Upon hearing this song, I felt that it was about the events of 9/11 and the years that followed. The line about the "gorilla beating its chest" makes me think of President Bush. The song's narrator became impressed with the president's response and the beginning of the War on Terror. George Bush also reminds me of a gorilla in that their intelligence levels are quite similar. The narrator then adopts a mentality that many had after the attacks; he feels the need to fight in the war and joins the army. This is referenced in the line "my head's nodding yes, but my legs are not following". Even if he does not fully want to fight, the feelings of rage towards the terrorists makes him want to fight. In other words, he is confused. The torpedo in a vest represents the narrator's superior officer. The use of torpedo could also refer to the search for the nonexistent nuclear weapons. The line about the exits in back of him refers to how people are always told that the nearest exit may be behind them. Tornado from the west could refer to how America went in and killed Saddam and effed up the entire Middle East. Five good reasons to follow him refers to George Bush and the intelligence given to him that led him to decide to go to war. Abcdefghi76543 (talk) 19:06, 19 May 2015 (EDT)
I think it might make sense for "I'm impressed" to mean that an impression is created upon him-- that these things are molding his mind and changing his view of the world around him. Impressing themselves upon him, you could say.
The video for this song depicts a futuristic version of the Roman circus. Based on this video it is easy to infer that this song is about how, as a species, we may think we have evolved beyond being entertained by such gratuitous violence as was displayed in the Roman circus, but the same degree of violence is all around us in the media and is still thought of as entertaining. It's a reminder that human nature has not changed as much as we purport it to have.
When I first heard this song, I thought it was what we were supposed to be feeling from hearing The Else. I thought this was really haughty of TMBG to do that. But after listening to it for several times, I think its about- like others have said- movies and entertainment in general.
If you've ever seen a Godzilla movie, the residents of Tokyo are staring up at the giant monster, obviously quite "impressed" by his stature but not fleeing from him. Disasters are similarly impressive, and in the same way could render someone unable to escape (or unwilling to follow a person who is).
It seems that one possible interpretation (and what to me seems the most obvious) is that the song is about how easily satiated we are by violence and danger, but we're never inclined to take part in it if we're in real danger ("I'm inspired by events to remember the exits in back of me"). It's a reference to the voyeuristic culture we're living in, I guess.
This is a rather incomplete interpretation, but the best I could manage at the time.
My guess is that "impressed" is a euphamism for "afraid."
i'm still developing my interpretation, but, to me, it sounds like the character of this song is impressed by the special effects in movies... i know it's gotta be something deeper than that, but i can't grasp it yet... --Ehsteve14 03:08, 21 May 2007 (UTC)
The obvious interpretation is about the movies, specifically older horror movies such as Godzilla and King Kong. However it seems to me that the true meaning of the song seems to do with war and recruitment. Impressed here has a double meaning, not only meant as to be awe-inspired but also "impressed" as to be forced into military service. Although how I'm not too sure.
The gorilla would represent a ranking officer who has been sent to recruit the narrator and others during a war (Iraq?). He is very knowledgeable, yet at the same time he is a brutish man who's nature along with the ongoing conflict has the opposite effect on his recruits, scaring them off.
Alternatively the narrator is someone already in the military and the gorilla is one of his superiors, or gorilla is used as one term for all of the high ranking officers. Set in the middle of a war/battle the gorillas are giving the narrator orders (being passed down from the general, to gorillas behind desks, to the gorillas in the war zone, to the narrator himself). All the while the narrator knows what he is being told to do, he can't help but feel like he has been forced into this situation and so does not act on those orders. The gorilla gives him and other members of the platoon (squadron, battalion, etc... whichever it may be) the reasons why they should follow their orders, yet no one is able to.
Or, the gorilla could be a fellow soldier who is telling the narrator the two of them should get out of wherever they are. He makes his point and the narrator agrees that he has been forced into his situation yet he can't leave and disobey the commanding officer ("the torpedo in the vest"). The gorilla continues and tells the entire group his reasons for leaving, yet no one else leaves. Although the narrator does not leave, he still realizes the option for retreat exists. He is torn between his commitment to the military and his own feelings to escape.
