Five day forecast bring black tar rains and hellfire
while handpicked handler's kid gloves tear at the inseams
their Halliburton attache cases are useless
while scotch guard Macintoshes shall be carbonized
now they're offering views of exiting empire
such breathtaking views of Scythian empires

Scythian empire, horsemen of the Russia steppe
Scythian empire, archers of an afterthought
Routed by Sarmatians, thwarted by the Thracians
Scythian empire

Scythian empire, exiting empire
Scythian empire, exiting empire
Routed by Sarmatians, thwarted by the Thracians
Scythian empire
Kings of Macedonia, Scythian empire


Lyrics submitted by venisonslurpee, edited by Danny6612, john108200, sokorny

Scythian Empire song meanings
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27 Comments

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  • +3
    General CommentThis song is amazing. I'm so upset that no one has commented on it. Scythians were a nomandic people who resided on a steppe, and were part of ancient Iran. (Thank you, Wikipedia)

    There are some mirrors to modern things in the lyrics (Halliburton attache cases, scotch garud macintoshes). I believe iandrew Bird is talking about artifacts, and how ours are made of materials that will be forgotten in a thousand years, unlike the Scythian articfacts, which are beautiful and mysterious.
    holy_butterscotchon March 07, 2007   Link
  • +2
    General CommentThat's a fantastic insight. I never though about him putting in those images to compare w/ Scythian relics. I thought he was using those words, b/c they convey strong images, to tie his allegory to our modern American empire. I thought he was just making it clear that we're the exiting empire, this is our Apocrypha, and that it's nothing new.

    Also, I thought the line, 'routed by some Achaeans' was 'routed by summations.' I'm clearly wrong, but it just made sense to me that those words would follow 'archers of an after thought' and would refer to the idea this ancient empire that lasted thousands of years is now summed up, if even mentioned at all. Tie that theme into the earlier references and those Halliburton attache cases and scotch gaurd macintoshes will be equally irrelevant in history. It's hard to think Halliburton w/out thinking Iraq and the scotch guard macintoshes just seemed to me to be an kernal of an image of capitalism and consumerism, all of which will be equally irrelevant in the scope of history.

    can you tell I like this song???
    spmulliganon March 26, 2007   Link
  • +2
    General CommentFrom the Onion A/V Club Interview:

    A lot of [my] songs have a big leap, like there's two strains going on. In this case, it's my current state of mind, and then the mind completely wanders to a whole different universe, and I see how one might have something to say about the other. I was imagining this real-estate agent out on the Russian steppes. [Quoting lyrics:] "Offering views of exiting empires, such breathtaking views of Scythian empires." I've always been fascinated by these obscure corners of history. I sit there and look at maps of the ancient world, where there's so many of these fantastical names, tribes that you know nothing about. The Visigoths, the Gauls. And of course, the Huns. And they're always at the edges of the empires—they're shown as an arrow piercing into this empire. When I was in eighth grade, I got particularly fascinated by the Scythian empire, because they were a little bit lesser-known. And that became my thing. My identity in eighth grade was connected to the Scythians. So I resurrected them through this song.
    spmulliganon March 27, 2007   Link
  • +2
    General CommentOne comment about the "archers of an afterthought" line...

    Scythian horse archers used to ride past their opponents, then turn and fire into their backs. Scythian tactics. Archers of an afterthought. Get it?
    Cloverson October 07, 2007   Link
  • +2
    General Commentsupposablethumbs actually contributes to the song's relevance: I see the message as being one of the terror that ensues when comparing our mighty culture against others like us that have, without fail, fallen. By seeing the word Halliburton, though, you assume the most ethnocentric position possible, giving gravity to Bird's idea that it is extremely difficult to broaden perspective on our own empire.
    babbleon12on July 15, 2008   Link
  • +2
    General CommentIt seems it has been a while nobody comes here, but I love this song, and something that nobody mentioned here is that the beginning of the song is probably an allusion to a volcano eruption. Some of the most well preserved remains of ancient civilizations that we have today are due to them being buried by volcanos (viz. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/…). And ironically the same volcanos that preserved these remains for us to see today are also often responsible for the end of those civilizations as they were known. Hence "Five day forecast bring black tar rains and hellfire". And maybe all we'll be reminded for are Macintoshes that "shall be carbonized".
    whitetshirtguyon January 20, 2012   Link
  • +1
    General CommentOn second though, I wouldn't put it passed Andrew Bird to create a double entendre on routed by some Aschaens esp. following that archers of an after thought line.
    spmulliganon March 26, 2007   Link
  • +1
    General CommentAnd lets not forget that even if Bird is merely suggesting a point rather than outright saying it, that is an additional level of artistry for him to work with. He establishes a tension between the almost serene tone of the song and the substance of the lyrics. It seems to me that a lot would have been lost had he written, "Man, even though we're alive today and we are an extremely powerful nation, one day we'll all be dead and our empire will have gone to dust. Kinda like the Scythians." Don't punish him for being an artist.

    Having said that, I adore this song with my heart and mind. For me, the defining line of this song is, "Now their offering views of exiting empire. Such breathtaking views of Scythian empires."
    mcgee264on February 11, 2009   Link
  • +1
    General CommentMaybe the political overtones in his songs are unostentatious and subtle because they reflect how he feels about politics. Not every artist needs to hold passionate partisan political views.
    scammaj12on April 17, 2009   Link
  • +1
    MemoryThis song will always remind me of my granny, who died 5 years ago. A couple of days before she passed away in her sleep, we were listening to an interview with Andrew Bird. He also played some songs, including Scythian Empire. I remember my gran sitting in her comfy chair, enjoying it silently. Afterwards, she sighed "this is réal music". It was the last time we spent time together, and I'll never forget it. The first time I heard mr. Bird play this song live I bawled my eyes out, I still get teary when I hear it. Granny, I miss you...
    staralfur1on August 23, 2012   Link

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