"The Temptation Of Adam" as written by and Josh Ritter....
If this was the cold war we could keep each other warm
I said on the first occasion that I met Marie
We were crawling through the hatch that was the missile silo door
And I don't think that she really thought that much of me

I never had to learn to love her like I learned to love the bomb
She just came along and started to ignore me
But as we waited for the big one and I started singing her my songs
And I think she started feeling something for me

We passed the time with crosswords that she thought to bring inside
?What five letters spell apocalypse??, she asked me
I won her over saying WWIII
Oh, we smiled and we both knew that she misjudged me

Oh Marie, it was so easy to fall in love with you
It felt almost like a home of sorts or something
And you would keep the warhead missile silo good as new
And I watched you with my thumb above the button

Then one night you found me in my army issue cot
And you told me of your flash of inspiration
You said, "Fusion was the broken heart that's lonely's only thought"
And all night long you drove me wild with your equations

Oh Marie, do you remember all the time we used to take
Making love and then ransack the rations
I think about you leaving now in the avalanche cascades
And my eyes get washed away in chain reactions

Oh Marie, if you would stay and we could stick pins in the map
Of all the places where you thought that love would be found
And I would only need one pin to show where my love is at
In a top secret location three hundred feet under the ground

Oh, we could hold each other close, stay up every night
Looking up into the dark like it's the night sky
Pretend this giant missile is a old oak tree instead
Carve our name in hearts into the warhead

Oh Marie, there's something tells me things just won't work out above
That our love would live a half life on the surface
So at night while you are sleeping, I hold you closer just because
As our time grows short I get a little nervous

So I think about the big one, WWIII
Would we ever really care, the world had ended?
You could hold me here forever like you're holding me tonight
I think about that big red button and I'm tempted


Lyrics submitted by imajar

"The Temptation of Adam" as written by Josh Ritter

Lyrics © EMI Music Publishing, DUCHAMP, INC

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The Temptation Of Adam song meanings
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  • +5
    General CommentThe science is the relationship.
    The silo is Eden.
    The bomb/the button is the apple.
    The apocalypse is sin.

    *Please don't read this if you will be offended by my agnostic viewpoint.

    BIBLICAL ANALOGY:

    This is a biblical analogy but it has been twisted so its implications and ramifications are backwards (I imagine purposely so). In the original biblical story of Adam and Eve, the apple signified sin but it also signified knowledge. If Adam and Eve gave in to temptation and ate the apple of knowledge they would be expelled from Eden to live and die as mortals. If they left the apple of knowledge alone they could've stayed in Eden for eternity. In choosing to eat the apple they were expelled.

    In Ritter's analogy it is Adam and Marie's desire to *remain* in Eden that is dangerous. They realize that if they eat the apple (explode the nuke) they will be free to remain in Eden (the silo) indefinitely. Unlike in Genesis where their expulsion from Eden is the damning moment, in Ritter's song their decision to remain eternally in Eden (the silo) would be the damning moment - not just for them but for all mankind. In making this suggestion Ritter is saying that knowledge must by necessity be the ultimate pursuit, even if it sentences us to loss and hardship. We must surface. If Men accept their own ignorance out of fear then we are a self-damning race. We may as well be 'pushing the button' on ourselves.

    SCIENTIFIC ANALOGY:

    Biblical analogy then merges with scientific analogy. In the bible the apple was infused with knowledge and if Adam and eve ate the apple they would also be infused with its knowledge. Genesis effectively treated 'apple' and 'sin' and 'knowledge' as one thing. Ritter doesn't do this. He recognizes that biting the apple (detonating the bomb) would be 'sinful' but that it would also be *ignorant*. It would grant no knowledge; rather, it would obliterate knowledge. This intelligent understanding is what Ritter's character Marie understands and tries to explain to Adam: "We already have the knowledge of the apple, Adam" she is trying to tell him. "We already know all about it. We don't need to sin (detonate the bomb) to be given its knowledge, because we already know."

