"The Handshake" as written by and Andrew Vanwyngarden Ben Goldwasser....
I just shook the handshake
I just sealed the deal
I'll try not to let them
Take everything they can steal
People always told me
Don't forget your roots
I know I can feel them underneath my leather boots

You toss all the mornings lost to the clouds and you watch it go
Your fair weather friends on a parachute binge get lost when the wind blows
The handshake's stuck on the tip of my tongue
It tastes like death but it looks like fun

I was a loner
I was just waiting by myself
When you, warped temptress
Rose to bring me happiness and wealth
Black tears, black smile, black credit cards and shoes
You can call all the people you want
But it's you who's being used

Under your black eyes, honey
Right beneath your nose
A curse on all creation
Every single thing you know
White smoke, white light, white marble on the floor
It would only take a few seconds of darkness to figure out what's in store
Little girl

You convince yourself that you want it, but you don't know
You keep trying to wash the blood from your hands, but it won't go
We're gonna keep you on the run

We got the handshake under our tongue
We got the handshake under our tongue
We got the handshake under our tongue
We got the handshake under our tongue
We got the handshake x15


Lyrics submitted by jjjonatron

"The Handshake" as written by Benjamin Nicholas Huner Goldwasser Andrew Wells Vanwyngarden

Lyrics © BMG RIGHTS MANAGEMENT US, LLC

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The Handshake song meanings
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  • +8
    General Commenthow the shit would this be about tripping? every freaking word is about money, materialism, fame, etc. all the things that come from signing with a famous record company. everyone who has posted talking about the spin article is right.

    it's annoying as fuck when all you hipsters sign on blazed as hell and think everything in the world has to do with any drug possible.
    keereeraron November 22, 2008   Link
  • +8
    Song MeaningEveryone posting here is saying that this song is about either taking LSD or signing with a record company. Have you ever considered that it could be a bit of both?
    I personally think this song is comparing signing with a record company to taking acid.

    "I just shook the handshake
    I just sealed the deal
    I'll try not to let them
    Take everything they can steal
    People always told me
    Don't forget your roots
    I know I can feel them underneath my leather boots"

    This is basically MGMT saying that they signed to a record company and that they're scared of selling out.
    They don't want to "forget their roots" and they'll try not to let the record company "steal" and change them & their songs.

    "You toss all the mornings lost to the clouds and you watch it go
    Your fair weather friends on a parachute binge get lost when the wind blows
    The handshake's stuck on the tip of my tongue
    It tastes like death but it looks like fun"

    I think here they're saying that they won't have any real friends (fair weather friends: friends who are only there for the good times) and they will all leave them when "the wind blows". In the next couplet they say "The handshake's stuck on the tip of my tongue, It tastes like death but it looks like fun" They are now comparing signing to a record deal with acid. It's stuck on the tip of their tongue. They are tempted to take it, and sell out and become famous and rich, because it looks like fun. When they say "it tastes like death" I think they mean to say that it's actually not as fun as it looks.

    "I was a loner
    I was just waiting by myself
    When you, warped temptress
    Rose to bring me happiness and wealth"

    I think here the "warped temptress" is the record deal. It "rose to bring him happiness and wealth." (But it didn't actually bring him happiness)

    "You convinced yourself that you want it, but you don't know
    You keep trying to wash the blood from your hands, but it won't go
    We're gonna keep you on the run"

    I think the first line is pretty self explanatory. In the second they're talking about people who sold out and they keep trying to "wash the blood from their hands" (I think the blood symbolizes guilt and their crime, like a murder) but it won't ever go away. By "we're gonna keep you on the run" I think they mean that they will try to run away from the temptation.

    "We got the handshake under our tongue"
    Reference to LSD but could also mean that he won't swallow the deal and accept it, and that he's hiding it under his tongue and he'll spit it out when no one's looking. But still, he's not sure if he really wants to.

    Well that's my interpretation. I don't necessarily think I'm right, everything is up to interpretation.
    Also, I just realized that this is actually a very long post. Thanks for reading it (if you did) :)
    Xtramintson September 11, 2011   Link
  • +3
    General CommentIt very well could be an interesting mixture of both. Let's not discredit others-- both sides are pretty valid points.
    feel me loudon June 12, 2008   Link
  • +3
    General CommentAndrew talks about this song in this month's Spin magazine. He said it is about reservation signing with their record label, and that they were thinking about patients in a mental hospital hiding their pills under their tongues and then spitting them out afterwards.
    hydraulic_hearton October 24, 2008   Link
  • +2
    General CommentSilly humans... The Handshake, clearly says it. He shook his hand with the devil and made a pack, sealed the deal.
    "People always told me
    Don't forget your roots
    I know I can feel them underneath my leather boots"

    He has Jewish roots, so on his family always told him to stick to his religion but he is a wild spirit, so he goes for something different. "We got the handshake under our tongue, We got the handshake under our tongue", is clearly stating that he made the deal trough his lyrics, trough music trough the words which spread to millions of people trough his tongue. I can't believe how ignorant and how fragrantly you guys listen to MGMT songs, they are so deep and mysterious.
    Psilocybin23on May 20, 2011   Link
  • +2
    My InterpretationI think the whole song is a reference to Goethe's Faust. That said it's reference to any contract - drugs, money and everything else they wanted.
    soregashion August 09, 2012   Link
  • +1
    General CommentPeople always told me
    Don't forget your roots

    When you, warped temptress
    Rose to bring me happiness and wealth
    Black tears, black smile, black credit cards and shoes
    You can call all the people you want
    But it's you who's being used

    This is obviously about signing with a record company and all of the temptation that comes with it. There are so many instances of this in the song. And yes, im sure there are some drug references but the majroity of this song is about making it.

    "You convince yourself that you want it but you don't know"

    come on guys.
    deathcabformelon September 20, 2008   Link
  • +1
    General Commentlol @ x debaser. you don't take acid UNDER your tongue.
    justinetruanton November 13, 2008   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI think this song is about drugs, or LSD in general.
    "We got the handshake under our tongue" - I think that has something to do with blotter tabs of acid placed on the tongue.
    And the whole warped temptress thing makes me think that the temptress is a symbol of LSD.
    I don't know, when I think about it, it all seems to fit.
    But that's just my opinion.
    This is my favourite song.
    MGMT are the best band in the world, all their songs give me goosebumps on my arms and leave a huge, goofy smile on my face. I don't care what anyone says, Andrew and Ben changed my life and I absolutely love MGMT.
    Psychedelic14on February 08, 2009   Link
  • +1
    General Commenti think this song is about doing ecstasy.

    "You toss all the mornings lost to the clouds and you watch it go"
    - you lose your mornings after doing ecstasy because you are up all night partying and sleep the next day.

    "Your fair weather friends on a parachute binge get lost when the wind blows"
    - a Parachute is a type of way to take ecstasy where u grind up a pill in toilet paper and swallow it.

    "The handshake's stuck on the tip of my tongue"
    - The parachute will stick on your tongue making it hard to swallow.

    "It tastes like death but it looks like fun"
    - If u have ever done ecstasy u know that it is one of the worst tasting drugs out there and the point of doing a parachute is so that u grind the pill up so it gets in your system faster but you don't have to taste it as much because its in the toilet paper. and ecstasy is really fun.
    jon96on June 12, 2009   Link

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