| Song by System of a Down
from the album Steal This Album!
|Released||November 26, 2002|
|Writer||Serj Tankian, Daron Malakian, Shavo Odadjian, John Dolmayan|
|Producer||Rick Rubin, Daron Malakian|
|Steal This Album! track listing|
General Information Edit
During the Toxicity/Steal This Album! recording sessions, the song made its first studio appearance. It was leaked onto the internet, labelled "Why?", along with several other songs under the unofficial name Toxicity II. The most notable difference between the demo and the final is that the song contains the other band members' vocals. The first make of the song was played during their Las Vegas show in 2000 and was named K.I.T.T., being based on the Knight Rider show.
The song is characterized by exceptionally fast-spoken verses, akin to Tongue-twisters, including, "Peter's pecker picked another pickle-bearing pussy pepper", "Meeting John Dale Jr., winked an eye and point a finger", "A former cop, undercover, just got shot, now recovered" and "Fighting crime with a partner, Lois Lane, Jimmy Carter." The chorus is an abstract chanting of the title.
In addition, the song contains a brief excursion into a stylized version of the theme from the television show Knight Rider.
This is also the only song that drummer John Dolmayan sings in. He sings the chorus of I-E-A-I-A-I-O along with Shavo, Serj, and Daron. This is also the only System song that John has a writing credit.
As with many System of a Down songs, there are supposed double meanings. For this song, some of the possible meanings are a journalist digging up dirt on a politician (Meeting John at Dale's Jr.), and the western world's obsession with gadgets and trinkets (plutonium wedding rings). I-E-A-I-A-I-O are the vowels inside the word I-D-E-A-L-I-Z-A-T-I-O-N, as well as I-L-L-E-G-A-L-I-Z-A-T-I-O-N, L-I-B-E-R-A-L-I-Z-A-T-I-O-N, I-N-T-E-R-N-A-L-I-Z-A-T-I-O-N, and I-L-L-E-G-A-L M-I-G-R-A-T-I-O-N.
Also, I-E-A-I-A-I-O is a portion of a mantra or "word of power" described by the English occultist and satanist Aleister Crowley, presumably in parody of numerologically significant syllables uttered in magical ritual that have no meaning without understanding the specific numerology tradition used in the ritual (in this case, Hebraic Gemetria, numerology of Hebrew letters). The I-E-A-I-A-I-O is parodical because it somewhat emulates the sounded choral portion of the traditional children's song, "Old MacDonald Had a Farm". It is said that Aleister Crowley would teach his students the incantation as a sacred and mystical mantra, then after they'd chanted it for a few minutes, begin singing "Old MacDonald Had a Farm" to see if they could keep their meditative concentration instead of laughing.
There are other explanations theorizing that the "One flag", "plutonium wedding-rings" and other strange descriptive shapes, and the sharp, loud tribal drumbeat all add to the conclusion that this song is about the fourth of July - "and we light up the sky" is another strong reference, which could mean the traditional fireworks displays. The lyrics "Why, On the fourth of July" appear in the originally recorded version of the song from the Toxicity recording sessions, but not in the Steal This Album version. The "One flag" and "plutonium wedding-rings" could also be describing the effect after a nuclear bombing, with one flag ruling over all others, radiation affecting all things, and of course this could explain the "As we light up the sky" part of the song.