"Us and Them" as written by and Rick Wright Roger Waters....
Us (us, us, us, us) and them (them, them, them, them)
And after all we're only ordinary men
Me
And you (you, you, you)
God only knows
It's not what we would choose (choose, choose) to do (to do, to do)
Forward he cried from the rear
And the front rank died
And the general sat
And the lines on the map
Moved from side to side
Black (black, black, black)
And blue (blue, blue)
And who knows which is which and who is who
Up (up, up, up, up)
And down (down, down, down, down)
And in the end it's only round 'n round (round, round, round)
Haven't you heard it's a battle of words
The poster bearer cried
Listen son, said the man with the gun
There's room for you inside

"I mean, they're not gonna kill ya
So if you give 'em a quick short, sharp, shock
They won't do it again. Dig it?
I mean he get off lightly, 'cause I would've given him a thrashing
I only hit him once! It was only a difference of opinion, but really
I mean good manners don't cost nothing do they, eh?"

Down (down, down, down, down)
And out (out, out, out, out)
It can't be helped that there's a lot of it about
With (with, with, with), without
And who'll deny it's what the fighting's all about?
Out of the way
It's a busy day
I've got things on my mind
For the want of the price
Of tea and a slice
The old man died


Lyrics submitted by Demau Senae, edited by Mellow_Harsher

"Us and Them" as written by Rick Wright Roger Waters

Lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Warner/Chappell Music, Inc., T.R.O. INC.

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Us and Them song meanings
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  • +15
    General CommentThe song is very simply about war. Us and them is referring to the sides of the war."God only knows its not what we would choose to do" is saying that he knows that both sides don't really want to be in the war. "And who knows which is which and who is who" is saying that everybody, in the end, is the same. and there is really no point in warring with each other. Some of the stuff i have said may be a tad innaccurate, but I'm only human. This is the general concept of the song, though.
    doctornoamchomskyon August 14, 2002   Link
  • +12
    General CommentTimeless poetry such as this has many levels of meaning.
    Laid out before us by the artist so succinctly, yet so sublime.

    All of us can see the reference to the nature of war, its cruelty, and futility.
    However, I believe there is a more primal meaning to these words. It's more about human nature, rather than the nature of war.

    The “Us and Them” verse refers to how groups (tribes) of humans can be cruel to one another, but as individuals we like to think we would not act this way.

    The “Black and Blue” verse refers to how, from the beginning of time and until its end, individuals are drawn to congregate and called to war. We like to think that as individuals we are called to war by our dehumanized leaders with their wicked words.

    The “Down and Out” verse is the clincher that exposes one cruel aspect of human nature, greed. The greed of nations cause war and we can't deny that is what the fighting is all about. Yet, in our personal lives, our greed can blind us to the suffering of the needy within our own society with people dying for the price of tea and a slice.

    I believe the lyrics examines how we like to think of ourselves as individuals and how we truly act on a personal level.
    SkinnyDon March 30, 2005   Link
  • +11
    General CommentI love this song, and while it's about war, on a larger scale, it's about human nature in general.

    However, one thing here is KILLING me. The four lines at the end
    "...out of the way, it's a busy day
    I've got things on my mind
    for want of the price of tea and a slice
    the old man died ..."

    Have always been the most touching in this song, and nobody else seems to see them the same way I always have. I've always interpreted the old man as a beggar, and the four lines a somber commentarty on how we treat our own people. The "...With, Without..." in the line before is referring to money, the root of all the fighting.
    The man saying "...out of my way - on my mind..." is a man "with", perhaps a buisnessman of some sort. The old man is without, a beggar who doesn't even have the money to buy lunch. And just because the buisnessman is worried about things as trivial as getting to work on time, or thinking about the work he is going to have to do at his job, he doesn't even stop and give his fellow human being the time of day, or the five bucks/pounds/whatever to buy food. We're all human beings, and we're all we have on this Earth, so what's being said is that we should be kinder to one another.
    NimEdelweisson October 11, 2010   Link
  • +4
    General CommentThis song is not only about warfare -- it's about the cause of it, ie class struggles (it's rather marxist): "with, without, and who'll deny it's what the fighting's all about?" It's about the tendency of people to cause suffering for the sake of their own greed and personal advancement, and how this gets humanity nowhere.
    RoboLuncheonon June 05, 2004   Link
  • +4
    General CommentUs and them
    and after all we're only ordinary men
    me and you
    God only knows it's not what we would choose to do

    This is saying that the people you fight against in a war aren't really evil...we're all just ordinary men. We wouldn't choose to fight, but we have to in order to defend our countries.


    forward he cried from the rear
    and the front rank died
    and the General sat, and the lines on the map
    moved from side to side

    The people who start the war give orders, but aren't out there doing the fighting. Human beings are dying on the whims of the generals, but the generals are detached from that fact because they sit in cushy offices just watching the lines on the map going side to side. The lines are moving side to side because people are dying.

