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02. Who We Are

Fading West
by Switchfoot


1 2 3 4 5

We were just kids just living in
Wide-eyed innocence
Mini-van floor like a tenement

We were just kids who believed in
More than just dreams in
More than just justified
Ends to a means

With the sky wide-open
Like a child, eyes-open
Like a child, unbroken
By the wheels gone by
We know

Who we are
(in the fever of our youth)
Who we are
(We’ve got nothing left to lose)
Who we are
(There’s still time enough to choose)
Who we are

1 2 3 4 5

We were just kids
Just limited, misfit, itinerant
Outcasts singing ‘bout the dissonance

We were just kids, wide-open
Like a child, eyes-open,
Like a child, unbroken
By the wheels gone by

We know
Who we are

They said it’s complicated
They said we’d never make it this far
But we are

They said the fight would break us
But the struggle helped to make
Who we are

I wanted something with a meaning
I wanted something to believe in
Yeah, sure as I'm here breathing
I wanted more, I wanted more
I wanted more than just a feeling
Yeah, for more than just a season
Do we become what we believe in?
Who we are

Behind the Song:
"Who has fully realized that history is not contained in thick books but lives in our very blood?"
-Carl Jung

As a band, our identity is forged by what we've endured together the highs and the lows of the past eight albums together. This is a song that we wrote looking back at our story: a band of brothers- sleeping in vans, armed only with words, melodies, and ambition, trying to conquer the world together. "1, 2, 3, 4, 5..." The odd count in was to introduce the brotherhood of the five of us. The inspiration for this song began in the bridge- "They said it's complicated, they said we'd never make it this far." These words and this melody came to me out of the blue and became the skeleton for the rest of the tune.

Over the course of 2013, we were completing an album and a movie, both titled Fading West. Musically, our goals for the record were to match the exotic landscapes captured in the film with our instrumentation. To do this, we tried to rethink our use of traditional rock instruments or abandon them altogether. The verses of "Who We Are" are a great example of that line of thought. Instead of finding our guitar inspiration in the traditional western sources of Led Zep. or The Beatles, we looked to Fela Kuti, a Nigerian musician.

The vocal layering in the chorus is another example of pushing ourselves out of our comfort zone. The song was pretty much completed, but we still felt like there was something missing. We toyed with changing the melody of the chorus, but it didn't feel quite right. Somehow the lyric wasn't connecting with it- it lacked the youth and spark in the identity that the chorus was singing about. The vocals didn't feel like they belonged with the rest of the track, as if they were not adventurous enough.

So we decided to bring the song home, literally. For me, my role in my daughter's life as a father is one of the highest privileges I could ever think of. Who better to sing about our identity than our children? So we brought our kids in to sing in the chorus, and all at once the song felt completed. Like the movie, the song took a trip around the world to finally find its place at home.
-- Jon Foreman




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