tuff ghost, tuff crowd, tuff love
sit down, sit down, sit down
tuff ghost, tuff crowd, tuff love
sit down, sit down, sit down

say something now
say something now

the tuff ghost disappears for 3 days
the tuff ghost is set in his ways
i don't want to hurt you

GHOST
well you can't, 'cuz i'm already dead

the tuff ghost is invincible
no guts came out when he bled

GHOST
well i lift weights, but i don't sweat.
i go for a swim, but i don't get wet
i don't care about anyone else
i'm a strong dead man, looking out for himself

i think you're suffering, that's why you're so mean
you're already dead
i can't see right through you
i can't see right through you
i can't see right through you
right through you
right through you
right through you



Lyrics submitted by Chip Spitz

Tuff Ghost song meanings
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  • +3
    General CommentFirst, a note to those who seem to think that there is no deeper meaning to this song. Not every Unicorns song has a deep meaning invoked into it, in fact some are just plain silly (take the knife fight b-side). But this one certainly does. It’s not really a "deep" or "hidden" meaning, it’s actually quite simple once you understand the key concept.

    The key line that gives away the meaning of the rest of the song is "Tuff Ghost disappears for three days."

    Jesus, who died, and three days later rose from the dead, is clearly the tough ghost in this song.
    Now here is the meaning of the song. It is essentially an argument between those who have been disillusioned from the church (played by Nick) and Jesus Christ, representing Christianity, (played by Alden)

    Now lets look at it line by line:
    tuff ghost, tuff crowd, tuff love
    sit down, sit down, sit down
    tuff ghost, tuff crowd, tuff love
    sit down, sit down, sit down
    say something now
    say something now

    This part is the people who have been jaded to Christianity, the renegades and hippies and counter-culture kids that make up the general fan-base for the unicorns (from now on known as Nick’s faction) taunting Jesus into biting back and essentially arguing with them. They do this by mocking Christianity. The first lines in the song are intentionally chant-like, and are meant to resemble the liturgy of a church session. The repeated line "sit down" is referencing a church session where you are told to stand up or sit down throughout the service, for no real reason. The tuff ghost tuff luff tuff crowd has two meanings: One is simply mocking the repetitive nature of church sermons that talk constantly about the "ghost", Jesus, who represents modern Christianity, and his "love." (now on referred to as Jesus’ faction) The next part is essentially saying that these people view Christianity as a tough crowd that they don't feel welcome in it

    Next, Nick’s faction says "say something now" to taunt Jesus’ faction to argue back and respond to his taunting. When the tough ghost just stands there, ignoring Nick’s faction and their complaints, Nick’ faction continues his taunting to try to get a response from Jesus’ faction. He says

    the tuff ghost disappears for 3 days
    the tuff ghost is set in his ways
    i don't want to hurt you

    This is pretty straight-forward. The first line is put there to help the listener ascertain what is going on. From that line, they can tell that this is an argument with Jesus, a complaint against God. After the setting is established, Nick’s faction begins their formal complaint. They say that Christianity is set in its ways, and not accepting of other people’s views, and then complain that this isn't really fair because they are not really trying to hurt the church, they are simply trying to live their life their own way.
    Jesus’ faction, who have been stoically standing by thus far, finally get angry enough to childishly retort:
    well you can't, 'cuz i'm already dead

    Glad to get a response from the Ghost, Nick’s faction goes on to jeer "the tuff ghost is invincible
    no guts came out when he bled" which is really an interesting little statement. What I think they are saying is a critique on the fact that Jesus supposedly "died for our sins," and how that doesn't really make sense because Jesus was supposed to be God and therefore he knew he was going to be just fine in heaven after he died anyway, and if Jesus was really God then how do we even know that he even felt pain on the cross?
    (a little note here: I'm not pushing these views, just explaining what I read out of the song.)

