there's a guy I'd like to thank
he signs the checks and leaves them blank
he's the one

he says you don't have to walk a plank
the game is rigged, go fig your
slide show tanked, and your flagship sank

so we're taking all our myths to the bank
so just don't, don't forget to thank
we're taking our myths to the
drinking a fifth to the
we're taking all our myths to the bank, oh no

if you could just do him this favor
although it might involve child labor
join his entourage, give him a foot massage
from Star Search to the Philharmonic
he'll get you there with Hooked on Phonics
he's the one to know, doesn't matter if you blow
no, no, no, no, fact it's just the thing
he thinks we're needing
it's a lukewarm liquid diet they're force feeding
when the words we use have lost their bite
now they hit you like an imaginary pillow fight
oh, but it's all right, yea, cause you're inside,
and you're in tight

deals in commodities of the abstract sort
buys them in bulk but then he sells it short
talent, genius, love, even signs of affection
he floods the market, there's no price protection

and when his master plan is unfurled
there stands a handsome bid
on the weather systems, of the world


Lyrics submitted by hemptimes

Banking on a Myth song meanings
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33 Comments

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  • +2
    General CommentI guess you could relate it to record companies, but when you read the whole song it seems as though as it's about our capitalist governent, especially the last verse of the song, describing the impact it has not only on ourselves but our environment as well.
    JonnyCashon October 02, 2005   Link
  • +2
    General CommentI think this is Andrew's sideswipe at God and Religion

    The guy he'd like to thank --> God
    Who says you don't have to walk the plank --> Death
    Myths to the bank --> Religions are myths that people bank on
    Child labor --> Religions use children in their services
    Liquid diet their force feeding --> Forcing children into religions before they have the mental capabilities to decide for themselves
    Word's have lost their bite --> The Bible's morals are now outdated
    etc...

    All the words seem to fit perfectly under this interpretation for me, but use your own sense.
    PigWingon September 06, 2009   Link
  • +1
    General CommentMyths to the bank makes me think of cashing in on religion.
    Hyperboleon September 29, 2006   Link
  • +1
    General Commentweather systems.... the album he made and released while working on The Mysterious Production of Eggs.

    This song seems to mention in passing the demise of "Andrew Birds Bowl of Fire":

    he says you don't have to walk a plank
    the game is rigged, go fig your
    slide show tanked, and your flagship sank
    j.enslowon January 21, 2007   Link
  • +1
    General CommentTo me this song reeks of reference to the music industry and how they have made music a mere commodity to be bought and sold; with the right marketing, they can make artists that 'blow' (read: suck) sell albums because apparently consumers don't really care for really really good stuff (hence the lukewarm diet reference, being at neither end of the extreme (i.e. not being good or bad, just mediocre)).

    I think of American Idol whenever I hear this song; that show is one of the most amazing things I think, because it shows just how poor our culture's view of art truly is - it is something that can be created rather than allowed to grow on its own. That show is like an assembly line for mass-produced, passionless music.
    JasonBuntingon April 20, 2007   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI really, REALLY don't think that the political analogy-thing works.
    It's about the record industry. The MYTH is that people LOVE the overproduced crap that they're being sold by the record execs.

    It's a self-perpetuating cycle: People get tricked into buying into a certain aesthetic, therefore THAT becomes what sells ("Hey, that guy won star search... well he MUST be good!") Then you can't much blame the exec for making that kind of crap, can you? It's a good idea- makes money!

    Music IS the "abstract commodity"... when it's treated like a commodity. Execs are always on the lookout for "the next big thing", but are quick to drop an artist when they don't chart (buys them in bulk but sells them short (also by limiting them creatively)) This happened about once a week at Elektra Records in the Nineties... Spoon, Nada Surf, Clipse all signed, showing that "indie promise" but failed to chart and were subsequently dropped by Ronn Lafitte, who spoon wrote an EP for on Saddle Creek (their rebound label).

    All that to say, yeah... the pop charts today look like a lukewarm liquid diet being forcefed to the American public.
    mr.sozeon June 02, 2008   Link
  • +1
    My InterpretationThere appears to be a big disagreement over what this song is about. Religion, politics, or the music industry, but I don't actually think it's about either of these three exclusively. It's no argument that it's about a kind of all-encompassing power, something that is tied into every movement of the modern world, but I don't know if it's something as abstract as religion, or as shallow as politics. I think that the song is about corporate America.

    I believe "the one" is referring to a universal man-behind-the-curtain situation. The guy at the top of the ladder, the puller of strings, with contacts everywhere. The "Man", if you will.

