Life, Learning, & Legacy – Switchfoot: American Dream

Oct 28, 2019Family Transformation

Last month I featured a song off Switchfoot’s album Oh! Gravity. This month, I want to review a song off that same album. I previously mentioned, I view the band as having different category themes for their songs, all of which really move me.

In the song, “American Dream,” Switchfoot has written about what the world tells us is best for us, is hurting us. This song touches my heart each time I listen and it’s not uncommon for me to put it on repeat so I can listen over and over again.

I have shared before that my mother died in 1987, but I may not have mentioned, just a few years later, the events that led up to my mother’s death also led to my family’s bankruptcy. This did something to me internally.

It built in me the desire to become rich. I wanted to build up wealth and accumulate resources, because I believed this would be the secret to protecting myself from all of the pain I had already experienced. Honestly, that pursuit made me miserable.


When success is equated with excess

The ambition for excess wrecks us

As the top of the mind becomes the bottom line

When success is equated with excess


All I could think about was making money. I was looking for businesses, going to money‑making seminars, and reading different books on investing from stocks to real estate to commodities.

My wife was patient, but I would be lying if I say it didn’t hurt our relationship. Thinking about money constantly consumed my time, and my heart.


If your time ain’t been nothing but money

I start to feel really bad for you, honey

Maybe honey, put your money where your mouth’s been running

If your time ain’t been nothing but money


It took time and some spiritual counsel to bring me back to the truth. As I was shown the truth, I realized that it was all a trap. The lie—that money could satisfy me— was revealed, and that frustrated me the most. I could recognize the truth, but we live in a world that constantly wants to pull us away from the truth.


I want out of this machine

It doesn’t feel like freedom

This ain’t my American dream

I want to live and die for bigger things

I’m tired of fighting for just me

This ain’t my American dream


It’s not easy to break free. We live in a society constantly telling us we need to keep up with the Joneses. If someone next door gets a new car, my car suddenly feels inadequate. If my neighbor goes on a vacation, I feel like I need or deserve my own vacation, even if I’ve just returned from time away. The truth is, until we reset our thinking, this will always be a struggle.


When success is equated with excess

When we’re fighting for the Beamer, the Lexus

As the heart and soul breathe in the company goals

Where success is equated with excess


What if we stopped and realized that life isn’t about our stuff? The secret to true happiness is in contentment. It wasn’t until I personally found contentment that I began to realize how clouded my vision was. I realized I had everything I needed. Not only that, I had more than I needed, and I finally realized there were people around me that needed me to see them.

When we are so focused on ourselves and our accumulation, we lose sight of the people around us who are hurting, the people who need us to be engaged in their lives and to love them deeply. We tend to say we want the American dream, but what is that really? Is it the accumulation of stuff? Or maybe, just maybe, it’s found outside of ourselves in seeking out those who are hurting and need the best version of us.


Cause baby’s always talkin’ ‘bout a ring

And talk has always been the cheapest thing

Is it true would you do what I want you to

If I show up with the right amount of bling?


Like a puppet on a monetary string

Maybe we’ve been caught singing

Red, white, blue, and green

But that ain’t my America,

That ain’t my American dream