Roland by Interpol Lyrics Meaning – Unveiling the Cryptic Tale of Isolation and Friendship


You can view the lyrics, alternate interprations and sheet music for Interpol's Roland at Lyrics.org.
Article Contents:
  1. Music Video
  2. Lyrics
  3. Song Meaning

Lyrics

Hey, my best friend’s a butcher, he has sixteen knives
He carries them all over the town
At least he tries oh look it stopped snowing
My best friend’s from Poland and oh he has a beard
But they caught him with his case in a public place
That is what we had feared

He severed segments and secretly liked that
He always took the time to speak with me I liked him for that
He severed segments and secretly liked that
He always took the time
He always took the time

C’mon now pussycat

My best friend’s a butcher, he has sixteen knives
He carries them all over the town
At least he tries oh look it stopped snowing
And my best friend’s from Poland and oh he has a beard
But they caught him with his case in a public place
That is what we had feared

He severed segments and secretly liked that
He always took the time to speak with me I liked him for that
He severed segments and secretly liked that
He was growing on me
He was growing on me

Full Lyrics

Interpol’s ‘Roland,’ a track from their critically acclaimed debut album ‘Turn on the Bright Lights,’ stands as an enigmatic masterpiece that leaves an indelible mark on the listener’s psyche. With an almost voyeuristic glimpse into a fragmented narrative, the song juxtaposes cold detachment with a subtle yearning for connection.

As with much of Interpol’s oeuvre, ‘Roland’ defies straightforward interpretation, cloaking its true essence in a fog of haunting melodies and elliptical lyrics. This dark, brooding anthem commands an exploration that digs beneath its surface to unearth the weight of human emotion and the complexities of interpersonal relations.

A Close Shave with Dark Themes: The Essence of ‘Roland’

Beneath the stark repetition of the central character’s peculiar vocation as a butcher lies a deeper narrative. The use of ‘sixteen knives’ is an image that is both precise and harrowing, invoking an array of interpretations from the potential for violence to the symbolism of excess and burden. It also sets an undertone of potential menace in the backdrop of ordinary life, as the butcher ‘carries them all over the town.’

The incessant snowing reflects a cold and isolating environment, perhaps representative of the emotional state of the protagonist. At the moment the snow stops, there’s an abrupt shift, suggesting a fleeting instance of clarity or change in the protagonist’s monotonous existence.

Chilling Beauty in Repetition: The Lyrical Loop

Interpol masterfully utilizes lyrical repetition to evoke a sense of the monotonous and the cyclical. Phrases like ‘He severed segments and secretly liked that’ not only describe literal action but could metaphorically allude to the character’s wish to disconnect from his own humanity or from the social fabric around him.

Furthermore, the recurrence of lines suggests a preoccupation on the part of the singer with his friend’s actions and character, which becomes a focal point of the song’s narrative, giving a rhythmic compulsion to his introspective consideration.

Friendship or Obsession? Interpreting Interpersonal Dynamics

A key element to the song lies in the speaker’s relationship with Roland. Despite the character’s ominous presence, there is a clear sense of admiration and even kinship in lines like ‘He always took the time to speak with me I liked him for that.’

This recognition of Roland’s efforts to communicate seems to foster a personal connection that transcends Roland’s potentially grisly habits. It paints a picture of a friendship that is maybe one-sided; a friendship steeped in mixed admiration and perhaps a questionable appreciation of Roland’s darker traits.

A Mysterious Case in a Public Space: The Incriminating Moment

The unfolding drama of Roland’s narrative reaches its climax with the revelation of his capture, ‘But they caught him with his case in a public place.’ Instantly, the lyrics shift from contemplation to a stark and unspecified threat that has now been realized.

The ‘case’ could represent the concealed aspects of ourselves we carry, or it could hint at a literal understanding, with its contents being something unspeakably dangerous. It’s the song’s pivot point; the juncture where public facade meets private truth and the implications it has for Roland’s future.

Memorable Lines: Echoes of Disquiet and Companionship

‘He was growing on me,’ a phrase typically used to describe a fondness developing over time is repurposed here as potentially sinister. The line’s ambiguity allows for a darker read — does Roland grow in influence or disturbance upon the speaker, or is it a genuine sense of deepening friendship?

This particular lyric encapsulates the song’s dichotomous nature, dwelling in a space between affection and unease. It is a testament to Interpol’s lyrical skill that such a simple sentiment can reverberate with a multitude of nuanced emotions.

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