This song is somewhat scant on lyrics, making interperetation somewhat difficult, but it seems entirely feasible that the song is fairly literal. The protagonist of the song is clearly wandering around a dark house at night. He probably has a flashlight which reflects off of mirrors. The person is apparently patrolling for rats, and his mind is wandering, imagination making much of creaking floorboards, fluttering moths, and headlights outside. KillerDeathRobot
I first heard this song and could think of it as nothing more as a parody to metal songs. Metal guitar, metal singing. It's one of those TMBG songs that shows their ability to write songs so eclecticly. -AJK
"The Rat Patrol centers around the adventures of four-man team of commandos called "The Rats" who are stationed as part of The Long Range Desert Group in North Africa during World War II." I'm pretty sure it's not about the TV show. I'm guessing it's just an exterminator wandering around a house.
Nobody detect a hint of Glam-era Bowie? --Balb Kubrox
I believe Mr. Flansburgh said it was about the TV show.
Sounds like a Rush spoof, methinks.
Not so much lyrics-wise, but I always thought this song sounded similar to some of the music found in Andrew Lloyd Weber musicals (i.e Jesus Christ Superstar).
I detect more than a hint of Jethro Tull.
WAY more than a hint of Tull. All it lacks is a breathy flute solo. The vocals almost sound like a parody of Ian Anderson (or Ian when he's goofing off) and the solo and harmonized guitars sound like they're straight out of "Wand'ring Again" from Living in the Past - iemordnilapi
I'd say they're going for a mix of early metal and 80's hard rock. I mean listen to the repeating "yeah...yeah..." at the end. It sounds like a parody of Axl Rose.
I have to agree with whoever thought Bowie. Maybe it's the backing vocal.
I agree with the first Interpretaion but not quite as literal. The "Rat/Rats" is some sort of suspicious person or person the singer doesn't like and the singer is looking for them. I thought at first they were following them but If the lights turn into the driveway then the person musting but somewhere waiting for them or snooping around their stuff while they're gone. I kind of the way the lyrical style describes a scene more then a story sort of the way haiku does. It seems more artistic the way it portrays the emotion of what's happening rather than just saying what happened. - Trogdoroth
The Rat Patrol: Kinda like the A-team, but not
I just recently saw the first few episodes of the Rat Patrol, and I can see how this song could be about it. There are 5 recurring cast members, the three American, and one Brit, who go around blowing up German stuff, and the German Captain who keeps getting his stuff blown up.
Now, in the second episode, the Rat Patrol are deep behind enemy lines when one of them gets injured, so they capture a German ambulance and pretend to be German to have a doctor patch him up. And there is the Captain, suffering from Combat Fatigue, and appears to be paranoid when he starts shouting how the medics are the Rat Patrol. No one believes him and they eventually escape back to the English lines.
So I think this song is about the Captain who, after 2 seasons of having 4 men in jeeps kill off most of his men and machines, is extremely paranoid. The first two verses are about being driven crazy, the 'Come on Rat Patrol' is him calling them to attack him like they always do, and the verse about the headlights is when he thinks he sees the Rat Patrol, but it's not, possibly one of his own vehicles.
Seems to me like the song is about an actual rat living in a human home. Its job is to let the other rats know when the humans are gone, hence it's on "rat patrol"