| 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 piper picked another pickle brained piece of pepper", "Meeting John Dale Jr., winked an eye, point a finger", "A ferment guy put the gimmick, disk is hot, now recover, ferment ka, put the gimmick, dis goes on, now recover" 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, 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.
John Dolmayan's story of the song Edit
According to Dolmayan, the song was inspired by an accidental meeting with David Hasselhoff, the star of Knight Rider when he was a kid.
|“||That was inspired by ‘Knight Rider.’ When I was a kid, I ran into David Hasselhoff at a liquor store in L.A. He was getting a drink, not an alcoholic beverage, a soda or something. He was walking out and I couldn’t believe it! Here was Knight Rider in front of me! And I said, “Knight Rider!” I must have been 12. He looked at me and he goes, “Hey kid,” and he kind of pointed the finger [at me] cowboy style. I told Serj the story, so the lyrics, “Meeting John Dale’s Jr. / Winked an eye and point a finger.” ‘Dale’s Jr.’ was the liquor store. There’s a little insight. That was a fun thing. The band was laughing when I told them that story, because it was one of those moments you have. When are you going to run into Knight Rider?! Could you imagine?! That was a big moment for me. If I ran into Knight Rider today it’d be a big moment. I love Knight Rider!||”|
— John Dolmayan