"Pilate" as written by and Jeff Ament....
Talk of circles and punching out
Looking in drawing circles down
Falling up the south marking ground
Talking out of turn drawing circles down

Like Pilate I have a dog
{Obeys listens kisses loves}

Walks me out of town
Still one's a crowd
Making angels in the dirt
Looking up looking all around

Like Pilate I have a dog
{Obeys listens kisses loves}

Stunned by my own reflection
It's looking back, sees me too clearly
And I swore I'd never go there again
Not unlike a friend that politely drags you down, you down, you down

Like Pilate, I have a dog
{Obeys, listens, kisses, loves}


Lyrics submitted by Trent, edited by jamalan

"Pilate" as written by Jeff Ament

Lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

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Pilate song meanings
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18 Comments

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  • +1
    General CommentJeff Ament read Mikhail Bulgakov's book "The Master and Margarita." The book is about a man named Pilate who stands on a mountain with only his guitar and dog. His dog is his only companion and it "obeys listens kisses loves" Pilate, but what Pilate really wants is to have a partner to love him. He doesn't want to be alone any longer. Instead, Pilate grows old with his dog who "obeys listens kisses loves."
    Shadowboxer19on September 08, 2002   Link
  • +1
    General CommentPilate wasn't a jail guard, he was the roman ruler of the area of jerusalem during the time of christ. His name was Pontius Pilate, and he was not jewish. When the chief priests and elders of the law brough Jesus to Pilate, he found no reason to crucify him, so he sent him to Herod, the Jewish king of the day. Herod just wanted Jesus to perform some miracle, but Jesus did nothing, so Herod sent Jesus back to Pilate. Pilate then appealed to the crowd, offering to either free barabbas (a serial killer, and all-around crazy guy) or Jesus, but the crowd wanted barabbas. So Pilate washed his hands of Jesus' death, and handed him over to be crucified.

    I don't know if that has anything to do with this song, but at least you now have your story straight.
    adam1986on May 13, 2005   Link
  • +1
    General CommentPilate" was inspired by Mikhail Bulgakov's novel The Master and Margarita. When asked about the song Jeff Ament stated:

    “ I think "Pilate" was the question I was asking myself, and "Low Light " was the answer, the realization. Have you ever read The Master and Margarita [by Mikhail Bulgakov]? I just read that book, and at the end they talk about Pontius Pilate being all alone on a mountain with his dog. He couldn't sleep and he couldn't function. It really struck me hard, because at that point I was feeling very alone. I've always had this recurring dream about being old and just me and my dog sitting on the porch. It wasn't necessarily a sad dream or a premonition, but it did get me to thinking about why Pilate was so alone and freaked out. Then I realized he didn't get to finish his conversation with Jesus—that's why he can't function, because he didn't tie up the loose ends in his life. Later, I was playing the guitar, and I was hit so hard by this amazing, emotion. In that moment the words "low light" came out, and somehow those were the only words to explain what I was feeling. It was a kind of gratefulness at finding that place of calm and peace at my center and getting a glimpse of the person I could choose to be. It was the purest happiness that I've experienced in a long time, that particular emotion. God, I thought I was going to explode. I feel very lucky to have been able to put it down on tape that morning and work through it until it became a song
    Steve_Bureauon March 18, 2008   Link
  • +1
    My InterpretationHere are the 3 ways how I see this song.

    *The person that the song is about has a dog like Pilate. It obeys, listens, kisses, loves, you could say its a metaphor about a needy partner.
    He/she later sees the reflection and once again realises how shit this is.

    *The awesome way to see it
    [Stunned by my own reflection
    It's looking back, sees me too clearly
    And I swore I'd never go there again
    Not unlike a friend that politely drags you down]

    Realises she/he is the dog and it's back where it didn't want to be, it swore it wouldn't be her/his bitch ever again, but oops. Assuming everything else said in the song is what the owner thinks.

    *Another one is that the person is talking about itself. What made me think this was [Walks me out of town/Still, one's a crowd] me and myself, she/he defaults to a way of being that they don't like, even when they are on their own that way of being is frustrating and annoying and the realisation is not unlike a friend that politely brings you down. Time to change stop being a dog to other people and yourself.

    Not so long ago I told a friend that to me she was like the human version of pearl jam's lyrics, neither here or there, implies alot so it is hard to figure out and understand and if you think you clocked into it a few minutes later... you go "huh? so, what? and which?" :)I like pearl jam
    Groundeyeson November 07, 2011   Link
  • +1
    Song MeaningPilate obeyed like a dog does.
    DougJosephon April 06, 2012   Link
  • 0
    General Commentthat's definately not the premise of the book.

    but you are right, the song is supposedly about the book, which is very good. it was also sighted as the inspiration for Sympathy For The Devil.
    nothingheadon May 07, 2004   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI just finished the book (eh) and I see the Pilate/dog connection, but the rest of the lyrics mystify me. Anyone (nudge, nudge, nothinghead) draw any other connections, or have any idea what the hell Jeff is trying to say here?
    Nasuson June 01, 2004   Link
  • 0
    General Commenti guess to say it's ABOUT the book is wrong. rather, it references the book.

    the song and the verses in and of itself seems to be jeff writing about someone who is close to him. and then verse simply makes reference to that person being very similar to pilate's dog in the story.

    the verses are kind of sketchy as to literal meaning.
    nothingheadon July 02, 2004   Link
  • 0
    General Commentokay now some people may hate me for this idea, but i'm just throwing it out there because I'm not sure what this song means. Pilate was also the jail guard when Jesus what imprisoned, so do you think that this song is about Christ? It makes sense a little bit because the first verse is about the hoopla surrounding people questioning faith today, then the chorus is about Pilate having something/someone like a dog who obeys, listens, kisses, and loves. (Christ put up with all the punishment, and still loved the people.) I've never read the pilate book everyone else has mentioned, so I could be so wrong.
    tamary1216on April 16, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General Comment"Apparently bassist Ament wrote the song after hearing a legend about how Pilate sat on a hill with his dog after Christ died, wishing he had finished his last conversation with him. The picture in the sleeve below the lyrics is of Ament standing on top of a snow-covered mountain, hands raised, looking up to the sky with an expression of wonder. Interesting...."
    kelaron September 10, 2005   Link

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