"You Part The Waters" as written by Greg Brown and John Mccrea....
You part the waters
The same ones that I'm drowning in
You lead your casual slaughters
And I'm the one who helps you win
You've got your grand piano

You don't even play piano
I'm the one who plays piano
You don't even play piano
You part the waters

The same ones that I'm thirsty for
You invite your friends to tea
But when it's me you lock the door
You've got your credit cards

And you thank your lucky stars.
But don't forget the ones who foot the bill
You've got your grand piano
And you don't even play piano

I'm the one who plays piano
You don't even play piano
But you part the waters


Lyrics submitted by Ice, edited by ersatz13

"You Part the Waters" as written by John M Mccrea Gregory P Brown

Lyrics © Cake - Stamen Music

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You Part The Waters song meanings
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  • +2
    Song MeaningThis song is definitely about capitalism. The biggest critique of capitalism is that those who own the means of production are supported and paid by the exploited labor of the working class. This song mirrors those sentiments. The "you" is the capitalist class and the "I" is the working class.

    "You part the waters, the same ones that I'm drowning in/thirsty for."

    those with the power and capital make the decisions-- move the money, divide the resources-- while the working class has to desperately hope for trickle down-- drowing and thirsting at the will of those who own the means of production.

    "You lead your casual slaughters,
    And I'm the one who helps you win"

    Another critique of capitalism points to the necessity of wars to keep down labor revolutions. The US for example has led many casual slaughters to keep the capitalist status quo on top (Nicaragua is a great example). The class who owns the means of production starts and leads casual wars, but which is only accomplished with the help of the working class to man the battlefields and pay for the wars.

    "You invite your friends to tea,
    But when it's me you lock the door."

    Again, clearly happens in capitalim. The higher class who owns the producion is able to enjoy the luxuries of life and have exclusive parties, while stigmatizing and excluding the working class (who is actually paying for them).

    "You've got your credit cards,
    And you thank your lucky stars.
    But don't forget the ones who foot the bill."

    These lyrics pretty much sum up the theme of the song. He's point out that they have the money, they thank god for their elite status, but in the end they are only in their position because they exploit the labor of the working class. The song is about this injustice.

    The chorus uses the metaphor of a piano, but really could be anything. It's the narrator voicing frustration at the inequality and injustice in the capitalist society. The high class has everything and the workers who build and pay for them have nothing. The metaphor shows a capitalist with a grand piano which he doesn't even have use for, as he doesn't play. The worker is looking at this wealth alongside the his own lack of such luxuries and is like, "come on! you don't even play piano! I do!"
    monkeyswithladderson January 25, 2010   Link
  • 0
    General CommentWe are all on this crazy ride called excess, capitalism, and uppityness. You have to buy your own ticket and ride it everyday of your goddam life.
    radiocakedoveson June 11, 2002   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI'm guessing it's about the greed and excess of certain rich people, who forget their old friends and their roots when they find success.

    and the lines about the grand piano are great. perfect example of american excess.
    tunasandwich77on January 14, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General CommentCake dedicated this song to New Orleans and President Bush last night. It's definitely about politicians who work for themselves when they're supposed to be working for the people of the country. They think of themselves as amazing people (rivers and oceans part at their command), but they don't do anything to help anyone.
    albiumon September 11, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General Commenti think this song is about 2 people- person A is a super naturally talented or gifted person. person B works hard in order to achieve any measure of success. many of the lines are contrasting between these people.

    parting the waters- like moses, exhibiting great command, while B struggles just to swim, but is still drowning

    casual slaughters- slaughters is to kill many people, which ought to be a very difficult thing, A is able to do it casually with little effort, meanwhile B is doing a lot of work. this line seems to connote the ingratefullness of A to B. hinting at some type of relationship between them.

    grand piano- the best type of piano, relative to an upright piano or keyboard etc. person A has one, but doesn't even have the ability to appreciate it fully since they don't even play it, showing how blessed/gifted/lucky they are, meanwhile B does play piano but is unlucky/unfortunate/unable to posess one. kinda like fans at an NBA game sitting in the $200 front row who don't cheer while $20 tickets in the back are chanting and screaming.

    part the waters- exhibiting great command, while B is unable to even quench their thirst with them, lacking any command at all.

    friends to tea/credit cards/foot the bill-again showing ingratefullness of A to B

    summary- kinda about person B who does all the work for person A while A getrs all the spotlight and reaps the good things from B's work. many relationships like this- songwriters who write for artists, the earnest and manipulated boyfriend/girlfriend, etc.

    just how it makes sense to me anyways.
    steverliuon November 28, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI think it relates to sibling rivalry... Nobody else see that?
    rupertgriffinon November 21, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI agree that the song is about government and politicians. We're footing the bill!
    I love that it is also beautifully interpreted in its obvious theme, where it's about two people, one who seems to just walk through life valiant without pause to be thankful while this other guy struggles to help everyone out, he's an "everyman".

    But primarily a governmental allegory. Great song!
    Gamberroon December 28, 2010   Link
  • 0
    My Interpretation I Strongly Believe...
    John/Greg (the writers- one or both) must have been through a tumultuous relationship and gotten their heart curb-stomped. But perhaps that's because where I'm coming from. Here we go...

    I was recently dumped by my boyfriend of 4 yrs when he decided he was just done. No fights, no drama, just fun and good times. Then dumped. Even though I lived in that relationship from the stand point of equal partnership, he did always treat me as if he trumped me. We loved each other sure, but what ever he wanted he got. And I think he thoroughly enjoyed the love that I dished out unrequitedly. He had and has a bad reputation of starting projects with complete passion and dedication, then running out of steam about the time comes to pound the pavement (do the hard work). He is an all-for-show character, and lives off this appreciation of others. To his benefit, he has always been graced with the opportunity to acquire anything he wishes for, which fuels his ego, and keeps such desirables until they benefit him no more. Hey, it works for him.

    Me?! I like to think I'm a down chick. I've got my ducks in a row and a good head on my shoulders, but by no means have been handed a charmed life like this guy. I'm down-to-earth and quirky as all hell. I think I'm the most real person I know. And I can dance. And I could've easily written this song myself. Luckily, I didn't- so it's awesome. I just mean, I couldn't have said it any better or more on point. Check it out...

    My Translation...
    >You part the waters same ones that I'm drowning in/thirsty for = You call all the shots, have everything handed to you so you never have to work hard for anything but can stay on top regardless... Ass.

    >You lead your casual slaughters, I help you win = I've made the excuses for you when you got tired of feeding your brain-babies, flaked on friends, etc. I've made sure you save face and reap all the benefits because I love you. I've listened to you when you whine about trivial matters and made sure to be your solid rock, and helped you see all trite things through.

    >Credit cards/ lucky stars = Self explanatory, entitled prick.

    >You've got your grand piano, you don't even play = You surround yourself with extravagant bullsh*t that doesn't define you! You pick at random how you want to be perceived and then accessorize accordingly.

    >I'm the one who plays piano = You pretend to be all the qualities you like in others! Shapeshifter!!!
    Ooo, but watch out here people- Cuz you part the waters.

    >Friends to tea, but when it's me you lock the door = I think you like me so much you've emulated the sh*t out of me until you're embarrassed people will find out I know what I'm talking about and you've just faked it. Even though, you are the one with Graaand Pi Ann Oooo!
    Good job, you've entitled yourself to entitlement.

    You can hate every word of this or accept it, either way I'm still gonna belt it out as loud as I m&th@f*ck%n can! It really helps me deal with being hung up on an asshole. I'm sure about anyone can understand that. Thanks Cake!
    KungFuBonanzaon December 18, 2011   Link

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