"Rat Race" as written by and Steve (usa 2)/idol Stevens....
Wake me from my sleep
A cautionary tale
A walk in infancy
A way to derail
I wanted only you
The walls are falling down

And somebody says
Ah give a little love,
Give a little love
But take your time

Somebody sighs
Yes, give a little love,
Give a little love
But take your time

[Chorus:]
A private life
C'mon no
I said livin'
Gets to be
Just like a rate race
Rat race
C'mon
I'm a -read between the lines
Fierce struggle
A natural one
A tough job
Gets to be
Just like a rate race
Rate race
C'mon I'm a locked up in myself

Check before rising
Check before we work
Childproof the scene
No screams can be heard
The roof is caving in
The space between our hearts
The walls are falling down

And somebody says
Ah give a little love,
Give a little love
Take your time

Somebody sighs
Yes, give a little love,
Give a little love
But take your time

[Chorus]
It's a rat, it's a rat, it's a rat race
It's a rat, it's a rat race
It's a rat, it's a rat, it's a rat race
It's a rat, it's a rat race

Aah life
Living in a rat race
C'mon

Hmm, life
Are you living in a rat race?
C'mon
Here inside yourself

[Chorus: Repeat 2X]

I'm locked up in myself
I'm locked up in myself


Lyrics submitted by ListenToCKY

"Rat Race" as written by Steve Stevens Billy Idol

Lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc., BMG RIGHTS MANAGEMENT US, LLC

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Rat Race song meanings
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  • +1
    My InterpretationI think this song is fairly straight forward, life is a rat race. Conversely it has cryptic elements, a great example is the line from the chorus "I'm a read between the lines."
    Lets break it down and see if anyone else reads between the lines.
    The first verse illustrates a fading dream. "Wake me from my sleep, a cautionary tale. A walk in infantcy, a way to derail." Dreams are a great escape from life, especially if lucid dreaming is to be considered (this is personal interpretation, I don't think the lyrics themselves imply lucidity. Perhaps just an intense uncontrolled fantasy of the subconscious...) This verse draws to mind waking up from a pleasant dream that maybe conflicts with what the narrator should be focusing on or devoting his waking attention to. For me specifically, it seems like a dream of lust (it's Billy Idol for crying out loud, I cant help but think lusty thoughts) It's like the narrator is waking up in the morning and reflecting on a dream that is itself a cautionary tale of, well, lust. It can be seen as childish fantasy, but its a break away from mundane day to day routines. It's a freeing dream that focuses on the object of he narrators lust which is just out of reach now that the dream is over and fading as the day begins. The dream "walls are falling down" as it were as the dream slips further away from clarity.
    The second verse feels like its IN the dream. Or, daringly, its a manisfestation of the first verse' fantasy in real life. I cant quite tell. "Check before rising" feels like its before waking up...so I lean more towards still dreaming. "I Childproof the scene, no screams can be heard" It's the narrators world here, no rat race, no pressing deadlines or social ettiquette to abide by, its childproof and safe to explore this lusty escape. The last three lines is the instability of the dream. It's not real life. The dream is caving in as dawn approaches and dreams begin to dismantle as they do, blocking the imaginary playland available to the narrator that bridges the space which exists in reality between he and his dream muse.
    The bridge is interesting..."Somebody says/sighs, give a little love, but take your time" Perhapse saying to cherish and savor the dream-affair, take your time to explore this love, dont rush it and make it it's own rat race. Or, have you ever had a dream where you know someone is saying something, but its like a disembodied voice? This voice may be begging the dream to give a little more, please give me that love im longing so much for! But let me savor it, please dont let me wake!
    The straightforward chorus brings the contrasting real-world struggle view into place, sprinkling those "between the lines" lyrics throughout for good contrasting measure. Mixed among the lyrics which describe how much of a pain life is are a few seemingly out of place lines. "A private life" - A personal escape into dreamland. "Im a-read between the lines" - Ogres have layers! LOL Its more than a clue to the whole song being a dichotomy, its also an expression of there being more to the narrator than this day to day struggle. "I'm a locked up in myself" - The narrator is giving into this fantasy world and shutting the rat race out.
    BenignEgoon August 23, 2012   Link
  • 0
    General CommentGod I love this song! I think it's one of Billy's better ones, not as in overall, but just in general. Kinda sounds like my brain. But in the way I and a friend look at it, it's about society and people's reactions to things, as well as their personal feelings. And the whole "I'm locked up in myself" I think is just amazing. These lyrics are deep. I'm in love with this song.
    BallbreakerNYon December 28, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General CommentWhen I saw him perform this song live, it was in 2005 and he wore a shirt that had the American Flag on it, but it was in black and white and kind of somber-looking, and instead of 50 white stars it had skulls. He wore that shirt only for this one song. I think the song might be an outcry over the situation in the Middle East. Maybe he's against war, or maybe just this war.
    RedDollShoeson September 16, 2010   Link

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