Interpretations:Cyclops Rock

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To me this song is about some kid with an an obbsession with cyclops trying to "hang" with the other kids at the school and failing miserably.

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I always thought the song is about a broken doll, who was once loved by its child owner then abandoned. It is a cyclops because it is missing one of its eyes. It is left in the back of a van with Chucky, another broken,dismembered doll. This might have been inspired by the plot of the Pixar movie Toy Story II. It's kind of like an angry version of "When She Loved Me" from that movie. They seem to have a fascination with the Toy Story concept - look at the video for "Boss of Me" - it's right out of Toy Story I. This interpretation harkens back to "Birdhouse in Your Soul" - the feelings of an inanimate object.


When I hear this song, I always think about punk rock bands that inspired artists who got big while the band who did the inspiring didn't get much fame. This band taught the others how to rock, and they aren't getting the credit they deserve! "There's a whole new generation waiting to be wrecked by you" makes it sound like the original band kinda gave in and is acknowledging that their time is over, so they'll just stay in that van outside of New York! --Bryn


In my humble opinion, as a raver, I see this song as being a story of someone bringing someone into his scene (for tmbg this would be the east village punk rock scene that they were a very big part of), and then that person gathers a group of the narrator's friends and over time, once it's not the cool thing to do anymore, up and leaves and brings the narrator's friends with her/him. The song is about the narrator's frustration that so many people weren't in it for the music or the "vibe" like they said they were, but were instead there because it was the thing to do. - Taylor, Cowtown Ab, 03/29/2007


This is a song that you can't TRULY understand until you poke out an eye head banging in the mosh pit , okay... and that hasn't happened to me yet, so until then, I just like the tune. -DTG


I thought it was about Masturbation.


DId anyone ever think that Cyclops Rock could be well...oral sex? You know...Rockin' the Cyclops, the one-eyed monster..Just a thought.

Reply: I like the way you think. 24.19.160.114 22:40, 4 May 2005 (EDT)


You guys are freakin sick. Cyclops rock is one of my favorite TMBG songs. Itcould easily be about polyphemus, the cyclops who encountered oddyseus in the Oddisy, and alot of the lyrics come from the song "Im sick (of this American Life)" I dont know how chucky fits into all this... but who cares. I dont know exactly what its about, but that sounds pretty good to me. drworm 818


This sounded much better with the more relaxed demo. This might be me getting older however. Nixon is definitely better than Chucky! (Mr Tuck)

"I've got a cyclops mind"

This may be a clever way of saying "I've got half a mind..." (an American idiom), since a cyclops has half the eyes of a normal person.


Has anyone else noticed that "cyclops" could be replaced with f**k? I tell you how to cyclops rock And then you go and turn around and break my heart And then you go and waste my cyclops time Mess up my cyclops mind

I tell you how to f-ing rock And then you go and turn around and break my heart And then you go and waste my f-ing time Mess up my f-ing mind

maybe this is more of a testament to the versatility of the F word than TMBG using clever substitution... who knows


This song is about two serial killers, where one of them killed the other, and the dead one wants to repent for his sins. It's the dead one that's the narrator of this song. (Although I may be overanalyzing).

I tell you how to cyclops rock / and then you go and turn around and break my heart is referring to the fact that the first killer taught the second one everything he knows, and then the second one goes and kills him. This would explain and then you go and waste my cyclops time as his attempts were ultimately futile as he was killed by his student.

The first verse is describing the killer:

I'm sick, like Chucky was sick He's a killer like Chucky (the homicidal doll)

my defeated heart keeps beating on Even after his messed up past, he continue to thrive

I won't die, like Chucky won't die He'll live on through his student (the second killer)

but I'm not here to socialize He doesn't exist to be nice, only to kill

I gotta find a new place to hang out 'cause I'm tired of living in Hell He's saying that he's gone to Hell (i.e. he's died) and he wants to get out (i.e. he wants to repent for his sins)

I'm a mess, since you cut me out He's wracked with guilt after his pupil killed him (probably for the murders committed)

but Chucky's arm keeps me company The memory of his sins stays with him

I'm a fright, with my tombstone smile He's very ugly now because he's dead (hence the "tombstone smile")

all the children run away from me Children are afraid of him and what they've heard about him


The lyric Gotta find new friends to hang with / 'cause you're all afraid of me is pretty self-explanatory.


