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Old 03-17-2010, 08:38 PM
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"Games Without Frontiers" Meaning?

Does the song "Games Without Frontiers" have any meaning or make any statement? Or, is it just a bunch of jibberish spun into a song?

Last edited by Jinx; 03-17-2010 at 08:38 PM.
Old 03-17-2010, 08:43 PM
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It likens nationalism and militarism to a TV game show.
Old 03-17-2010, 09:28 PM
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Since your question was answered, I'll take this opportunity...

Of course, nothing can beat the original by Peter Gabriel with Kate Bush, but I've always loved this super cool cover by Bob Holroyd and HTR since I first heard it. It's one of my favorite cover versions.
Old 03-17-2010, 10:17 PM
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Originally Posted by Jinx View Post
Does the song "Games Without Frontiers" have any meaning or make any statement? Or, is it just a bunch of jibberish spun into a song?
It's called a metaphor.
Old 03-17-2010, 10:21 PM
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Originally Posted by Exapno Mapcase View Post
It's called a metaphor.
Uh, yeah...I got that much, assuming there's some meaning to be found here. To me, it's just jibberish. I'm not sure what Gabriel's point is.
Old 03-17-2010, 10:31 PM
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Originally Posted by Jinx View Post
Uh, yeah...I got that much, assuming there's some meaning to be found here. To me, it's just jibberish. I'm not sure what Gabriel's point is.
Jeez! It's "gibberish" because he's likening war etc to childish games and name calling - clear enough for you now?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Games_W...rontiers_(song)
Old 03-17-2010, 10:36 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jinx View Post
Uh, yeah...I got that much, assuming there's some meaning to be found here. To me, it's just jibberish. I'm not sure what Gabriel's point is.
Quote:
Andre has a red flag, Chiang Ching's is blue
They all have hills to fly them on except for Lin Tai Yu
Dressing up in costumes, playing silly games
Hiding out in tree-tops shouting out rude names
-Whistling tunes we hide in the dunes by the seaside
-Whistling tunes we piss on the goons in the jungle
It's a knockout
That's not cryptic. It's about war. Paul Simon, now, that's often cryptic. What did the Mama saw that was against the law? Why should I be your bodyguard and call you Al?
Old 03-17-2010, 10:38 PM
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Earlier question about "Games Without Frontiers."

Damn, time flies!

Last edited by Earl Snake-Hips Tucker; 03-17-2010 at 10:38 PM.
Old 03-18-2010, 08:30 AM
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As songs go, it's a knockout!
Old 03-18-2010, 08:31 AM
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Originally Posted by Rrose Selavy View Post
Jeez! It's "gibberish" because he's likening war etc to childish games and name calling - clear enough for you now?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Games_W...rontiers_(song)
Wow, no need for the vitriol.
Old 03-18-2010, 09:18 AM
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A better thread would be: "What did you think Peter Gabriel was saying in English when you first heard the (French) line Jeux Sans Frontières?"

I always thought it was, "She's some funky lady" or something similar...
Old 03-18-2010, 09:21 AM
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Originally Posted by Hail Ants View Post
A better thread would be: "What did you think Peter Gabriel was saying in English when you first heard the (French) line Jeux Sans Frontières?"

I always thought it was, "She's some funky lady" or something similar...
"She's so popular." Made no sense at all to me, which was later cleared up when I learned what he was really singing.
Old 03-18-2010, 09:57 AM
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Originally Posted by tacoloco View Post
Wow, no need for the vitriol.
I didn't see any vitriol. But the meaning of the song couldn't be clearer if Gabriel hung post-it notes on every line. It's probably the least obscure extended metaphor in the history of rock. How could anyone possibly not get it?
Old 03-18-2010, 10:35 AM
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I thought it was "She's so punctual."
Old 03-18-2010, 10:35 AM
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Originally Posted by Gyrate View Post
"She's so popular." Made no sense at all to me, which was later cleared up when I learned what he was really singing.
You mean what she was really singing--that's Kate Bush singing the French line.
Old 03-18-2010, 10:35 AM
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Originally Posted by Exapno Mapcase View Post
It's probably the least obscure extended metaphor in the history of rock.
Love Gun...just Love Gun.
Old 03-18-2010, 10:36 AM
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Originally Posted by Exapno Mapcase View Post
I didn't see any vitriol. But the meaning of the song couldn't be clearer if Gabriel hung post-it notes on every line. It's probably the least obscure extended metaphor in the history of rock. How could anyone possibly not get it?
Hand raise.