A sub note... I find the line "through the generalissimo's request" could be referring to phrase "Uncle Sam wants you"
The first trick here is to note the sarcasm. For the narrator to say "I fall to bits" because he is so impressed is clearly a sarcastic comment, and thereby raises questions about other lines in the song. Which lines are serious and which are sarcastic? Do we assume that "impressed" does not equal "fear" because the tone may be sarcastic?
Other questions must arise in terms of what the symbols infer. What is the gorilla? Someone in the army, a political leader, or a figure in a movie? It's hard to be certain, because the other figures being used do not generate an easy correlation (which makes the movie idea work, because movies can be about anything). Look at what he's impressed by:
- Gorilla beating his chest/pounding desk
- Torpedo in a vest
- Godzilla's flaming breath
- Generalissimo's request
- Tornado crushing buildings
Number 5 really throws things for a loop. You can make the leap that the gorilla, Godzilla and torpedo simply refer to an army general who is very powerful and influential, but a tornado? The only correlation that comes to mind in reference to war is the devastation that a tornado leaves, much like a bomb would.
Along that line I wonder if its terrorism that we're talking about here. We certainly have our share of "gorillas" pounding their chests to incite fear of the terrorism in the world. And the tornado crushing buildings does make one think of the images of the planes driving into the Twin Towers.
Does that fit with the lines about "my head's nodding yes, though my legs are not following" and "inspired by events to remember the exits behind me"? Why are they in a stadium? (The stadium, to me, ruins the movie interpretation.) What conflict does the narrator have? Is it between his sarcastic response and a real threat? Frankly, for me, that makes the terrorism interpretation even stronger.
Can the narrator be sarcastic in response to the gorillas who pound him with the fear of terrorism, but at the same time acknowledge its a real threat? And can he wish to walk away from those gorilla leaders while also being impressed upon by the dangers that exist? The narrator might be fighting this conflict internally, trying to assess why he's nodding yes, but can't seem to do anything about it.
I struggle to find another interpretation that incorporates all the symbols used in the song.
- Good, but the tornado is from the west (Europe and North America), meaning that if its terrorism it is acts of terror that the West is committing, not acts committed to it.
- I agree that a tornado from the west is the United States. Nonetheless, I love your interpretation attempt and your writing style overall. ~Christina Miller, June 2007
- Like many of their songs, the sarcasm is mixed with pained sadness and anger.
Is this about the current "war on terrorism"? I think we are meant to interpret it this way given the references to the coercive use of destructive power. The speaker is commenting on how persuasive arguments for fighting against terrorism can be because everyone is scared after 9/11 and the train bombings in Europe. I think every war the U.S. has waged was supported by the American people because we were made to fear what would happen if we did not go to war. (Americans are isolationists at heart.) At the same time, we are made to feel safe and convinced of imminent success when our war mongers show off their powerful weapons and well-trained military.
I fall to bits = I'm very scared and angry that you are making me scared. Also, I'm very angry you convinced our country to go to war in Iraq by lying to us that they had WMD and the regime change would be smooth because the Iraqis would be so happy to be free of Sodamn Insane. Listen to the pounding and the tone of his voice. Though he finds himself agreeing with the argument, something is telling him the argument is flawed. I'm inspired by events to remember the exits in back of me = history tells us we should proceed more cautiously. Reference to Vietnam? Yes, but I think it goes beyond the Cold War rhetoric to be a general comment on how we are convinced by fear of what happens if we do not go to war. You see nobody leaving the stadium = Americans are finally on to the war/fear mongers tactics. (Not sure if stadium is a more specific reference, but the meaning is probably the same.) Support for the war in Iraq continues to dwindle. Tornado from the west crushes buildings = dual meaning of planes that came from the west to crash into the twin towers and pentagon, and the military force of the U.S. crushing buildings in Iraq.
Again, the tone of his voice suggests he is mad as hell at the underwriters of the war in Iraq/war on terrorism for making him afraid enough to almost support our country's current strategy that the rational part of his mind tells him is flawed. [DG]
I will try to hit all the major points, but this is still probably going to end up being a partial interpretation.
