"War Paint" as written by and Lorrie Morgan Tom Shapiro....
Girl before the mirror
Appraises her disguise
Child become a mother
Tries to fix her eyes
No more of his excuses
It has to be today
She can keep her fantasy
If she can get away

Paint her name on a one-way street
Painted cheeks with angry heat
Wounded pride on painted eyes
Paint the night with battle cries

All puffed up with vanity
We see what we want to see
To the beautiful and the wise
The mirror always lies

Boy before the mirror
Checks his camouflage
Polishes his armor
And the charger in the garage
No more lame excuses
It has to be tonight
He can take the princess
If he can take the fight

Pound the drums with martial beat
Pound the streets with marching feet
Wounded pride, distorted eyes
Paint the night with battle cries

All puffed up with vanity
We see what we want to see
To the powerful and the wise
The mirror always lies

Boys and girls together
Mistake conceit for pride
Ambition for illusion
Dreams for self-delusion
Girls and boys together
See what it is we lack
Boys and girls together
Let's paint the mirror black
Paint it black


Lyrics submitted by shed27

"War Paint" as written by Shane Michael Haseman John James Lee

Lyrics © MIKE CURB MUSIC

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War Paint song meanings
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  • +2
    General CommentIt's about vanity. and it's actually missing two important lines

    --- ambition for illusion
    --- dreams for self-delusion

    They go right after "Boys and Girls together/Mistake conceit for pride"

    Basically, when people look at themselves, they don't see the truth. They see themselves as they want to be, not as they truely are. Putting on makeup or certain clothes to create a fantasy of their true selves.
    Kyt_rainon June 23, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General CommentA very upbeat song to be coming on straight after The pass, but that's jsut testament to Rush, that they can pull this kind of thing off. A song about girls and boys, need I say more?
    Razormasticatoron July 06, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General CommentIt's about how normal people think they need to put on make-up or wear designer clothes to be as good as rich, famous people.
    HugeRushFanon February 02, 2009   Link
  • 0
    My InterpretationTo me, this song is much deeper than looking into a mirror on the wall. Like much of what Peart writes about, this song has double meanings throughout.

    War Paint – Rush
    Interpretation by Ryan Chambers

    “Girl before the mirror
    Appraises her disguise”

    First of all, the mention of “girls” and “boys” (as opposed to women and men) in this song refers to everyone’s primal inner sense of self. Adults retain mental and emotional roots to their childhoods, often imperfect upbringings resulting in wounds experienced early in life that endure into adulthood. Adults in our society (and many others) feel the need to appear like what we think adults should look like. We squash our painful inner selves to live up to expectations of what we think others think we should look like. We’re all playing this game. Hiding behind our adulthood, often living as children yearning to be rescued and loved like we always wanted to be.

    In this lyric, her disguise is not just makeup on her face, it is also who she pretends to be – what she tells herself she is and what she pretends to be to others in the world. Has she done her makeup just right? Will she impress whomever she feels she needs to impress? Will he find her attractive? Will she measure up to other women, also caught in the same predicament that she is?

    The fact that she is looking into a physical mirror as she appraises her disguise alludes to the importance we put on physical looks. Even though she may be “ugly” internally, she is pretending to be beautiful externally – to everyone else – to hide who she thinks she really is (negative self perceptions).

    Knowing that Carl Jung influenced much of Peart’s lyrics and thinking, it is clear to me that Neil integrated Jung’s concept of the mirror into this song. Carl Jung referred to the mirror inside us as a boundary between our internal consciousness and the external world. The mirror not only allows us to see precisely without deformation what image is projected into it but allows us to reflect what we want onto others to keep our distance and protect ourselves (true selves) from being known. For ourselves and others, we use personas to create images of who we are or want to be seen as. These personas are contextual – we use different personas in different areas of our lives.

    “Child becomes a mother
    Tries to fix her eyes”

    Even without horrible upbringings, every adult has wounds from childhood. We were too young as children to be able to communicate our needs, therefore our parents could not possibly know everything we needed. We suffer wounds of unmet needs. It doesn’t mean we were abused; it means we have unmet needs that we bring into adulthood where we usually seek a romantic partner to fulfill once and for all. Hence, we tend to marry our mother or father – looking to find someone who completes the familiar attachment dynamic from our childhood so we can feel whole.

    Sometimes women have children when they are barely out of childhood. Peart may be alluding to the mother trying to fix her own eyes, crying from the difficulty of giving birth to a child while still feeling like a child inside herself. Or, is the mother trying to fix her eyes by pretending to see something she is not but wishes to be. Is the mother trying to ignore reality? Or, is the mother trying to fix the eyes of her child? That is, trying to protect her child from the world we know to be more complicated as an adult. Is she trying to shield her child’s eyes from the real world?

    “No more of his excuses
    It has to be today”

    Men feel the need to always know what to do and how to do it well. Men make excuses for failure to achieve or dominate. We think we cannot admit fault because that might crack the image we have of ourselves – in our inner mirror. Excuses protect our inner selves. We puff our chests and place blame elsewhere. We are still safe.

    When we are attracted to a woman, but feel that inner fear of rejection, we make excuses to ourselves why we cannot make a move today. We will do it tomorrow. Or the next day, as long as we find ways in which to place blame for our failure to find courage to act.

    “She can keep her fantasy
    If she can get away”

    She has her fantasy of herself and others and what her life will be in her head. This image of herself in the world will crack unless she can maintain her fantasy. If she can get away…with it. Get away from reality. Get away from responsibility. Get away from the ugliness she may feel inside. Get away from the mirror she’s looking into in the bathroom that reflects the image of her. When we are not looking into a mirror, there’s a chance we can fantasize about ourselves.

