"Gus: The Polar Bear From Central Park" as written by Robert Baker, Gordon Downie, Johnny Fay, Joseph Paul Langlois and Robert Gordon Sinclair....
What's troubling, Gus, you sound demented
Is it because someone talked and she told me
He no longer thinks anything that moves and
Everything he sees is something to kill and eat

What's troubling, Gus, is it nothing goes quiet?
The whip-poor-will at dusk

What's troubling, Gus, overhearing conversations
That it's because you're too either them or me
When it's either them or it's us, anything that moves and
Everything you see is something to kill and eat

What's troubling, Gus, is it nothing goes quiet?
Is that what's troubling you, Gus, the mere mention of the name
Used to be enough to make every bird stop singing
Is that what's troubling you, Gus, no one is afraid

What's troubling, Gus, is it nothing goes quiet?
Is that what's troubling you, Gus, the mere mention of the name
Used to be enough to make every bird stop singing
The whip-poor-will at dusk tells you no one is afraid

No one is afraid enough
Is it afraid
Or is it afraid enough?
It's troubling, Gus


Lyrics submitted by OpinionHead

"Gus the Polar Bear From Central Park" as written by Johnny Fay Gordon Downie

Lyrics © Peermusic Publishing

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Gus: The Polar Bear From Central Park song meanings
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9 Comments

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  • +1
    General CommentGus is actually the Polar Bear in New York's Central Park Zoo. And he actually did suffer from depression caused by his crampted quarters and the constant gawking.

    Downie wrote the song, inspired by the newspaper article as a reflection of our own fishbowl lives: "I know for a fact that polar bears, as a rule, and not even as a rule, unequivocally, want to kill anything that moves and eat it," he says. "So there's no sort of, I don't think there's any really taming them, really. And I think it's one of those things where, yeah, if you're up there in the tundra and you're moving around, the only reason it's not going to kill and eat you is because it's already full. There's something about that that's kind of compelling to me.

    "And we needn't look much further than our own lives, I guess. I guess you can expand upon those feelings and thoughts as much as you like when you see that. Which I guess is also about what we pay money to see or do."
    mdemenyon November 23, 2004   Link
  • 0
    General Commentup in Canada we have something of a bird-eye view of American politiks. i did read somewhere that this, like many Hip songs, takes a jab at making a political/historical statement, this time about US foreign policy in the post-9/11 world.
    "something to kill and eat" - invade, stabilize, govern to utilize resources, and eventually take it over.
    "is it because someone talked and she told me" goes with "what's troubling Gus overhearing conversations" - paranoia and conspiracy theories.
    "that it's because you're too either them or me/
    when it's either them or it's us" - the great unnamed "them" that must be feared, fought and conquered. plus, being only for oneself, having a country that thinks that they're under attack so they have to go out and save themselves before the darkside comes along.
    "is that what's troubling ya Gus the mere mention of the name/used to be enough to make every bird stop singing?/is that what's troubling ya Gus? no one is afraid enough?" - we used to be so powerful, and we're not going to lose it to anyone. let's get out there and reassert our might, show the world who's boss.
    "The mere attention of the name/used to be enough to make every bird stop singing" - we used to be able to quiet those rogue nations just by threatening to get the USA involved, but that's nearly forgotten now since "the whip-poor-will at dusk tells you no one is afraid".

    great music, so Hip. got my mom hooked...
    papyr_bag_princesson May 12, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI also believe that Gus is a metophor for the USA, but please don't say "we have something of a bird's-eye view of American politiks" - you sound just as arrogant as the you claim Americans to be. We don't take a "bird's-eye view" but we do observe, as the politics of the US affect us greatly. Don't get angry like every other Canadian just because Americans don't pay much attention to us. That doesn't give us the right to stick our noses up at them.
    Gord Downie, at one concert in Ottawa, said before they played "this is Gus, the metaphor from central park." Its an obvious metaphor for the decline of the United States as the worlds only superpower.
    IvoKenton June 29, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI was bouncing around Wikipedia recently and I came across this meaning...apparently this song is a heavily-veiled, metaphor-laden potshot at President Bush and the warrior-cronies in his administration.
    OpinionHeadon August 13, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General CommentEverytime I play this song, I think the first guitar licks you hear imitate the roaring of a polar bear.
    OpinionHeadon June 26, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentWicked song, and nice one papyr_bag_princess, way to make us sound retarded. Christ i mean "politiks" and there is a fricking spell check on this thing too!
    Waffleman24on May 07, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General CommentJust incase you havent noticed the U.S IS retarded!
    i cant wait untill grad school to get the hell out of this place!
    el torped0on August 14, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General CommentEven though I am a "silly American" The Hip are my favorite band and I see them every time they come to Cleveland. Can't wait to see them in May right after graduation.

    I have not lost all hope in the U.S. And although I would rather live in Canadia (lol) than in the United States, It is better to at least better to try and fix the system first.
    bighouse1347on March 26, 2009   Link
  • 0
    General Commentthe song is about two things imo first off i believe it is about the bear gus who lived in the central park zoo but more importantly i believe the song is about George Bush
    and how everyone used to be so afraid of the big red button but despite that 9/11 still happened and that has to be fucking terrifying as president. So to recap its probably a shot a George Bush
    21brewswi2on September 11, 2016   Link

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