Meaning of “Rich Man” by Vampire Weekend

Once again we are greeted by a song written by the clever Ezra Koenig (lead singer of Vampire Weekend) which is full of cryptic symbolism and crafty wordplay. The subject of “Rich Man”, as it begins and concludes, is based on a philosophy that dictates only a few rich men find happiness. But later it turns into a juxtaposed analogy between the elusiveness of being a “satisfied” rich man and the slim probability of falling in love with a certain lady.

And in both of these scenarios, Koenig states that, “I am the one.” That is his way of saying that he has been fortunate enough to be a contented rich man as well as the one of “thousands of men” this lady had the opportunity to choose from. And throughout the majority of the track, he plays with similar extreme ratios to illustrate how improbable it is to find contentment with wealth, the unlikelihood of this lady actually being “the one” for him also and seemingly how only a very few people find happiness in general. But what this all boils down to is Ezra being able to exclaim that, despite the odds being against him, he is one of the few rich men that “has a satisfied mind”.

Rich Man lyrics

Facts about “Rich Man”

  • This track features a sample of the song “Please Go Easy With Me” by renowned African musician S. E. Rogie (1926-1994).
  • S. E. Rogie is also given writing credits alongside Ezra Koenig, who likewise produced “Rich Man” with Ariel Rechtshaid.
  • This track was released as part of the album Father of the Bride, Vampire Weekend’s fourth album, on 3 May 2019.

Below is S.E. Rogie’s original “Please Go Easy With Me” (which is sampled in “Rich Man”):

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