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Pink Floyd: Sheep Meaning


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Sheep Lyrics

Harmlessly passing your time in the grassland away
Only dimly aware of a certain unease in the air
You better watch out
There may be dogs about
I've looked over Jordan and I have seen
Things are not what they seem.

What do you get for...

  1. anonymous
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    Jan 31st report

    It’s interesting that people pass on the responsibility of being immoral to a shepherd. I mean I get it but we are all part of the society that ‘Animals’ illustrates. So we are all responsible for it. And there isn’t a metaphor for a shepherd on this album.

    There’s Pigs, who are misguided corporate swills. There’s Dogs, who live the exciting illegal life and die as a consequence. Pigs and Dogs compete for the sustenance provided by ignorant Sheep, who are comforted by prayers, and die in blissful ignorance, their lives nothing but packaged food for those who choose to live inside or outside the system.

  2. kooljohn176
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    Feb 5th 2016 report

    A ROGER WATERS song with PINK FLOYD as the Protagonist getting into playing the part of ''The Wolf In Sheep's Clothing'' to warn The Flock of the dangers of what may come to march, by educating us [the sheep], while exposing the evilness who guides and prepares the sheep after grazing them on the green grasslands to fatten them towards the slaughterhouse of a ''Soylent Green'' world of future shock by the ''Members'' of ''The Super Elite Class'' who have the mentality of wolfs and pigs in disguise that influence and control the masses of people[sheep] in hiding and using the name of ''THE GOOD SHEPARD'' that had his ''DOGS''[sheep's watchers and protectors] killed. Where now we are more vulnerable to be at the mercy of the wolfs with pigish hunger that are slowly coming to round the sheep [us] for the potential kill, if we don't listen and obey to what we're told out on the streets,in our homes and even in some so called churches. Where ''We The People'' should remember the quote by Alexander The Great when he said '' I'AM NOT AFRAID OF AN ARMY OF LIONS {WOLFS} LED BY A SHEEP; I'AM AFRAID OF AN ARMY OF SHEEP LED BY A LION [WOLF]''

  3. anonymous
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    Nov 5th 2011 report

    Sheep = the name for people who blindly join/become the masses and follow whatever it may be that's the thing of the time. This may be God, or it may be the new God, £. When people become this way, they're a
    Danger to themselves and others.

    The whole song is a metaphor for human beings who have no insight into their condition and just accept everything they're told. Of course, the danger is that trouble is around the corner and by the time one realises it, it's too late. It's a warning against complacency. Look at the state of the economy, environment, society etc... This song is as relevant now as it's ever been.

    And dogs can be sheep too.

    BTW It has nothing to do with GO.

  4. anonymous
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    Sep 2nd 2011 report

    I totally concur with Ramone and only add that Pink Floyd and Roger Waters seem to have an affinity with animal imagery. And whilst I have no doubt Roger Waters would have read 1984 and Animal Farm at some point, I think the only effect Orwell had on this album was that Waters may have just thought animals make brilliant metaphors. Plus, at the time, animal imagery was all the rage in England.

    I love this album because I believed it was the most 'fun' album Pink Floyd ever made. A 45 minute cryptic crossword where the clues are sung to you.

    For me 'Sheep' is about Roger Waters' favourite subject - war. Or more specifically, those who fight wars, the lambs to the slaughter.

    I think it's first told from the point of view of a veteran of war who is trying to caution those who are 'harmlessly passing their time in the grassland away', but then he seems more passive, taking on the role of an observer, looking on in resignation as the world goes to war again. The dogs here are not the same as the dogs from 'Dogs'. I believe these are Marc Antony's dogs, as in 'cry 'Havoc!' and let slip the dogs of war!'

    Also, I believe the reference to Jordan is less about the country or river and more about the song 'Swing Low Sweet Chariot', which is a song about death. Waters seems to be saying 'death is not a chariot ride. It's ugly.' Or put more elegantly, 'I have looked over Jordan and I have seen - things are not what they seem.'

    My favourite verse of any of Roger Waters' lyrics;
    'What do you get for pretending the danger's not real?
    Meek and obedient you follow the leader
    Down well-trodden corridors into the valley of steel'

    That last line is perfect songwriting, rhythmically and thematically, it just rolls off the tongue and it neatly sums up the process of Basic Training and the segue to war using the imagery of an abattoir. (loooove iiit!)

    Then we have the reality of war sinking in.

    Then the POV shifts from the observer to a lamb (soldier) reciting a parody of the 23rd Psalm. (not incidentally, the 23rd Psalm is usually spoken before entering a fray)

    Then we're into it - lambs to the slaughter. Then...

    'Have you heard the news? The dogs are dead!
    You better stay home and do as you're told
    Get out of the road if you want to grow old.'

    I don't think Waters' is suggesting that an uprising has occurred at the end. I think that's staring a bit hard into the soup.

    For mine, we're back to the veteran, who proclaims that war is dead. Those that have survived have only to live the rest of their lives in quiet passivity to die of old age.

    Hey, I didn't say he wasn't morbid.

  5. anonymous
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    Aug 6th 2011 report

    A lot of people interpret Animals as being inspired by Orwell's Animal Farm and I think this is valid. However, for me, the target in Animals is western capitalistism rather than the Communist eastern bloc.