In my opinion, this song is definitely the narrator's thoughts on the military. "Impressed" means something more towards "overwhelmed " or "intimidated" rather than just fear. The "gorilla" and the "torpedo in the vest" are obviously his superior officers, which explains why he is "impressed" by them. The "five good reasons" are the positive attributes of the military that can be named (i.e. strength, courage, defending your country etc.) however, "nobody leaving the stadium" represent the many casualties of war that never return home. (Perhaps also a comparison to how soldiers in the Middle East are staying longer than planned.) I believe the word "stadium" is used to show how war is treated as a game, played in a stadium. "I find that my head's nodding yes/Though my legs are not following" as well as "I'm inspired by events/To remember the exits in back of me" are both examples of the narrator having second thoughts about joining the military. The head vs. the legs bit shows that the narrator is still both mentally and physically divided. The narrator may agree with some of the ideals and reasons why they are fighting, but they may lack the physical strength/will to actually fight. Some "events" (i.e. the "stadium" bit) cause the narrator think about the ways to get out of the army he has, hence the "exits" signify the thoughts of deserting in the back of the narrator's mind. "Tornado from the west" describes the destruction caused by the soldiers in battle (bomb damage...etc.). (Again "from the west" makes me think of the destruction in the Middle East being caused by soldiers from the west.) I leave the comparisons to the Middle East in parenthesis because the song can be seen to be talking about war in general as well if one does not agree with such specific references. --A_Moose_Denied June 2007
My interp: people under tyranny of dictators (or false leaders), who wield their power over the powerless (or merely those are "lead"). It's a mix of sarcasm and fear perspectives in the narrator, depending on exactly how powerless the narrator is - e.g., someone in North Korea could view with true fear the gorilla (Kim Jong II) pounding his chest while someone in the US would view sarcasm at leaders threatening "our" power.
"torpedo in a vest" is a good analogy for a phallic object (i.e., a dick, also known as a DWE - dick with ears) while vest is good rhyme for "chest" (hey it's better than suit, right?), could also suggest 'west', and could refer to a military man's "brag vest" - like what a girl scout or brownie wears to show off her patches (or a general's medals or a dictator's self-awarded 'medals').
"heads nodding yes" refers to that frenzy people (even powerless) get themselves worked up into when someone is "promising" to give them power - look at streets in Iraq or Iran... "legs not following" reminds that there's a cost to actually go forth and throw yourself into the machine.
Back to the west, "heads nodding yes" are all the folks agreeing to go kick some 'terrorist' butt, but also realizing, 'hey, I ain't no hero!' and not willing to put their own bodies where the evil is.
"inspired by events to remember the exits" - think about afghanistan soccer stadium pre-2002 - frenzied spectators imploring murders of people, but recognizing the 'leaders' could turn on them just as well (keep an eye on the exit door).
"five good reasons" - fist, leadership by intimidation to follow, but no one really taking up arms to do his dirty work ("no one leaving the stadium")
"Godzilla's flaming breath" - dictators are truly "monsters" and their weapon is often their evil tongue/words/thoughts/rhetoric/hot air...More sarcasm - how can anyone really be impressed with rantings of mad men?
"tornado from the west" again, people in such sad, powerless circumstances, held down by dictators' tyranny and seeing those "leaders" taken out (by drone or Tomahawk) are still "impressed" by that "other" show of power (I know, too many quotations, sorry...) Ever look at folks interviewed on CNN when an explosion occurs in the village or home or HQ of a terrorist/dictator etc.? Wild eyes of "interest" (blood-lust) that were probably the same when they listened to that dictator's same words foisted on someone else (does anyone say foisted??). Why don't they just stand up and remove that evil admidst them and save us the trouble? Oh, that's right - they're powerless.
Anyway, I like the pumping tune and give it a 10 (and iTunes $) - come on down to Austin, you guys!
For a long time, I've believed most of Linnell's songs are much more personal than he admits to. Of "I'm Impressed", Linnell has said "it reflects working with [them]," referring to the Dust Brothers, who produced most tracks of this album. I think that quote doesn't just refer to the sound of the song, but also to the meaning of its lyrics. I believe that "I'm Impressed" is about how Linnell was originally reluctant to work with a mainstream producer, but changed his mind after hearing how well "The Else" turned out in the end. By this interpretation, the song serves both as Linnell's introduction to and self-review of the entire album.
