"Chango" as written by Gerald V. Casale and Mark Allen Mothersbaugh....
The bear (? )
I come up the river
Like beat man
I come up the river
Like skoke man fly
I come up the river
To kill many people
I come up the river
With laser gun
Dear uncle, dear uncle, dear uncle
Dear uncle, dear uncle
Your son just had intercourse
With baggy breast
Your son just had intercourse
With death debbie
My mommy didn't hold me when I was young
She didn't give me breast
And went insane
My mommy didn't hold me when I was young
She didn't give me breast
And went insane

Lyrics submitted by weezerific:cutlery, edited by karritevoyager

"Chango" as written by Gerald V. Casale, Mark Allen Mothersbaugh

Lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc.

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Chango song meanings
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  • +2
    General Commenthey, are they talking about the God Chango?
    a dooron March 22, 2007   Link
  • +1
    General CommentThis song is so crazy, jeesh. I honestly have no idea what is going on.
    third_to_the_lefton August 11, 2008   Link
  • +1
    My InterpretationBoy, where do I start with this song... there's many ways it could be interpreted. I think it's a story about a man (probably late teens or early twenties), Chango, who snapped and killed many people. Let me set the scene a bit, Chango lives in a tribe, far away from civilization. He one day finds a laser gun in the forest. I think this would make a great scifi/horror b-movie :P. I'm gonna explain in order of what events I think happened first in his life.

    "my mommy didn't hold me when i was young"
    His mother neglected him.

    "she didn't give me breast"
    She denied him basic needs.

    "and went insane"
    This could mean more than one thing.
    1. Insane as in she got angry at him a lot for no reason, verbally abused him, beat him, etc.
    2. Maybe he witnessed her killing people, herself (though that probably wouldn't affect him much. Unlikely he had much affection for her since she neglected him), or whoever. Witnessing someone murder would obviously contribute to even more trauma in his childhood.
    3. Alternatively, he could be referring to how the neglect made HIM go insane.

    I'll sum this all up in saying that I think Chango is mentally handicapped in some form and/or has physical deformities (Seems likely since DEVO tends to write songs with the subject of "mutants"). THIS is why I think his mother neglected him in the first place. This is also why I go more with number one on that list. Because he was "different", she often got angry at him, beat him, etc.

    Before the event of him walking up the river, I think something happened. Some people were insulting him so bad that Chango finally snapped, and killed them.
    "i come up the river
    like beat man
    i come up the river
    like skoke man fly"
    He's coming up the river, worn out, after finally snapping, he's tired of people cruelly ridiculing him and treating him differently. As for "skoke man fly"... I really don't know what to make of that :S.

    "i come up the river
    to kill many people
    i come up the river
    with laser gun"
    He's on his way to kill the people in his village with his laser gun.

    "dear uncle, dear uncle, dear uncle
    dear uncle, dear uncle
    your son just had intercourse
    with baggy breast
    your son just had intercourse
    with death debbie"
    I think this is more figurative than literal. The boy sounds in a panic. I think this is taking place before Chango has yet to "kill many people". I think the boy secretly witnessed Chango killing the people that were making fun of him as I stated earlier, and runs to the village to warn the father. Intercourse with Baggy Breast and Death Debbie is basically saying he "slept with evil".

    TL;DR - I think it's a scifi/horror themed surreal commentary of a stereotypical profile/event, "person suffers childhood neglect/trauma, gets bullied, one day kills people".
    MrSpudon November 28, 2009   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI think this is a version of "Heart of Darkness" set in the future. I don't think Chango is a part of a primitive culture, I think he is a de-evolved member of future society who snaps and decides to take out his lack of maternal affection on random people with the advanced tools offered to him. It's a satirical take on the kinds of violence we see today.
    karritevoyageron April 30, 2014   Link
  • 0
    General CommentYou all have it wrong.
    DEVO was formed in response to the Kent State shootings in the 70s. At the time, the student protest atmosphere was focused on opposing the Vietnam war.
    Considering the tribal nature of the lyrics and implied jungle atmosphere, the song is about the Vietnam war.
    It could be seen as from the point of view one of our own troops.
    The fact that the lyrics are written with a sense of simplistic grammar implies that soldiers in the US were seen as single minded and simplistic, and at the same time, is an ironic nod to the fact that the Vietcong were seen by the government as a tribal, uncivilized society incapable of enlightened thought.

    "Chango! Chango!"
    "I come up the river/Like beat man/I come up the river/Like skoke man fly"
    Simple tribal-sounding phrases, meant to establish the tone and intent of the lyrics. Chango means "monkey" in Spanish, and the Changos were a race of ancient Chileans, which establishes the dumb, tribalistic nature of the soldier. Beat man could mean "warrior", as in "I come up the river like a warrior," as combatants beat on each other with weaponry and their fists, or it could be a reference to police, who refer to their patrol path as their "beat." Skoke is a city in Slovenia, so it's likely that the term "skoke" has some unknown significance to the band, or perhaps to students at Kent State University, or the surrounding area in Ohio, or more likely, it has no meaning at all and just sounds simplistic and tribal.

    "I come up the river/To kill many people"
    Killing many people on a riverbank implies that it's a US troop, considering the mass reports of war crimes against villages going on at the time.

    "I come up the river/With my laser gun"
    The mentioning of a laser gun could be a reference to the band's sci-fi aesthetic, or as a reference to how a simple minded person sees his weapon as more of a toy than a tool of war.

    "Your son just had intercourse with baggy breast/Your son just have intercourse with deaf Debbie."
    The tone of the voice changes on this verse, and seems to be from the point of view as someone else than our soldier. This could imply that it's the cousin of the soldier telling the contents of a war letter to the soldier's father. The similar grammatical style could imply that the people back home are just as thick as the soldier in the fields. The reference to intercourse could imply that the soldier raped an old and feeble Vietnamese woman (baggy breasts) or someone with a disability (deaf Debbie). Rape accusations were common during the war.

    "My mommy didn't hold me when I was young/Didn't give me breast and went insane"
    Obviously, the soldier was neglected basic affection and needs as a child, and grew up with a mentally unstable mother, which could lead to all sorts of problems. This could imply that this gave our soldier sociopathic characteristics, which he then takes out on the enemy, like an angry simpleton.

    This is then followed by a repeat of the first verses, which brings the song full circle:
    The soldier is an idiot who's killing and raping enemies in Vietnam without any grasp of the consequences or morals of the situation, wielding his gun like a toy because his mom didn't love him enough as a child.

    This kind of angry barbarian trying to cope with mental issues was how soldiers were seen in the 70s. Many soldiers came home to large protests and discrimination. The song could be a deeply layered ironic nod to how soldiers were seen, or to draw parallels between the US Army and the Vietcong, or perhaps members of DEVO disliked soldiers serving in Vietnam for the war crimes a number of them committed.
    tom1137334on June 11, 2014   Link

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