- "Hero of War" is about a young man who enlists in the military. The song starts out talking about his boot camp, how he was making friends, and how his buzzcut didn't look too bad, and the chorus is fairly positive.
"A hero of war
Yeah, that's what I'll be
And when I come home
They'll be damned proud of me
And I'll carry this flag
To the grave if I must
'Cause it's a flag that I love
And a flag that I trust."
"A hero of war
- Then it moves onto the serious matters as he actually goes to war. He beats a prisoner of war with his squadron after trying to get them to stop, and he kills a civilian woman, mistaking her for an enemy soldier. The final chorus of the song takes a rather darker turn.
Is that what they see?
Just medals and scars
So damned proud of me
And I brought home that flag
Now it gathers dust
But it's a flag that I love
And it's the only thing I trust."
- "Make It Stop (September's Children)" is a message to LGBTQ youth who are bullied, saying "It Gets Better". The lyrics are powerful as is, the video only makes it more so.
- Also, the radio sections in "Make It Stop".
- As well as the flash-forward sequence in the music video, where it showed the girl with her future wife. Oh, god.
- At the three minute mark of the song (and the video), lead singer Tim McIlrath list off names of kids who committed suicide because of bullying. The video kicks it up even more so when clips from the "It Gets Better Project" on YouTube are inserted in as well.
- In a completely different way, "Swing Life Away". I dare you to listen to it without tearing up.
- About half the tracks from Revolutions Per Minute are this, especially "Heaven Knows". "The day I learn to fly/ I'm never coming down"
- "The Approaching Curve" from The Suffer and The Witness. The spoken-word verses highlight the bleak lyrics about a failing relationship, while the chorus is perhaps Tim McIlrath's most anguished performance.
- Listen closely to The Good Left Undone. The song uses a metaphor about flowers to describe starting a relationship, realizing that you're having a negative effect on the other person, and walking away to spare them from hurt. It's heartbreaking.
- "Help is on the Way" sings about struggling against adversity and one line states "We were told to sit tight....Help is on the way.....BUT IT NEVER CAME!!!"
- "Methadone" and "People Live Here," both from The Black Market. "Tragedy + Time" may also qualify, but it becomes more hopeful by the end of the song.