"The Tourist and the Tortoise" as written by and Isaac Brock....
Wake up, get ready
Wake up, get ready
What a wonderful trip's ahead
Well, wake up, get ready
Wake up, get ready
Such a wonderful trip's ahead

We get dressed as ghosts
With sheets taken from the bed
Inside our socks we hide travelers' checks
We are tourists of the dead

So let's pack up
Let's go
So let's pack up
Let's go
Let's pack up
Let's go

Let's go

There was this tortoise, its shell was covered with jewels
And had been since time began
It knew the world through all its histories
And the universe and its mysteries
One day it came across a man
The two were talking
The tortoise offered to tell him
About the future and how the universe ran
Oh, the man killed the tortoise, took his shell
And with a song on his lips walked off again

So let's walk off
Let's go
So let's walk off
Let's go
Let's walk off
Let's go
So let's walk off
Let's go

Pack a lunch wander 'round
Toss the map on the ground
It isn't accurate anyways
We've been getting away
We've been getting away
We are strangers to ourselves
We sneak out
Drip by drip
Through paper cuts on our hands
Day after day
Nothing's quite the same
We are tourists in our own heads

So let's walk on
Let's go
Let's walk on
Let's go
Let's walk on (I think I feel ready to go)
Let's go
Let's walk on
Let's go
(I think I feel ready to go)
(I think I feel ready to go)
(I think I feel ready to go)
(I think I feel ready to go)
(I think I feel ready to go)
(I think I feel ready to go)


Lyrics submitted by Mellow_Harsher

"The Tortoise and the Tourist" as written by Eric Judy Dann Gallucci

Lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

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The Tourist and the Tortoise song meanings
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4 Comments

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  • +3
    My InterpretationI get this pretty strong feeling that this song is a fable about a school field trip to a national park, or at least a symbolic one. The eerie "tourists of the dead" line comments on the fascinating tendency for people to seek out memorials and places of mourning to vacation to.

    I liken certain lines to the blasé nature people may regard monuments and the like. "Pack a lunch...toss a map on the ground. It isn't accurate anyway..." Is it not just a place to eat your lunch? Who cares what we are looking at? Let's keep walking. In places of great historical significance, we may not comprehend the historical weight of a place so much as we superficially survey their surroundings. They are tourists in their own heads, not of the historical space.

    There is a struggle in the song; a disconnect between the self and history, both personal history and national. The very term tourist suggests one who is just passing through, and by extension it is someone who experiences that very disconnect. Even the repetition of the line " I think I am ready to go" and "let's walk on" seems to continually suggest movement over contemplation; it is the irony of being able to walk away from something as looming as history.

    The Tortoise and the Tourist parable seems non sequitur, but it ties in with the theme of disregard, taking on the theme in the form of a didactic fable (imagined, for my own part, as being retold by a teacher). It strongly calls to the themes of imperialism and greed, especially with the plight of the Native Americans. It is not too far fetched either, because the song which precedes it is "God is an Indian and You're an Asshole", a lighter take on that exact idea, which suggests the album has that as a running theme.

    This song is my favorite partly because it was led to a profoundly fascinating interpretation. The song seems to ask us: should we be tourists anywhere else but our own head? Are we to be responsible for anyone other than our own lives? Or are we to walk forever with the ghosts of the past? Is it our responsibility to do so?

    That is my own personal view point. I listened to this song a lot while walking the National Mall in DC, so that probably informed my opinion.
    Callarb108on April 05, 2015   Link
  • +1
    General CommentTo me, this song says that we don't know where we are in the universe and we don't care. We're too concerned with wealth and we do not think ahead.

    Humanity as a whole is ill-prepared for survival in the universe at large, and we are vastly ill-equipped. The man, given a choice between immediate wealth or knowledge, chooses wealth - money over bettering himself.
    NotYetThereon March 21, 2015   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI hear it being about us, as people, being materialistic, arrogant, and ungrateful idiots. "Such a wonderful trip ahead," then going (wherever) and the 'tortoise' representing our past, our rich history and all that our ancestors/parents suffered to put us here - being simply killed for it's 'jewels'. Perhaps the shell even represents our beautiful world and how recent generations essentially just destroyed it for resources and our materialistic obsessions. Of course the man/tourist represents society - although it doesn't say "tourist" I think it's implied since most people live rather useless lives just doing what they're societal roles say they should do - i.e. wandering around, clueless, lacking wisdom, and not knowing "how the universe ran" because we killed the tortoise and took it's shell instead of learning from our past.

    Then there's the "toss the map on the ground ... It isn't accurate anyways" part about our dangerous arrogance and thinking we know what we're doing these days, even though we clearly don't. But to me the strongest message is in the album title mentioned here, "we are strangers to ourselves" - like we don't even remember WHY we're here, nor who we are (instead we as individuals have become the center of our own world) and again, tourists in our own heads. And that's reiterated in "I think I feel ready to go," meaning as cocky and arrogant as we are - we've been dumbed down to the point of not truly knowing what we want or if we even want to. An utter lack of self-awareness, if you will.
    queej19on May 09, 2015   Link
  • 0
    My InterpretationSo I don't usually comment on these things but I was listening to this the other day and something stuck out to me so here it is.

    So in the first part about the man (tourist) and the tortoise, the man has the option to listen to the marvels of the world, to discovery how everything works. But instead, he chooses to kill the tortoise to gain it's jewel covered shell. Instead of doing the right thing, he does the thing that instantly gives pleasure.

    In the next part, Brock talks about how we are strangers to ourselves, and *tourists* in our own heads. To me, he is talking about the fact we know what the right thing is to do, but we don't do it so we gain pleasure. This is destroying our world, in both a physical and non physical way. "Toss the map on the ground, it isn't accurate anyways", this is saying that we have been given the directions, but we don't follow them, backing up the point I was making before.

    The last part of the song is just the lines "Let's go. Let's go on.", I think this just talks about even after we recognise the affect of our actions, we continue to act against our knowledge of right.

    I know all about this, right now I'm writing an interpretation instead of doing my overdue assignments.
    ziggy17847on August 12, 2016   Link

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