    To this, Jesus replies:
    well i lift weights, but i don't sweat.
    i go for a swim, but i don't get wet
    i don't care about anyone else
    i'm a strong dead man, looking out for himself

    At this point, it’s important to understand that although it is Jesus speaking, he is really speaking as a representative for the modern institution of Christianity rather than as Jesus the man (or God or whatever you would like to call him.) What he is saying here is that Christianity is billions strong, and it doesn't really matter what a small group of little rebels think because they are never going to be as strong as the institution of Christianity, which controls many of their friends, parents and people around them. In this respect, he doesn't care what other people are saying about his religion being outmoded because there are plenty of people who still believe. Christianity is looking out for number one, and it is more concerned with making sure these vagrants don't screw with Christianity than thinking about changing their approach to a way that Nick's faction might be more accepting of. It’s also important to know that when he says "I go for a swim but I don't get wet" it’s another clear reference to Christ, who had faith so strong that he could walk over water, and effectively swim without getting wet.

    When Nick's faction hears this haughty retort, they soften a bit and begin to feel pity for the ghost of Christ because he has so clearly deviated from the views that once defined him (loving others, being accepting and ect) and so they say this:

    i think you're suffering, that's why you're so mean
    you're already dead
    i can't see right through you

    The obvious irony here is supposed to point to the true meaning of the song. He is a tough ghost, so he should be transparent, yet Nick "can't see through you" ... and by this he is saying that he really just doesn't understand Christianity, and he never will.

    To this the Tough Ghost chimes in the same thing saying
    I can't see through you
    Meaning that he can't see how anyone would live a life without faith like the one that Nick's faction has decided to live. They end up shouting that they don't understand each other, making absolutely no headway in either direction in their argument. At the end of the song, they are exactly where they started, jaded to each other and misunderstanding each other.

    Now here are some interesting little themes, just for kicks (because I haven’t written enough already.)
    Jesus is portrayed as a Ghost, partially because he was portrayed as a ghost in the bible (in acts), but also because of what Christianity has done to him. The Unicorns are implying that Christianity today is only a ghost of what Jesus wanted it to be, and it is tough when it should love.

    Words are spelled wrong in the lyric booklet, not just because the person who printed this couldn’t spell. This is intentional. The words tuff luff are misspelled to imply that the concept of tough love that Christianity is trying to push on Nick’s faction doesn’t work, and that there is something wrong with it.

    Although the song is obviously biased towards Nick’s faction, it does not give them complete credo. It portrays Nick’s faction as being just as childish as Jesus’ faction. This theme of childish arguing is actually present throughout the album, most obvious in Child Star. It seems to be a part of the Unicorn’s view that we live in a world where the big players are acting more like kids than reasoning adults.

    If you like my wordy reviews, then I give you this bit of advice. Go to college, and you’ll be able to think and write like this someday too. If you’ve already gone to college, but still you can’t write like this, then go to college again and major in English the second time around. It’s fun, I swear!
    theladiesinmydreamson September 26, 2007   Link
  • +1
    General Commenti take this song literally. about a tough guy thats dead.
    vileforeskinon September 21, 2004   Link
  • +1
    General Commenti think it's "i want to hurt you"
    and i think it's "i can see right through you"

    at least that would make more sense.
    thejesstheoryon November 26, 2004   Link
  • 0
    General Commentwe only matter to ourselves
    could it be the tuff ghost is the only one who cares that he's a tuff ghost?
    ThePythonon October 11, 2004   Link
  • 0
    General CommentF U N
    ieatseedson October 25, 2004   Link
  • 0
    General Commentok nevermind i take back what i said
    thejesstheoryon November 26, 2004   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThe Unicorns are sooo unique! my boyfriend and i saw them open up for Bek Kweller at the House Of Bluse in Chicago and since then we have loved them. great band!
    just took me 4ever to find a place that sold their CD 'Who Will Cut Our Hair When Were Gone?'
    iluvmyfender129on January 01, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General CommentHe could be talking about a person running from a problem or the world and now he feels emotionaly dead so he floats around having lost his emotions.
    Truetton February 24, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI think that this song is about people who act like they're invincible, but they're not and you can tell. They make everything harder than it is.
    Arabellaon March 19, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General Commentthis song is so fun. i especially love the bass at the end. it's so groovy and spooky at the same time. i agree with the other interpretations. regardless, fucking sweet song
    clarkthe2ndon March 27, 2005   Link

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