It was sweet, like lead paint is sweet It was fun while it lasted

but the after-effect left me paralyzed The result of his actions killed him (ultimate form of paralysis)

I just stare, with my one glass eye All he can do is stare, since he's dead

hoping you won't be back again He doesn't look forward to seeing his pupil in Hell

there's a whole new generation waiting to be wrecked by you Since his student still lives, he's able to commit murders on future generations

Now, the only parts I cannot explain are the screaming before the final chorus, and when John yells "Dan!" at the bridge. I assume the van outside of New York is either where the living killer resides, or where he stashed the other killer's body.


i agree with the previous entry most of the time, except i dont beleive its about killing, at least not physical killing, i beleive that it talks about a girl that he had a relationship with that he, like the previous interpreter stated, taught everything, but then screwed him over, and he now has to find new friends, because they heard he girls side of the break up and are now on her side and now dislike him from her discription of events. -Sligmasta


Well, when one considers the references to 'Chucky' from the classic horror 'Child's Play' films (there are five now... yikes), it's easy to draw a parallel to other homicidal-doll pictures, notably 'The Puppet Master' and its sequels, which featured a killer cyclops doll. I don't precisely understand the female shoutings, then again I haven't seen the film, but the combo of Chucky and a Cyclops and a rather dark "in hell" motif, it makes me wonder if the Johns have been up too late watching Sci-Fi Channel... -Russell


Everytime I hear this song, I'm reminded of The Oddyssy, and Odysseus' encounter with Polyphemus, da ORIGINAL Cyclops, foo! The song is from Polyphemus' point of view, after Odysseus escapes from his lair. Let's look at it line by line:

"I tell you how to cyclops rock

And then you go and turn around and break my heart

And then you go and waste my cyclops time"


Odysseus had been stupidly curious about the Cyclopes, and as a result he and some of his men were captured by Polyphemus. Odysseus got what he wanted. He learned the way of the Cyclopes', or "how to Cyclops rock." Unfortunetly, this meant having his men ravenously devoured before his eyes. Odysseus "broke his heart" by ruining Polyphemus' life; he gouged out his eye and stole his sheep. To the Cyclops, this seems a bit unfair; after all, he DID teach Odysseus how to Cyclops rock, which is what he wanted. It's something similar to "I do all this for you, and this is how I'm repaid?" This could either be sincere, which would lead me to believe that Polyphemus is pretty darn dumb, or, much more likely, this sentiment is sarcastic. Something like "This is what I get for being an asshole." "Waste my Cyclops time" is pretty self-explanatory; Odysseus wasted Polyphemus' time.

"And mess up my Cyclops mind"

Odysseus changed the way Polyphemus thought. When he was younger, Polyphemus had been warned by a fortune teller that he'd lose his eye to Odysseus. He had believed that Odysseus was another Cyclops, but it turned out to be a puny man. This would of course change his thoughts about man, and would probably lead him to think that men may actually be the superior beings, despite their weakness and small size.

"I'm sick

Like Chucky was sick"

Polyphemus now realizes that he's a sick beast, similar to Chucky the doll. How the heck he knows about Chucky is beyond me, but it's irrelevant nonetheless.

"My defeated heart keeps beating on

I won't die

Like Chucky won't die"

Even though Odysseus (the one who put his heart into a defeated state) has probably left him for dead, he's still sticking around. I haven't read that much Greek mythology (my knowledge of it doesn't stretch much farther than this story), but a friend of mine has told me that Polyphemus returns eventually. Please feel free to correct me if I'm wrong with that statement. If you watch that e-Card thing, you can also see that the "Chucky won't die" line is a joke at how the series just WON'T DIE.

"But I'm not here to socialize"

The Cyclops ain't there to make friends with anyone; he just wants to eat them.

"Gotta find a new place to hang out

'Cause I'm tired of living in Hell"

Polyphemus decides that the cultured world of man must be much better than the small, primitive island of the Cyclopes, and that where he lives is Hell by comparison. He is yearning to live in that kind of place.

"I'm a mess

Since you cut me out"

Referring to how his eye was gouged out.

"But Chucky's arm keeps me company"

He takes comfort in knowing that he's not the only psycho around. Or, from a more comical standpoint, one of the men he ate could've been named Chucky, and his arm survived the Cyclops' appetite. The arm now serves as a kind of teddy bear. Unlikely, but funny.

"I'm a fright

With my tombstone smile

All the children run away from me"

Pretty self-explanatory. The tombsone smile might be a reference to the fact that his teeth are probably as large as tombstones. Children could be in reference to human children or Cycloptic children.

"Gotta find new friends to hang with

'Cause you're all afraid of me"

He was probably shunned by his bretheren because of his new look. I mean, I sure would be a bit afraid/disgusted if I saw a human who had no eyeballs. Wouldn't you be?

"Dan!"

The only thing I can think of for this would be that he is seriously considering becoming part of the human world, and is trying to pick out a good name for himself.

"It was sweet

Like lead paint is sweet

But the after-effect left me paralyzed"

Here he's recalling the flavor of the wine that Odysseus gave him. Also like lead paint, it had a two-pronged effect. On one hand, the wine was delicious (I'm just assuming that lead paint is also sweet. I really wouldn't know. Honest!), but on the other hand, it made him susceptible to Odysseus' attack, just like lead paint would paralyze you (does lead paint paralyze you? I know it's toxic, but had no idea that it paralyzes people..) and leave you open to assault.

"I just stare

With my one glass eye"

Well, if his eye had been gouged out, then it would be logical for him to get a glass one. It would make him look less hideous to the children and his friends who fear him.

"Hoping you won't be back again

There's a whole new generation

Waiting to be wrecked by you"

It's pretty clear that Polyphemus wouldn't want to ever see Odysseus again. For generations to come, Odysseus' defeat of Polyphemus would no doubt be legendary. The tale would "wreck" the minds of the people of the future the same way it wrecked the Cyclops', in that they would all learn that a puny man could indeed defeat a Cyclops.

"Pony, Twist, Monkey, and Frug

These are the things that I taught to you

Hitchhike, Boogie, Hypocrite Bop"

Polyphemus is at this point furious, knowing that he'll be cast forever as the villain of a story about someone that he hates. He shouts these things that he taught Odysseus, angry that his teachings were rewarded with a miserable life to come and being immortalized as a heartless monster. It's just not fair, darnit! The words he shouts sound like nonsense because of the communication barrier between humans and Cyclopes. Neither will ever understand the other.

"I'm stuck in a van outside of New York AAAAAAAAAHHH!"

In other words, the Cyclops is trapped outside of the civilized world, partially due to the fact that The Odyssey has made everyone familliar with the evil Polyphemus. He has no choice but to live his life as a primitive behemoth, and no one will ever hear his side of the tale. His fate is inevitable.

"And I got a Cyclops mind"

But now, he can think past that. He should forget about Odysseus, and pretend that no one ever "popped his bubble." He'll happily continue on living like a Cyclops. Psh.... Humans.... Who needs 'em?

So, essentially, this song is simply Polyphemus' random train of thought after Odysseus got away.


-Mushroom Pie 'n stuff

Yeah, that's it, actually... at least, according to A User's guide to TMBG it is! Oh, but I always thought "tombstone smile" referenced the fact that being close enough to see his smile meant sure death. And perhaps "I taught you how to cyclops rock" is about Polyphemus moving the rock that blocked the cave exit. Probably not, though.--Apollo 00:14, 5 June 2009 (UTC)

Yeah, that is pretty good, but I think that you thought to hard about the "Dan" part. It's Flansy telling Dan to play the guitar solo. I don't think that he went into so much detail when writing it, however. I think for the most part, it was inspired by the Odyssy. Oh, and Polyphemus lives, and a godess eventually gives his eye back.- drworm818


Okay, surely just a guy talking about his girlfriend to whom he taught many dance steps/random things, and then who turned around and told him to go and jump. All the words in the Catatonia chorus are dances: pony, twist, monkey, frug and so on. Not such a creative interp but probably more realistic.




Not here to give a full interpretation...but a lot of people seem to be confused by the screaming of "Dan!". The back up band is comprised of people with the name Dan, and it's screamed just before a guitar solo...I don't think it has anything to do with the meaning of the song, its just John yelling Dan's name as he launches into a kick ass, funky as hell guitar solo.



I agree with Mushroom pie 'n stuff, but the line "All the children run away from me" is a reference to humans being as small as a child to a cyclops, and atleast after their labelled as evil, humans would tend to avoid cyclopes. -The Wast


Yeah, that does sound a bit better than what I said. I really only had the vague idea of the song being about Polyphemus, and made up most of the specifics as I typed them when I posted that.

-Mushroom Pie


The line "sweet/ like lead paint is sweet" makes me think of a girl I used to go out with. It wasn't what you'd call a good or a healthy relationship; in fact it was quite self-destructive, but it was sweet while it lasted, in a way.


