Standing on the backs of angels
Destined to create
Mounting the attack
While heroes carry your weight

We spiral towards disaster
Survival fading faster

Riding out the wave
Content to feed off the machine
Bleeding us to death
The new American dream

You're blinded by your hunger
Beware your days are numbered

Tears fall from the shameless
Shelter me, guide me to the edge of the water
Selfless are the righteous
Burden me, lead me like a lamb to the slaughter
Blurring lines drawn in between
What is right and what is wrong
Victims on the radar string us along

We're on to your agenda
The dead end road to nowhere

Tears fall from the shameless
Shelter me, guide me to the edge of the water
Selfless are the righteous
Burden me, lead me like a lamb to the slaughter

Tears fall from the shameless
Shelter me, guide me to the edge of the water
Selfless are the righteous
Burden me, lead me like a lamb to the slaughter
Selfless are the righteous
Burden me, lead me like a lamb to the slaughter



Lyrics submitted by Aniland

"On the Backs of Angels" as written by John Petrucci, John Myung, Jordan Rudess

Lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc.

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On the Backs of Angels song meanings
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13 Comments

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  • +2
    My Interpretation:It's so obvious that this is about the American greed, wars to "rule the world", the people that play "behind the scenes" of the world order, "the system" and many other factors..

    "Standing on the backs of angels
    Destined to create
    Mounting the attack
    While heroes carry your weight"

    The ruling families that "play behind the scenes" in the world order(as i said earlier) who are the only real benefactors from war and who don't care about the soldiers(heroes) who die.

    "Riding out the wave
    Content to feed off the machine
    Bleeding us to death
    The new American dream"

    This is more about following a sort of a "propaganda" that's driving everyone. And about the crashing economic system that people cannot really see and are led to believe that everything is fine and you're "free", everything is cool etc.. Thus "the new American dream".

    The chorus seemed very metaphorical,

    "Tears fall from the shameless, shelter me, guide me to the edge of the water"

    People humbly asking for a safe place to call home..

    "Selfless are the righteous, burden me, lead me like a lamb to the slaughter"

    The same people put their trust blindly and are being lead down the hole..


    I tried to be as objective as possible, sorry if anything was offensive to anyone.
    Hope you enjoy it

    Cheers!
    JayZeekayon December 08, 2011   Link
  • +2
    My Interpretation:It's about the 2008 financial crisis in general, and the TARP bailout in particular.

    The "angels" are the 99% (i.e., working folks) and the "shameless" protagonists are the bankers who caused the mess by "standing on the backs of angels" and "feed[ing] off the machine"

    "tears fall from the shameless" is a reference to the crocodile tears of the heads of JP Morgan etc looking for federal bailout money. that's the "shelter me, guide me to the edge of the water" (i.e., get me to safe land.

    The selfless/righteous angels are "burdened" with the bailouts because their taxes pay for it all.

    ...

    I'm quite sure this is the main reason it was nominated for a Grammy. Wall Street is perhaps the one industry Hollywood fancies itself more noble than.
    mtalinmon May 26, 2012   Link
  • 0
    General Comment:It's very vaguely political, but it feels like it could be generally about political corruption.

    Heh, maybe it's about Anthony Weiner[/joke]
    Anilandon June 29, 2011   Link
  • 0
    General Comment:i get the same feel that its definitly political, but i almost think its about the people living on welfare who really dont need to, and how theyre content to feed off of the government system, and be led like lambs to the slaughter.
    supermunchoron June 30, 2011   Link
  • 0
    General Comment:Raise The Knife?
    damnation1928on July 05, 2011   Link
  • 0
    General Comment:Ok, It is about Atlas Shrugged. Standing "On the Back of Angels" means to be standing on the backs of the highest possible, the men and women who produce. The songs is wonderful but the line "Selfless are the righteous" doesn't fit. That line contradicts the entire philosophy DT puts forth in their entire discography, unless they are intending it to be a sarcastic line. Thoughts?
    Journeyman7on September 21, 2011   Link
  • 0
    General Comment:After watching the music video I can confidently say this song is about greed, American greed. Through the video the recurring themes are skyscrapers, money, and the white house. Skyscrapers in my opinion represent the corporations and being the most common of the themes I think they beleive they are the major source of greed in this country. During the video they raise from the grounds through gears in the earth. In the last stages of the video the building turn to what I thaught was a tombstone which represents the death of businesses or maybe even the death of America as they crumble down and pictures of ancient ruins are shown, some of them Roman. Perhaps this is Dream Theater saying that America will one day topple under its own greed much like the Roman Empire had. It could also be taken as the death of business and instead of the death of America, a new beginning and new ground to rebuild upon. This is just what I gathered from the song, and without an officially released meaning it is all just speculation.
    JoeSteelon October 20, 2011   Link
  • 0
    General Comment:I think the gears represent "the machine" that keeps all this bad stuff happening. On the sequence of its appearances, the gears spin faster and faster until something happens (an economical crisis, perhaps.. Just like that one from 1929, when everything was "running too fast") and the gears start spinning backwards. Thats is the moment when the buildings begin to collapse. My interpretation of the skyscrapers is that they represent the place where people "feed the machine" (I think that means to be inside the system), where everything seems normal inside of it (note that the lights are static and there is no movement inside the windows). However, the situation outside the buildings is the worst. Sorry for my bad english, I'm still studying it.
    Chapamanon October 31, 2011   Link
  • 0
    General Comment:Just saw the clip again. The reason why the gears start spinning backwards could be a war and all its disaster.
    Chapamanon October 31, 2011   Link
  • 0
    General Comment:Its an outcry against the liberal agenda that intensified with Obama's rise to power (and yes that is what I'm calling it) in 2008 which is when the song was released.
    If you notice the lyrics: You're blinded by your hunger
    Beware your days are numbered
    These reference how extended social security drives poor people to never work and earn a living and rely completely on the government to make ends meet

    And notice the lyrics:
    Tears fall from the shameless
    Shelter me, guide me to the edge of the water
    Selfless are the righteous
    Burden me, lead me like a lamb to the slaughter
    Blurring lines drawn in between
    What is right and what is wrong
    Victims on the radar string us along

    These reference a few things
    1. The social liberals claiming to be selfless, righteous heroes and what they're doing is a noble deed but what they're doing is leading people astray, sheltering them, but burdening them to the government as well
    2. The politicians have convinced the media that the left-wing plan is right (victims on the radar) and from the media the parents and schools have been stringed and from them the youth (string us along). Those who have been convinced lose their free will and their sense of reason (what is right and what is wrong).

    Personally I think Dream Theater is absolutely right and favorite this song among the band's works, along with Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence.
    MetalRoxon January 24, 2013   Link

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