"Ballad of a Politician" as written by and Regina Spektor....
A man inside a room is shaking hands with other men
This is how it happens
Our carefully laid plans

Shake it, shake it baby
Shake your ass out in that street
You're gonna make us scream someday
You're gonna make it big

You love so deep, so tender
Your people and your land
You love 'em 'till they can't recall
Who they are again

Work it, work it baby
Work your way 'round that room
You're gonna make it big some day
You're gonna make a boom

But I am
But I am
But I am not a number, not a name

But I am
But I am
But I am a carefully laid plan

Shake what your mama gave you
You know that it won't last
You're gonna taste the ground real soon
You're gonna taste the grass

A man inside a room is shaking hands with other men
This is how it happens
Our world under command

Shake it, shake it baby
Shake your ass out in that street
You're gonna make us scream someday
You're gonna make us weak

You're gonna make us scream someday
You're gonna make it big


Lyrics submitted by incurable_humanist, edited by septen

"Ballad of a Politician" as written by Regina Spektor

Lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

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Ballad of a Politician song meanings
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  • +4
    General CommentOk, i feel really strongly about this song, so although my interpretation below LOOKS long, please bear with me:

    To me, this song is comparing the deceitful scheming of certain breeds of politicians to the slutty behaviours of prostitutes/strippers/porn stars who want to be famous.

    "A man inside a room is shaking hands with other men
    This is how it happens
    Our carefully laid plans/Our world under command"

    -This sounds like a leader or president-type figure supposedly negotiating or making agreements with those of other nations, but having a darker plan of his own in mind.

    "Shake it, shake it baby
    Shake your ass out in that street
    You're gonna make us scream someday
    You're gonna make it big"

    -Like a hooker or crack whore, the politician is putting on a sleazy show to satisfy the people, when behind it all, he is greedy and ruthless with nasty intentions. "make us scream" could mean scream in excitement the way an audience does during a performance, or scream in fear as a nation plummets towards disaster.

    "You love so deep, so tender
    Your people and your land
    You love 'em 'til they can't recall
    Who they are again"

    -This describes (with sarcasm) the phoniness of the politician's persona... he portrays himself as caring and loyal to his country and people, but he's actually fooling them all and marching them towards sure doom.

    "Work it, work it baby
    Work your way 'round that room
    You're gonna make it big one day
    You're gonna make a boom"

    -Similar to the "shake it" verse, but the emphasis on the "boom" really caught my attention. This might be a little over-analytical, but it made me think of a nuclear bomb... possibly a part of the politician's evil plot?

    "Shake what your mama gave you
    You know that it won't last
    You're gonna taste the ground real soon
    You're gonna taste the grass"

    -The first line in this verse is obviously very dingy pop culture/hollywood/hip-hop, like the environment in which a young wreck of a woman would be trying to make it big as a cheap actress, or whatever... "it won't last" could mean the youth, good looks, and appeal of the skanky woman will diminish as she ages or gets swallowed up in too many drugs. it could also mean that the politician's plan probably isn't as sturdy or reliable as he predicted. he'll soon be found out and chastised for the havoc he's causing.

    i usually try not to over-analyze or rip apart a song to learn all its secrets... because Regina herself always says, songs are like a bowl of apples in a painting. you may not know exactly why it makes you feel a certain way, but you like that bowl of apples and you shouldn't tarnish that inexplicable enjoyment by persistently trying to figure out WHAT the apples mean, or WHY they're red... This song, though, just put a really clear picture in my head as soon as I heard it and I've been eager to write my thoughts about it down somewhere. I'm totally open to other interpretations and I'm curious to hear if anyone thinks of this song in a similar way?
    HeyMomIFoundADimeon October 14, 2009   Link
  • +4
    General CommentEarlier (Before the album came out), when Regina performed this song live, she called it “Ballad of a Lovable Dictator”(youtube.com/…)
    I think it’s loosely based on Hitler, but can be applied to other dictators/politicians.

    ”Shake it, shake it baby
    Shake your ass out in that street
    You're gonna make us scream someday
    You're gonna make it big”

    ...Here, I think she’s comparing how Hitler brainwashed the Nazis into helping orchestrate something as terrible as the Holocaust to how a stripper uses her body to make her audience “scream”
    Similarly, like a stripper, a dictator uses his tricks and schemes to “make it big”

    ”You love so deep, so tender
    Your people and your land”

    ...Hitler is known for his oratory skills; he could sweet talk anybody into doing what he wanted them to. He gathered a huge following simply by making false promises and convincing the people that he had their best interests at heart. I think this is what Regina is taking a jibe at.

    “You love 'em 'til they can't recall
    Who they are again”

    ...The extent to which Hitler brainwashed the Nazis was so large that they lost their ability to think/make choices for themselves.

    ”You're gonna make a boom”

    ..."boom”, here probably refers to the Holocaust.

    ”But I am not a number, not a name
    But I am a carefully laid plan”

    ...Here, “I” = The Jew. Many concentration camps gave the prisoners numbers, and some even tattood the numbers on them. I’m guessing that’s what she is referring to here.