    Chiefly, Adam thinks the bomb (apple) offers Marie and him the chance to remain eternally in the shelter of their love (the silo/Eden). This is why, when Marie talks to him of science - the science of nuclear warheads - she is also speaking metaphorically about the miracle of love. She is trying to help them both to understand that the apple (explosion and resultant apocalypse) doesn't contain anything for them that they both don't already have - they just can't understand exactly what they have yet. The science they know and the love they feel is beyond their comprehension. Marie, though, goes a long way to understanding both when she tells Adam of her "flash of inspiration":

    "fusion was the broken heart that's lonely's only thought
    and all night long you drove me wild with your equations"

    In layman's terms, Fusion is what makes nuclear reactions so devastating: If, on an elemental level, an atom is disrupted it can cause a chain reaction of disruption in all the particles surrounding it. Thus, a very big explosion. This reaction happens because an incomplete atom must seek to find completion, or to do something with itself. It will try to bond with or disrupt other atoms.

    Fusion can also be a metaphor for love: a single atom (single person) with a broken 'heart' is desperately lonely. So lonely that it will do anything to bond with another atom (person). It will thoughtlessly do *anything* - including, say, destroy the encroaching world in order to fully possess one other atom (person).

    SEXUAL ANALOGY:

    As though the depth Ritter has woven into his song weren't enough, he brilliantly includes sexual connotations as well. As J.R. said above, the missile can be seen as phallus and the silo as womb. Parting from this analogy slightly, I would argue that Ritter intended to draw vague parallels between clitoris and 'the button'. Adam is tempted by Marie and because he desires her he is also tempted to detonate the bomb, thus: "I think about that big red button and I’m tempted" can be seen sexually or literally.
    mayhiton September 22, 2008   Link
  • +3
    General Commentthe best part of the song is that the temptation of Adam isn't eve, its to blow the entire world up and keep their world underground isolated forever.
    amhereston August 03, 2010   Link
  • +2
    General CommentThe science is the relationship.
    The silo is Eden.
    The bomb/the button is the apple.
    The apocalypse is sin.

    BIBLICAL ANALOGY:

    This is a biblical analogy but it has been twisted so its implications and
    ramifications are backwards (I imagine purposely so). In the original biblical
    story of Adam and Eve, the apple signified sin but it also signified knowledge.
    If Adam and Eve gave in to temptation and ate the apple of knowledge they would be
    expelled from Eden to live and die as mortals. If they left the apple of knowledge
    alone they could've stayed in Eden for eternity. In choosing to eat the apple they
    were expelled.

    In Ritter's analogy it is Adam and Marie's desire to *remain* in Eden that is dangerous.
    They realize that if they eat the apple (explode the nuke) they will be free to remain in
    Eden (the silo) indefinitely. Unlike in Genesis where their expulsion from Eden is the
    damning moment, in Ritter's song their decision to remain eternally in Eden (the silo) would be the damning moment - not just for them but for all mankind. In making this suggestion Ritter is saying that knowledge must by necessity be the ultimate pursuit, even if it sentences us to loss and hardship. We must surface. If Men accept their own ignorance out of fear then we are a self-damning race. We may as well be 'pushing the button' on ourselves.

    SCIENTIFIC ANALOGY:

    Biblical analogy then merges with scientific analogy. In the bible the apple was infused with knowledge and if Adam and eve ate the apple they would also be infused with its knowledge. Genesis effectively treated 'apple' and 'sin' and 'knowledge' as one thing. Ritter doesn't do this. He recognizes that biting the apple (detonating the bomb) would be 'sinful' but that it would also be *ignorant*. It would grant no knowledge; rather, it would obliterate knowledge. This intelligent understanding is what Ritter's character Marie understands and tries to explain to Adam: "We already have the knowledge of the apple, Adam" she is trying to tell him. "We already know all about it. We don't need to sin (detonate the bomb) to be given its knowledge, because we already know."

