Everybody wants to dance in a playpen
But nobody wants to play in my garden
I see the hippies on an angry line
Guess they don't get my meaning
I'm enchanted by the birds in my blossoms
I'm enamored by young lovers on the weekend
I like the fourth of July
When bombs start flashing
And I wish I had a shiny red top

A bugle with a big brass bell would cheer me up
Or maybe something bigger that could really go pop
So I could make the gardening stop
Come out to play
Come out to play
And we'll pretend it's Christmas Day
In my atomic garden

All my scientists are working on a deadline
So my psychologist is working day and night time
They say they know what's best for me
But tehye don't know what they're doing
And I'm glad I'm not Gorbachev
'cause I'd wiggle all night

Like jelly in a pot
At leats he's got a garden with a fertile plot
And a party that will never stop
I hope there's nothing wrong out there
I'm watching from my room inside my room

Lyrics submitted by M4R5, edited by Bassist3752

Atomic Garden Lyrics as written by Brett Gurewitz

Lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

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Atomic Garden song meanings
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  • +5
    General Comment

    This song seems to be written from the perspective of a high ranking official in US government during the later years of the Cold War. That bit about hippies on an angry [picket] line not getting his meaning gives me an image of someone looking outside of their government building (White House or whatever) and seeing a protest taking place against nuclear weapons.

    Making the gardening stop seems to imply that he's sick of growing the bombs, he wants to harvest them. In other words, he wants to blow up the Soviet Union instead of letting the bombs pile up in the garden.

    "And I'm glad I'm not Gorbachev" Hahaha. It's like saying "You're screwed, buddy. Our weapons are better than yours!" But then he says "At least he's got a garden with a fertile plot" (he has a fair amount of weapons at his disposal as well) "and a party that will never stop" (the two countries could have prolonged warfare, which would be great in the eyes of the character in the song). As mentioned by Omega, this guy appreciates beauty in chaos.

    "Come out to play" is inviting a nuclear war with USSR. "And we'll pretend it's Christmas Day..." It's like opening a present, being able to finally use these bombs that have been packed away for so long.

    fearnotofmanon April 12, 2006   Link
  • +3
    General Comment

    Actually I think this song is about the threat of nuclear war. He he's "I'm glad I'm not Gorbachev" and his "garden with a fertile plot" is the Soviet arsenal of nuclear weapons and if just one goes of there'll be "a party that will never stop"

    UnseenOpon July 20, 2002   Link
  • +2
    My Interpretation

    Here is my interpretation garnered by breaking down the metaphors line by line. I agree that the point of view is from a US government/military official.

    Verse 1: Everybody wants to have fun in safety No one wants to take part in the work that creates the safety Protestors don't understand that their right to protest needs to be defended.

    Verse 2: My (USA) motivation is of the natural, and of love, and freedom. Defending freedom is a good excuse to go to war.

    Verse 3: Wish we had newer fancier weapons, louder declarations of might, one big final weapon then the USSR would give up and we could both stop stockpiling

    Chorus: Calling the USSR's bluff let's give each other these gifts in this nuclear environment that we are growing and cultivating

    Verse 4: The psychologist's work is in response to the mindset driving the tasks given to the scientists The author doesn't think his mind needs to be cared for.

    Verse 5: Gorbachev should be nervous, he has his own stockpile, the communist party will not back down.

    Bridge: The official is playing with lives, but he is out of touch with the common citizen His decisions are being made from a literal and figurative bunker.

    cemikedon September 07, 2011   Link
  • +1
    General Comment

    Well, I'd like to say this song is about the threat of nuclear weapons durring the cold war. I think that the singer of this song (not the actual singer) is the weapon it's self ( and I wish I had a shiny red top a bugle with a big brass bell would cheer me up or maybe something bigger that could really go pop! So I could make the gardening stop.) This song is littered with metaphors galore : "at leats he's got a garden with a fertile plot and a party that will never stop" refers to the communist party and it's policy of producing nuclear warheads, even after the intial exchange ( It was on the discovery channel one day). Here's more: "all my scientists are working on a deadline so my psychologist is working day and night time they say they know what's best for me but they don't know what they're doing" refers to america's policy of producing "better" warheads and the millitarys first strike policy first laid down by the SAC (now defunct) or Stratiegic Air Command... more to come latter -- need to get out of here ;)

    Kiljoy001on October 16, 2002   Link
  • +1
    General Comment

    "Everybody wants to dance in a playpen. But nobody wants to play in my garden .I see the hippies on an angry line. Guess they don't get my meaning" this part of the song is saying that everyone wants to enjoy the freedoms we have, but also want to ignore the fact we have them because we have the potential to blow those that threaten it off the face of the planet, hence no one wants to acknowledge this fact(play in his garden) as they blissfully enjoy what the garden provides. this is told from the eyes of the government which is why he say's "i guess they don't get my meaning", they don't understand it is necessary, which is what government thinks, to have these bombs...that point is furthered by the fact he said " i wish i had something bigger that would really go pop so i could make the gardening stop". again this is the mentality of government and empires who think the only way to have peace is to have the biggest weapon/army...let me back up because he leads into these previous lines with some references that make the speaker sound like he is an innocent/naive baby. it demonstrates simplistic, flawed logic that a small child would use to solve the problem, so he is saying the government thinks like a baby or juvenile. we need to grow up if we are to ever truly achieve peace without war and violence....good luck with that though. lol

    minty33on July 05, 2013   Link
  • 0
    General Comment

    Stupid question, but by any chance, would the singer, or any of the band members be communist?

    ZeroStaticon June 14, 2002   Link
  • 0
    General Comment

    this song (to me) is about countries who flaunt their power and try to scare other countries with their number of bombs and how they think because they are richer and have more weapons, that they are better, i duno i dont think i get it

    soul_doubton September 01, 2002   Link
  • 0
    General Comment

    Actually Jay Bentley said that this song is about "nuclear proliferation". So UnseenOp, Soul Doubt and Kiljoy001, you guys are absolutely right.

    wrinkledPholeon April 17, 2003   Link
  • 0
    General Comment

    It's actually pretty easy to figure out.


    Jakeberton June 10, 2004   Link
  • 0
    General Comment

    I'd agree its about nuclear proliferation, but I think it has other meanings too. There seems to be elements about this guy seeing the beauty in chaos. 'I'm enchanted by the birds in my blossoms I'm enamored by young lovers on the weekend I like the Fourth of July when bombs start flashing' seems to be comparing the beauty of these things to the explosions of bombs or fireworks, and then when he talks of wanting 'something that could really go pop', he seems to think the bigger the 'pop', the more chaos and disruption caused, the better. Others would appear not to understand this outlook of beauty in chaos though, as he sees 'the hippies on an angry line, guess they don't get my meaning.' That's always been a meaning for me, as well as the nuclear stuff. Any other thoughts on other meanings?

    Omega1989on December 17, 2004   Link

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