Master and Servant – A Dance of Domination and the Human Condition


You can view the lyrics, alternate interprations and sheet music for Depeche Mode's Master and Servant at Lyrics.org.
Article Contents:
  1. Music Video
  2. Lyrics
  3. Song Meaning
  4. The Power Play Anthem That Shaped a Generation
  5. Unpacking the Sheets: A Metaphor for Social Hierarchies
  6. Dancing to the Dichotomy of Domination
  7. Decoding the Hidden Meaning Behind the Synth-Pop Surface
  8. Memorable Lines That Echo Across the Decades

Lyrics

It’s a lot, it’s a lot, it’s a lot, it’s a lot
It’s a lot, it’s a lot, it’s a lot, like life

There’s a new game we like to play you see
A game with added reality
You treat me like a dog
Get me down on my knees

We call it master and servant
We call it master and servant

It’s a lot like life
This play between the sheets
With you on top and me underneath
Forget all about equality

Let’s play master and servant
Let’s play master and servant

It’s a lot like life (it’s a lot like life)
And that’s what’s appealing
If you despise (it’s a lot like life)
That throwaway feeling
From disposable fun
Then this is the one

Domination’s the name of the game in bed or in life
They’re both just the same
Except in one you’re fulfilled at the end of the day

Let’s play master and servant
Let’s play master and servant

Master and servant
It’s a lot, it’s a lot, it’s a lot, it’s a lot
It’s a lot, it’s a lot, it’s a lot, like life
It’s a lot, it’s a lot, it’s a lot, it’s a lot
It’s a lot, it’s a lot, master and servant
It’s a lot, it’s a lot, it’s a lot, it’s a lot
It’s a lot, it’s a lot, it’s a lot, like life

It’s a lot like life (it’s a lot like life)
And that’s what’s appealing
If you despise (it’s a lot like life)
That throwaway feeling
From disposable fun
Then this is the one

Let’s play master and servant (it’s a lot)
Come on, master and servant (it’s a lot)
Let’s play master and servant (it’s a lot)
Come on, master and servant (it’s a lot) (it’s a lot)
Let’s play master and servant (it’s a lot) (it’s a lot)
Come on, master and servant

Full Lyrics

When Depeche Mode released ‘Master and Servant’ as part of their 1984 album ‘Some Great Reward,’ they ushered in a provocative blend of synth-pop with a daring exploration of power dynamics. More than just an audacious romp through S&M themes, ‘Master and Servant’ invites a deeper dive into the complexities and subtle nuances of human relationships, both physical and psychological. At the heart of this composition lies a universal theme staged within the intimate confines of a metaphor.

The pulsating beat and hypnotic synths craft an irresistible dance floor allure, but it’s the song’s daring lyrics that demand attention, hinting at the duality of control and submission not just in the bedroom, but extending to the broader scope of life’s interactions. As we pick apart the web of meaning spun by this seminal 80s track, we lay bare the power structures that both bind and divide our experiences as sentient beings navigating an ever-complex social labyrinth.

The Power Play Anthem That Shaped a Generation

Setting the stage for a generation not afraid to confront taboo, ‘Master and Servant’ became an anthem for those willing to scrutinize and embrace the power dynamics prevalent in all spheres of life. The song’s relentless beat serves as a metaphor for the heartbeat of society, where roles of dominance and submission are often solidified and played out, be it in love, work, or the structures we navigate daily.

This acknowledgment and the song’s subsequent acceptance reframed the conversation around such dynamics, allowing a generation to explore these themes through the safety of music. Depeche Mode didn’t just push boundaries; they shattered them, establishing a dialog that had been muted by social norms and the silence of conventionality.

Unpacking the Sheets: A Metaphor for Social Hierarchies

Lyrically, the reference to playing ‘between the sheets’ extends far beyond the bedroom’s confines, becoming a critique of the roles we are often assigned or accept in life. The blatant call to ‘forget all about equality’ is a stark, satirical take on the power imbalances that exist in our societies and possibly a bitter acceptance of these imbalances as an inherent part of the human experience.

The comparison of societal roles to those within sexual encounters challenges listeners to examine the power they hold or lack in various relationships. Depeche Mode is not just talking about physical intimacy; they’re using it as a canvas to highlight how people are pigeonholed into master and servant roles in a broader context, often without the clarity or honesty found within the song’s overt narrative.

Dancing to the Dichotomy of Domination

The rhythmic command of ‘Master and Servant’ fuels a dance with dual meanings. The visceral feeling of power exchange on the dance floor mirrors the ebb and flow of control felt in everyday life. This duality is where the song thrives, vibrantly alive in the space between submission to the beat and domination of one’s body movements.

It is a sophisticated interplay, as the mechanics of the music itself impose a discipline while rewarding the listener with a sensorial release. The dance becomes a shared experience, a communal recognition of the oscillating dynamics that percolate through the fabric of human connections.

Decoding the Hidden Meaning Behind the Synth-Pop Surface

On the surface, ‘Master and Servant’ can be mistaken for a purely provocative salvo meant to titillate and shock. Yet, beneath the veneer of bold sexual metaphors, Depeche Mode uses the song as a vessel to convey a philosophical exploration of existentialism. The refrain ‘It’s a lot like life’ encapsulates this mindset, drawing parallels between the give-and-take of power and the fundamental nature of our being.

The dichotomy of the empowering and the disposable elements in our modern lives serves as a testament to the song’s depth. The lyrics invite an internal dialogue about where we see ourselves, whether we’ve consciously chosen a particular role or been swept into one by currents beyond our control.

Memorable Lines That Echo Across the Decades

‘Domination’s the name of the game in bed or in life; They’re both just the same’ – these words cut to the core of ‘Master and Servant’s unflinching commentary on power structures. Its blunt comparison strips away the societal niceties that often obscure the raw underbelly of our relationships.

Even decades later, these lines resonate with an audience navigating an increasingly complex world where power dynamics are ever-present but more subtly woven into the cultural fabric. Depeche Mode’s song remains an enduring, defiant call to acknowledge and question the established hierarchies that govern not just the bedrooms of the daring but the streets and boardrooms of the world at large.

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