    Black and blue
    and who knows which is which and who is who

    I think this is saying that who is right and who is wrong is really a subjective idea. Both sides believe they are doing what is right.

    up and down
    and in the end it's only round and round and round

    I'm not sure about this line, but my guess is that it means you have victories and defeats, but in the end, you're just watching people die over and over again.

    haven't you heard it's a battle of words
    the poster bearer cried

    Protesters saying that war is all about propaganda.

    listen, son, said the man with the gun
    there's room for you inside

    Recruiters trying to lure people into joining the fight.

    Down and out
    it can't be helped but there's a lot of it about
    with, without
    and who'll deny it's what the fighting's all about

    There is a lot of poverty in the world and all war is really just about wanting more money/land.

    out of the way, it's a busy day
    I've got things on my mind
    for want of the price of tea and a slice
    the old man died

    I'm not sure about this part either. Maybe that people become so detached from their emotions after fighting for awhile that they go crazy and will kill over any little thing.
    Zepfreakon March 19, 2005   Link
  • +3
    General CommentThere's no us and them really. As a matter of fact, it's all us.
    Shepherd_Boyon October 13, 2006   Link
  • +3
    General CommentIt's not about WAR so much as it is about the tendency of humans to fight with each other. Not just on the battlefield, but in every day situations. If you listen to the Roger the Hat interview, WAters discusses a bit of them meaning behind Us and Them: that we are constantly fighting each other and seperating ourselves into an "us vs. them" mentality. The point is that we unneccessarily divide ourselves based on every little thing, concentrate on our differences, and forget to think about all the ways we're all in this thing together.
    So, yes, on a small scale, it's about war, but it's more about human nature in general. Not just the political idea of one country against another, but the very simple idea of one human against another.
    crazydiamond1to9on April 05, 2007   Link
  • +2
    General CommentI agree that the song is about war but I think there is more to it than that. When wars develop we instinctively divide ourselves up. In a war there are only two sides: Us and Them. This song explains how stupid war is by showing how it separates us. By using generic terms, US and THEM, Floyd makes the song timeless. No matter what, there will always be wars or conflicts or disputes where we divide ourselves. There is also a sense of facelessness implied by using Us and Them as the terms. Us can be anyone and They could be anyone. I think the ambiguous nature of the lyrics is an important factor in the song's meaning.
    Anomaly57on December 27, 2005   Link
  • +2
    General CommentAlso, another way of looking at the line "Black and Blue/ and who knows which is which and who is who" is to remember that in many military conflicts up to the First World War, the chaos of battle was such that it became impossible to tell apart friend and enemy from a distance (as in some American Civil War battles, where the gray and blue uniforms were virtually indistingishable in the smoke).
    orthonormalon March 31, 2006   Link
  • +2
    General CommentThis song is about war. Each of the pairs of words represents something about war:

    Us and Them: represents the two sides in a war, and the fact that there is no middle ground, you're either for US or for THEM. However, we're really the same (we're only ordinary men).

    Me and You: this represents the individual soldiers, who really have no reason or wish to kill the opposing soldiers (it's not what we would choose to do). However, they have to, because the general said so.

    The next four line stanza (forward he cried... moved from side to side) represents drawing up war plans that will affect the lives of soldiers (front rank died) by one small group of people.

    Black and Blue: this represents the injuries from war, which in reality are much more than just bruises. In the thick of battle, you can't tell who is a friend or enemy, however (who knows which is which and who is who), so you end up hurting people on you're own side.

    Up and Down: this is probably the weakest connection, but I feel that it means that they march up and down, over hills and through valleys, but all the war does is draw them in circles.

    From "haven't you heard" to "room for you inside" represents the war posters. They say that no one will get hurt and that everyone should join. However, when they get to the battlefield, they are met with guns and are forced into POW camps (or something of the like, I'm not sure what exactly).

    Down and Out: I'm not sure what it's about, but I would guess cowardice on the part of soldiers (there's a lot of it about).

    With Without: This of course represents that the war is for money and material gain (it's what the fighting's all about), and we're wasting the lives of soldiers for personal gain.

    The final four lines ("out of the way... old man died") are perhaps the most important. They show that the war reflects human nature. Even with all the people dying on the front, we go about our day only caring about ourselves ("out of the way... on my mind"), and we still fight amongst ourselves over trivial things (for want of the price... old man died"). This perfectly resembles the war described in the above twenty lines, where we fight and kill others for material gain, but on a larger scale.

    This fits in with the entire concept of Dark Side of the Moon, which is considering factors that could lead to insanity. The trauma of war can be extremely severe, and can lead people to go insane. The last four lines of this song, however, show that Waters feels that even the little things in life, like having enough money, or having things on your mind, can lead to the same effects.

    I hope that clears things up.
    inpraiseoffollyon May 16, 2006   Link

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