Cage the Elephant: Shake Me Down Meaning
Song Released: 2010
Shake Me Down Lyrics
Not a lot of people left around,
Who knows now,
Softly laying on the ground, ooooh
Not a lot people left around, ooooh. ooooh
In my life, I have seen,
People walk into the sea,
Just to find memories,
Plagued by constant...
1TOP RATED#1 top rated interpretation:anonymous Jan 25th 2011 report
The video is an amazing piece of film, however, don't muddle the two.
The lyrics are amazing in their own separate entity. I do not wish to impose a religious tone but this song is dealing with death, and with death 99% of the world's population believe in something more. So I apologize if this takes on a religious tone, it is not my intention.
"Shake me down" -To shakedown is extortion, blackmail, threat or a thorough search. Is it the Devil, Death or just the inevitable course of life and time loss.
"Not a lot of people left around" -Friends/family/loved ones are and have been passing away.
"Who knows now" -Who knows how much time is left, for yourself and your loved ones.
"Softly laying on the ground, ooooh" -You softly lay the coffins into the ground. Graves. It refers to the deceased. The loved ones he has already lost. Or if you'd like it depicts him on the the ground by the gravestone of his wife who he had to burry.
"In my life, I have seen,People walk into the sea,Just to find memories,Plagued by constant misery" -Walk into the sea is referencing 'getting wet', a term used by substance abusers about getting high. The high helps them remember the happy memories and deal with the pain of losing someone because they are grieving in constant misery.
"Their eyes cast down,Fixed upon the ground,Their eyes cast down" -This depicts those who wallow in memories of loved ones. Fixed upon the ground and not looking ahead at life and moving forward. Cast down also indicates the loss of faith.
"I'll keep my eyes fixed on the sun" -Keeping his chin up and staying optimistic. Determined not to lose faith, keep looking up to God for strength. God being the light in the darkness. The sun pushes back the dark.
"Shake me down,
Cut my hair on a silver cloud" -From the proverb: Every cloud has a silver lining. Keeping faith and staying true to his word even though Devil/Death/life is giving him the shakedown. Staying optimistic.
"Broken sound" -It can be difficult to hear God's voice and keep faith.
"In my past, bittersweet,There's no love between the sheets" -Lost the love of his life. The cause of his pain and misery and questionable faith.
"Taste the blood,broken dreams,Lonely times indeed,With eyes cast down,Fixed upon the ground,Eyes cast down" -Reflecting on a dark period of life where he had no faith, no hope, was depressed, struggled to move on. It also offers insight on what he had to endure and what's revealed later in the lyrics.
"I'll keep my eyes fixed on the sun" -Trying to keep faith. Is keeping faith.
"Turn back now its time for me to let go,
Way down had to find a place to lay low,
Lampshade turned around into a light post" -Time to let go of the misery, guilt, of this dark place.Has hit 'rock bottom' and realizes a change needs to be made.The lampshad/light post is a metaphor for how low he is.
"Walk around the corner,Never saw it coming still,I try to make a move,It almost stopped me from belief,I don't wanna know the future,But I'm like rolling thunder" -Depicting the tragic event that took place of how he lost his wife. Walked around the corner and they never saw it coming, still he tries to make a move even now in his tragic memory of recounting the event. Almost stopped his belief in God altogether. Doesn't want to know the future:the proverbial "WHY". He doesn't care why, this has propelled him into darkness: I'm like rolling thunder is his metaphor to illustrate this. Listen to the anger/pain/misery.
"Even on a cloudy day,I'll keep my eyes fixed on the sun" -Still days that are harder/darker than others and are filled with pain and a lot of bad in the world, he'll still keep his faith and will look to God to see the light.
2TOP RATED#2 top rated interpretation:anonymous Mar 9th 2011 report
I belive this song is about inner self, someone who's constantly living in their past. "not a lot of people left around" they are alive but they are not mentally there, they are constantly looking down, they are pretty much nonexistent to people who have their head up moving on in life. It's life, we all have our past, some choose to keep it but we all know what it's like in someway, only a few people can accept that it's in the past and just keep their eyes fixed on the sun.
3TOP RATED#3 top rated interpretation:anonymous Jan 22nd 2011 report
"Not a lot of people left around" means that all his friends and family are dead.
"softly laying on the ground" there in there graves.
and as he goes for a run, it starts off snowing, then grayish grass, then dead leaves, i'm thinking hes go back into his memories, he finds his childhood hangout. When he goes inside he has flashbacks of past memories with family, friends, and a past love one. And when the bright light hits him its the light that brings you to heaven. He struggles to get though it because hes still morning all the deaths. Finally he accepts it and finds peace. All the people at the end are his friends and family that have died, hes finally reunited.
anonymous Nov 7th 2020 report
The song expresses the cycle one goes through as they attempt to see the positive in life and not the regrets and sorrow that’s so ubiquitous. The song talks about coming to terms with the pros and cons of the life while facing death. The song reminds me of Van Gogh’s paintings that represent the cycle of life.