Yes. The words in the song reference war. That much is clear. But, the phrase and title 'games without frontiers' makes little sense if you've never heard of the show.

Why is war like a game without frontiers? What is a game without frontiers, anyway?

Yes. The answers have solved that mystery, but if you don't know the show, there's a significant knowledge gap.
Old 03-18-2010, 10:47 AM
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You mean what she was really singing--that's Kate Bush singing the French line.
Huh. I thought it was Gabriel in falsetto. Ignorance fought. Again.
Old 03-18-2010, 10:55 AM
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Originally Posted by Gyrate View Post
"She's so popular." Made no sense at all to me, which was later cleared up when I learned what he was really singing.
That's what I thought the line was for years until I read this thread and learned otherwise. Learn something new here every day, one does!
Old 03-18-2010, 11:42 AM
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To me it sounded (and still sounds) like "she is so frumpy now", which I knew couldn't be correct so I settled for "she is so popular".

I've always gotten what the song is about but didn't know about the game so thanks for enlightening me about that. It adds a little something, I think.
Old 03-18-2010, 12:03 PM
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Gabriel, especially with this album, starts with the rhythm and builds the song from there, only writing lyrics as the very last stage. Lyrics have even changed while the album is being mixed and the videos are being filmed - Sledgehammer originally had a lyric about feeling "encased in ice" and the video had a scene based on that.

Sometimes, the words are just whatever fit to the rhythm.

"There have been many great songs with really appalling lyrics, but none with really appalling music." - Peter Gabriel
Old 03-18-2010, 02:05 PM
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I always sang it as "She's so Dracula", though obviously I knew that wasn't it. That's just what I heard.
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Originally Posted by Gyrate View Post
Huh. I thought it was Gabriel in falsetto. Ignorance fought. Again.
Same here.
Old 03-18-2010, 02:21 PM
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I always thought it was "She's so far below." Far below what? I had no idea. I still hear it that way in my head even though I know what the real lyric is.
Old 03-18-2010, 02:43 PM
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I noticed a few in the older thread referencing the relationship between Peter Gabriel and his former bandmates. At this years RnR HoF, Phil didn't seem especially pleased by Peter's absence. I know I was a little perturbed by Gabriel's attitude - he couldn't be arsed to sing for 5 frikkin' minutes because he's preparing for a tour. It's not like they were performing a full set or anything (Peter was disappointed at the results of a reunion show when they didn't practice). It could have been that Phil was tired of the question (journalists aren't smart enough to think of original questions, so interviewees have to hear the same question dozens, even hundreds of times). Let the conspiracy theories fly. Mine is that Peter is holding out until he gets in as a single act.
Old 03-18-2010, 04:53 PM
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I couldn't really tell, but I thought it could have been "She's so...skep-ti-cal..."

So yeah.
Old 03-18-2010, 06:34 PM
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My interpretation of "Games Without Frontiers" was always that war was by nature a game without frontiers ... the essence of it is that you cross the frontier between your land and another's and do bad things in their land until they either do what you want, or you get your ass kicked, in which case they may very well cross their frontier into your lands and do bad things to YOU. By nature, war is a game that erases frontiers.

I always thought the lyric was "She's so boop-ti-us," which makes no sense, and had I known that Kate Bush was doing the singing, I would have accepted that it probably wasn't intended to.

Last edited by Evil Captor; 03-18-2010 at 06:36 PM.
Old 03-18-2010, 06:52 PM
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The 4:4 time (I think that's what it is?) also makes it sound kind of like a march.
Old 03-18-2010, 07:17 PM
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Originally Posted by Koxinga View Post
The 4:4 time (I think that's what it is?) also makes it sound kind of like a march.
But aren't 99 and 44/100% of all rock songs in 4/4 time?
Old 03-18-2010, 07:53 PM
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Originally Posted by Hail Ants View Post
A better thread would be: "What did you think Peter Gabriel was saying in English when you first heard the (French) line Jeux Sans Frontières?"

