"Welcome to the Occupation" as written by and Matthew Maust Nathan Willett....
Whistle blowers, gotta get outta school
They don't want poets they want pigeons on a stool

You're examining fossils, defending criminals
I'm clock watching getting dumb
Photographic models, a house painted solace
I'm like [Incomprehensible] in the sun

And I give up raising your kids America
You treat 'em like an obligation
Welcome to the occupation

The devil's in the details, devil's in the details
He's got your gold watch and chain
The devil's in the details, devil's in the details
He's got your gold watch and chain

Whistle blowers, we know how you feel
Public servants, surrender their free will
But you can't ban politics and work in the circus
You have to choose just one

You hold the nail, I'll swing the hammer
That's how things get done
And goodbye valedictorians, goodbye punks
Goodbye valedictorians, goodbye punks

And I give up raising your kids America
You treat 'em like an obligation
Welcome to the occupation

The devil's in the details, the devil's in the details
He's got your gold watch and chain
The devil's in the details, devil's in the details
Got your gold watch and chain


Lyrics submitted by life_aint_chess, edited by Mellow_Harsher, juliaha, markmo

"Welcome to the Occupation" as written by Matthew Aveiro Jonathan Russell

Lyrics © Downtown Music Publishing

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Welcome to the Occupation song meanings
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  • +1
    General Commentthis was loosely about a story the nathan heard. a teacher was teaching his subject and a student, clearly infuriated by his teaching, stood up and said, "I Don't have to listen to you, my Dad earns 5 x more than you!" and carried on. that teacher than quit his job days later.
    Also... Nathan Winlett was a substitute teacher before cold war began. so i guess it took a meaning on him.
    jacobstormon September 29, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General CommentJust a correction:
    You hold the nail
    I'll swing the hammer
    That's how things get done
    caekon September 23, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General Comment"But you can't be in politics and work in the circus
    You have to choose just one
    You hold the nail, I'll swing the hammer
    That's how things get done"

    genius, to say the least.
    bangyourdrumon September 29, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General Commentby far my absolute favourite on the album. anyway, when i read the lyrics i felt that overall the song is a summarization of discontentment with society, mainly american culture. "they don't want poets, they want pigeons on a stool" and "goodbye valedictorians, goodbye punks" i thought to mean that society doesn't put much value on intelligence and rebels because society just wants drones to keep the machine going. "..you can't be in politics and work in the circus, you have to choose just one, you hold the nail i'll swing the hammer, that's how things get done" i thought to mean that careerism really deprives people of creativity and we all have to be just one thing our entire lives at the behest of those who benefit from our choices, which are the people that strike the hammer down. the "devils in the detail, he's got your gold watch and chain" i thought can mean either that there are evils in daily life that we can't see because the watch and chain keep us hypnotized or that there are evils in culture that we'll do anything for because the demons hold a gold watch and chain, which can be an analogy for riches and wealth.

    oh and the lyrics aren't 100% correct, it should be:

    Whistle blowers gotta get outta school
    They don't want poets
    they want pigeons on a stool
    You're examining fossils, defending criminals
    I'm clock watching getting dumb
    Photographing models for house painter solace
    I'm like sisyphus in the sun

    And I give up
    Raising your kids America
    You treat 'em like an obligation
    Welcome to the occupation

    The devil's in the details
    devil's in the details
    He's got your gold watch + chain
    The devil's in the details
    devil's in the details
    He's got your gold watch + chain

    Whistle blowers, we know how you feel
    Public servants, surrender their free will
    But you can't be in politics and work in the circus
    You have to choose just one
    You hold the nail, I'll swing the hammer
    That's how things get done
    And goodbye valedictorians goodbye punks
    Goodbye valedictorians goodbye punks

    And I give up
    Raising your kids America
    You treat 'em like an obligation
    Welcome to the occupation

    The devil's in the details
    The devil's in the details
    He's got your gold watch + chain
    The devil's in the details
    Devil's in the details
    Got your gold watch + chain
    jasonthomas88on September 29, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General CommentAm I the only one who recognizes the genius of this song?

    The lyrics basically say that America doesn't want geniuses anymore, or people who can really help us. They just want pawns, or "pigeons on a stool",
    personmanthingguyon October 02, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General CommentSorry, didn't finish my last comment
    ,or "pigeons on a stool", who can entertain them. It's fine to want to be entertained, but when you have an obvious disdain for smart people, or even different people ("Treating your kids like an obligation", "goodbye valedictorians, goodbye punks") there's a problem with your country.
    personmanthingguyon October 02, 2008   Link
  • 0
    My InterpretationA criticism of society and the establishment?

    "They" - society/establishment - "want pigeons on a stool" - they want unintelligent subservient vermin who won't challenge the status quo.

    "They don't want poets" - society wants functional cogs who make active contribution's to society "house painter", "defending criminals" i.e. lawyer etc. as opposed to creative thinkers. The house painter's solace is photographing models i.e. he is unhappy with his functional role in society and takes solace in creativity.

    "Sisphyus in the sun" - S was an ancient Greek king who perpetually pushed a boulder up a hill only to watch it roll back down again - the narrator sees no point in teaching children, fostering creativity and intellect when this isn't what society wants (or, as part of society, the children want).

    "The devil" - the evil in society? America? the establishment? I liked jasonthomas88's idea about hypnotism and also about wealth. Looking past the veneer of a functional society, you can find evil in the "details" but we are hypnotised or perhaps too blinded by wealth to see this evil.

    "Can't work in politics or be in the circus" You must either choose to be part of society and function within its restrictions, or be an outcast - the idea of running away to the circus.

    "Goodbye valedictoriasn goodbye punks" - I'm English but I looked it up and I think a valedictorian is the best student graduating from a university in a year. So basically, we're losing our academics and rebels, because they're not deemed desirable by a society that favours pigeons on stools.

    Mint song. :)
    indiebopperon March 10, 2009   Link
  • 0
    General Commentwhen i first heard this i thought it was about the war. i didn't know nathan was a sub those kids didn't even know what genius they were in the presence of
    jasssson October 30, 2009   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThe genius of this song and I think this is one of the best lyrics they've ever written centers on the title. Welcome to the occupation. Occupation being of course your choice of career and also meaning subjugation by force.

    That idea alone is so simple and suprisingly no one has ever thought of. Your occupation in your career and your occupation by society.

    The money ties you to everything, your job is your subjugation. Honestly I think this is one of the most simple and best put thoughts I've heard. I've always liked the Cold war kids but some of their lyricson their albums I feel let them down. I hope they continue in this trend, because if their lyrics can match up to the music like this song does they will catapult themselves to the level of radiohead or modest mouse.
    matteo80on December 10, 2009   Link
  • 0
    General Comment
    8 min ago

    Rated 0
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    I dont know if it was too obvious for anyone to mention or over your heads. But no one mentioned anything about the whistle blower. In case you dont know what a whistle blower is en.wikipedia.org/wiki/…

    The term pretty much boils down to a "snitch" in the corporate world.

    "Whistle blowers, we know how you feel
    Public servants, surrender their free will
    But you can't be in politics and work in the circus"

    This means a whistle blower who would be considered a bit of a politician is making moral judgment calls. And these lines are saying you cant do that and still work for the corporations at the same time.

    "You hold the nail, I'll swing the hammer
    That's how things get done"

    These lines confuse me a bit cause I understand the whistle blower holding the nail but who is swinging the hammer and how? If anything it would be a judge swinging a hammer at the guilty party in the corp. But these lines read "I'll".
    Gaulton February 11, 2011   Link

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