This song communicates an amazing message of strength and positive rebellion when living through dark times in life. It relates to addiction, but can be applied equally to other difficulties faced in life.
The singer starts by letting you in to “shake him down.” As it relates to addiction, a shakedown is forceful removal of contraband, so he is opening himself up for you to literally check him for drugs (from the rest of the song, we know you won’t find anything). A shakedown is also a thorough search of something, so he is also inviting you to search his soul as he bares it to you through his story in this song.
The singer notes, “Not a lot of people left around/Softly laying on the ground” possibly referring to people dead from addiction or the fact that addiction is a disease that alienates you from those you love.
The singer first speaks about seeing other people unable to let go of their destructive past, choosing to drown in their memories and misery (walk into the sea) and fix their eyes on death (the ground). He then talks about himself and speaks about his own painful experiences. How he was hurt by something he thought was good (cut by a silver cloud – alluding to a silver lining – possibly drugs) and how he has been in the sea himself with his bittersweet memories (no love between the sheets, taste the blood, broken dreams, lonely times indeed) and fixed his eyes on death as the others have, but he makes the conscious decision that he will not be like those others or his past self and he will look up and live (I’ll keep my eyes fixed on the sun).
The song transitions and he says he won’t turn back (turn back – no, it’s time for me to let go) he’s choosing to let the past go; he is way down at the lowest point in his life (way down), but he will lay low and recover (had to find a place to lay low); and for a long time his light was hidden under a shade of darkness/addiction/pain (lampshade), but he will turn it around and become a light, tall and shining for all to see (turned around into a light post). Light posts can be seen shining the way on dark roads, so he can serve as a light for others out of the darkness.
He says his painful experience in the past caught him by surprise (never saw it coming) and nearly killed him (almost stopped me from belief), but he defiantly, victoriously declares that he’s not afraid to live or of what’s coming (I don’t want to know the future) because no matter what, he won’t be afraid, he’s strong like the rolling thunder in the middle of the storm (I’m like rolling thunder) and he will keep looking up to the sun, even on dark cloudy days in his life when it can’t be seen.
As a person who has survived an addiction to abusive relationships, this song speaks so clearly about the pain of addiction and the choice to live and leave it behind.
One last thing – I was also raised with a Christian background as were some of the band members, and though I always loved this song, I never realized until today thinking about the specific language that he used, that the phrase, “I’ll keep my eyes fixed on the sun” could also refer to Hebrews 12:1-2 which reads, “Let us run with endurance the race set out before us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus…” who is the Son (the sun).
I have no words for that kind of beauty and intelligence; this is a masterpiece.
anonymous Oct 24th 2013 report
Nope, the top rated is right. It's about God.
anonymous Sep 25th 2011 report
I think its about staying proud of your self, and like confident, because it says " eyes cast down" so people are looking down on them. And the I keep my eyes on the sun even on a cloudy day, so I will have my head up even if its a bad day.
anonymous Sep 21st 2011 report
Shake me down (mearning extortion, blackmail and a host of other things etc) is almost an instruction, he is telling the world that he does not care what happens to him anymore. He says not a lot of people left around meaning he has lost people to death, to drugs, or simply lost touch with friends and loved ones. So he doesnt care if the world shakes him down its not like anyone cares anyway. Who knows now means who really knows whats happening the world is littered with different beliefs and ideas its all overwhelming and no one really knows or can be sure of anything. Softly laying on the ground could symbolise death or just giving up or feeling like giving up laying meay mean dreaming or thinking about what to do.
Cut my hair on a silver cloud means even the good things have some kind of negativity in this frame of mind. Broken sound is the taking away of a voice of a melody silence is associated with death or thought. Il keep my eyes fixed on the sun means i will stay fixed on the goal through adversity. People walk into the sea is suicide the ultimate in hopelessness walking into the sea so that your life can flash before your eyes. Just to find memories. Plagued by constant misery is guilt and regret possibly pain. But it is definitely self loathe. Theres no love between the sheets means love is lost there was possibly infidelity, between the sheets is a reference to intimate love which is non existent. taste the blood broken dreams. he regrets the sacrifices he made to get to that point but he will keep on trying and try to get past it all.
anonymous Jul 9th 2011 report
The song is no more and no less than the capturing of the feeling of optimism. The top rated is much ado about nothing. The lyrics merely capture the common feelings of loneliness, regret, etc. associated with the human condition and the hopeful tone of optimism to contrast. There are no reasons for any of the feelings including the optimism, the hope, the determination. The sound itself carries the complex but pure feeling we all seem to share. There is no plot to it. It is not the video though it applies. Quit making the lyrics mean what you want them to mean. They have enough meaning without the extra bs. "To shakedown is extortion, blackmail, threat or a thorough search. Is it the Devil, Death or just the inevitable course of life and time loss." Are you serious? Or shake me down could just be his unorthodox description of the feeling (I can't emphasize enough these are just feelings) of the world trying to knock/shake him down. I believe he is trying to show dark feelings with an echoing distance and the will to transcend it with a choice to hope. This choice springs as inexplicably as the opposing feelings and doesn't have to make any more sense than the feelings or consequently the lyrics describing such feelings.