In the documentary "Gigantic", John Linnell referred to himself as an "elitist snob" in terms of his musical preferences. This is clearly reflected in most of They Might Be Giants work, which strives to be lyrically and musically unique. But ever since "John Henry" was released in 1994, TMBG albums have overall seemed to be getting more and more "mainstream". This is one of the greatest criticisms they have repeatedly received from longtime hardcore fans since that album's release. Perhaps this has been a concern in the back of Linnell's mind for years: that, slowly-but-surely, the band is "selling out". It's possible that, upon agreeing to use the Dust Brothers as producers for "The Else", Linnell felt he was taking a step too close to the mainstream. After all, the Dust Brothers are best known for producing albums for mainstream artists like Beck. He may have initially felt like he was being bullied by them into conforming to the norm, which would explain many lyrics. Words like "gorilla", "Godzilla", "Generalissimo", "torpedo" and "tornado" all could describe Linnell's view of the producers as powerful, intimidating forces that could not be stopped. The line "I find that my head's nodding yes, though my legs are not following" may refer to how Linnell was initially unable to say no to them, but passively was resisting following their ideas. "I'm inspired by events to remember the exits in back of me" could be Linnell recalling other bands that lost credibility by "selling out", resulting in Linnell wanting to exit from the agreement to make the album with the Dust Brothers. This could have been an ongoing internal or external struggle by Linnell throughout the development of "The Else".
But then we get to the chorus. "I'm impressed" is Linnell's ultimate satisfaction with the way it all turned out. "I admit, I'm impressed" is Linnell's confession that the producers were right after all and that their ideas really did help make the album great in the end. The same words Linnell uses to describe the producers could simultaneously describe the way the album sounds: powerful and impossible to ignore. The lyrics "On the one hand, he'll give you five good reasons to follow him" appear in the second verse, which may signal Linnell's change of heart from doubt about the producer's ideas to acceptance of them. At this point, the producers have already started showing Linnell results in the form of great songs that are developing. "On the other hand, you see nobody leaving the stadium" could refer to the reaction of audiences after playing some of the songs that would appear on the album. Not only had the producers started to show him that the songs were good, but even the hardcore fans at concerts were showing approval. So it was becoming a win-win situation for Linnell, and so he became impressed.
If one applies this interpretation, then "I'm Impressed" is also a parody of itself. It is arguably the most mainstream song TMBG has ever produced, but it's such a great song that it doesn't matter. So what if it's mainstream; it totally rocks! Even the hardcore fans seem to agree, as evident from the song's very high ranking on this wiki. Just like Linnell, we too are impressed by this album. Just because much of the music on this album sounds mainstream doesn't diminish its own cleverness and originality. Along with the rest of the album, this song may very well be John Linnell's proof to himself that They Might Be Giants can venture into the realm of mainstream music without sacrificing their creativity and integrity. "I'm Impressed" proves the very same thing to us.
Ok I'm impressed by that interpretation
I love this interpretation, but I disagree with the "On the one hand, he'll give you five good reasons to follow him/On the other hand, you see nobody leaving the stadium". I see it more as "he" has good reasons for going mainstream, but on the other hand, they have a solid fan base that they feel close to, and unlike a lot of more popular musicians, no one ever leaves the stadium while they're performing i.e. the fans love them.
Before reading, note that I am not fully convinced myself that this dialog was intended by TMBG, or is even correct, but it is a fun way to look at the album as a whole. My interpretation is based on the premises put forth by Milhouse911 in his/her interpretation of the song Impressed.
After reading Milhouse911's impressive interpretation of this song I have looked for similar themes in other songs on the album. The basic theme I see is a dialog about the transition from They Might Be Giant's limited fan base for 25+ years, and seeming carelessness about popularity into an attempt to move toward the mainstream; especially by working with mainstream producers for The Else. This dialog is put forward from several voices, each showing a different piece of the argument from one another, but as a whole creating a full picture of the Johns' real thoughts on the subject.
For a summary of my interpretation:
1. I'm Impressed introduces the idea to the audience just as TMBG themselves were introduced to the concept when they first thought of working with a mainstream producer. Read more about this interpretation of Impressed by Milhouse911.
