"Pity the Dead" as written by and Greg Graffin....
There's a boy in crimson rags with a grimace and a spoon, and a little sullen
Girl face-up staring at the moon
And there's no one around to hear their lonesome cries
Then they pass away alone into the night

Why do we pity the dead?
Are you churned by emotion from voices in your head?
(are you scared of the logic that swirls within your head)
Look at all the living and you'll ask yourself why
Oh why do we
Pity the dead?
Pity the dead!

Well, you've seen the disease, suffering and decay,
And you whisper to yourself blissfully "it's okay"
And you still refuse the possibility
That the dead are better off than we

Tell me what you see, tell me what you know
Is there anyone who lives a painless life?
If there is show me so
The destitute and famished, demonic and the
Banished, dejected and the ostracized, the
Brainwashed and the paralyzed, the conquered
And objectified, the few who see the other side
Tell me what you see! It's a mortal wretched cacophony

In the end you may find there's no guiding subtle light,
No ancestors or friends, no judge of wrong or right
Just eternal silence and dormancy
And a final everlasting peace


Lyrics submitted by Mandurang, edited by Mellow_Harsher

"Pity the Dead" as written by Greg Graffin

Lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc.

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Pity the Dead song meanings
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14 Comments

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  • +1
    General CommentWhy do we pity the dead? I think this is a question posed to religious people. For example, a good christian who has passed away should be enjoying their afterlife in heaven by now, correct? Then why, christians, do you pity them? Why do you wish they were back in this place, with all its "disease, suffering and decay"? The "logic that swirls up in your head" would refer to realizing that the ones who have passed away are not experiencing anything anymore. As modern_man mentions, the fact that the dead now experience nothingness is a reason for us to pity the dead, and I believe that Greg does pity the ones he has lost. However, people who believe in an afterlife contradict themselves by having pity for the dead.
    noimnoton February 11, 2006   Link
  • +1
    General CommentNoimnot, is right this song is about religious people and the contradictions between their faith and basic human feelings. Why would you "Pity the dead" if they go to a paradise after this life or get reincarnated? Because, you doubt your own beliefs without even realizing it.
    Neonsolidon June 01, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General CommentYea i agree its saying we shouldnt fear death or worry about it.
    tomgreen3on April 14, 2003   Link
  • 0
    General Commentyeah, religious people are fools. Death is scary, 'cause after that there's nothing but dreamless sleep forever and ever...
    MissNeuroticon December 17, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General CommentKinda rips apart the platonic idea of a transcending soul. The underlying assumption here is that the physical world is nothing more than a crude and temporary manifestation of the perfect and eternal form undergirding all of reality.

    In the contemporary Western context, this notion is promoted by theologians who talk about how dirty and sinful this "worldly" existence is. Yeah, well, if this world is so lousy and your posthumous eternal paradise is so wonderful, then why exactly do you pray for the dying and pity the dead?
    swollen uvulaon April 01, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General Commentkindof like the irony of people looking down at a person in a coffin

    pinkfadeon May 04, 2009   Link
  • 0
    General CommentYou guys are all a bunch oh hypocritical sycophants. You realize that this is not a new concept, right? This song just reflects a sentiment first written in Ecclesiastes (the Old Testament, you know, the pre-Christian part of the Bible) about 3,000 years ago. Look it up. Or better yet…
    “1 Again I looked and saw all the oppression that was taking place under the sun:
    I saw the tears of the oppressed–
    and they have no comforter;
    power was on the side of their oppressors–
    and they have no comforter.
    2 And I declared that the dead,
    who had already died,
    are happier than the living,
    who are still alive. “ — Ecc 4:1-2

    MissNeurotic, “yeah, religious people are fools. Death is scary, 'cause after that there's nothing but dreamless sleep forever and ever... ”

    Can you even REALLY fathom the concept of endless, dreamless sleep? I don’t think so. That’s why it’s scary, as you admit. In fact, who’s to say that’s what it is? Even BR leave an opening for the possibility that there is something more in the wording they use. These guys aren’t as dumb as that. No, instead, they say, "In the end you MAY find…”, not WILL find. And then they go on to ask “Why”