    ”Shake what your mama gave you
    You know that it won't last
    You're gonna taste the ground real soon
    You're gonna taste the grass”

    ...I guess she’s talking to the dictator here? Saying that his regime won’t last too long, and that he has to fall soon enough.

    Well, that’s my interpretation, but the beauty of the song lies in the fact that it means different things to different people. The new album is fantastic, btw… ;)
    aksharaon May 31, 2012   Link
  • +2
    General CommentI think this song is...well...as the title says, a "ballad of a politician." In a way, a politician may not see theirselves as a person, "a name/number" like most people...they see themselves as "a plan," a carefully laid out scheme to make it. Think of how seriously we take people's pasts--hell, I have no idea how many times I heard shit about Bush POSSIBLY taking cocaine while in the army, as well as Obama's POSSIBLE ties to Islam. In a way, a politician must carefully plan out his/her life from beginning to end.

    As for the sexual innuendos "Shake it, shake it baby / Shake your ass out in that street" is possibly a metaphor for how politicians strut their assets in order to get elected--show off their experience, ideas, and what makes them great. She links it to prostitution and promiscuity because campaigning is very much the same.

    "You love so deep, so tender
    Your people and your land
    You love 'em 'til they can't recall
    Who they are again"

    This is the line that speaks to me most. It shows how politically divided we are. Politicians run and constantly claim that they love America, on both sides, and yet the people on both sides get to the point where they forget that they all are the same people--it becomes a matter of political ideology, "I'm more [blank] than you" so to speak.
    loverly23on August 21, 2010   Link
  • +2
    General Commentwell knowing that regi is russian jewish, she would know lots about the holocaust, so i think its about hitler. hes the prostitute so to speak. i am using this song on my project on the book Night. i totally agree with Heymomifoundadime. hes got it pretty much explained. BEST SONG EVER:):):)
    astridgaminoon November 05, 2011   Link
  • +2
    My InterpretationI think this is a very interesting song with several stages. In the first part of the song the politician lays a careful plan and wins the hearts of the people, causing them to forget who they are.

    Then comes this part:

    "But I am
    But I am
    But I am not a number, not a name

    But I am
    But I am
    But I am"

    Since the rest of the song is told from an outside perspective we can assume that the "I" is the narrator, not the politician. Given Regina's Jewish background it seems reasonable to assume that this could be a reference to Nazi style prison camps, in which people are just numbers.

    The narrator is fed up with this and says "I am a carefully laid plan." I feel this means that the people then plan to rise up and overthrow the cruel leader.

    I agree with the other interpretations that this song is about a politician who is misusing his powers. However, I wanted to mention one very interesting reference that no one else really went into.

    "You know that it won't last
    You're gonna taste the ground real soon
    You're gonna taste the grass"

    I think the first part about tasting the ground is referring to death, with a mouthful of dirt, buried in the grave. However, I think the second part about tasting the grass is a clever reference to the Biblical story of King Nebuchadnezzar, who according to the Bible was so pompous and boastful that God took his sanity and he spent seven years living like a wild animal and eating grass.

    So all told this song is about the rise to power, abuse of power, and fall from power of a politician.
    NathanKPon July 22, 2012   Link
  • +2
    My Opinioni think most here are being too specific noting one ruler or another. this is a template. basically all rules came to power this way from congressman on up. and around the world too. men making deals hatching plans is where politicians begin. the shake it shake it baby is clearly reference to the way politicians snuggle up to special interest groups for money, and power. in the midwest one of the rising stars is a man by the name of paul ryan, but who is he? most that are not in his district know him only for his ideas, his carefully laid message. he is not a number or a name any more but rather a carefully laid plan. but like i said this is no one in particular but rather the system that is politics.
    batmandingoon July 31, 2012   Link
  • 0
    General Commentthere's something about when regina swears or says something provocative-ish that is just like alskdfjal;siduf. i can't explain it but i love ittttt haha (: i think anyone else would think i was a freakk for saying that but i think any other hardcore regina fan would agree (:

    i can't wait for this song to come out! hopefully it will- cause i also always have wished she did a demo version of i cut off my hair.. ughhhhhhh...

    im in the "i just love this song" stage- not the "im gonna decode it" but i cant wait to hear people's take!!!
    morganic22on July 26, 2009   Link
  • 0
    General Commentactually i think its just about like "making it" in general.. the "but i am not a number not a name" its like when you're in an audition and they refer to you by your number& your name but you are so much more than that and can never be held down by it.
    morganic22on July 26, 2009   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI think that second "you're gonna make it big" is supposed to be "you're gonna make a boom". And perhaps after "shake what your mama gave you" it should be "and not let anyone laugh". I'm pretty sure, but not completely.
    and then "you're gonna taste ???. your gonna take ???"
    mlion August 06, 2009   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThis song is so sad.

    I think it's about a woman being degraded for the sake of same.
    GoodbyeGorgeouson October 07, 2009   Link

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