2. Climbing the Walls, along with the original argument from Impressed, are pieces of the dialog arguing for going more mainstream.
3. Feign amnesia, along with slight words of encouragement from Take Out the Trash, and The Cap'm, provide a regretful voice, and argument against going for more mainstream.
4. The Mesopotamians wraps up the dialog as seen from the collective consciousness of the band, much like #1. This song portrays a conclusion where although voice #2 seemingly wins out, TMBG does not forget it's background or voice #3's argument.
(see my interpretations in these 4 songs)
For this song, read Milhouse911's interpretation above.
--JeshuaBratman 05:47, 31 August 2007 (UTC)
To me, the speaker is impressed with power. Godzilla, King Kong, a general, etc., all have high power. The speaker doesn't want to admit to being impressed with the concept of control, but is quite power hungry. Thank you. :) --Lemita 00:02, 18 July 2007 (UTC)
In case anyone hasn't picked up on this (and as one previous user alluded to), "five good reasons" is usually a euphemism for one's fist, the five good reasons being the curled fingers and thumb which threaten to impact the addressee's face. Thus, the relevant lyric likely refers to some sort of coercion, rather than to any legitimate good reasons. Rucksack Jack 23:29, 18 July 2007 (UTC)
- Yes, that is my favorite sentence from The Else. Definitely leads me to believe it's about impressment. ~ magbatz 04:11, 19 July 2007 (UTC)
I am going to shake things up now with an interpretation that has nothing to do with governments.
I think it is quite sarcastic. It seems to me like the narrator's girlfriend/wife/significant other has admitted that she is attracted to another man, and this is the narrator's bitter, sarcastic response.
All the things that he lists that he is impressed by are both making fun of the girl and the other person. They are not really impressive things, more just like showing off. The only actually impressive one, the tornado, is just a naturally occuring phenomenon. Additionally the repetitive use of phrases and hyperboles (I fall to bits) point to sarcasm.
On the one hand he'll Give you five good reasons to follow him On the other hand You see nobody leaving the stadium
This is an excellent example. This other guy has done all these things to impress her (that are just showing off), and these make her want to leave the narrator. The narrator points out, however, in "nobody leaving the stadium", that the other guy doesn't already have someone else, so he must not really be that great.
Anyway, I thought it sounded sarcastic the very first time I heard it, and soon came to this interpretation. I assumed that this was what everyone thought, so when I finally got around to this page, I was quite surprised (or impressed if you will :) ). I mean, it is quite rare for a great TMBG song to even have a close-to-literal meaning! --Antgeth 00:47, 19 July 2007 (UTC)
Seems to me it's about someone being swayed by a militaristic dictator's rousing speech (the "stadium" imagery brings the Nuremberg Rallies to mind), but unlike most of the masses, he's either slightly too rational or slightly too self-concerned to go along with it all ("my legs aren't following"). He knows that the warmongerer (the gorilla, the Godzilla, the torpedo) and his cause are evil, but can't help being impressed at his ability to gain support and almost finds himself going along with the crowd. I don't know whether the "tornado from the West" bit refers to the Iraq war, but it's certainly some similar one-sided conflict.
In fact, I've just realised that it would be perfect if this song was about Iraq, since it begins the album that ends with The Mesopotamians...
- My first hearing of the song, I immediately made the assumption that it was about the Iraq War. I normally don't like Their politcal stuff, but this song is just too darn awesome to dislike on political grounds. --Salt-Man Z 22:41, 31 July 2007 (UTC)
- I agree. When I listened to this song, I thought back to an interview that a mag did with one of the Johns (he stated in it that he thinks that Bush led oour international situation into disaster). It's gotta be about sonmething to do with either the war or the Commander-in-Chief. -0dd1 14:47, 19 January 22008
I don't really agree with any of the ideas based on sarcasm, it seems like too much of a stretch for me. I simply can't see how the lyrics could be sarcastic unless the entire song was sarcastic, which is, frankly, ridiculous.