    Noimnot “Why do we pity the dead? I think this is a question posed to religious people. For example, a good christian who has passed away should be enjoying their afterlife in heaven by now, correct? Then why, christians, do you pity them? Why do you wish they were back in this place, with all its "disease, suffering and decay"? The "logic that swirls up in your head" would refer to realizing that the ones who have passed away are not experiencing anything anymore. As modern_man mentions, the fact that the dead now experience nothingness is a reason for us to pity the dead, and I believe that Greg does pity the ones he has lost. However, people who believe in an afterlife contradict themselves by having pity for the dead”

    Again, this was a question posed BY a religious person over 3k years ago, the fact that you don’t recognize that immediately means you are rushing to judgment on something that you don’t even understand. This is further proven by the fact that, ...NO, Christians don’t believe that their loved ones who have passed are already in paradise. Most EDUCATED Christians who have read the Bible (crucial point there) believe that none of the dead will see paradise until judgment day, or the day of the Rapture, when all of the saved will be taken at once. If you admit that you think that GG probably has pity for the ones that he’s lost, Why? Is it because he misses them? Don’t confuse pity for the dead with sadness for the loss that their life causes in your life. I don’t know a single TRUE Christian who would ever say that they pitied any of their deceased loved ones who were saved before dying. I’m guessing they might miss them a lot, and feel sadness for the loss in their own lives, but are comforted by the knowledge that they will see them again one day in Paradise. No, instead they pity those who passed away before being saved, who they would consider an eternal loss, and thus pitiable. If I believe in an afterlife that requires certain parameters to attain paradise or otherwise suffer an eternity in Hell, how exactly am I contradicting myself by pitying those who I loved but know weren’t saved? In fact, I would be remiss if I didn’t pity them.

    This question is posed to you and other atheists/agnostics. So ask yourself, “Why do We Pity the Dead?” It’s not titled we do they pity the dead! Why is it scary? Why DO you pity them? In all of my research, meditation, thinking, reading, praying (whatever you want to call it and in every combination) on the subject, the best answer I’ve been able to come up with was given by the first man that ever posed the question. “10 I have seen the burden God has laid on the human race. 11 He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart…” — Ecc 3:10-11.

    Take the “God” part out for a second, and take the last part of that for what it’s worth. That eternity was “written” on the human heart. This would explain why religion, as a generality, has been persistent and universal throughout human culture since recorded history and before. We fear the unknown and thus we try to cling to what we know. Life. Then you just need to decide why you think it is that we, as humans, almost universally and throughout history have had eternity written on our hearts? Why? Now, put God back in the statement and quit being a robot who mindlessly repeats what they heard “someone say” and start learning to make some decisions of your own, based on your own experience, research, thoughts, and beliefs. All of you!!!

    Do you really think GG wants you as his robot army? Maybe, after all, he did say “I want to conquer the world, give all the idiots a brand new religion….”
    Sentinel13on August 01, 2011   Link
  • 0
    My InterpretationIf you get to it, it's not just asking religious people, but everyone why should we feel pity for the Boy in crimson rags, and the girl in the first verse being dead when we obviously cared so little for them when they were alive.

    The second verse just points out how insane the belief that we should only feel pity when someone dies in this world of disease, suffering and decay,and go about having a weird sense that we're still better than the dead, mainly because they're missing out on some random major event, even though they no longer have to be in this world. It's inconsequential whether it's some golden afterlife, or just being ash or wormfood, they don't have to worry at all about the crap we, the living, still have to put up with.

    And people ignore the may in the last vers, Greg, even an atheist who actually thinks on the question of is there life after death would admit we don't know anything beyond the body ceases to function at death, yes all signs may point to no guiding subtle light, etc, but we still don't know, however that body ceasing to function is the eternal silence and dormancy and everlasting peace (from the disease, suffering, and metaphorical decay) that's the very end of that verse.

    Really it's asking the question of why do we even feel pity for someone who's gone, when they have it so much better than every single living person.
    Bunnyboyon April 10, 2013   Link
  • -1
    General Commentthis song is pretty straight forward... i really like it's message because it's something that i have asked myself many a time. It's basically saying that the dead are better off than we are because they don't have to worry about any of the tragedies of mankind anymore and are at eternal peace.
    Lucif3ron July 28, 2002   Link
  • -1
    General CommentDamn right Lucif3r, I think you've hit the nail on the head there, pretty straight forward song, and definitely what Lucif3r said is right.
    InTylerWeTruston October 14, 2002   Link

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