I guess you have to have a problem if you want to invent a contraption
First you cause a train wreck, then they put me in traction
first came an action and then a reaction
But you can't switch em' round for your own satisfaction
Well, you burnt my house down then got mad at my reaction

Well, in every complicated situation of a human relation
Makin' sense of it all takes a whole lot of concentration
Well you can't blame a baby for her pregnant ma
And if there's one of these unavoidable laws
It's that you just can't take the effect and make it the cause

Well, you can't take the effect and make it the cause
I didn't rob a bank because you made up the law
Blame me for robbing Peter, but don't you blame Paul
Can't take the effect and make it the cause

I ain't the reason that you gave me no reason to return your call
You built a house of cards and got shocked when you saw them fall
Well I ain't saying I'm innocent, in fact, the reverse
But if your headed to the grave you don't blame the hearse
You're like a little girl yelling at her brother 'cause you lost his ball

You keep blaming me for what you did, but that ain't all
The way you clean up a wreck is enough to give one pause
Well, you seem to forget just how this all started
I'm reacting to you because you left me broken hearted
See, you can't just take the effect and make it the cause

Well, you can't take the effect and make it the cause
I didn't rob a bank because you made up the law
Blame me for robbing Peter, but don't you blame Paul
Can't take the effect and make it the cause



Lyrics submitted by kipperjoe


Effect and Cause song meanings
Add your thoughts

36 Comments

sort form View by:
  • +1
    General Comment:One of my favorite Stripes songs. A little Bible reference in this one. I guess you guys know Jack almost became a Preacher before he hit it big, right?
    Roadhouseon December 13, 2007   Link
  • +1
    General Comment:The Iraqi war? Not a chance. Abortion, not even close. Ant7629 nailed it. So did surchekian.

    It amazes me how people take metaphors literally. The song is full of metaphors (fictional examples of what he is trying to say.) Many writers, poets, and lyricists use fictional ideas to illustrate an idea, and to get their point across. It takes a certain amount of intelligence to actually understand the concept of a metaphor. Not all people have what it takes, but that's ok too.

    I was watching TV when I first heard him perform this song for a live studio audience (he was actually sitting in the audience) on Conan O'Brien TV show. To me, it was obvious what he meant as soon as I heard the lyrics. I said to myself: "This needed to be said, and finally, someone nailed it!"

    Ok, now to sum up what I believe he meant, or rather, what it means to me (and it's simple): When you are the CAUSE of a problem, then you lose your right to complain about the EFFECT you get in return.

    I get it, because someone close to me is a master of causing bad scenes and then whining about other people's bad reactions.

    Here's another metaphor: If you punch me in the face, then don't complain about the baseball bat I just hit you with, or: If you stick your sword into my side, don't whine about the gunshot wound I gave you.

    To further sum it up: If you don't like really bad reactions, then stop messing with people.

    My grandmother used to say: "When you point the finger of blame at someone, you have 3 more fingers pointing at yourself".

    Gotta love this site. BTW, thanks to Ant and surch for restoring my faith in humanity.
    JoeDixonon December 18, 2007   Link
  • +1
    Song Meaning:Well, haha this song OBVIOUSLY has nothing to do with the war in Iraq. It's a fun, catchy song about a guy who's getting bitched at by his girl (either his ex or his girlfriend or his object of unrequited love) for reacting to her bitchiness. The greatest line ever is:

    I ain't the reason that you gave me no reason to return your call
    zeppelinkamikazeon November 13, 2008   Link
  • +1
    General Comment:How on earth do people take such an obvious (but brilliant) song and get war and abortion?

    It's about blaming somebody else for the outcome of your actions.

    I got it in one line there, was there really any need for the essays on Iraq?
    VortexOfLanguageon April 24, 2011   Link
  • 0
    General Comment:This song is very fun and catchy.

    you seem to forget just how this song started
    i'm reacting to you
    cos you left me broken hearted
    Bluestarson June 10, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General Comment:Pretty obvious meaning, you cant blame the person you fucked over for getting fucked over, as silly as it may seem, people do it all the time.
    King of Some Islandon June 10, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General Comment:Jack White is a genius. These lyrics are proof.

    "If you're headed to the grave don't blame the hearse"
    TheAbsolutionHowlon June 11, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General Comment:best white stripes song ever

    obvious meaning, don't do something and blame someone else for it, especially the person you're doing it to!
    IronBMikeon June 13, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General Comment:The lyrics to this are just a little bit wrong...


    I guess you have to have a probelm
    if you want to invent a contraption
    First you cause a trainwreck
    then they put me in traction
    well first came an action
    and then a reaction
    but you can't switch 'em around
    for your own satisfaction
    well you burnt my house down
    and then got mad at my reaction

    well in every complicated situation
    of a human relation,
    making sense of it all
    takes a whole lot of concentration
    well you can't blame a baby
    for her pregnant ma
    and if there's one of these
    on her auto applause

    its just that you can't just take the effect and make it the cause

    well you can't take the effect
    and make it the cause
    i didn't rob a bank
    because you made up the law
    blame me for robbing peter
    but don't you blame paul
    can't take the effect
    and make it the cause

    i aint the reason that you gave me
    no reason to return your call
    you built a house of cards
    and got shocked when you saw them fall
    well i aint saying i'm innocent
    in fact the reverse
    but if your heading to the grave
    you don't blame the hearse
    you're like a little girl yelling at her brother
    cos you lost his ball

    you keep blaming me for what you did
    but that aint all
    the way you clean up a wreck
    is enough to get one caused
    you seem to forget just how this song started
    i'm reacting to you
    cos you left me broken hearted

    its just that you can't just take the effect and make it the cause

    well you can't take the effect
    and make it the cause
    i didn't rob a bank
    cos you made up the law
    blame me for robbing peter
    don't you blame paul
    can't take the effect
    and make it the cause
    Shayla_take_a_bowon June 18, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General Comment:Awesome song. Jack's voice in this song is adorable. The lyrics are unmistakenly candid... and straight forward.
    rominaon June 20, 2007   Link

Add your thoughts

Log in now to tell us what you think this song means.

Don’t have an account? Create an account with SongMeanings to post comments, submit lyrics, and more. It’s super easy, we promise!

Back to top
explain