I agree with all the others in their idea that each of the things the singer is impressed by is a symbol of some part of the government or military. My opinion is that this song is about the tendency of the public to agree with an idea but not to back their claims by really following it. This is shown in the lines "Heads nodding yes/legs are not following" and "five good reasons to follow him/no one's leaving the stadium". It is interesting because it reflects how people no longer stick to their opinions and feel the need "to remember the exits in back of me", in other words, retreat and change their minds.
A note concerning the word choice stadium:
If this song has political roots concerning George W. Bush, which seems to be alluded to above, perhaps the stadium is in reference to the Louisiana Superdome when Katrina hit. If so these lines would indicate the irony of his forceful demonstration of getting people to follow him, presumably to war, and yet even in a matter of safety, he had difficulty getting people to follow him. Granted, my logic may be flawed as I don't remember the particulars of the refugees in the Superdome but this is the only thing that seems to make sense concerning a stadium.
On the one hand he'll Give you five good reasons to follow him On the other hand You see nobody leaving the stadium
Think guerrilla instead of gorilla. --Nehushtan 15:58, 20 October 2007 (UTC)
this song at first seems to be about caesar and rome's first emperor.After first watching the video. But what i further get out of it is the corollation between the us in the middle east + non-invlovement in Palestine. I believe this videos is portraying America as a Totalitarian government(like *late Rome). It goes to show America disposing of its targets (slaves in stadium). Perhaps Sharon is portrayed as the honored hero around 1:23(in video).John continually brings America into it for example "that tornado from the west"
This could be interpreted as the story of king Caesar
Even if it's not outright sarcastic, it's gotta be at least bitter and cynical. If you genuinely admire someone, you don't call them an ape, or reduce them to a weapon dressed up like a person. I think there's absolutely a political bent to this song, but it also applies well to just about anyone who relies on violent, intimidating posturing to "convince" people. I know the gorilla beating his chest makes me think of any number of tough guys. And as always, that kind of behavior gets people nodding with you, but not truly following you when it counts, whether you're a government or just some dude.
What I get out of this song is a sort of ironic description of the narrator's opinion of war, or really violence in general. Like Linnell has said, it's a political thing. It's his own semi-ironic way of explaining our society's way of solving everything by crushing it with physical force. "When the tornado from the West crushes buildings" has a fairly obvious meaning, I think. Like someone a bit further down said, "impressed" can kind of be used interchangeably with "afraid," although from the [unreliable] narrator's perspective "impressed" kind of means just that. But the narrator, I believe, leans more toward the opposite direction than the message the song means to convey. Basically, the message I'm getting is: "Violence is a senseless, counterproductive means, but ultimately satisfying to a modern, ignorant society." So there's my two cents wrapped in four dollars' worth of rambling.
I think its about the bitterly sarcastic, but not genuine, acquiescence (and I find that my heads nodding "yes"/though my legs are not following) of a young man who has been drafted (impressed, through Generalissimo's request, because that torpedo in the vest ordered it) into the military to fight in the Vietnam or Korean War (when that tornado from the west/ crushes buildings). The song is him sarcastically mocking his superiors while pretending to submit. (Oh yeah, when that gorilla over there beats his chest, I just fall to frickin' bits)
Everybody is all wrong. I've seen the video, and the song. I can infer that it's either about a "Robots in Rome" style retelling of the story of Ceasar Agustus, or trying to go along with something you know isn't right. "And I find that my head's nodding yes Though my legs are not following" is exactly the one line you need to make that assumption. I rest my case... -xubius
Hmm, someone mentioning the sarcasm in this song kinda made me think, but I could be horribly, terribly wrong about what it means for all I know.
But it seems like he's amazed by destruction. I'm not sure he's entirely sarcastic when he says he falls to bits. It may be that he is extremely reluctant to admit he's so amazed by destruction because, well, it's kinda evil I suppose. It's not nice to know you're stuck in the human trap of thirsting to see destruction, and stopping to stare when it happens. This could be where the exit lyric comes from, since when we look at something horrible, we always know we don't have to look. But we do anyways. And the part about his head nodding 'yes'; he knows it's wrong to enjoy it, but he won't look away. This guy is trapped, it seems, by himself. Things make him realize he should stop the bad things he's doing (perhaps not necessarily enjoying destruction, that's just what it seems like to me), but he just can't stop. The "falling to bits" part seems to be out of shame. A sort of, "how can I be like this?"
