Cage The Elephant burst onto the American indie rock scene in 2009, when their eponymous debut album was released through Red Ink Records. Powered by a mixture of funk, punk and classic rock influences, this Bowling Green, Kentucky band is also known for their high-octane, passionate live performances.
When brothers Matt Shultz (vocals) and Brad Shultz (guitar) joined with bassist Daniel Tichenor, guitarist Lincoln Parish, and drummer Jared Champion, their goal was simple — to have fun with music! Over time, this garage-rock band put together plenty of enjoyable songs, including Judas, the eighth track off of their first album. Here, their lead singer explains a little bit about the development of the band:
Here is a guide to the Judas lyrics by Cage the Elephant and what they mean. The first verse paints a portrait of a greedy, abusive authority figure. The singer asks this Judas: “Can’t you see the flowers dying all around you?”
The time has finally come you get a mouth full
You only act on greed and by your actions this is proof
And can’t you see the flowers dying all around you?
Got your hands in the devils pockets
Got everything to lose
In this case, the “flowers” may be a metaphor for people – after all, the world’s dictators and multinational corporations are destroying the environment and harming human beings. Since the original Judas betrayed the Son of God, we can surmise that this song’s protagonist is also an epic betrayer, possibly one who operates in political and corporate arenas.
When Matt sings about Judas having his “hands in the devil’s pockets”, he seem to be referencing the biblical Judas, who betrayed Christ for 30 pieces of silver. When he tells Judas he has “everything to lose”, he may be talking about his soul.
In the Cage the Elephant song, the idea of morality is strong. The lyricist has defined ethics, and he is defending his ideals against the repeated assaults of the Judas figure. Matt Schulz is looking at the actions of Judas and passing judgment…just as Christians have passed judgment on the biblical Judas for thousands of years.
Singer Matt Shultz’ voices oozes with disdain as he takes Judas to task for his cover-ups and his desire to control the masses:
Again you lash out
To hush the ones who know
All the ones that you fear most
And it’s called crowd control
Well let me break it down for you
In this song, Judas takes on an Orwellian cast; he punishes the “crowd” for their curiosity, their questions, and their concerns. Like Big Brother in Orwell’s novel, 1984, this betrayer of society refuses to allow the common people their say. In fact, much like the biblical Judas, this dark figure eventually draws blood to achieve his ends:
And it’s a shame to have to say
You had to kill to gain control again
But at least you made some money
Hey, let the good times roll
Modern themes of protest, such as “no blood for oil” or similar, anti-war sentiments seem to be echoed within these Cage The Elephant Judas lyrics. Whether the lyrics reference environmental disasters, cold-blooded corporate CEO’s, or political leaders who crush their enemies, this tune strives to introduce the world to a whole new Judas.
Say hello to Judas
This post-millennial version of Christ’s deceitful Apostle, Judas, is powered by money, force, and a soulless and selfish hidden agenda.