that their Catholic faith is enough to keep them good from dying young. But the lyrics challenge them back by talking about the famous Kennedy family, who were notorious for their "Kennedy Curse" of dying young, despite their Catholic upbringing. So the lyrics essentially say don't rely on luck: just keep on going through life with a strong head about you, even if you totter along the road.

Nobody knows what the future holds
And it's bad enough just getting old
Live my life in self-defense
You know I love the past 'cause I hate suspense

The song finishes off with Vampire Weekend suddenly getting off their high horse on promoting a live fast die young lifestyle. They question: what does the future hold anyway? Deep down, like a lot of society members these days, they cover up their insecurities about death and dying.

Tickets for the 2013 Austin City Limits Festival are still available on their website. Watch Vampire Weekend's music video for "Diane Young" on VEVO below: