Red Hot Chili Peppers: Slow Cheetah Meaning
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Slow Cheetah Lyrics
Will never never do there is no med
No medicine to take
I've had a chance to be insane
Asylum from the falling rain
I've had a chance to break
It's so bad it's got to be good
Slow Cheetah is by far one of the best songs on Stadium Arcadium. Alone, the title itself represents a paradox, which is clearly obvious.
He begins narrating himself and refers to his drug use as are found in many other of their songs. "Waking up dead" is another paradox but it is easier to translate because it explains his pathologic activity. Perhaps the reason he cannot think is because of his drug use or other reasons. In the second line, "there is no med" at first, represents medication however, another meaning could be medium; meaning that there no rationale in his head. This introduces extremist idealogy which is harder to interpret.
His "chance to be insane" was his chance to be madly in love with the girl described later on. Love is complicated in itself and has many interpretations so this is irrelevant to the content which I am interpreting.
"Mysterious girl misunderstood, dressed like a wedding cake" portrays a metaphor symbolizing the stereotypical bride. The chili peppers want to show the listener that everyone has their own style and it is further upon them to make themselves understood in a society that has so much say and never hesitate. Also, when they tell the girl that she will never look like the woman on the magazine is another link to this subject. Magazines such as Cosmo influence self-conscious women about their bodies, sexual desires, and overall beliefs. How can a woman really know her name if she didn't give it to her herself?
Slow Cheetah is an escatic imagery in itself. Cheetahs are the fastest animals on earth but in this scenario, the cheetah is conserving its energy. The cheetah symbolizes the love between the two. They can go fast, fall in love, get married, etc. but why do it if you know it is going to happen? Why not justify the reasons and explanations for such karma? The Slow Cheetah also comes to the forest, most likely curious. Perhaps it's about the cautiousness in the love and direction they are going.
Finally, this song is trying to get the message out that; even if you have the power to do whatever it is you can do, ask yourself why you are doing what is you can do? A cheetah is fast, but is always has many other unique characteristics. The woman must not listen to the noise and become that woman on the magazine cover. Rather she should change her job, hair, location, etc. and interpret her own dreams and actions.
anonymous Dec 21st, 2006 12:01pm report
I think the song is about slowing down. I saw in an interview to the rhcp, they said that, it was about stoping the franctic life people led, an slowing down. No matter if it´s drug abuse, love, or anything else. Sometimes you need to stop, and star slowly, calmly, to take time to finally think and stop the rush decisions. At least, that is what they said in it, and it fits with my perspective of the song.
anonymous Jun 9th, 2016 6:53pm report
This song is about his use of drugs.
"Waking up dead inside of my head, will never never do, there is no med, no medicine to take"
This part can mean multiple things, but the one I think makes the most sense is that after using drugs, he wakes up the next day wishing he hadn't done it. There is no true "cure" to a drug user's urges.
"I've had a chance to be insane, asylum from the falling rain, I've had a chance to break"
This part is about breaking away from society's norm. Him having a chance to be insane and break away is about just that. "Asylum from the falling rain" means that if he broke away, he would not have to deal with the judgment and criticism of the norm. The falling rain is the judgment and criticism.
"It's so bad, it's got to be good, mysterious girl misunderstood, dressed like a wedding cake"
Drugs are bad for your health, but the user feels good while using them. The mysterious girl is the drugs, because girl is a street term for heroin. They are dressed like a wedding cake - meaning it may look good, but it is not.
"Any other day and I might play a funeral march for Bonnie Brae, why try to run away"
Any other day he may have gone down to the street of Bonnie Brae to purchase drugs. He calls it a funeral march because of what the drugs do to his body. Why try to run away means he is giving in to the addiction.
"Slow cheetah come before my forest, looks like it's on today.
Slow cheetah come, it's so euphoric, no matter what they say"
Again this has many meaning. Slow cheetah can mean speed balling (cocaine, fast, heroin, slow), breaking away from society's norm again (slow cheetah is extremely paradoxical), death (Native Americans believed the cheetah is a constant predator: it chases you from when you are born and eventually catches up and kills you), the drugs themselves (the euphoria induced when using drugs), or marriage (taking it slow and not rushing in).
"I know a girl, she worked in a store, she knew not what her life was for. She barely knew her name"
This references his old lover, who worked in a store. She was unsure of what to do in her life, and hadn't really been making a name for herself, just living a cookie-cutter life.
"They tried to tell her she would never be as happy as the girl in the magazine. She bought it with her pay"
Society told her she needed to be like women in magazines, beautiful, but fake. She bought it with her pay means she gave in and followed the mold and that she believed what those people said.
"Walking on down to the burial ground, it's a very old dance with a merry old sound. Looks like it's on today. (Chorus 2x)"
The burial ground meaning is similar to that of him making a funeral march to Bonnie Brae, heading toward his grave due to drugs. Unfortunately I am unsure of the merry old dance.
anonymous Jan 7th, 2015 1:49pm report
Slow cheetah imho represents an addicts reflection on waking up in withdrawal, and the deep desire to justify mixing cocaine with heroin, thr heroin being the slow, the cocaine of course the cheetah.