"Okay, surely just a guy talking about his girlfriend to whom he taught many dance steps/random things, and then who turned around and told him to go and jump. All the words in the Catatonia chorus are dances: pony, twist, monkey, frug and so on. Not such a creative interp but probably more realistic."

Yeah... I guess you and I are alone in thinking this song is to be taken literally. :|

-Johnathan Linnell Esq.


I'm about 100% sure that this song is about the vice-principal at my school who has one eye, but won't admit it. All the children run away from him. There's a whole new generation waiting to be wrecked by him. Oh yeah, and he can't read.


I think that it's about a girl dumping a guy because she thinks he's ugly. But then the guy wants revenge/is pretty mad. No deep meaning from Lemmy today and/or on this song. Great song though. It took a while to like, but I like it! :) --Lemita 19:36, 2 Jun 2006 (CDT)


Am I the only one reminded of JTHM?


I'm thinking this. He's a rockin' cool dancer with a hot girlfriend. He teaches her a number of dances. Then, at the prom dance or something like that, there's an accident with some kinda pipe and/or bat. His teeth get mangled and one of his eyes gets injured. His girlfriend breaks up with him, because he looks so grodilicious. He goes to the hospital, and they do the best they can. His girlfriend, still broken up, sends him a doll with a torn arm. Meant to be a gift. But it makes him angry and after the hospital does the best they can, and he's out, he goes on some kinda crime streak, avenging his girlfriend and the stupid torn doll. His life ruined, he hides in the alley, murderin' and stuff. His apartment becomes a WRECK, buried in pizza boxes and forehead-crunched cans. And other gross stuff. This guy's life is ruined for the rest of it. Okay, my own description is scaring me. Bye. --Homfrog 14:59, 7 July 2006 (MDT)


you're all crazy "Cyclops Rock" The Cyclops Rock is a dance...I taught you how to!?? It is a love song about this guy who teaches some girl to do this great dance and then she breaks his heart and messes him up and

"pony, swist, monkey and freug ... hitchhike, boogie, hypocrite pop "

Dance moves...

Maybe I'm just innocent and naive but I stick with the fact that "Cyclops Rock" is a Dance....


I think it's about someone who lost an eye in some kind of acident. Especially the part about the "tombstone smile" and "the're all afraid of me", kinda sound like a skull.


From the creepy, yet absurd motif, and the over-the-top hard-rockiness, I gather it's a parody of heavy metal?


I've always seen this song as being about someone obsessed with a past relationship. They know that they are obsessed with it (they refer to themself as a cyclops, a creature with only one eye suggesting that they focus only on a single thing; "I just stare/With my one glass eye"), and are somewhat desperately clinging to it ("My defeated heart keeps beating on" ), and generally are having a hard time letting go, even though they know they should, and that it's kinda creepy of them to keep obsessing over it (The line, "I'm sick"; "'Cause you're all afraid of me"; "All the children run away from me"; "I'm a fright"; Cyclopses are frightening monsters; He associates himself with Chucky and his arm, which are creepy things).


It's obviously about The Residents.. They wear EYEBALL MASKS, play disturbing music(I'm a fright), one has a skull mask because the eye mask was stolen (tombstone smile, mess up my mind). On top of that, they thrive despite ruthless critiques (My defeated heart keeps beating on). See? It makes sense!


Nope, Mushroom Pie 'n stuff is right, I have "a user's guide to they might be giants" and it has all these "graphs", one of which shows a timeline of things relating to songs on the CD, and which song they relate to, the writing of The Oddyssy is related to track 06, otherwise known as Cyclopse Rock. You can tell it's about the Oddyssy, it's so evident! Dan all you people trying to find obscure meanings! (hehehe, "dan"... see what I did there?)

--Bongo/Apollo


Cyclop's Rock is to be taken MOSTLY literal. While it is about a dance called the Cyclop's rock it is also acting as a metaphor for the narrators personal interests and his lifestyle which was just shattered by this chick.


What is a cyclops? What part of the body has "one eye"? What do you think the song means when it says, "a whole new generation, wanting to be wrecked by you?" Is there really a secrete about this song? Every man who has been dumped by his girlfriend and finds himself very frustrated, know exactly what the cyclops rock is all about. I can't believe you have such a dirty mind. TMBG is a serious band that employs literary devices to explore deep themes about the human condition. Cyclops rock is a serious love song about the lead singer and a cyclops. How dare you profane the sincerity of this glorious band.

Mr. Sicko / George W.



This is sort of a bitter and twisted sequel to "Crocodile Rock", no?