Out Like a Lamb

I haven’t posted an interpretation in a while, and I know there was quite a few I had in mind to do. Well, here’s one of them: Out Like a Lamb, a song by The Verve Pipe. It’s off of Pop Smear, and it’s one of my favorite songs from that album. This album came out July 1, 1997. April 19, 1993 is when the Branch Davidian compound went up in flames, after a standoff that lasted through the entire month of March. The words of this song are from the point of view of David Koresh. Just a note that I got most of my information about the Branch Dividians from the Report to the Deputy Attorney General that’s available on the Department of Justice website and specials I saw on TV.


I’m feeling very Moses like
You think that I could lead you?
Or humble, more like David
Would you help me cause I need you?
Or I’ll be charismatic
With the power to persuade you

Supposing I’m a savior
Or a drunkard, or your highness
You slither in these sheets
And then you ask me for forgiveness
I’ll tell you parables of making love
And spreading kindness

Flames rise like butterflies
Been frightened by my stompin’
I’m laughing ’cause they don’t know who I am
The philistines toss tangerines
’cause springtime is for dancing
In like a lion and out like a lamb

Goliath sits and watches
Tired of this investigation
So children grab your m-16s
And load your ammunition
I will work all night
Rewrite the book of revelations

Flames rise like butterflies
Been frightened by my stompin’
I’m laughing ’cause they don’t know who I am
The philistines toss tangerines
’cause springtime is for dancing
In like a lion and out like a lamb

Now go and tune your guitars
And I’ll meet you here tomorrow
Grab that case of scotch
It’s all the courage you can swallow
I’ll burn for all your sins
But I’m expecting you to follow

Flames rise like butterflies
Been frightened by my stompin’
I’m laughing ’cause they don’t know who I am
The philistines load magazines
’cause springtime is for dancing
In like a lion and out like a lamb.

So we start out with this idea that David is a religious leader, comparing himself to Moses and King David: Strong leaders with large followings who obeyed what they said. Koresh sees himself like that. Koresh was described as a charismatic speaker, who could quote large sections of scripture from memory, and harmonize disparate, seemingly unrelated scriptures showing how they all tied together. So you add Koresh’s charisma to the low self-esteem of his followers, and he was pretty much given free reign to do whatever he wanted. He was able to persuade the followers that as the “Lamb of God” only he was “pure” enough to have sex with the women and girls of the compound.

So in the second verse you also get a references to Koresh’s habit of talking about his sexual experiences with the women of the compound, including wives of followers, during their Bible Study sessions.

Now we hit the chorus:
Flames rise like butterflies
A reference to the fire that burned the compound down.

Been frightened by my stompin’
The government, fearing the accumulation of weapons within the compound.

I’m laughing ’cause they don’t know who I am
I see this going two ways: 1.) The Branch Davidians didn’t really know who he was.. thinking he was the return of Jesus, when he wasn’t. or 2.) The rest of the world, not realizing that David [from his perspective] was the return of Jesus.

The philistines toss tangerines
Philistines are the government agents; the enemies of the Branch Davidians. Tangerines would represent the things used to try to get the Davidians out of the compound. Tear Gas, etc..

’cause springtime is for dancing
In like a lion and out like a lamb

March is said to come in like a Lion, and out like a lamb… it’s also the start of spring… The standoff in Waco took place across the entire month of March, ending in April.

The next verse talks about Goliath (The US Government) starting its investigation, and Branch members training with weapons. One of the preaching points of David Koresh was that the end of the world was coming soon in an apocalyptic showdown: An retuning of the words of Revelation to support his teaching.

Then the final verse includes the line:
I’ll burn for all your sins
but I’m expecting you to follow

A call to the fiery end of the standoff.

A very interesting song, and a good song. A song that didn’t really make much sense to me until I knew what it was about. And now you know… and knowing is half the battle.

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