    Chiefly, Adam thinks the bomb (apple) offers Marie and him the chance to remain eternally in the shelter of their love (the silo/Eden). This is why, when Marie talks to him of science - the science of nuclear warheads - she is also speaking metaphorically about the miracle of love. She is trying to help them both to understand that the apple (explosion and resultant apocalypse) doesn't contain anything for them that they both don't already have - they just can't understand exactly what they have yet. The science they know and the love they feel is beyond their comprehension. Marie, though, goes a long way to understanding both when she tells Adam of her "flash of inspiration":

    "fusion was the broken heart that's lonely's only thought
    and all night long you drove me wild with your equations"

    In layman's terms, Fusion is what makes nuclear reactions so devastating: If, on an elemental level, an atom is disrupted it can cause a chain reaction of disruption in all the particles surrounding it. Thus, a very big explosion. This reaction happens because an incomplete atom must seek to find completion, or to do something with itself. It will try to bond with or disrupt other atoms.

    Fusion can also be a metaphor for love: a single atom (single person) with a broken 'heart'
    is desperately lonely. So lonely that it will do anything to bond with another atom (person). It will thoughtlessly do *anything* - including, say, destroy the encroaching world in order to fully possess one other atom (person).

    SEXUAL ANALOGY:

    As though the depth Ritter has woven into his song weren't enough, he brilliantly includes sexual connotations as well. As J.R. said above, the missile can be seen as phallus and the silo as womb. Parting from this analogy slightly, I would argue that Ritter intended to draw vague parallels between clitoris and 'the button'. Adam is tempted by Marie and because he desires her he is also tempted to detonate the bomb, thus: "I think about that big red button and I’m tempted" can be seen sexually or literally.
    mayhiton September 22, 2008   Link
  • +1
    General Commentwhat an example of Josh Ritter's incredible songwriting ability. This song is funny, sad, a love song....I like the way he humourously and coyly ties in a subject as serious as nuclear war.

    Love it!
    bee_6on August 08, 2007   Link
  • +1
    General CommentWhen I got my copy of "Conquest" in the mail, I had to check and make sure this song wasn't spelled "The Temptation of Atom". I also love that Josh pronounces the Roman numerals III as "ay yi yi", a universal expression of mild alarm. Masterful wordplay.
    dot50on September 04, 2007   Link
  • +1
    My InterpretationPerhaps the song refers to an illicit love affair between the singer and Marie; the bomb being the singer's wife. WWIII, as the explosion of this bomb, would refer to the singer's leaving of his wife for Marie. Just as Adam was tempted by Eve into sin, Marie tempts the singer to leave his wife and commit the sin of adultery. The 'inspiration' may refer to the words that Satan tempted Eve with. The singer's fear is that on the surface, when the wife knows, their love will fizzle out as it is their being in a missile silo (a secret location) that excites them - he fears that their love is dependent on its illicit nature.

    But, its more likely that the song, as you guys have already said below, is a simple story about a man who would destroy the world to stay with his lover in a fall-out shelter forever.
    JohnnyFandangoon January 18, 2009   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI think this is the most beautiful apocalyptic love song I will ever hear. Good grief. I think it's an allegory about whether you want love and peace or war and desolation.
    tdamcbigityon July 28, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI think its a cute little tale of a man and woman who operate some missile silo and he is so tempted to launch the nuke and start WWIII so that they can be stuck down int he silo together.
    finjonnyon August 03, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General CommentMarie = Marie Curie? I've been assuming so.
    geekusaon September 11, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General CommentLove can make you selfish and short-sighted. He would rather see the world end than this love he feels. They are in an environment that he feels makes it easy for her to love him in return, but away from it he has his doubts. Any jealous partner wants to keep their beloved from outside temptations!
    fool_says...on September 13, 2007   Link

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