    “Paint her name on a one-way street
    Painted cheeks with angry heat”

    The more literal interpretation is her wanting her name prominently displayed in the world – the need to feel known, acknowledged, important, successful, and wanted. The one-way street is selfishness in relationships. It is all about her needs. Painted cheeks are covered in makeup (rosy red/rouge) for her, and his cheeks are red from frustration of her selfishness or for his anger at himself for failing to find the courage to act today. Angry heat may be the battle inside him to ask her out or not. To be what he thinks he needs to be to get her. Painted cheeks with angry heat conjures up images of ancient warriors with painted faces dancing around a bonfire, perhaps the right of passage into manhood for boys in their tribe.

    “Wounded pride on painted eyes
    Paint the night with battle cries”

    Wounds from battles inside us and in the world are covered up by makeup. We must appear strong. If not, surely others will take advantage of us. Wounded pride may be the internal pain we suffer because of what we learned from our parents (painted eyes – they created the image of us and the world). Paint the night makes me think of painting the town – going out to meet a man or woman and getting drunk to lower our negative self perceptions. Liquid courage to make the move on her today. If we fail, we can always use being drunk as another excuse. Battle cries can be laughing in a bar as we try to win her over so that we can produce more “battle cries” in bed with her until the morning. Or, maybe battle cries are he or she alone at home crying from not feeling good enough or wanted. Feeling those wounds.

    “All puffed up with vanity
    We see what we want to see”

    People wear makeup, designer clothes, and other material items they hope will hide who they really are. This is part of the mask Jung talked about. This is what we show to others to protect us and keep distance. Vanity exists on the outside. We live on the inside. The mirror lives between these two spaces. We see what we want to see because we project an image of what we think we need to be to feel secure. It is much easier to buy a new outfit than it is to admit vulnerability and work on ourselves. Therapy is costly, emotionally and financially. It is much less costly to repaint our exterior.

    “To the beautiful and the wise
    The mirror always lies”

    We tell ourselves we are beautiful and wise. The mirror lies because we project an image onto it, then we look at the reflection and like what we see. We may not be seeing what really exists inside of us though.

    “Boy before them mirror
    Checks his camouflage”

    Again, Peart refers to a boy – the primal being inside all men. The wounded boy still yearning for wholeness. His camouflage is his haircut, his face, his clothes, and his outward personality – everything he wants others to see in him. But they cannot see inside him. They only see the image in his mirror. Checking his camouflage is him asking himself, “Am I ok?” “Am I good enough?” “Do I measure up?”

    “Polishes his armor
    And the Charger in the garage”

    Polishing his armor is perfecting his look (in the mirror) and putting the final touches (affirmations) on his public personality. He polishes the Charger in the garage – everything that will be associated with him tonight will be polished, perfected, and attractive to the eyes of others. Another image that came to mind is the Charger in the garage may represent his penis in his pants. He’s ready to go tonight.

    “No more lame excuses
    It has to be tonight”

    Here we go again. He not only has excuses from the past, but this time he knows they’re lame. Wait, he’s admitting to not being perfect. Uh oh. Perhaps his armor isn’t so solid after all. Now, it’s later in the game. Earlier in the song it had to be today. Now, it has to be tonight. Maybe he’s not so polished after all.

    “He can take the princess
    If he can take the fight”

    If he can find enough courage to face his own fears of not being enough, if he can attract the girl of his desire, and if he can win out over the other men competing for the girl of his desire, then maybe he will “win.” Win as in confirm he is what he wants to see in himself.

    “Pound the drums with martial beat
    Pound the streets with marching feet”

    Pounding the drums represents him putting his best image out for all to see. He is making noise to attract attention. He is beating his own drum. Martial beat is his battle inside himself – who he really is versus the image he is portraying outwardly. It is also the battle with other suitors for the woman of his desire.

    “Wounded pride, distorted eyes
    Paint the night with battle cries”

    Similar to the first verse, but instead of wounds from the self images our parents gave to us, we now have our own wounds from our experiences and those wounds distort our eyes (our worldview). Regardless, we go out to battle the world through our wounds.

    “All puffed up with vanity
    We see what we want to see
    To the powerful and the wise
    The mirror always lies”

    This verse is similar to the first one but replaces beautiful with powerful. Just the same, the mirror inside our minds protects us from the world and presents a powerful image of ourselves. This power protects us.

    “Boys and girls together
    Mistake conceit for pride
    Ambition for illusion
    Dreams for self delusion”

    The child within us is still alive. It drives part of our adulthood. Wounds persist. To make up for this pain, we develop conceit to make up for a lack of pride. We create a story of ambition within ourselves to cover up for the fact that we have these deceptive appearances of ourselves. If others see our ambition, maybe they wont know the wound it covers inside of us. Dreams are acceptable ideas of what we want to be, whereas self-delusions are untrue stories we tell ourselves about who we are.

    “Girls and boys together
    See what it is we lack”

    Girls and boys know the whole time what they feel they lack. Girls and boys together (in relationships) see what the other lacks – in other words, their wounds eventually become outwardly visible. We come to understand what we lack and what our partners lack.

    “Boys and girls together
    Let’s paint the mirror black
    Paint it black”

    Part of the reason boys (men) and girls (women) battle internally is their fear of what others perceive them to be. If everyone could resolve their wounds, they could stop pretending to be what they are not. Painting the mirror black removes the boundaries between what we are and what others see. We can embrace who we are and not feel the need to hide behind a mask.
    rpc2112on April 11, 2016   Link

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