Or, perhaps, if it IS a very sarcastic song, he's saying he's impressed at just WHAT has power. Calling someone in a position of power a gorilla doesn't really strike me as an act of respect; perhaps it's kind of saying, "Look at what has power over the lives of so many. I'm impressed that THIS is what controls us". Impressed obviously having a very negative connotation here. I suppose it all depends on how he's impressed. But that theory doesn't really explain the tornado references. Unless it could be saying, "We think we have so much power, but this is truly impressive". As if there are different levels of respect within the song.
The five good reasons to follow him part still confuses me, though. :/ If it weren't for the number five I might assume it's about someone refusing to partake in evil/obedience and no one else choosing to do it with him but...the five throws me off.
I really do think it's about someone who's very much impressed by destruction, though.
But I might be taking the obvious route. I'm not excellent at diving deep into songs.
Control via Aggression?
My favourite interpretation of this song is that it's about how people are controlled by aggression in general, and not just in militaristic terms.
Starting off, we are impressed (awestruck, intimidated) by a gorilla pounding his chest. At the same time, that gorilla could be seen as the boss of some big company or another losing his temper and pounding his desk. The narrator keeps a mental note that there's a way out nearby ("I'm inspired by events to remember the exit's in back of me"), but at the same time he is too paralysed with fear to do anything but agree with this aggressive superior ("And I find that my head's nodding yes, but my legs are not following.") Likewise, with a dictatorial leader (Of a corporation, country or otherwise), with an aggressive stance, he could easily give you "five good reasons" to follow him (These could either be 5 individual reasons, or as someone earlier suggested, a fist). On the other hand, everyone's either too scared to oppose him (Nobody's leaving the stadium, they're too scared to show defiance), or those that would oppose him have already been disposed of (As depicted in the video).
- It helps that "Impressed" also means forced either to give up ones property to someone, or to serve under someone.
Personally I think the song is about someone stuck in a situation they don't particularly like but aren't going to do anything to get out of. Its possible that the reason for this could be that he's too scared (or impressed). They don't see any way of escaping and feel absolutely trapped and forced into doing whatever it is they're doing.
To me, this song has a lot of simple day to day things in its metaphors. With 'A torpedo in a vest' I always think of some corporate idiot with a bald head who gets mad easily, and yet somehow made it to the top. And as idiot's go they typically are prone to self destructive tendencies. I made the entire format of this song, outside of people as a whole, but instead found in a conference room. All except (Yet a contradiction)the stadium bit. Your to afraid to leave, so you take it as it is. To me that say's: We are afraid to take matters into our own hands, but then obviously the depiction of the Robo-Ceaser is completely contradictory. Meaning an obvious rebellion against a monstrous government. A gorilla pounding its vest... Now that I've made that analogy I have to work with this term. A gorilla uses it to intimidate, we all know that. It CLAIMS it's territory and fights for it. That is a good metaphor for any country, but people can be like that. Back to the office: Any person behind a desk, slamming his fists, roaring over an employee trying to surpass his legacy gets a thorough scolding. And the tornado from the west, that could just be a 'dark horse riding' joke about a lot of anything. I get where the war metaphor kicks in obviously, but it may be someone that's either a narcissistic movie star, Rock star, politician, or Nirvana forbid, a gun toting psychopath. So many ideas, so little time.
Come on people. You read too much into the lyrics. People have always made more of lyrics than the artist ever intended.
Maybe the lyrics are straight forward. Being " inspired by events to remember the exits in back of me" is talking about exactly what it says; recent events have made everyone a lot more nervous and aware of their surroundings. About being "impressed" by people or situations that are more powerful than ourselves. About the individual ineffectiveness of changing "gorillas" of power.
Being "impressed" doesn't necessarily mean afraid, but it is certainly implied. Being impressed means that you have my attention, whether that conjurs fear, or awareness, or concentration is unimportant; events have my full attention.
