You turn the screws
You tear down the bridge
Flimsy as it is, it's business like
You shake my hand
You break up the band
Flimsy as it is, it's open mic punk rock
Red white and blue

Yeah, you twist the knife then go home to kiss your wife
A bigger better slice is what you'd like
You kick the sand, you get the upper hand
You sell it to Japan
It's natural punk rock
Red white and blue

You turn the screws
It's what you choose to do
You think that I
Must turn them too
You think that I must be so satisfied
I stay inside
I wonder why

And the cement mixer gets it all ready
One good turn at a time
They're pouring it slowly and steady
You're showing me where I can sign
What I can expect to find
But how can you say you'll be happy
When you turn the screws

You turn the screws
It's what you choose to do
You turn the screws
It's what you choose to do
You think that I must turn them, too
You turn the screws
It's what you choose to do
You turn the screws
It's what you choose to do


Lyrics submitted by Ice

You Turn the Screws Lyrics as written by John M Mccrea

Lyrics © Wixen Music Publishing

Lyrics powered by LyricFind

You Turn The Screws song meanings
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18 Comments

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  • +1
    General Comment

    It's about American music producers exploiting young artists. "red white and blue, you turn the screws".

    malachiteon April 19, 2003   Link
  • +1
    General Comment

    I think this song is very personal. Think about when it was written... after FN they lost two band members & also changed record companies...." you tear down the bridge;flimsy as it is, it's business like;you shake my hand;you break up the band" There was a lot of upheaval at that time. Maybe, too, it's John resisting conforming & becoming "businesslike" He was under pressure; record company turning the screws on him.

    JustJulieon October 02, 2004   Link
  • +1
    Song Meaning

    This song is about how the greedy/selfish businessmen working at music industries think. They only think about getting money and power so they don't care what is done "on the outside." They then sign crappy, simple bands into the mainstream, brainwashing millions of mainstream consumers so they can buy more and more.

    The song then goes on the describe the narrator simply saying "You control everything because you have money, and you must think I do too. Except I'm inside really thinking about it."

    "Its the open mic, punk rock, red white and blue."

    It the all American dream that anyone can get famous. Just get up and scream simple words

    Ghrishmaron July 13, 2009   Link
  • +1
    My Interpretation

    V Cake you turn the screws interp

    Tearing down the bridge could be a multiple reference lyric- The way business destroys things held together seemingly flimsy in the context of business- such as a band. Also the bridge of a song- wrecking the creativity of artists.

    twisting the knife then going home to kiss your wife can mean how its just business at the end of the day for them. such as the way selling america out in many ways in merely business to the elite businessmen and politicians of every country but especially "capitalist" elite who don't desire free market but control. Red, white and blue- many Cake songs call out the corporate agenda of America.

    Selling it to japan is selling the product of business to those who don't care about the politics and only see the plastic surface. Followed by one liners "its natural" "punk rock" "red white and blue" foreigners and businessmen often use simple small sentences during a sales pitch to create a theme for what they're selling or because they simply don't know exactly what it is.

    "You think that I, must turn them too" Refers to how opportunists believe that everyone is on their "come up" and trying to get a "bigger better slice" at all costs regardless of the price.

    "You think that I must be so satisfied" could refer to how the opportunist views those they see as not taking the biggest slice as suckers, well off, or content with some thing else- mainly suckers though.

    "I stay inside I wonder why" could refer to the feeling of knowing youre getting played, maybe you don't play dirty games for moral reasons, yet you see how easy it is to get that slice and play their game.

    Surveyoron August 24, 2012   Link
  • +1
    General Comment

    I might be interpreting this song at surface level, but I feel that it's about interaction with other people (especially corporate culture) and limitations due to only having one's own experience.

    You turn the screws, it's what you choose to do. You think that I must turn them too.

    Two professionals approaching work in different ways. "I" works and attempts to do the job well and that's all. "You" do the job, but also pressures and screws other workers, such as "I". But "You" is only acting the way they think other workers do, and feeis they have to turn the screws just to keep their job. It's the way they are, so they can't fathom that someone else might be just doing the job and not trying to screw them over.

    This is supported by "You twist the knife, then go home and kiss your wife."

    "You" truly feels they are doing nothing wrong. They've done what they believe everyone else does, and doesn't feel any remorse.

    As for the cement mixer, I think it's a metaphor for how it feels to work with "You". "I" is dealing with everyday stresses, but if they don't work to reverse what "You" is doing to them (talking behind their back, sabotaging, making work harder, outright bullying), the cement eventually covers "I" and even though "I" has worked just as hard, or likely harder than "You", they are at a disadvantage.

    One might apply this kind of thinking to CRT.

    adamgrron October 18, 2022   Link
  • 0
    General Comment

    this song is about a two-faced producer runing a punk-rock band with his greed and selfishness.

    MorningStaron May 28, 2002   Link
  • 0
    General Comment

    you say that about every song, I'm onto you, pal. BTW, you're breakfast patties are the best!

    radiocakedoveson June 12, 2002   Link
  • 0
    General Comment

    I think this song is very personal. Think about when it was written... after FN they lost two band members & also changed record companies...." you tear down the bridge;flimsy as it is, it's business like;you shake my hand;you break up the band" There was a lot of upheaval at that time. Maybe, too, it's John resisting conforming & becoming "businesslike" He was under pressure; record company turning the screws on him.

    JustJulieon October 02, 2004   Link
  • 0
    General Comment

    You turn the screws = You screw things up. I like the way they reword that cliche.

    bmrhyeon December 23, 2004   Link
  • 0
    General Comment

    thought of “You turn the screws” as more equal to “You screw people over”, not so much “you screw things up”. Although they say about the same thing I guess I thought of it as having a more sinister nature. The comment about it meaning that you put pressure on people is great, I never thought about it quite like that but it certainly fits.

    ieatcottenon January 25, 2005   Link

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