"Killing an Arab" as written by Robert James Smith, Laurence Andrew Tolhurst and Michael Stephen Dempsey....
Standing on the beach
With a gun in my hand
Staring at the sea
Staring at the sand
Staring down the barrel
At the Arab on the ground
I can see his open mouth
But I hear no sound

I'm alive
I'm dead
I'm the stranger
Killing an Arab

I can turn
And walk away
Or I can fire the gun
Staring at the sky
Staring at the sun
Whichever I chose
It amounts to the same
Absolutely nothing

I'm alive
I'm dead
I'm the stranger
Killing an Arab

I feel the steel butt jump
Smooth in my hand
Staring at the sea
Staring at the sand
Staring at myself
Reflected in the eyes
Of the dead man on the beach
The dead man on the beach

I'm alive
I'm dead
I'm the stranger
Killing an Arab


Lyrics submitted by oofus, edited by Mellow_Harsher, NilNas

"Killing an Arab" as written by Michael Stephen Dempsey Laurence Andrew Tolhurst

Lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

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Killing an Arab song meanings
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  • +3
    General CommentIt's an existentialist book. I highly suggest going to a library and reading it. At first, it seems like nothing more than a story, but read it a few times.

    Anyway, you can't really discuss this song without knowing a little more about Camus than he was a french writer and philosopher. Read his works, and then listen to the song.
    division2roninon July 28, 2002   Link
  • +3
    General CommentYeah The Stranger is such an amazing book. You really need to read the book in order to understand this song to the full effect. There is just so much you can uncover in this book....so many hidden meanings...
    In that time if a French man killed an Arab he would most likely get away with it, but Meursault got put to death for killing an Arab. He pretty much got put to death for the way he lived his life...not because of the crime he committed.
    RaddestHollyon April 09, 2003   Link
  • +2
    General CommentWell, although many people would attribute an existentialist nature to Camus' work, Camus himself disagreed. Quite what the difference between absurdism and existentialism is, is beyond me, but Camus made the distinction. I would say that Meursault wasn't aware of absurdism, but is merely a vessel through which Camus explores absurdism. That is, that we can come to one of two conclusions. a) There's a God/Religion, so life has purpose or b) There is no God/Religion, thus no purpose. Camus claims that God/Religion are human conceptions, created to lend meaning to existance. So we are then left with another two options. Suicide or pointless existance. This is explored in another of Camus' books "The Myth of Sisyphus" (Le Mythe de Sisyphe), in which he discusses the meaningless existance.

    The Myth of Sisyphus tells the story of Sisyphus, a man condemned by the Gods to spend his lifetime pushing a rock up a hill only to let it roll down so that he can roll it back up the hill once more. Camus accepts that this appears on the surface to be quite a depressing outlook, but later concludes that we should imagine sysiphus a happy man. He has something to work towards. An ultimate goal.

    I'm not sure that I completely understand all this stuff, in fact, I'm fairly sure that I don't as the concepts are quite difficult to comprehend. Perhaps you should use what I've said as an introduction to Camus and something to inspire further study. I have to study him anyway as a byproduct of my french coursework, but I'd still find it interesting non the less.

    In effect, the only need for meursault to kill the man in the first place is so that later on meursault will be condemmed to death. This allows us to glimpse into his psyche and perceive that he would rather not die and actually quite enjoys life. He can be paralleled in this instance to Sysiphus as he walks down the hill. He's in a comtemplative mood, whereby he sees the effort and pain that is to come, but is able to relax at present and reflect on the life he's had so far.

    All is well.
    DanSharkeyon October 04, 2005   Link
  • +2
    General CommentI know it's already been said that this song is actually a series of references to "L'Etranger," but I feel the following fact can't be stressed enough: any person who thinks that this song is about war in the Middle East, or hate crimes against Arabs, or wanton murder, is a fucking moron.

    Meursault is a man whose mannerisms and worldveiw no one understands. He helps the pimp next door, whom he barely knows, trick, humiliate, and get away with badly beating a mistress of his, who is "the Arab's" sister. He does not cry or outwardly show emotion at his mother's death, because he led a life detached from her and from the world around him. He agrees to marry a girl with whom he thoroughly enjoys having sex and spending time, but whom he admits (to her face) that he does not love. He kills the Arab because the oppressive heat and light from the sun made him behave irrationally. He alienates the examining magistrate when he admits that he does not believe in God, and reduces the prison chaplain to tears when he shouts that God cannot help him or anyone else, because everyone is doomed to the same fate. He is not sorry for what he has done, and he sees the death sentence he receives (as a result of his callous personality, not of his murdering the Arab) as little more than an expedient to an inevitable outcome--his death, hence Meursault's assertion that "one life is as good as another," and Smith's lines "I can turn and walk away or I can fire the gun...Whatever I choose, it amounts to the same: absolutely nothing. I'm alive, I'm dead."

    This song is about the ultimate meaninglessness of any action that one might take, insofar as its ability to change the outcome of one's life, and one's obligation to commit to and "own" the choices one has made, regardless of that fact. Whether or not Camus is a true existentialist notwithstanding (he did, after all, include the disturbing little robot woman to negatively portray complete detachment from the human race), Meursault is, and he has none of Kirkegaard's faith and none of Sartre's humanism, and he is the narrator of both "The Stranger" and "Killing an Arab."
    MightyPossumKingon February 17, 2009   Link
  • +1
    General Commentyes this is true. I actually only looked it up because you mentioned it. But, it is from a book called "The Stranger" written by Albert Camus in 1946. All i really can find out about it is that he was a philisophy/journalism major as well as a playwright, but maybe that's to much info. I guess check out the book, or read more on unenet/google/wherever you get your info. I guess this song is proof that things often aren't what they seem.
    imbroknon June 04, 2002   Link
  • +1
    General CommentIsraeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's anthem.....
    pdmon June 04, 2002   Link
  • +1
    General Comment"the character was somewhat of an atheist"

    Somewhat of an atheist?!
    Meursault basically beats up a priest because he was telling him about God. He IS an atheist.
    Theo Reoon October 21, 2004   Link
  • +1
    General Commentgood book, good song, good band!
    llamas1234on November 02, 2004   Link
  • +1
    General CommentThis song is about the book "The stranger" If you want the full effect of this song you should read the book. It's very well put in this song. There are no complex metaphors. The way Albert Camus created the character (Mersault) that killed the Arab, was in a way where none of his feelings are left unknown. The character tells the audience when he's tired when he's hungry, when he's hot. When he shoots the Arab in the book he actually has no reason to kill him at all, no revenge, nothing. But the sun is shining very bright and it's annoying him. The blade the Arab is holding is reflecting the sun onto his face and that's all it took. The whole it amounts to the same part has to do with the philosophy on the absurd, which Albert Camus is trying to show in this book.
    "I'm alive
    I'm dead
    I'm the stranger
    Killing an Arab"
    This is exactly how it is. He’s alive, but now that he killed the Arab he's on death row, he's the stranger in society. It's a good song, and a good book I actually remember reading it at the beginning of freshman year and I’m a junior now.
    Priscillahiltonon October 16, 2007   Link
  • +1
    General Commentit's about the book, its based on that. robert himself said that most of the songs released in 1979 he wrote were written when he was fifteen or sixteen and 'had nothing better to write about than the books i was reading at the time'. its in robert smith: the cure and wishful thinking which i recommend to anyone reading this who is interested in the cure
    scaredasyouon May 30, 2009   Link

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