"Living Well Is The Best Revenge" as written by and Mike Mills Peter Buck....
It's only when your poison spins into the life you'd hoped to live
That suddenly you wake up in a shaking panic, wow!
You set me up like a lamb to slaughter
Garbo as a farmer's daughter
Unbelievable, the gospel according to who?
I lay right down.

[Chorus]
All your sad and lost apostles
Hum my name and flare their nostrils
Choking on the bones you toss to them
Well I'm not one to sit and spin
Cause living wells the best revenge
Baby, I am calling you on that

Don't turn your talking points on me,
History will set me free
The future's ours and you don't even read the footnote now!
So who's chasing you? Where did you go?
You disappeared mid-sentence
In a judgment crisis I see my anecdote for it
You weakened shell

[Chorus]

You savor your dying breath
Well, I forgive but I don't forget
You work it out, let's hear that argument again
Camera three, go now!

[Chorus]

Baby, I am calling you on that
Baby, I am calling you on


Lyrics submitted by monkeysuncle

"Living Well Is the Best Revenge" as written by Mike Mills Peter Buck

Lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc., Universal Music Publishing Group

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Living Well Is The Best Revenge song meanings
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11 Comments

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  • +1
    General CommentInteresting theory, fanman.
    In my opinion, however, this song is a social and political protest levelled directly at the Bush administration.
    "All your sad and lost apostles... choking on the bones you tossed to them" would then refer to Cheney, Gonzales and all the other Bush allies.
    "History will set me free... and you don't even rate a footnote, now" could mean that history would judge Bush harshly, as bad and ultimately insignificant leader.
    Quotes like "you disappear midsentence in a judgement crisis" and "you work it out. let's hear that argument again. camera 3. go. now" seem to question Bush's judgement and ability to actually present a convincing case for his point of view (without resorting to violnce).
    Generally, "Accelerate" seems to me to be a very politically charged album. Songs like Houston ("If the storm doesn't kill me, the government will"), Mr Richards ("Mr Richards, you're forgiven for a narrow lack of vision") and Until the day is done ("the verdict is dire, the country's in ruins") are full of Stipe's brilliantly bitter social critisism. But then again, that's just my point of view ;).
    woland2006on April 05, 2008   Link
  • +1
    General CommentHey Woland ... stop beating around the "Bush." :) That is EXACTLY what this song and many of the others on this wonderful socially-critical album are trying to make.

    Unlike most of the his past political commentary, which oft-times was wrapped in complete metaphor, this time Michael is wielding a very blunt hammer, derisively disregarding Bush and the rest of the red state, red meat crowd who blindly lapped up the bones that were being thrown to them without much of a thought. Stipe constantly mocks all of those on this album, including the line:
    " all your sad and lost apostles
    hum my name and flare their nostrils"
    which I think is his own personal vindication for the way Stipe the political activist as well as others, like the Dixie Chicks, were treated back in the hey-day of the Iraqi war, when they were contemptuously dismissed by those with "flaring nostrils" who could never think for themsleves.
    peacefrogxon April 07, 2008   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI think the criticism in this song is being leveled against the sexual hypocrisy of the religious right, hence the strong innuendo of

    All you sad and lost apostles
    Hum my name and flare their nostrils
    Choking on the bones you toss around

    With the "bone" being "tossed around" alluding to the apes in 2001: A Space Odyssey, as well as to a "boner" (flash back "HUM my name").

    In general, it paints the religious right as atavistic, and deftly employs images of the evolution of the species against them, implying their antipathy towards that theory is largely due to the fact that they're getting left behind. And, as we've seen so often, they keep getting caught with their pants down, doing things they would condemn others for and would legislate against.

    Not seeing much in this song specifically aimed at the Bush administration, but of course, they pander to these sorts
    dakinion April 28, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI think the political meanings is far more likely. I hadn't thought of the dixie chicks type of link but it makes sense now I think of it. 'you don't even rate a footnote' has got to be directed at Bush or Cheney.
    ramshotelon April 13, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General CommentWhile the song certainly is related to the Bush Administration, I believe the song is actually about the media and what Michael believes has been its pandering to Bush. "You disappear midsentence in a judgment crisis . . . you weakened shill" makes it most clear to me - as if the only thing worse than the Bush Administration are those who promote it. The American public are the "sad and lost apostles" that are "choking on the bones" tossed to them by the media, little sound bites and talking points that unfortunately shape the opinions of millions.

    Just my two cents.
    EBrown9810on May 08, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General CommentJudging by most of Stipe's songs I'd say this has a political meaning, but personally when I read it the first thing I could think of was religion, almost as if he's standing up to Jesus and saying "who are you to judge or guide my life, I'm going to live the way I want to", he talks about the apostles all humming his name perhaps all gunning for him, but he doesn't care he just wants to live his life.


    (no offence intended to anybody just my take on the song)
    Cyberghoston April 22, 2009   Link
  • 0
    General CommentRegardless of who this specifically targets, it's a great little song for anyone who's put down by "the man." The message is clear: No matter how much you hurt me, no matter how much you try to take from me, I know that I am right and will not let you ruin my life because I am stronger than that. Beautiful.
    ninecarpalson May 25, 2009   Link
  • 0
    General CommentEbrown is dead on target with this one, IMO. It's definitely about the media, and probably inspired by the Glen Beck/Rush Limbaugh-type demagogues who "toss bones" to their listeners who will basically believe anything they hear. It sounds like Stipe is coming from the POV of someone who's been the target of that sort of media propaganda, someone who fought back and was vindicated ("you disappear midsentence in a judgment crisis...I see my in and go for it"). He may or may not have a specific situation in mind or it might even be fictional, but it was probably politically inspired knowing Stipe.
    Elevationon August 02, 2010   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI saw it as an end to an ugly relationship ruined by the other party, and their group of friends. Living Well is the Best Revenge indeed! I live that everyday.

    The beautiful thing about abour Stipes lyrics is the room for interpretation. The whole album was outstanding, their best work to date (surpassing Document to me).
    Surferjeron October 27, 2010   Link
  • 0
    General CommentAgree with elevation and ebrown that this song is about right wing pundits. But specifically, pretty sure this song is actually from the point of view of Jesus who is talking to a well know right wing pundit in the last moments of the pundits life. And Jesus is not pleased with the way he threw Jesus' name around. Fantastic lyric.
    tugidon January 14, 2012   Link

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