Interpretations:Reprehensible

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To put it simply, the song sounds like it's about someone who has trouble sleeping because they are haunted by events in their past and by their concious after they have done something wrong. It could be taken even more literally and that spirits of the dead are haunting the narrarator at night because of his/her actions against the deceased.

  • Saurd Fysh
I agree with the first part. I think it's just his conscience--"Hey, guess what, John? You killed someone! :D"--and it's just bugging the hell out of him. ~Anna Ng: The Only TMBG Fan In Her Class

I take it as rather literal. The narrarator has had multiple past lives that are benchmarks in dubious history; Mark David Chapman, Jack Ruby, Brutus, John Wilkes Booth, Vlad Tepish, Adolph Hitler, Caligula, etc.. could easily have been earlier incarnations of himself. As most faiths that follow the idea of past lives and reincarnation believe, one normally cannot access those past lives nor the memories thereof. But our 'hero' (and I use that term loosely) has his infamous past lives revealed to him nightly (which I imagine in my mental video for it as a nice montage of these folks looking up from their recorded crimes to the 'camera' in a bit of surprise at being seen) in his dreams. Alas, as dreams are wont to do, these insights fade with each coming dawn and he only recalls dreams of being in power. Carried by these vague memories, he merrily continues on his way to further his life's goals (which will end up as him recorded as one of the low-points of history, yet again).

-- W.D.Young

When I first heard this I was knocked out by the warbly saxes and the 30s style arrangement, but the lyrics startled me somewhat since a similar idea had occurred to me some years ago when I used to dabble in the odd pipe. It seemed to me that being awake was the dream state, and sleep, or perhaps even death, was true consciousness. Except I couldn't remember much more than the slightest suggestion of my dreams when I came round. What strikes me as untenable about the song [pedant mode] is that the narrator can actually relate his tale, since he would have to be awake in order to do so. Just as you can't see yourself in a mirror with your eyes closed, nor can you remember the voice when you wake. So the lyric undoes itself. What really blew me away was learning that the saxes came off a mellotron. I love mellotrons, and have never heard one do saxes quite like that. This song is on my best of TMBG compilation. -- Balb Kubrox


Who is it most reprehensible and most responsible for the cumulative crimes of the human race? Humanity!

I think this song is just the human race's point of view (it's on the top of the world and nothing on Earth can stop it) on the human race (plus the 10,000 years thing). The fun part of the human race is that new generations of life and different civilizations inevitably forget the lessons learned from the past and are doomed to repeat it in a big cyclic thingy; new civilizations dawn and don't heed or take into account the pitfalls of past societies (forgetting everything and thinking only of their plans, their plans). ~ magbatz


Mr Young, Mark David Chapman isn't dead yet. And I'd say its more about being a creative type with an overactive imagination and a very guilty conscience. Although saying that, it does sound a bit like what some schizophrenia suffers who hear voices have to live with all the time.


It's about Starscream and his indestructible Spark!


Whenever I hear this song, I think of something of pure fantasy, or depending upon your beliefs, perhaps not. It is the story of an evil soul that reincarnates itself into different people throughout history. All of the villainous historical figures all have the same soul. Once the person dies, the soul wanders and finds a new host and that person lives up an evil corrupt life. Now, this man is dreaming and his subconscious knows the truth of this spirit's past. In a way, he is responsible for every terrible action in history- the Holocaust, the Trail of Tears, assassinations, killings, genocide, murder, etc. etc. And what makes matters worse, he (or rather his soul) has plans to continue this evil charade.

To summarize, it's about an immortal, reincarnating soul that is pure evil that corrupts whoever it possesses.

I've recently wondered if this has any relation to Sleep. The narrator knows that when he falls asleep he will lose all of the memories he gained, essentially being replaced with someone else. I don't think there's a big link between them, but the songs are pretty similar. Also, this could very well be the same narrator from "Kiss Me Son Of God."


I think the song's old-timey arrangement reminds us that on some level "Reprehensible" is a parody of mid-twentieth-century pop standards with "-ible" and "-able" words in the names. I'm thinking specifically of "Embraceable You," "Call Me Irresponsible," and "Unforgettable." Since we've already had songs about people who are embraceable, irresponsible, and unforgettable, TMBG are adding one about someone who is reprehensible. The song's historical angle also reminds me greatly of the Rolling Stones' "Sympathy For The Devil." I think of "Reprehensible" as being the Stones song as filtered through the "-ible"/"-able" songs. - JOE BLEVINS


This one's pretty easy. It's when your're trying to sleep and your brain randomly replays all the stupid and horrible things you've done throughout your life, making you feel really terrible about yourself. I mean, I'm not the only one who experiences this, right?

...right?


The Shining?[edit]

When i heard this song, i was reminded of Stanley Kubrick's movie of The Shining. In one scene in the movie, Jack Torrence goes into the Gold Room of the supposedly empty Overlook Hotel to find a party pulled from out of the past. all of the partygoers are in 1920s outfits, while music of the same era plays in the background. The song Reprehensible certainly evokes this time period with its dance band arrangement. Also, one of the major themes in Kubrick's interpretation of the Shining is how evil seems to repeat itself over and over. This is demonstrated through the hotel, with its history of having been built on an Indian burial ground, rumors of Indian attacks during the hotel's construction, Mr. Grady (one of the older caretakers) murdering his wife and two daughters, and the hotel's persuading Jack to continue this legacy of evil by "correcting" his "interfering" wife and "willful" son. This theme seems to echo in one of the song's lines "The record of my / unspeakable crimes / in previous lives / in previous times / indelibly stains / the pages of history." One other observation - When Jack confronts the "ghost" of Grady about having committed those murders all those years ago, Grady denies any recollection of such actions. To me, this sounds a lot like one of the lines in Reprehensible: "Night after night / the voice recites my misdeeds / and puts me to sleep / and tells me i won't / remember a thing."