"The Rat Who Would Be King" as written by and Matthew Good....
Even a blind squirrel
Finds a nut
Once in a while
Once you're in you're pretty much fucked

When I was the rat
The rat who would be king
I imagined typhoid
And us alone
Always us alone

And I've waited on the sidelines
All this time
All this time
And I've a grenade
With our names scratched on the side
But that's just love
And you know that love's not enough
No, no, love's not enough

Crawl from the sea
Wait for some thumbs
A greatness to breed
Build the mall of America

When I was the rat
The rat who would be king
I imagined ashes
And us alone
Always us alone

And I've waited on the sidelines
All this time
All this time
And I've a grenade
With our names scratched on the side
But that's just love
And you know that love's not enough
No, no, love's not enough
Love's not enough
Love's not enough


Lyrics submitted by icy_fire

"The Rat Who Would Be King" as written by Matthew Good

Lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

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The Rat Who Would Be King song meanings
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  • +1
    General Comment"Even a blind squirrel finds a nut once in a while" is pure frustration, possibly about never actualy finding love, the entire song is something someone would say at the end of a relationship, a rat being king shows the kind of subjects he leads, most likely other rats, longing for typhoid or ashes and being alone, would seem like others may have been interfering in the relationship and if they could be alone maybe it could work. He in essence has stood aside been silent all this time, and with his final words a grenade, ends the relationship, remorsing that love is not enough, never enough.
    nmrf23on March 07, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General CommentNOBODY has commented on this?! this song is fucking amazing.
    oh.valentineon April 18, 2003   Link
  • 0
    General CommentNOBODY has commented on this?! this song is fucking amazing.
    oh.valentineon April 18, 2003   Link
  • 0
    General Commenti second that. this song is one heck of a song haha. "once you're in, your pretty much fucked" yep, thats the stuff matt. "you know that love's not enough" not in this world haha.
    lauren_atmoreon May 19, 2004   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThe symbolism used here is amazing. The picture Matt paints of a Rat, normally viewed as a dirty, worthless creature, elevated to a King by virtue of luck is powerful, and adds to the sense of loss in the song. It is clear from the line, 'and you know that love's not enough" that the Rat has lost, or is going to lose his love, and there is very little chance of him ever regaining it.

    The most difficult part of the song for me to understand was the imagery of typhoid and ashes, and how these two disasters were imagined by the Rat and faced alone, without outside help. Perhaps Matt is trying to convey the Rat looking ahead, envisioning his future and only seeing death and sorrow. Or perhaps the Rat has megalomaniac tendencies, and he is imagining situations where in the face of these disasters he alone can help his love, which would bring them closer?

    The analogy of love to a grenade with names scratched on the side is probably the most accurate description of love I have ever encountered. The idea of love being a battle is well depicted here, but the symbolism of a grenade takes it even further. Love, like a grenade, can be thrown away, and it will blow up in your face over one seemingly small event, in this case a pin being pulled.
    Glookon October 26, 2004   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI don't give a fuck what the lyrics of this song mean, It might just be the saddest song I've ever fucking heard. It's amazing.
    CÆTon November 19, 2004   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI think when he mentions ashes, and tyhpoid, then us alone. He is saying that through no matter what sort of disaster happens, he figured they would still be together. Love is a delicate thing.
    ShoKillon October 10, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General Commentthis song gave me shivers when i saw him at the walker theatre in winnipeg!
    deadeyeduckon January 29, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI also saw the Walker Theatre show (screw you, Burton Cummings... it'll always be the Walker) in Winnipeg. I've seen every Matt Good show in Winnipeg since Beautiful Midnight was released. By far one of his finest. It's too bad we never got to hear an Audio of Being tour before the band broke up though... woulda been kickass.
    Michael13on July 11, 2007   Link
  • 0
    My InterpretationI've enjoyed this song for years without contemplating or even really knowing the lyrics. The quality of the sound alone was enough alone to evoke a painful and haunting mood but the lyrics really drives home a great portrait of the singer.

    The song is a disturbing love letter to an ex. Before the relationship he saw himself as the blind squirrel. The proverbial "nice guy" who never gets the girl but it this case somehow did. But of course once he did, they were pretty much fucked. And his acknowledgment of that is perhaps his most self-aware moment. After the relationship has ended, he is the rat, something unwelcome that is resilient. And in that period he fantasized about a world when plague or disaster left him and his ex the only two remaining because then of course she would be with him. But since then he has settled down a little bit and she has allowed him back into her life as a friend where he has bided his time watching her other relationships thinking that if he can wait them out she will eventually have him back. But that hasn't worked bringing him to the grenade with their names scratched on the side. That is not a romantic metaphor. That is a threat. He is no longer fantasizing about plague bringing them together but is contemplating murder-suicide. But he's not quite ready for that yet because "love is not enough". And so he goes into a second verse that describes his disconnect with the rest of humanity. And by the end he's still saying "love is not enough" but I think that someday it might be.

    I think it's great in the same way as The Catcher in the Rye is at creating audience empathy for a disturbed narrator.
    Quintaroson May 16, 2014   Link

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