The 5 Killers songs that make me feel 17 again

‘You’re losing all your highs and lows, ain’t it funny how the feeling goes away?’

I’ve found that even if I click fantastically well with a new person – its hard to grow close to them at the age of 32. I can see people that, had we met in school we probably would be best friends for life but now, barring some miracle we seem doomed to pass like ships in the night.

Music is exactly like this. New songs come and they excite me for a few days or weeks, but they don’t have staying power. And the older I get the more I love the kind of Black Mirror ‘nostalgia therapy’ that comes from putting on the music I loved when I was between the age of 15 and 23.

So this is totally biased, it’s totally in my head. But here’s why I love these 5 Killers songs and how each of them can make me cry.

1. Dustland Fairytale

I remember learning of this song from my friend Dean Critchley through MSN Messenger when I was 16. He told me how he loved the way it started gentle and continued to theatrically build all the way through. So from the first time I listened I heard it through Dean’s ears and I thought it was beautiful.

I like to think that being a Mormon, Brandon Flowers knows exactly how to wield his biblical references: “I saw the devil wrapping up his hands”.

The lyrics to this song still make my hairs stand on end, even though I’m never fully sure exactly what it means.

But listening to it again today in June 2024 this one line hit hardest:

“Is there still magic in the midnight sun – or did you leave it back in ’61? In the cadence of a young man’s eyes – where the dreams all hide”.

2. Read My Mind

This reminds me of sitting on the school bus listening to Radio 1 where it was on heavy rotation around 2005.

The lyrics to this might be the most nonsense (big trapeze, trampoline) but the music itself has that characteristic melancholy you find in the best Killers music. It’s reaching for some kind of tragedy of being, deeper than it can articulate.

Best line: “I pull up to the front of your driveway, with magic soaking my spine.”

3. When You Were Young

Mentally this song goes hand in hand with Read My Mind as an epic sing-a-long from that era. It has all your Christian references “the devil’s water it ain’t so sweet”, “he doesn’t look a thing like Jesus”.

I guess all the songs on this list have the bittersweet grief of nostalgia as a theme and thats why they burn so well all these years on. ‘Somewhere Only We Know’ by Keane is like this, it ages like fine wine – its message carrying more meaning with every year that passes.

Here’s a great Live Lounge cover of it by the Noisettes

“and sometimes you close your eyes and see the place where you used to live when you were young.”

4. Mr Brightside

This song has a bizarre popularity in the UK that doesn’t seem to be reflected anywhere else. Its the 3rd biggest selling song of all time and the most streamed song song in the UK released pre-2010.

Most reddit answers tell you that its because ‘its just easy to scream when drunk’ which is definitely half of the answer.

But I think the sentiment of the song is uniquely British and resonates with us.

The words being screamed with most passion when drunk are: “Jealousy”, “I just can’t look its killing me” and “But its just the price I pay”.

These lines are indulging in feeling sorry for yourself, this is the British way. No thirst for revenge, no shouting or emotional vomiting. Its a celebration of sucking it up, bearing the heavy responsibilities of your emotions, and putting on a smile to be ‘Mr Brightside’.

The bass-line and chord progression is epic, it it fully deserves its status as a millennial national anthem.

5. All These Things That I’ve Done

First heard this on a cinema advert while sitting next to Paul Patterson (hope you’re well Paul), probably watching ‘Hot Fuzz’. I now Googled to find out the ad was for Nike and released around the time of the Beijing 2008 Olympics:

The ad hijacks and amplifies the emotion of the song which is a literal cry of help from someone struggling and powering through ‘You gotta help me out – don’t you put me on the back burner”.

I must admit I always thought the line “I want a meaning from the back of my broken hand” was “I want to meet you from the back of my broken van”, which I guess makes no sense.

But they could’ve been the lyrics, because like the others this song is just vague enough to hit the spot.

The song goes a bit Hey Jude as it repeats the line “I got soul but I’m not a soldier” about 12 times.

I think this song is about not really being who you want to be, not really living up to be the person you hoped you might be one day, not really seeing a lot of meaning in your life because of this and openly admitting that you do need some help with the pain of all that.

“Another head aches, another heart breaks. I’m so much older than I can take. And my affection, well it comes and goes. I need direction to perfection no no no no.”






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