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The Greatest Man That Ever Lived (Variations on a Shaker Hymn) song meanings
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  • +4
    General CommentAs this song follows 'Troublemaker' as the second song on the album, I think it can be read as a companion piece to that, as a song about dumb, rich, sexist, oversexed rock stars thinking they are the greatest, and that they were simply born to give, to share their talent with us lesser mere mortals. In fact, I thought it might turn into a concept album about that after these first two songs, but it didn't.

    The songs' varied musical styles pay tribute to those different types of artists I think, and there are bits that sound like Limp Bizkit, Green Day (though I think they're friends, and it's not the first time Weezer have sounded like Green Day, in fact I think Rivers studied a lot of their music to see what makes a hit), that band with the singer who looks like a lion whose name I can't think of right now, Kid Rock, any number of rock/rap groups, Blink 182, etc..

    I think in some ways Weezer are parodying those bands, but also maybe paying tribute to their musical styles, or at least it's an affectionate parody, 'cos they do them so well. The choral voice bit sounds quite Beach Boys-y too, and I know Rivers is a big fan, but maybe it has to do with the Shaker hymn I haven't heard, I don't know.

    Also, all the different styles are just an accomplished band having fun playing, and creating something new.

    I still don't know about the radioactive line, or even if that is what he's singing at all, but I can't suggest anything better, so...

    But I think in some ways it's also a warning song about how inflated one's ego can get, when you become a "star". Because I have often found myself singing along and believing the lyrics about myself. It's a very seductive lifestyle, I imagine, being a rock star, and it must be easy to fall into that trap of thinking you're God because everyone is telling you you are, like the Facebook page about Rivers. So there's actually quite a lot going on in something that on first listen can seem quite shallow. That's the genius of Weezer, God bless 'em.

    And that's enough now. I've just finished a nightshift, so none of this probably makes any sense :)
    FishesWillLaughon May 16, 2011   Link
  • +2
    General Commenti love the "oh baby" part. rivers has such a great voice
    DaveyMHon May 19, 2008   Link
  • +2

    The entire song isn't about Cuomo or Weezer, or a mockery of any modern artist. Its about Macbeth!

    The main tipoff is when he says:
    Somebody said all the worlds is stage,
    And each of us is a player.
    That’s what I’ve been tryin’ to tell you.

    This line is a direct reference to Macbeth's reflection on the pointlessness of life when he states:
    Life's but a walking Shadow, a poor Player, That struts and frets his hour upon the Stage, And then is heard no more.

    The Act I and Act II is talking about the progression of Macbeth's character. In Act I he doubted himself and his motivations behind planning to murder the king. In Act II he does the deed and becomes the king.

    Finally, he literally claims the song's character's identity as Macbeth when he states:
    I’m the tops, I’m the king

    The entire song simply tells the perspective of a Macbeth-like character, be him modern or the real Macbeth himself. Its an exploration into the inner ego of someone who fuels his aspirations by solely what he wants and no one else.
    yoshiaryon June 16, 2008   Link
  • +2
    General Comment@Tiresias21: it could still be a reference to Macbeth, although I don't buy the rest of yoshiary's analysis.

    Macbeth, Act 5, Scene 5:
    Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player
    That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
    And then is heard no more: it is a tale
    Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
    Signifying nothing.

    As You Like It does fit better, but this is evidently what yoshiary was thinking of. I think it's hilarious that Rivers (the English graduate he is) calls Shakespeare "somebody".
    Domsteron July 29, 2008   Link
  • +1
    General CommentMove over Bohemian Rhapsody.
    thewordofrashion May 16, 2008   Link
  • +1
    General Commentthis is the greatest song that ever played
    I'll listen for days and days and days
    krazykarl920on May 16, 2008   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI think that rivers wrote this song to show his dislike of all the overly confident musicians out there and how they think they are the best ever when they aren't
    knutty830on May 18, 2008   Link
  • +1
    General Commentis the first verse full of sexual innuendo for anyone else?
    AWESOME SONG. will be listening to it for a week, at least...
    paytbiddon May 28, 2008   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI say fuck you to anyone who doesnt like this album or this song.
    fpoppqon June 03, 2008   Link
  • +1
    General CommentDoes anyone else think the line "I got the money and I got the fame" sound like the line "I got the money if you got the time" from Bright Eyes' "Lover I Dont Have To Love"?
    satansbrideon October 26, 2008   Link

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