Johnny's playroom
Is a bunker filled with sand
He's become a third world man

Smokey Sunday
He's been mobilized since dawn
Now he's crouching on the lawn
He's a third world man

Soon you'll throw down your disguise
We'll see behind those bright eyes
By and by
When the sidewalks are safe
For the little guy

I saw the fireworks
I believed that I was dreaming
'Til the neighbours came out screaming
He's a third world man

[chorus]

When he's crying out
I just sing that Ghana Rondo
E'lera del terzo mondo
He's a third world man

[chorus]



Lyrics submitted by AbFab


Third World Man song meanings
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11 Comments

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  • +1
    General Comment:It's about a veteran with post-traumatic stress disorder. Such a tragic song, really it is...
    RyAquaon August 14, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General Comment:It's clearly a song about a war veteran who has not escaped his former life in his mind. In flahbacks or some PTSS, he views his current suburban world as a third world war zone. His or possibly his son's playroom suddenly becomes a bunker. "Moblized since dawn...lawn" shows that he has very real flashbacks that he participates in his home and front yard. The fireworks he sees could be from a 4th of July celebration which sends him into his other mindset, in which he thinks he is dreaming, but is infact participating. His neighbors come out screaming because he's going nuts outside. "E'lera del terzo mondo" doesn't have a direct translation to my knowledge, but it is at least losely based on several romantic languages, like Italian, Spanish and Portugese.
    "Lera" - read - Spanish root
    "del" - of the - Spanish root
    "terzo" - third - Italian direct translation
    "mondo" - world - Spanish root

    It vaguely translates to "He reads of the Third World"

    I have no idea what "Ghana Rondo" is.
    samstudlyguyon March 23, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General Comment:No, "E' l'era del Terzo Mondo" is Italian and means "It's the Age of The Third World", but I don't know if it's a quote from a writer or a journalist and I've always wondered what the inspiration for that line was.
    sbandoon May 29, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General Comment:The lyrics are "El era del terzo mondo" translated from spanish (since this is from the Guacho album) "He was of the third world."
    Akimboon January 20, 2010   Link
  • 0
    General Comment:This song is about a little kid playing...pretending he's a soldier. He'll throw down his disguise when he finishes, 'when the sidewalks are safe for the little guys'.
    He may have started a real fire.
    killzon January 23, 2010   Link
  • 0
    General Comment:You're wrong, "e l'era del terzo mondo" is completely Italian and means "and he was from the third world".
    "era" is past tense, not a noun. But why do the put in an Italian phrase...?
    Ihlenamon March 24, 2010   Link
  • 0
    General Comment:Definitely PTSD and definitely "He's a third world man". What is difficult about this song is how it switches from character to character. Anytime you see "he's a third world man" you know it is not the afflicted person speaking. The other lines are either thoughts or vocalizations from the main character.

    "Johnny's playroom is a bunker filled with sand." Is probably an internal thought.

    Smokey Sunday could be either the main character's nickname from wartime or, and more likely, it is the setting for the following lines in the song.

    "Soon you'll throw down your disguise
    We'll see behind those bright eyes
    By and by
    When the sidewalks are safe
    For the little guy"

    These lines are from observers who probably care about this person and are ready to see their loved one again, but they know they must wait for the illusions to pass first.

    The last lines are from the man with PTSD who remembers his experience while he was flashing back. He recalls his experience.

    "I saw the fireworks
    I believed that I was dreaming
    'Til the neighbors came out screaming
    He's a third world man"

    The song is most unfortunate because the main character is aware of his condition.
    rplaughlon March 25, 2010   Link
  • 0
    General Comment:Maybe it could be a little help to listen to the proto-version of the song, which was "were you blind that day" instead of "he's a third world man". The entire song differs from the final version.
    Ihlenamon March 28, 2010   Link
  • 0
    General Comment:OK - let me clear up a few things. This song, written in 79/80 during the "Guerro Sucio" or Dirty War in Argentina. This was the age of Gen Galteri, one of the most lethal dictators in their history. Bored with killing his own population, he was famous for starting a war with the UK over The Falkland Islands. But I digress. Argentina has a very sizeable Italian community, and Buenos Aries street slang incorporates a lot of Italian words, if not whole sentences. Basically this is a song from the perspective of someone who's seeing all this for the first time. The children soldiers ("Johnny's playroom Is a bunker filled with sand" which Argentina was using at this time, the bombs going off, no one sure whether they were planted by the government as a false flag, or by the communists.
    taverneron August 27, 2011   Link
  • 0
    General Comment:I think everyone who thinks this is a song about a vet with post-traumatic stress disorder is right on the button. In fact, I compile a short video which you can find here along those lines. The line is Italian and was added because I think it sounded good. As for the shift in perspective, well, not every song, or even many of them have to hang together perfectly. After all it's just a song.
    pfgpowellon April 15, 2012   Link

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