Youth of the Nation by P.O.D. is a song from 2001 from the album “Satellite”.
It received the Grammy Award nominations in 2003 for the Best Hard Rock Performance and the 2002 MTV Video Music Awards for the Best Rock Video.
But who are P.O.D.? For those unfamiliar with them, they are a band from San Diego (US) active since 1992; they play alternative music, rap, grunge, metal, rock.
P.o.d. is an acronym, a word formed by the initials of other words: specifically P.O.D. stands for “payable on death”. This expression indicates a method of closing a bank account: the owner can decide that in the event of death, the money in stock will be given to charity to certain people or entities.
The P.O.D. band has a Christian streak and they have chosen this expression to indicate the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross, because his death benefited the whole of humanity.
The real facts behind Youth of the Nation by P.O.D.
Behind the song Youth of the Nation by P.O.D. there are some facts that really happened: these are the shootings of Santana High School and Columbine High School.
The shooting at Santana High School on March 5, 2001
On March 5, 2001 the band was traveling on the street: they had to go to the east of San Diego in Santee (California), where they had a recording room to work on the “Satellite” album. There was a lot of traffic and they discovered that the cause was a shooting in Santana High School.
Here’s what happened that day: 15-year-old Charles Andrew Williams entered school armed and started a shooting, at the end of which two students did and thirteen injured. The young man did not kill himself but was arrested by the police and now serves a 50-year sentence.
This event delayed the recording of the album “Satellite” but the band decided to remember the victims by writing the song “Youth of the Nation” for them.
The massacre at Columbine High School on April 20, 1999
Another event that P.O.D. wanted to remember with the song “Youth of the Nation” was the shooting at Columbine High School. It is a college near Denver (Colorado). Here on April 20, 1999, two students, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, entered the building armed and opened fire on numerous schoolmates. They killed twelve students and a teacher. The two authors of the massacre committed suicide by shooting themselves.
P.O.D. made a tour in Colorado in the following months and they heard about it: at that time the young people who survived the shooting had organized a fundraiser for the victims and the P.O.D. actively participated in the initiative.
The lyrics of Youth of the Nation
The lyrics are about three stories that see American teenagers as protagonists.
The first part describes the life of a boy who leaves home to go skating. It is the last day of his life but he still doesn’t know. If he had known, he would have told his mother how much he loves her. But his day ends with two pistol shots in the chest, by a boy he does not know and who is not part of his class. In him now there is no hatred but only the desire to understand that gesture: perhaps that boy received little love. Or maybe he lost his identity.
At the center of the lyrics P.O.D. talk about Suzy, 12 years old, about her life without the father who abandoned her, about her behavior without a minimum of respect for herself. And then there is Johnny, considered by others to be a silly little boy of little value; Johnny thinks about suicide and ultimately puts it into practice.
P.O.D. ask who is to blame for all these situations. But they conclude by saying that “It’s the blind leading the blind”. That is, the tragedies of young people are the same as those of adults who were once young too. And there is probably no sense in all of this.
The video of Youth of the Nation by P.O.D.
Paul Fedor directed the P.O.D.’s Youth of the Nation video. He is a music video director expert in visual design effects. He also worked for Alice in Chains, Adema, Marilyn Manson, Hoobastank, Seether, Thirty Seconds to Mars, Deftones, Evanescence.
The video has a positive vision of young people and of the world, despite the lyrics about teenage tragedies.
The protagonist is a young man who leaves for a trip by car with his other companions. The route runs from New York City to Venice Beach to Los Angeles, passing through western Pennsylvania.
The leading actor is Joel David Moore. We also see him in the music video “Waking Up in Vegas” by Katy Perry and in “Beat It” by Fall Out Boy.
The P.O.D. band performs the song inside a room full of photos of teenagers in white and black.
When we listen to the choirs of young singers, we see the Carhenge site in the background, a replica of Stonehenge, built near the city of Alliance, Nebraska. There are no stone blocks but American vintage cars covered with gray paint.
Let’s finish this article with some curiosities.
The book seen at the beginning of the video on the car dashboard is Jack Kerouac’s “On the Road”.
In various moments of the video we see groups of people, all standing still and close. These groups of people are the ones who then sing the choirs at the end of the video.
A young girl, friend of the protagonist, washes the linen and then hangs it from the rear of the car to dry it: a brilliant method to dry it!
In another scene, this girl is sitting on the hood while the car is moving. When the video circulated on MTV in those years, this scene was censored, because young people could emulate it.