I always thought it was, "She's some funky lady" or something similar...
Only just this past week I realized that he was not saying "She's so funky, yeah"!! And that was only because the DJ mentioned after the song was over that it was "jeaux sans frontieres".

Last edited by HelloKitty; 03-18-2010 at 07:54 PM. Reason: Kate Bush singing that line, huh? Gonna have to have another listen soon!
Old 03-18-2010, 09:40 PM
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Originally Posted by Exapno Mapcase View Post
But aren't 99 and 44/100% of all rock songs in 4/4 time?
I dunno, maybe it's some other aspect of the composition that makes it sound like a march.

Maybe I should have just said "it sounds like a march" and left it at that.
Old 03-18-2010, 09:46 PM
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I have no idea what other versions or shows or videos people are talking about, but Peter Gabriel's original came out when I was in jr. high, and it never confused me, though I might have been wrong about 'games without frontiers, war without fears' meaning....even little kids will play at what they see the adults playing at, ie. war. The kids don't take it seriously, it's just a game to them, but by growing up with that attitude, it's that much easier to fall into war as an adult way of handling things, without a second thought about whether it's really necessary.

I was 12. That was <and is> my opinion, and I could have been <be> wrong.
But that's my interpretation and I'm sticking to it!
Old 03-18-2010, 09:48 PM
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I sort of thought it was about Lord of the Flies
Old 03-18-2010, 11:00 PM
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Originally Posted by Hail Ants View Post
A better thread would be: "What did you think Peter Gabriel was saying in English when you first heard the (French) line Jeux Sans Frontières?"

I always thought it was, "She's some funky lady" or something similar...
She's so popular.
Old 03-19-2010, 07:13 AM
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Originally Posted by Exapno Mapcase View Post
I didn't see any vitriol. But the meaning of the song couldn't be clearer if Gabriel hung post-it notes on every line. It's probably the least obscure extended metaphor in the history of rock. How could anyone possibly not get it?
Jeez, How could you not realize that constructing a sentence in this manner comes off as needlessly rude! Clear enough for you?
Old 03-19-2010, 07:34 AM
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Now explain why I've always thought this was an XTC song?
Old 03-19-2010, 08:19 AM
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I believe there are two different videos for the song.

One of them has a LOT of WWII imagery. A lot of "Duck and Cover" type of stuff.

From that, I always thought it was a song on war, getting to a point that it is not humane*.

*Yes, no war is humane, but if there are "Rules of War", you can begin to see my point. If we can push a button and wipe off a country, I think the song stands for itself. US did it to Japan, twice, after-all.

If looks can kill they probably will.

Given where war is currently, it is only a matter of time before we can give in totally to our impulses on the battlefield. Given that the obviously Race centric kids were playing at the start, I think the over militaristic theme in the future is not as deep as others feel it is.

I think 99 Red Balloons [And the German song of the same name that inspired it, that I'm not going to dare try and spell.] is along similar lines.

War. Gone too far, is bad for all involved. Period.

Last edited by Meeko; 03-19-2010 at 08:20 AM.
Old 03-19-2010, 09:38 AM
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I was told that the song was about how childish behavior presaged adults' tendancy to wage massive and brutal wars on each other.

As for the opening line, I interpreted it as "She's so unreal!"
Old 03-19-2010, 11:06 AM
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Originally Posted by HelloKitty View Post
Only just this past week I realized that he was not saying "She's so funky, yeah"!! And that was only because the DJ mentioned after the song was over that it was "jeaux sans frontieres".
It's funny but I remember the opposite happening. I knew the actual lyrics, but the DJs would say "She's so funky, yeah."

I used to be a huge PG fan and this thread has inspired me to start revisiting his catalog. Moribund the Burgermiester, here I come!
Old 03-19-2010, 11:14 AM
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I thought it was "she's so into you!"
Old 03-19-2010, 11:50 AM
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Originally Posted by Hail Ants View Post
A better thread would be: "What did you think Peter Gabriel was saying in English when you first heard the (French) line Jeux Sans Frontières?"