A euphoric combination despite its inherent dangers. So bad its good. I won't expand, except say I agree with many interpretations on many levels. And this literal meaning of slow cheetah is no stretch. But of course, like any real art, poetry, meaning extends outward, in this case from the literal to symbolic icons from within the psyche. Ultimately, true art extends beyond that into thr realm of each observer, giving the piece unique meaning to the individual. Good work folks.
anonymous Jun 20th, 2014 6:17am report
I think, this song refers to somebody, who doesn't realize his real potential („slow cheetah“, metaphor for somebody who is wild and fast by nature, but acts slow to please the society). This person is too much fixated on what people say and on the external world, and tries desperately to fit in a society, which has close-minded opinions. This person listens to people, who say „you will never be as happy as...“ and lets other people define his/her identity („she barely knew her name“), instead of following his/her own intuition. Because she isn't happy deep in the heart, she tries to fill the emptiness with superficial, material things („she bought it with her pay“). Against these feelings of emptiness and loneliness, there is no med. Drugs can stun these feelings for a while, but there is always an awakening („waking up dead inside my head“).
The speaker himself says, he "had a chance to be insane“, means, he had a justification to not have to fit in the society, to be different. From people who are mentally ill, it isn't expected that they fulfill the demands of society, so he had „asylum from the falling rain“ and therefore some kind of freedom. For him, it was possible to regain his freedom („I had a chance to break“), to grow in confidence, to eventually swear off drugs and to find true happiness. In contrast to the girl from the store, who doesn't have the courage to change her life and to be herself. The inner conflict of living a lie and the related incoherence and discrepancy between what somebody is and what he/she pretends to be, comes out in the last verse, where a merry old song is played on the burial ground. Putting a good face on the matter because it is wished-for and not to live out true emotions, is the real tragedy. This song is great because it plays ingeniously with oxymorons and contraries. The oxymoron symbolizes the disunity inside of a person.
anonymous May 10th, 2014 5:45pm report
This song is about drugs... probably. Idk
anonymous Dec 22nd, 2011 12:38pm report
For me this a very bitter song about suicide.
anonymous Jun 12th, 2011 6:18pm report
I think its about being what you're not supposed to be. A cheetah is supposed to be fast, right? They're talking about a slow cheetah. That's how I see it.
anonymous Feb 8th, 2011 2:49am report
Slow Cheetah is death.
Slow cheetah come before my forest
Looks like it's on today
Slow cheetah come it's so euphoric
no matter what they say
anonymous Nov 3rd, 2010 11:18am report
This song is about how cheetahs eat anything they want and can also climb trees
anonymous Mar 30th, 2010 3:58am report
don't read too far into this one, the message is simple. Love doesn't need to be blunt to be powerful, and vague expression is uniquely attractive. The cheetah is the lover. The cheetah is slow to act but it is still a cheetah. By this virtue, the recipient recognizes the power and is also enticed by it, regardless of status quo interpretations of what love may be.
anonymous Jan 28th, 2010 1:07pm report
i really think the title explains it all...i know that's been said a few times below. obviously, cheetahs are quick to act, and i think this song is all about approaching life some degree of reservation. there are several lines that make social commentaries throughout the verses; i think anthony is cautioning against living life with the thougtlessness and reckless abandon he sees around him. it's kinda cool because this seems to be a lesson you learn later in life, and it's almost as he's looking back at his past, warning a younger version of himself. that may be a little bit deeper than his real purpose in writing this, but that's how it resonates with me. i think it's an amazing tune altogether...probably one of my top 10 favorites...and you don't often hear songs written about this subject.
i also like the interpretation about cats being slow to catch their food. ha!
anonymous Dec 7th, 2009 12:33pm report
In this song, the slow cheetah is a metaphor for a person who has unrealized potential and is lyrically synonomous with the allegorical girl who is dressed up like a wedding cake and wanting for superficial satisfaction. The song is actually addressed to slow cheetahs, and is more or less an invitation to the listener to shed the material wants that are weighing their spirit down -- bury them -- and join others in the forest. Forests and trees are commonly used to represent pure and positive life.
I don't think this song has anything to do with drug use. It is totally about spiritual reclamation. The references to waking up dead, burial grounds, insane asylums and such are, in my view, related to the "psychosis" that one experiences when their consciousness expands and they are no longer spiritually/metaphysically bound by the material world. The burial ground song is merry because it represents rebirth rather than death.
In short, this song is an invitation to people to bury their material obsessions and join others in the forest of one love. Every cheetah has the potential to realize their speed.
anonymous Oct 4th, 2009 10:26pm report
I think it is a interpetion of what people want to be or expect to be thats why he uses slow cheethah because everyone thinks cheethas are fast. people think they are cheethas and hold up to the expection of being fast. he means what you are meant to be or what you want will come maybe not the way you expected or when you expected it but it will come. the thouhgt and anxienty of wanting it to come can make a person break but there is no meds to take for it. so what someone loves, wants, or what ever their heart desire will come but maybe not fast like every one thinks!
Anthony hates the slow cheetah becuase the oxymoron represents an unknown symbol of his childhood. Unfortunately he is unable to grasp his life in the same way the cheetah is unable to grasp his own speed. In this case, it is a metaphor for the band currently coping with success sans drugs.
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