"Cage & Aquarium" as written by and John S./flansburgh Linnell....
Somebody's reading your mind
Damned if you know who it is
They're digging through all of your files
Stealing back your best ideas
You cover your windows with lead
Even keeping the pets outside
Then you hear a moment too late this sound coming over the phone

This is the spawning of the cage and aquarium
Don't wait a moment too soon
Used to be different, now you're the same
Yawn as your plane goes down in flames
This is the spawning of the cage and aquarium
Don't wait a moment too soon
Used to be different, now you're the same
Yawn as your plane goes down in flames

Lyrics submitted by qshapadooy

"Cage & Aquarium" as written by John Linnell John Flansburgh

Lyrics © Warner Chappell Music, Inc.

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Cage & Aquarium song meanings
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  • 0
    General CommentI've always liked this song, but it took me awhile to understand it. I think it's about Hippies turning into Yuppies against thier will. "Spawning of the Cage and Aquarium" = "Dawning of the Age of Aquarius". The corporation/establishment is stealing back your best ideas and turning your individuality against itself yourself.

    It reminds me of the Marketing industry categorizing consumer groups and targeting them. By putting people into groups you make them the same (used to be different now your the same). And of course the "cage and aquarium" both represent things to keep people in groups.

    Of course, I could be wrong :)
    dhavalon June 14, 2002   Link
  • 0
    General CommentNo, you're on the right track. Also, note that a cage and an aquarium are both transparent. You have no privacy, and the people who have imprisoned you can see everything you're doing, and can know everything about you ("somebody's reading your mind"). Scary. And there's nothing you can do about it... you're already trapped. As your life is destroyed ("goes down in flames"), you might just as well yawn.
    wdfarmeron March 30, 2003   Link
  • 0
    General Commentthat sounds right,. at first, i thought it was about how people have captured and endangered animals. Cage and Aquarium representing animal captivity and such to basically describe how mankind is dominating animals cruelly. but yours actually sounds better
    Rodan2000on October 30, 2004   Link
  • 0
    General CommentWow. I never thought about that.

    I can almost cry now. This hit me hard, and I don't know why.
    Malkavianon April 01, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThe resemblance: "dawning"/"spawning", "age"/"cage", "Aquarius/"aquarium"...this can't be a coincidence.

    "Used to be different/Now you're the same" reflects a hippie/yuppie dichotomy. Freak/conformity. (Although being a hippie: isn't that conforming, if all your friends have long hair, tie-dye and Birkenstocks? But it's a style which once was once regarded as nonconformist.)

    Particularly baffling: the line, "Yawn as your plane goes down in flames."

    Maybe it's related to all the paranoia imagery in the verse. Fear of invasive telepathy; you use bizarre means in an attempt to block it.

    Meanwhile, you're not paying attention to the things which--from a rational point-of-view--truly are dangerous. It's more likely you'd die in a plane crash than that everyone's out to get you. But you're unconcerned ("yawn") about that.
    foreverdroneon May 18, 2010   Link
  • 0
    General Commenti can't help but agree with a lot of the interpretation that's been posted before my humble addition, so hey, well done, all. it's also nice to see TMBG's older trick of retooling lyrics from other tunes to fit in with their songs have a strong impact on the overall message people pick up.

    but yeah, i'm not totally content with what i've come up with, mainly because my initial reaction was to the 2nd half of the song (probably because of the repetition/more distinct lyrics). but anyway...

    my first notion was that of a plane crash.
    the moment a passenger plane hits the water (despite recent miraculous events), it because a cage, and soon thereafter, an aquarium.
    while a moment before the violent descent all the passengers were individuals, on to their rent-a-cars, and limousines, and awaiting relatives with the mini-van, and then their separate lives, as soon as the altitude plummeted, they were all the same basic person, struggling through same basic crash procedures (oxygen mask, seat belt, assume the crash position), shouting the same basic pleas until impact, where they sink an only manage to create a dull yawning sound as they drift down towards the fate awaiting.
    again, working back from this to the first half of the song, i can try to stretch that they've closed the window shades, and the pets are fastened in back with the luggage. i could even try to go so far as to say that the rest of the opening stanza refers to an announcement over the intercom on what everyone should be doing, (and yes it would be under pressure in a very tense situation), but really aren't all of the emergency procedures kind of common sense when you think about it? did they need the voice to remind them what their survival instincts are silently telling them to do?
    of course it's all for nothing in the end. they decorate the aquarium soon...

    thanks for reading if you have!
    i know some of this may be out of nowhere, and i repeat, i do like and agree with much of what's already been posted. i guess i was hoping that i could "direct your attention to the [preceding] simile" and maybe provide a slanted view of the Hippy-->Yuppy evolution.
    KSOfmon November 27, 2010   Link
  • 0
    General Commentit becomes* a cage.

    KSOfmon December 01, 2010   Link

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