    The 'Dogs' are clearly the businessmen/middle classes (the club tie, the firm handshake, the sudden look in the eye and the easy smile), the 'Pigs' are politicians and religious moralisers (Mary Whitehouse is referenced by name - some may say the 'rat bag' is Thatcher, the 'pig man' Callaghan?) and the Sheep are clearly the working class. Oppressed by ignorance and religion the song chides them for willfully ignoring what's going on as they are led to the slaughter (valley of steel = abbatoir?). Interesting that they revolt at the end but there is a dark ending to the song, hinting that a revolution is only followed by another form of oppression (you better stay home and do as you're told).

  6. anonymous
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    Nov 28th 2009 report

    Dogs sheep and pigs 3 kinds of people I rink this album alone has to Do with the book animal farm and I leave the rest for you intellectuals to find out.

  7. anonymous
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    May 28th 2008 report

    I can't believe you all! This album was written and based on
    a particular book.. and then it was made into a movie.. I think... but I definitely know that the album symbolises society.. The people such as sheep the followers the dogs like business people etc.. So make what you want of it :D I personally love it :D

    This interpretation has been marked as poor. view anyway
  8. anonymous
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    Aug 7th 2007 report

    The Jordan thing is possibly a reference to the river; it would vaguely mesh with the 'the lord is my shepherd' bit. Also, the Jordan was the Israelite's last crossing on the way to the promised land- but for the sheep, god's kingdom is, of course, the slaughterhouse.

    There may possibly be a parallel between the Valley of Death (mentioned in the 'the lord is my shepherd' psalm) and the Valley of Steel as well...

    I don't think the song is *just* an ironic portrayal of religious complacence; I agree with the last poster that it's about people who follow the pack in general, and religion is just a specific instance, as is politics.

    It's interesting that it changes at the end from 'the grassland' to 'staying home' and 'getting out of the road'; maybe it's a hint that the sheep *have* taken over the farm, Orwell-style, and are now living indoors! Although it could also be just drawing attention to the fact that the sheep represent people; the comparison is less overt in this song than in the others. 'Dogs' and 'Pigs' are more about people who resemble animals, whereas 'Sheep' is an analogy between animals and people.

    Also interesting that the dogs cross over into this song, but are sort of a threat that never materialises; it's the farmer who's the real danger. This might also explain the change at the end to mentioning 'home' and 'the road'; if sheep were in charge, there really would be no more threat, but because attention is drawn to the fact that the sheep are only a metaphor, we know that the new people in charge are corrupt as well.

    I had a biology teacher in high school who told us, specifically in relation to Pink Floyd, that sheep could indeed rebel against humans if they wanted to. Strange man.

  9. anonymous
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    May 3rd 2007 report

    I agree with Ramone that it is not about the Russian Revolution. I think the album is criticizing Capitalism. Dogs is about how businessmen or people in general have to back stab each other to get to the top. Then they crack under the pressure, "dragged down by the stone" and end up isolated "all alone and dying of cancer."

    "I've looked over Jordan and I've seen, things are not what they seem." Does anyone know this reference to Jordan? I think sheep is how people don't question the government. It is also more than just political. I think it also talking generally about how people follow the pack because they feel they are incapable of thinking or doing for themselves. Kind of like that mindless sheep above me.

  10. ramone
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    Mar 1st 2007 report

    I'm sorry, this has nothing to do with George Orwell's Animal Farm. That's just stupid. They both paint Pigs as the greedy animals, but that's where the similarities end. It's obvious this album is based on some of the dirty dealings and greed inspired by Western Capitalism. Animal Farm was a book criticizing Russian Communism. Old Major was Lenin, the founder of Communism. The two pigs after (Snowball and Napoleon I believe) were supposed to be Stalin and Trotsky. They worked together at first, but eventually Napoleon (Stalin) ran Snowball (Trotsky) out and in real life he was killed in Mexico. As you can see Animal Farm is clearly about Russian Communism during the mid-1900s, and I think it's obvious that the album Animals is NOT.

  11. anonymous
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    Sep 26th 2006 report

    The entire animals album is an homage to george orwell's 1984.
    The song sheep is about the shock one undergoes when they "look up" from their normal daily life into the corrupt, immoral and deadly game of politics and law. The sheep is the common man, the prole, the unsuspecting Joe working class.
    Dogs are the operative layer. They are the cops and robbers, the grifters and swindlers of the three tiered system of the farm.
    Pigs are the ruling class who stretch logic and reason to justify the exploitation of the other classes for their own benefit.
    Obviously, orwell's animal farm is a leftist revolution that quickly dissolves into a right wing nightmare. It mimics the russian revolution devolving into stalin and the yeshov terror. But, the roles settled into on the farm are the same in a communist or capitalist system.

  12. anonymous
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    Mar 2nd 2006 report

    This song is about the communist takeover of the world, which communists believed would happen, but didn't. The dogs are "cutthroat" capatalist buisnessman, and the sheep are "oppressed" workers who get fed up and unite and destroy the dogs, as communists wished would happen in real life. At the end of the song though it seems it ends up worse for the "sheep" as it did in communist Russia.

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