P.S. In the video, a woman greets the man after death. Who is she? I might be blind but she looked like his wife though mother would make more sense seeing as how the wife is alive and mourning... Somehow I would find it less creepy if the wife whispered something in his ear, but maybe that's just me. Any ideas?
anonymous May 19th 2011 report
The music video is about a man that is dying and his life is passing through his eyes. The part when he meets his young love who's embracing his face as he frowns, he is worried about that she won't move on when he is leaving her (about to die). He then walks into the light and he sees all his loved ones (family and friends etc.). He brought them all to his "dream/the otherside" to say good bye one last time. Then his wife is walking towards him and whispers "I'll keep my eyes fixed on the sun" you can see before that everybody is letting go of a khom loy (floating lantern). The floating part shows that they are moving on and for him it is a relief for him knowing that his family and friends are going to do well after his death. The night represents the hard times everybody has gone through and the light from the khom loys as it blurrs and goes higher up towards the stars represents that they are looking up towards the sun, they got their hopes back. Even in the dark times, there is light. As it goes back down to the ground from the sky, there is no one left, meaning he was now ready to let go of the world and you see him laying dead on his bed next to his wife and he can now rest in peace because he knows that they will do okey after his death. At the end when he is walking on the beach, I think it is connected with "In my life, I have seen,People walk into the sea,Just to find memories,Plagued by constant misery". But I'm too tired to find some meaning in it ^^
anonymous Apr 25th 2011 report
There are a lot of meanings that this song can have depending how deep you go into the lyrics, but i feel that the overall meaning that can be seen in all of these responses is to stay hopeful. Whether it be religous or dying, or staying sober, it constantly talks about how others linger in the past and stay depressed(their eyes cast down, fixed upon the ground).
Shake me down can be as simple as just letting the world do whatever it can to make him loose strength. But he stays hopeful and strong, keeping his eyes fixed upon the sun
anonymous Apr 15th 2011 report
Walking into the sea is often a literary metaphor for suicide -- I think it a little more subtly here -- it's the narrator expressing how he sees people under the stress of loss and misery give up or succumb -- as opposed to him -- "I'll keep my eyes fixed on the sun" -- he tries to be opptomistic, big picture, but ultimately we all die.
It's a beautiful song for sure and video tell's the story well; obviously the lyrics have much greater subtlety and play on words, leaving room for multiple interpretations.
anonymous Mar 26th 2011 report
Read The Road. Not a lot of people left around refers to the man's thought while walking. Who knows now because all communication broke down. Their eyes cast down refers to the breakdown of morality but the man keeps his eyes fixed on the sun, noted as keeping the fire at the end of the book. Most obviously, imo is that he mentions they need to reach the sea, a huge goal for the characters in the first half of The Road. I don't care how craxy this analysis may sound, I hold steadfastly to it.
anonymous Mar 17th 2011 report
I think he's talking about when the zombie apocalypse happens. :D
anonymous Mar 17th 2011 report
I thought it was about staying sober, the sea reference, the make a move, cloudy day, all refering to staying sober. No one left around meaning all known users either dead, unknown, or clean. Then he mentions how hard it is to stay clean but keeps his eyes on the sun. Didn't think it was that complicated, I love the song but it sounds over produced and fear corporate music has got me pegged.
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anonymous Feb 23rd 2011 report
I would have to agree with a lot of the point's in interpretation by anonymous Jan 25th. I do, however, believe the video and the song are linked together in perfect time, and the video shows a large part of the song's symbolism. I believe "People walk into the sea, just to find memories, plauged by constant misery" means that these people that have cast their eyes down on the ground or worldly worries ,and "walking into the sea" as meaning as so over come and drowning, or crushed under the weight. "I'll keep my eyes fixed on the sun", means just that, looking at the big picture optimistically. I also believe that the word "sun" can also be referring to son of man, or Jesus. Towards the end of the video where there was a open field full of people, only one seemed to know the jogger, his wife. Tied in with this the phrase "Not alot of people left around", which means lost friends and loved ones, can also be seen as rapture as the whole group is sent upwards as a group. The majority of people would agree with the symbolism, as everybody believes or at least hopes for a better place after life. In the context of Christianity the same applies, you have to keep your eyes fixed on the son throught a life surrounded by the hopeless that are only hurting themselves by being caught up in the lies and noise of this world, "walking into the sea". The majority of people would not understand the last things that I have just said, and not actually heard it. Beautiful song.
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