The Shins: The Rifle's Spiral Meaning
Song Released: 2012
The Rifle's Spiral Lyrics
You pour your life down the rifle's spiral
And show us you've earned it!
Cleric's fog will recede right before your eyes!
So long to this wretched form!
Them grey eyes on the subway
Long before you were born
anonymous May 25th 2012, 21:29 report
Death in War.
"Dead lungs command it, you pour your life down the rifle's spiral" Commanders (dead men walking) give commands for soldiers to go forth into battle - essentially the soldiers putting their life into the hands of their rifles, and at the mercy of the enemies', throwing or 'pouring' their life away.
"Clerics fog will recede right before your eyes" Many wars, current and past, are based off religious spins to drive a sense of that culture or peoples morality into the war for support. But once as a soldier out on the field, dying, you realize everything they said was for nothing. All the reasons they gave you fall away and you are left with the grim reality of war.
"So long to this wretched form" Death of the soldier, he no longer has to be a glorified murderer of men, women and children. He no longer has to commit the atrocities of war.
"Long before you were born, you were always to be a dagger floating, straight to their heart" Likely a reference to the children born during wartime, who are exposed only to the propaganda of war. The soldier was born into a culture of fighting and recruitment - and had no choice but to be born into the role of a soldier - and to be sent into war against the enemy to strike at their "heart"
"Listen, now, we won't tell anyone.
But you're gonna tell the world.
This whole life ain't been any fun
Now your viscera unfurls."
This verse is very clear that life as a soldier is grim and is a struggle of death, suffering, and a lack of black and white morality. The soldier has suffered through war, and now finally he has been mortally wounded, "viscera unfurls".
"As you rise, rise from your burning fiat,Go, go get my suitcase, would you?" Freed by death, the soldier no longer has to obey the futile commands to his death. The suitcase reference demonstrates Mercer's view that war is petty and soldiers are sent to their deaths for pathetic causes.
"You're not invisible, now.
You just don't exist.
Your mother must be so proud.
You sublimate yourself, granting us a wish."
This verse, post death of the soldier, explains he is no longer alive - ceased to exist. Their 'mother must be so proud' - is is noble to have a son die at war for their country.
"Primitive mural on the wall,
to fortify your grim resolve.
And made the glitz of a shopping mall
another grain of indigent salt to the sea."
War memorials are placed to remember the soldier(s) so that we can show respect for how our government, and the governments of other countries killed them. The 'glitz' is how they are glorified and romanticized as out sons and daughters who died for us, but as another grain of poor salt in a sea of countless who have died for the same reasons - only to see more wars over and over again.
The fundamental theme of the song is the futility of war - and the little value placed on human life for what are trivial and petty interests thrust upon the common man by corporates, politics and (religious) officials.
anonymous May 22nd 2012, 03:02 report
The song is about an escape, to freedom of thought.
the dead lungs mean that this person has nothing to say, but when the dead lungs command it,they command for him to speak out.
the line"you pour your life down the rifle's spiral" is describing something you dedicate yourself to. the rifle's spiral.
when the song says "cleric's fog" it's talking about a cleric or a person in a clergy or a religious group who believe something. but the "fog" is the belief. and a fog/belief can sometimes be blinding. so when this fog/belief is receding(going away) the person can see the truth and meaning about the belief and judge it for himself.
so after the person sees the truth behind the group and what they believe in, the person wants to leave because he knows it's not right for him."so long to these wretched forms"
but when he leaves, his life is hard because being in this group is everything. and now that he's looking the other way, people look down on him.
so after the person leaves this group, the person tries to strike back by getting others to see what he sees.
but after he fails, he falls into a depression never to be seen, when he goes away, he's doing the group a favor by not opposing them, while he's here, he also judges himself to have always been one of them.
but"glitz of a shopping mall" means that a shopping mall has many different choices, so when he sees this he then knows that he can be whatever he wants to be.
so the person goes about the rest of his life with the freedom to think and believe whatever he wants to, he describes himself as a grain of salt in a sea, and the sea is just a another way of saying "the rest of the people who are just like him"
when the person realizes this, he goes along with his own free life with not a single care of how anyone else thinks of him.
" so long before you were born you were always to be a floating dagger straight to their heart" explains that this person was always to be the one person who rises form this fiat(order)and does what he wants to do.
anonymous May 3rd 2012, 23:35 report
Seems to be a representation of a war.
"You were always to be a dagger floating
Straight to their heart, And now I must have passage on the lines. To the veins from your heart" Would indicate attacking the enemy,
"You pour your life down the rifle's spiral" would be essentially the same, but also keeping yourself alive.
Viscera are your soft innards.
Gray eyes would be gloomy.
And to earn a stripes, badges, and ranks in war you've got to prove it.
"You pour your life down the rifle's spiral"
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