Single abstract idea: different concrete situations
There is a Sam Shepard play in which a young, upstart character is challenging an older, king-of-the-hill figure, but the actual situations keep shifting: one moment one is a cowboy, then the other shifts to being a mafia type, and then the first one counters by becoming a blues singer, etc. This song keeps changing the concrete circumstances of a more abstract relationship in somewhat the same way: a would-be follower professes being "impressed" by a power-figure, perhaps doing what he is expected to do, but in the end he doesn't want to be a follower. The same situation or relationship is realized in different concrete settings. Look for similar patterns in other tmbg songs.
E. A. Poet
History Repeats itself.
To me, it means history repeats itself. We see kings and tyrants rule over us, and time after time we are impressed at their power, palaces, and their ability to kill anybody just by wanting them dead. The future is no different. When they talk about the gorilla beating it's chest, it's impressive of it's show of power, and lack of fear. The same is with the Godzilla reference. In the music video, it also shows that while people want to leave the rule of an evil king, they can't, and at the same time, they can't follow him. They're impressed at assassin's that break the rule by killing those who do not deserve to live, and it repeats itself once again.
Of course, I could be wrong.
Two Sides of the Same Coin
The lyrics of this song has different interchangeable meanings and the title itself is a neat little piece of wordplay. Being impressed has two main meanings: to be influenced / feel respect and admiration, and to be forced into the navy or army (for the sake of the the song let’s broaden this to an organization overall).
The general forces presented are massive powers not to be underestimated: a gigantic gorilla capable of crushing you to bits (changed later in the song to represent the boss of a company through the desk-pounding), the threatening torpedo which could represent a high-ranking military official (later established as the generalissimo), the legendary Godzilla that flattens entire cities, and the tornado that rips apart anything in its path. That much power enthralls us and causes us to admire the greatness of that power, but at the same time that power could be forcing you into submission, as admirable as it is.
The part with the head nodding yes but the legs not following implies two scenarios. One is that you are so convinced by the power; it has its logic that just clearly makes sense, but the logic is so unmoral or threatening that you can not follow it. The other one is that you are so scared by the power that you want to leave, but your fear is not allowing it.
Being “inspired by events” reminds you that there is a way out if you want, no matter the scenario. These events make you more aware of how to leave if you want to. It just depends on whether you want to take that exit or not, out of fear or anything else.
The lines that involve the hands invoke a fair amount of wordplay and variety in meaning. One meaning says that the power is logical and convincing enough that only a few reasons will sway you over, but at the same time people conflicted over this logic are not convinced, and do not want to follow or leave with that reasoning. The other meaning invokes the “five good reasons” expression, with each reason listed on each finger forming a fist as a threat. The other hand is preventing other people from leaving, keeping them in line so no one disobeys or deserts the power.
That’s just my take on this song; it can actually be taken a number of ways, and I think that was intentional. Although I could be wrong, for I am no analyst; I’m barely average in high school, so I guess it’s up to you to decide.
I really think the "Inspired by events to remember the exits in back of me" .... is literally pointing to the Great White concert in which all those ppl died. It is the first thing that came to my mind anyway when I heard it.... And what an inspiration it is.
Western Media Propagated Anti-Culture
You could interpret the song as someone responding to the entertainment generated in Western Cultures which while being flashy and engaging reflects a commitment to individualized morality that decries any community prescriptions of behavior or moral accountability except the commitment to refute such prescriptions. The impressive images relate to the increasing capability of media. The "tornado from the west" invokes the idea of Western Media effortlessly dismantling traditional cultures and their respective communal values around the world. People consume the media with a mixed sense of awe at its sophistication and foreboding as the implications of assimilation into such a collective individualism mean the destruction of "the buildings" of civil society and communal meaning in their traditional culture. If you've never read it you might like: Why the Rest Hates the West by sarcastic Brit Meic Pearse.
This is my favorite TMBG song.
Ever time I hear this song I picture a kid watching television shows about a war that could possibly be going on. "I'm Impressed" is the kid literally being impressed with what he sees. Someone above mentioned this could relate to the war and I completely agree. "5 good reasons" being reasons to join the army. The hype of the war makes the kid want to join the army but when he realizes the chaos of the war (torpedos, "falling to bits" representing fear, perhaps actual gorillas being involved in some apocalyptic factor of the war) he goes AWOL. I don't know where I got that part from. I just take that from the feeling and darkness the song gives off. I don't know.