"Two Tribes" as written by and Peter Gill Mark O'toole....
The air attack warning sounds like
This is the sound.

When you hear the air attack warning
You and your family must take cover

Let's go

*When two tribes go to war
A point is all you can score
Score no more
Score no more
When two tribes go to war
A point is all you can score
Working for the black gas

Cowboy No. 1
A born-again poor man's son
Poor man's son
On the air America
I modelled shirts by Van Heusen-yeah
Working for the black gas

You know


Working on the black gas

Switch off your shield
Switch off and feel
I'm working on loving-yeah
Giving you back the good times
Ship it out-out
I'm working for the black gas

Tell the that you're winning
Love and life
Love and life

Listen to the voice sing
Follow me
Listen to the voice sing
Follow me


We got two tribes
We got the bomb
We got the bomb-yeah
Sock it to me biscuits-now

Are we living in a land
Where sex and horror are the new Gods?

When two tribes go to war
A point is all you can score

Lyrics submitted by Ramagamma

Two Tribes song meanings
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  • +3
    Song MeaningA version of "Two Tribes" was originally recorded for a BBC John Peel session in October 1982. The session version makes clear that the basic structure of the song, including its signature bass-line, percussion arrangement and idiosyncratic introductory and middle eight sections, were already intact prior to any involvement from ZTT or eventual producer Trevor Horn.The song's title derives from the line "when two great warrior tribes go to war", from the film Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior (the line is also spoken by Holly Johnson at the beginning of the session version).
    The single was released at the height of the Cold War, when general fears about global nuclear warfare were at a peak. Although Johnson would attest in a 1984 radio interview that the "two tribes" of the song potentially represented any pair of warring adversaries (giving the examples of "cowboys and Indians or Captain Kirk and Klingons"), the song does contain the line "On the air America/I modelled shirts by Van Heusen", a clear reference to then US President Ronald Reagan, who had advertised for Phillips Van Heusen in 1953 (briefly reviving the association in the early 1980s), and whose first film had been titled Love Is On The Air.
    Johnson also noted: "There's two elements in the music – an American funk line and a Russian line. It’s the most obvious demonstration of two tribes that we have today.To accentuate this inherent musical tension, Horn juxtaposed the driving funk/rock rhythm section with a dramatic formal string arrangement and plenty of orchestral stabs, a novel technique that Horn himself had pioneered the previous year in producing Yes's "Owner of a Lonely Heart".
    ZTT aggressively marketed the single in terms of its topical political angle, promoting it with images of the group wearing American military garb in combat, as well as Soviet-style army uniforms set against an American urban backdrop.
    The original cover art featured a Soviet mural of Lenin and images of Reagan and then-UK Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. The sleeve notes, attributed to ZTT's Paul Morley, dispassionately reported details of the relative nuclear arsenals of each superpower and the unknown power of "synergisms". The various mixes were subtitled in terms of the expected aftermath of nuclear conflict.

    The Godley & Creme-directed video depicted a wrestling match between then-President Ronald Reagan and then-Soviet leader Konstantin Chernenko for the benefit of group members and an eagerly belligerent assembly of representatives from the world's nations, the event ultimately degenerating into complete global destruction. This video was played several times at the 1984 Democratic National Convention. Due to some violent scenes ("Reagan" biting "Chernenko"'s ear, etc.), the unedited video could not be shown on MTV, and an edited version was substituted.

    A longer version of the video (based on the "Hibakusha" mix) included an introductory cut-up monologue by Richard Nixon taken from an ad from his 1960 US Presidential campaign ("No.. firm diplomacy... No.. peace for America and the world"), plus similar contributions from other world leaders, including Lord Beaverbrook, Yasser Arafat and John F. Kennedy. The complete soundtrack to the extended video was eventually released as "Two Tribes (Video Destructo)" on the German version of the Twelve Inches compilation. A third version of the video, included on the band's compilation of videos, retains the introduction, but loses most of the inserted clips in the main wrestling sequence.
    sepultura1987on December 02, 2011   Link
  • 0
    General CommentTwo nations go to war, use nuclear weapons and if you score against your enemy, you can't score anymore because ther will be no more people to play in the game of war.
    monster36604on January 27, 2009   Link
  • 0
    General CommentOnly 1 comment for this!?
    It's pretty evident what the song is about,and the video just reinforces it with the American and USSR presidents fighting in a ring...
    donexileon November 20, 2009   Link
  • 0
    General CommentWell the verse "Cowboy number 1,a born again poor man's son, on the air america, i modelled shirts by van heusen..working for the black gas" is clearly a mini biography of the then US presedent Ronald Reagan.
    jimmyukon April 04, 2010   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThe thing about this song is while it does specifically refers to and trashes the conflict between America and the Soviet Union, it is still a message that can be applied to any ideological conflict where the conflict is about who is better and why they should conform to their expectations and demands. That is what hurts people the most, is expectations and demands of conformity. That is the most harmful thing of all, because it's okay to hurt people to force them to conform when you don't do anything wrong and you're better than everybody else.
    Clockeron July 11, 2017   Link

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