    Taking a "myth to the bank" is referring to the grand illusion that we live in a real world. To most people, buying a pair of shoes is a fairly mundane experience. Go in, find what fits, buy it and walk out. The genius in this scheme is how cheaply they can mass-produce excellent shoes via sweat-shops using foreign child labor, and because they're a great deal when they make it to the supermarket we buy them without concern for what it took to make them, assuming they must have genetically engineered a shoe tree of some sort. Lord knows they can do anything with technology these days. Corporations are cashing in on America's short-sightedness, or banking on the myth, if you will.

    The next part of the song sounds like it is somewhat talking about the media culture, or politics. It doesn't matter what you have to offer the world, as long as you can follow orders and keep your mouth shut you can go anywhere. Everything that we get to see on the television machine has gone through so many hands that it is stripped of it's organic roots and made to fit the mold. Oh, yes, there is rebellion, there are truth speakers, because wave-makers make a lot of money. Rebellion is in fashion, and in the end, all of the money you invested in what seemed so real goes back into the hands of the top executives. Independent business people don't stand much of a chance, 'cause those guys can undersell anyone.

    Next line... "Deals in commodities of the abstract sort. Buys them in bulk but then he sells it short. talent, genius, love, even signs of affection. He floods the market, there's no price protection." I love this line, because it talks about creating a monopoly on human emotion. Everything has a price on it, the market for art is huge. I've always wondered how much real feeling can be extrapolated from something that has wriggled millions upon millions of dollars from people and put in back into corporate hands. This can apply to religion, too, "he" has cashed in big on that pony. It's not really a shot at religion in itself, but rather at how even the most personal and abstract principles can be bought and sold. Nothing is greater than, bigger than, more powerful than the machine. Not genius, not love, nothing. I believe that is the meaning of this line.

    And finally, when he has gotten his fingers into every other facet of modern culture, he will go for the laws of the environment. Eventually maybe even the laws of physics. Maybe after the money storm gets aggressive enough, the rain will fall up and trees will turn color in springtime. Hey, we're damn close with global warming, and you can't say there wasn't a market for that.

    Ultimately, I believe this song is about how modern culture will watch the shadows on the wall for as long as the puppeteers can pick it's pockets. It's a beautiful message, and in parts it reminds me of John Lennon's song Working Class Hero. Another song called False Advertising, by Bright Eyes, also has a similar message in places. I recommend looking up the lyrics to both, because they are beautiful, as is this song. Naturally, however, I'm skeptical of the facet of media from which they came. Whenever I hear a song like this it seems a little bit hypocritical to me, but at some point you just have to stop running, I guess.

    Ouch! That's an unfortunate point to end my post on. It's a great song, though, and I do believe Andrew Bird's music is one of the good things in life. I'm not going to compromise him to my paranoia. :)
    I hope you liked my first song interpretation.



    Greenlanderon October 12, 2010   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI agree with watchingdeerandbirds. Andrew Bird says the guy is dealing in commodities of the abstract sort ie saying that the money he's dealing with doesn't actually exist. It reminds me of how banks create money with loans. The lukewarm liquid diet lyric may also refer to liquidity of assets.
    apocarteresison October 29, 2010   Link
  • +1
    My Interpretation"he's the one to know, doesn't matter if you blow
    no, no, no, no, fact it's just the thing
    he thinks we're needing
    it's a lukewarm liquid diet they're force feeding"

    I don't know if I'm just being thick, but to me this is plainly about fellatio
    danny955on August 04, 2011   Link
  • +1
    Song MeaningThe song is equal parts whimsical and scathing allegory.

    The song is painting a picture of a devil or malevalent god. This subject deals in "abstract" commodities which include human qualities (genius, love, talent) or things generally uncontrollable by humans (weather systems). The economic terminology serves as a contradiction to draw the listener into the song: the things being traded are not fungible nor in the realm of man's control. Yet the terms mirror the feeling a listener may have about the near-omnipotent power of international banking, trading in the lifeblood of hapless plebs. The amoral ruthlessness of the banking industry reinforces our view of the Subject and the description of the Subject reinforces our views of the banking industry, while the two are clearly seperate constructs.

    A second, perhaps more compelling contradiciton is the music that plays as Bird sings "on the weather systems of the world". The Subject's workings have been efforts in teasing out mankind to be mediocre as possible (lukewarm, star search, doesn't matter if you blow). Yet ultimately what the Subject achieves from this work in mediocrity is something epic (weather system control) and is not reflected in the music as another step towards mediocrity but rather a stark change from the precussion-forward sensibility of the song to a sweeping, epic violin phrasing... the Subject is ultimately transforming the world in an epic way via mediocrity. This is, as stated at the beginning, a contradiction that doesn't have a clear cut meaning but allows the listener to ponder ways such an idea could unfold.
    starchyon September 17, 2013   Link

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