I always thought it was, "She's some funky lady" or something similar...
Actually, at the time I first heard it I knew French well enough to hear it as "Jeux Sans Frontières" I mean, some people do know both languages.
Old 03-19-2010, 01:07 PM
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Tune in next week, when we'll deconstruct The Ramones' "Now I Wanna Sniff Some Glue"...
Old 06-26-2012, 06:37 AM
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Okay, here's what I know and don't know:

I do know there's a great deal of commentary at large in the land that this song is criticizing the silly nationalism of the 1980 Olympic boycott. Obviously that's just the springboard.

I do know that there was a French game-show called "Jeux sans Frontieres," in which contestants dressed in outlandish costumes. The British version was called "It's a Knockout."

I don't know (for certain) the point of the names in the first three lines. If anybody knows some sort of specific reference there let me know. Since I don't know any, here's what I think -

I think they're non-specific, intentionally international names. As in, kids will all play with other kids.

I think he's developing a little hint of the childish jealousies that turn into international tragedies for adults when he says "Jane plays with Willi, Willi is happy again." Or else it just rhymes.

I do know that line four is crystal clear, unless he's intentionally misleading us. I'm thinking we all know a very famous Adolph who built bonfires. Because Adolph built bonfires (and did all the thing represented thereby,) it became possible for Enrico (Fermi) and others to do the work that resulted in nuclear weapons.

I do know that the first line of the "Whistling tunes..." bit, and the whistling itself, evokes for me soldiers whistling regimental songs marching from point A to point B. They seem to do that in WWII movies. But that might be idiosyncratic.

I have no idea why we're kissing baboons in the jungle.

The hook "If looks could kill they probably will" through "war without tears" is compact and completely understandable, but a little on the slant side. You have a statement that applies pretty well to the '80 Olympics, where we're doing an "If looks could kill" sort of thing, and that turns the Olympics to "war without tears." But I think it's simultaneously a statement that we think of war as a game as well, and don't shed too many tears for the fallen, especially the other guy's fallen.

Andre has a red flag - Likely Andre Malraux, the French leftist, who wrote La Condition Humaine (The Human Condition), documenting a Communist uprising in Shanghai in 1927

Chiang Ching's is blue - The blue flag of the kuomintang, as represented by Chiang Ching, son of Generalissimo Chiang Kai Shek.

They all have hills to fly them on
Except for Lin Tai Yu

There's a character in classical Chinese literature by that name, an emotional girl of exceeding beauty and intelligence. You know, the trampling-of-innocence-by-politics-and-war thing. Can't be Lin Tai Yu when the choices are KMT, PRC, or run.

Dressing up in costumes, playing silly games
Hiding out in treetops, shouting out rude names

Another compact statement that evokes both the game shows of the title, and war (whether played as a game by kids or in deadly earnest by adults.)

Then back to the hook.

I don't know if this is at all helpful but I woke up way too early, so there it is.

Last edited by MyFactCheckBounced; 06-26-2012 at 06:38 AM.
Old 06-26-2012, 07:02 AM
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Mr. Peter Gabriel, ladies and gentlemen! [applause]
Old 06-26-2012, 08:38 AM
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I always heard the line as: "She's so Freudian."
Old 06-26-2012, 09:19 AM
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...and nothing about zombies in war!
Old 06-27-2012, 01:35 PM
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Peter Gabriel's lyrics could always be described as "enigmatic." This song is no exception.

///GAAAAAAAAAAMMMMMMMMMEZZZZZZ///
Old 06-27-2012, 01:47 PM
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I don't consider it obvious at all. I get that the song is an anti-war song, but only in a vague sense. The specific lyrics, especially the "games without frontiers" part, are essentially meaningless to me.
Old 06-27-2012, 02:08 PM
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Originally Posted by Vinyl Turnip View Post
Tune in next week, when we'll deconstruct The Ramones' "Now I Wanna Sniff Some Glue"...
It was worth reading a 2-year-old thread just for this post.

I always knew "She's avuncular" made no sense, so I, too, decided "She's so popular." Didn't even know until today what the line really was.
Old 06-27-2012, 02:10 PM
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Tune in next week, when we'll deconstruct The Ramones' "Now I Wanna Sniff Some Glue"...
You mean "I Wanna Piece of Lady"?
Old 06-27-2012, 02:35 PM
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But will anyone truly reveal the impenetrable depths of AC/DCs lyrics? Obscure imagery like, "Let Me Put My Love Into You" and "Givin' the Dog a Bone" still elude experts to this day.
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