"Shoulders and Arms" as written by and Graham Fraser Wright David Thomas Monks....
Another stone rolls over
The republic is just one more year older
But way out in the distance
We see your white boots glisten in the sun

We know you've come here with a plan
To lift our city out of ruin
Shoulders back and arms at our sides
We sincerely hope you know just what you're doing

Another stone rolls over
The republic is just one more year older
But way out in the distance
We see you draw your pistols and aim at us

At first we try to reason with you
But you suggest we say our prayers
Shoulders back and arms in the sky
We sincerely hope you live a better life

'Cause you, you're so calm
I don't know where you are from
You, you're so young
I don't care what you've done wrong



Lyrics submitted by imeryl, edited by P514sub

Shoulders and Arms song meanings
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  • +1
    Song MeaningI think this song is basically a story about a young man with good intents that eventually falls to corruption.

    The "story" has two parts each beginning with "another stone rolls over...". The first part is about the stranger's arrival.

    From the song I think the speaker is a lifelong citizen of the republic that has a lot of experience and is relatively old (he calls the stranger "young"). I think the city/country is a republic/democracy, but is failing, needing to be lifted "out of ruin". Then there comes the stranger from far away who has heard of their plight. I don't think the stranger knows anything else except from word of mouth, because he is "way out in the distance", symbolic of only having "seen" the depravity of the city from a distant glance. He has great ambitions and seems to sincerely want to help the city to become successful, "we know you've come here with a plan to life our city out of ruin". He has a plan in his head and believes strongly that it will work. The white boots glistening are a symbol of hope, an allusion to the final showdown scene of the old west movies where the hero makes his entrance before he defeats all enemies. However, at the same time, he he doesn't have the experience necessary to truly know the city's problems like the citizens do, only a general idea.

    It also seems he will have to cut some of the freedoms out as well, instead of allowing the representation of a republic. This is alluded to with "Shoulders back and arms at our sides", the image of the strict military discipline. The song seems to show them complying with the man, so I don't think it's a military takeover of any kind; it's just that his plan is strict. However, the people do show concern if his plan will really work to help the city, "we sincerely hope you know just what you're doing". They are doubtful that a random stranger who doesn't even live there can come in and just fix everything, but desperate enough to follow him, and he at least seems to have good intent.

    Then the second part begins, and one year has passed. However, things haven't gone according to plan, and the "republic" is now more of a dictatorship, shown in how he now must aim pistols at them, showing that they have some resistance to him. The pistols once again allude to the old west movies, but this time he is a bad guy, not the hero, aiming at innocent citizens. The "arms at our sides" becomes "arms in the sky", showing their loss of freedom and helplessness. Things haven't changed except the passing of time, "the republic is just one more year older". The repetition of this line emphasizes the lack of change. The plan obviously has not worked, and their freedom has been compromised.

    However, it seems the stranger doesn't want to acknowledge his plan is failing. He pointlessly continues to blindly follow his plan out of desperation. His lack of reason and the resultant cruelty to anyone who objects is shown in the lines, "At first we try to reason with you But you suggest we say our prayers". He so sincerely wants his plans to work that he becomes blind to reason.

    But the main surprise comes as the speaker assumes no hatred toward the stranger. He shows only good will, "we sincerely hop you live a better life". The last two stanzas show a forgiveness for the stranger's actions. He compliments the bravery and ambition the stranger showed at first, the "calmness" with which he carried with his confidence. He also understands that the stranger had nothing but good intents, and that good intents still drive him, even in his cruel acts. The speaker only faults the stranger's youth, his lack of experience. Thus, he cannot bring himself to blame the stranger, and believes that no one should be able to, no matter what wrongs he did, because they are only caused by inexperience, while his true intent has always been good and represents his true identity more than his wrongs.
    1q2w1qon May 20, 2009   Link
  • 0
    General Comment"We sincerely hope you know just what you're doing"
    thats my favorite part of the entire song :D
    Naciaon January 08, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General Commenti think this song could be a metaphor for anything, but it so deceptively simple, and thus, brilliant. tokyo police club is the best band in the world, because they write lines like "we sincerely hope you have a better life".
    paul_bankson February 07, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General CommentDefinetly about politics. Its almost coming from a passive citizen where they idly watch a politican work for leadership and where they just sit back and let everything happen. The line "I don't care what you've done wrong" just really gets me. That society will just sit back and let political injustics pass them. As long as someone else is working for them, they don't care what happens.
    theothertrailon June 21, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General CommentMy favorite TPC song, I love the lat 6 lines of the song.
    Aeonson September 22, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General Commentokay this song reminds me of a cowboy movie. Even though I know that's not what it's about...

    "But way out in the distance
    We see your white boots glisten in the sun", how the cowboy always comes to a random town.

    "We sincerely hope you know just what you're doing", just reminds me of scared towns people.

    "We see you draw your pistols and aim at us", don't even have to explain myself...

    "At first we try to reason with you
    But you suggest we say our prayers
    Shoulder back and arms in the sky
    We sincerely hope you live a better life", i think of towns people talking to the cowboy, some woman usually falls in love with the cowboy in the end of the movies and hopes he "lives a better life".

    "Cause you
    You're so calm
    I don't know where you are from
    You
    You're so young
    I don't care what you've done wrong", and finally, the cowboy is usually a calm nerved mysterious figure who has a "bad past" and doesn't expect anyone to forgive him for his wrongs.
    ExistanceIsFutile23on December 16, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General CommentTo me it sounds like this song could be about going to war. Mentioning "the republic" and coming "with a plan to lift our city out of ruin" sounds like invasion, as well as the image of shoulders back and arms at sides (like standing at attention), and the pistols aiming.

    I find this especially touching in considering the last few lines of the song. The party on the defensive side describes their counterparts as being calm and young, like they're military trained and carrying out orders and operations.
    "i don't know where you are from" and "i don't care what you've done wrong" are sort of heartbreaking comments on the ties between two combatting sides in war - so many faceless people fighting (not to mention civilians dying) without any personal reason to be hurting or killing others.

    Anyway that's how I read it.
    rosehillyeron April 26, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General Commentone of the best songs on a lesson in crime.
    the lyrics are amazing!
    christyx_ohon July 24, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General Commentone of the best songs on a lesson in crime.
    the lyrics are amazing!
    christyx_ohon July 24, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General CommentLook up the hollow earth theory, Richard B. Byrd, and William Cooper's talk on the Majestic Twelve. They came here with a plan to lift our city our of ruin.
    sweefomaticon September 22, 2008   Link

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