The lady said to the tiger as they stood behind some doors,
"I'm sick of this job; I don't know what we're waiting here for.
I'm turning off life support. I'm putting an end to this joke."
The tiger thought about this and then the tiger spoke.

"Starving the beast, at the very least, will just increase its hunger.
Go right ahead and starve me dead. It will only make me stronger.

The lady said, "I'm busting out of this prison.
I've got laser vision, and I'm burning a hole in the wall."
The tiger said, "Wait, you'll start a fire,
Destroy the entire lady and the tiger hall."

"Felines and dames in flames will hardly serve your aims.
Do you surmise it's wise to have laser beams emitting from your eyes?"

"Point taken, cat; I can well see that our lives are worth protecting,
But i submit it's time we quit this hoping and expecting."

"Felines and dames in flames will hardly serve my aims,
But in my dreams it seems that my eyes are always shooting laser beams"

The hall remains; it still contains a pair of doors, a choice.
Behind one door, a muffled roar; behind the other, a voice.

Lyrics submitted by aaronjsolomon

The Lady and the Tiger song meanings
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  • +3
    General CommentI submitted the lyrics just to comment on this.

    First of all, the hook in this song is awesome--classic TMBG--and shows that they can still bring the special sauce even after all these years. Kudos, Johns & co.

    This is another brilliant Linnell lyric that explores the perspective of a person or thing that is normally only considered an object (e.g. "Birdhouse in Your Soul" written from the perspective of a nightlight).

    "The Lady, or the Tiger?" (see below for link) is a Victorian-era short story that contains then-established themes of Orientalism, as well as then-emerging interest in psychology. As such, the story is something of a "bridge" between two eras, as its setting is firmly Victorian in sensibility, while the thought experiment that it posed was a literary innovation, and foreshadowed the scientific rationalism that would characterize the post-Victorian world.

    The author of the short story presents a complex thought experiment by placing a character in a harsh dilemma--he must open one of two doors, behind one is a beautiful woman for him to marry, and behind the other a hungry tiger. The character must choose blindly, knowing that the wrong choice will result in a gruesome death. (Actually, the scenario in the story is more complex than that--again, see link below.)

    Cf. "Birdhouse," Linnell has inverted conventional perspective, and written a dialogue between the lady and the tiger as they wait for one of the doors to open. In my interpretation, their dialogue concerns their being stuck behind these doors eternally, since they are essentially props in a mental experiment that will never be resolved. (The short story ends the moment before a door is opened.) There are also shades of Schroedinger's cat--living beings trapped inside an eternal limbo created by an intellectual construct.

    Re: laser beams: Linnell often includes whimsically anachronistic or otherwise out-of-place elements in his songs, which often seem to be done for humor as much as anything. My initial weak interpretation is that the lady's "laser beams" are such an element, although I concede they may be substantively symbolic. One of the reasons I was motivated to post these lyrics (my first) was that I was very interested in hearing further deconstruction, as I suspect there are additional layers of meaning to this great song.…
    aaronjsolomonon July 16, 2011   Link

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