"The Rat" as written by and Walter R Martin James Hamilton Leithauser....
You've got a nerve to be asking a favor
You've got a nerve to be calling my number
I know we've been through this before
Can't you hear me, I'm calling out your name?
Can't you see me, I'm pounding on your door?

You've got a nerve to be asking a favor
You've got a nerve to be calling my number
Can't you hear me, I'm bleeding on the wall?
Can't you see me, I'm pounding on your door?

Can't you hear me when I'm calling out your name?

When I used to go out, I would know everyone that I saw
Now I go out alone if I go out at all

When I used to go out I'd know everyone I saw
Now I go out alone if I go out at all

When I used to go out I'd know everyone I saw
Now I go out alone if I go out at all

You've got a nerve to be asking a favor
You've got a nerve to be calling my number
I'm sure we've been through this before
Can't you hear me, I'm beating on your wall?
Can't you see me, I'm pounding on your door?


Lyrics submitted by gilbag

"The Rat" as written by Matthew Frederick Barrick James Hamilton Leithauser

Lyrics © BMG RIGHTS MANAGEMENT US, LLC

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The Rat song meanings
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  • +2
    General CommentI think, like most songs, this song's lyrics can be interpreted in multiple ways. I like the lyrics of this song by the Walkmen, because unlike many of their other songs, they are descriptive enough to suggest a concrete interpretation without having to "fill in too many blanks." To me the most straightforward interpretation of the lyrics, even before having gone through such a situation myself, suggests they are written from the perspective of either a cheating spouse or partner, or the person with which the partner is cheating.

    From either perspective, it is then implicit from the lyrical content that the other party's actions have resulted in the transgression's being revealed to the other partner in the relationship, and likely to all of their friends (hence the title, "The Rat".) I tend to see it as being most clearly from the perspective of the individual who is not in the relationship (the mistress or .. Sancho?). This is likely because I have recently been this person. But I think it can easily be seen the other way (if I wrote the song, I probably would have tried to make it work either way.) For brevity I only explain the first perspective.

    When looking from the outside into such a situation, it is the tendency of most people to think of it in terms of the feelings of the partners of the relationship; however, try to assume the perspective of the mistress (or Sancho) for a second, and suppose you actually have feelings for the party in the relationship (if you're going "well I would never do that," suppose you didn't know they were in a relationship until several weeks after having met the person. Yeah, kind of sucks, doesn't it?) Suppose also that you, the cheater, and their partner have many of the same friends. The cheating partner always goes to social functions with their boyfriend/girlfriend, who expressly does not ever want to see you because of what happened. Furthermore, many of your previous friends now dislike you because of it. Both of these circumstances would explain the lyrics "When I used to go out, I knew everyone I saw, now I go out alone...".

    Communication and physical interaction are sporadic in general, they can cease without warning for days at a time ("can you hear me now, I'm calling out your name, can you hear me now, i'm .."), but since the cheating has been revealed, you have not heard from this person in a very long time. You are left to wonder if this person (the cheater) will ever talk to you again. When they do, your feelings are similar to the one's expressed in "you've got a nerve to be calling my number, you've.." Suppose they call you to ask you to not say something or to lie when asked about something. This makes you pretty angry.

    I think The Rat can be seen as a symbol representing "sancho" or "the mistress", in addition to symbolizing the one who divulged. The person not in the relationship feel as though they are "scurrying around in the dark" like a rat, and that they are also being treated like a piece of garbage. Their feelings are constantly belittled in comparison to the people in the relationship. Noone seems to care that much. (As I said one time in a frustrated text to a friend, "Sancho gets NO representation, GAHH.")

    I do also like leonspruce's interpretation of the lyrics.
    pbranchon September 24, 2012   Link
  • +1
    General CommentLiv was close. His lover left him, he tried to save things only to be ignored. Without her, his life was empty for awhile. Once he finally began to grow away from her, to move on and all that, she comes crawling back. I think it's safe to say that after someone puts you through something like that, your opinion of them changes dramatically.
    AngelDust20on October 30, 2004   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI know its not mentioned in the song but it sounds like he just got drunk dial by his ex. Anyway its also about how your life complete changes during a relationship. Thats what I see in it anyway.
    SomethingCleveron February 27, 2005   Link
  • +1
    General CommentThe song documents the process of recovering from ANY type of relationship. It's not about a breakup, not at all. It's about a woman backstabbing him, a best friend maybe doing him wrong, the fact is he hates this person now, thus the title (the rat) and he was in the process of moving on, until that phone call came in. You think that you'd be pretty upset if your cheating g/b friend called you to borrow money, this after they had just cheated on you.
    beatseekeron April 08, 2005   Link
  • +1
    My InterpretationThis song is full of so much passion and truth. It is about how there once was this guy who had a lot of friends and then entered into a relationship with someone he fell in love with.

    There relationship consumed one another, so much so, that his friends and contacts were lost. Eventually she leaves him (maybe she cheats, maybe she decides she wants to be more independent and on her own). He is completely devestated because he loves her so much, but there is nothing he can do to keep her with him. She's gone.

    Left with nothing but a broken heart, he tries to endure even though realizing he has not only lost his love but he has also lost a lot of friends, status and social skills.

    She eventually calls one day, and she regrets what she has done. This song exemplifies his anger and feelings about this call.
    leonspruceon September 13, 2010   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI'm not sure if he's got a right to bitter....sounds like he's the problem and he's stil lpissed
    gilbagon April 22, 2004   Link
  • 0
    General Commentno, he's got a right. i feel him. its like your screaming at someone and no matter what they do, they just dont see you, so finally you give up and just go out on yr own.
    saturnineon April 30, 2004   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI can totally relate to this.... it's complicated stuff, man.... Seems like the other person has lost his or her care, or at least he feels like they care no more.
    chwymnkyon May 01, 2004   Link
  • 0
    General CommentIt's like..yeah I fucked up...but I still need for you to hear me out dammit! 'One' mistake and you're so quick to through it all away...
    ophelia219on May 15, 2004   Link
  • 0
    General Comment..anyway you fucked up too. So just fuck it.
    ophelia219on May 15, 2004   Link

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