*The single version replaces the lyrics "only kill" with "break their will"
LINDSEY BUCKINGHAM says:
AOL Sessions: [Announcer introduces: "Buckingham says the first single Peacekeeper, written 3 years ago, had nothing to do with global issues and current threats of war."] "It's just like anything else... Anything artistic should have some ambiguity to it. And, uh, you know, if there's only one way of interpreting it, it's probably closing in on propaganda. So, you know, it was just examining a world in which things are very desensitized, and it was sort of even asking the question of "what is peace?" really, because, you know, there is no static condition at any given time, that's just an illusion, and so peace must be more about the ideal of peace, and working towards it on a continual basis, and valuing the idea of peace."
Miami Herald 3/04/03: ''At the time -- or now -- it was a peace song, quite ironically stated . . . . It's about how we are becoming increasingly more desensitized to things around the world that are brutal and not standing up for human values. And how the actions of the larger bodies affect the family or individual and how that ultimately turns back on the larger body.''
Cleveland Plain Dealer 4/18/03: "[M]aybe there's a metaphor there for the ever-increasing desensitizing of people toward brutal things and how what affects the larger body affects the smaller body, or even questioning the nature of peace. But it's really about the brutalization of a love relationship."
Philadelphia Inquirer 4/15/03: "There are a few songs of mine on the record that imagine if there were gods, in the Greek sense, looking down on the human race, wondering when to pull the plug. 'Peace Keeper' is one of those, and 'Murrow' is another. To me it's strange because 'Peace Keeper' is a very ironic song, but I guess it's one of those songs where [because] you hit the right reference points, it seems to get attached to very specific events. In my mind, it could be applied to a nation and also a love relationship."
Performing Songwriter May 2003: "I wrote the song about two and a half years ago. It was, in a very ironic way, looking at the kind of thinking that is matter-of-fact and desensitized towards certain actions that go on in the world, and the kind of blankness and conformity that goes along with that. And then trying to look at what does that do for a married couple trying to work out their problems. How does it affect them? What is peace, really? The whole idea that there can be any static condition is obviously an illusion. So can there ever really be peace? There can be moments of peace or long periods of peace, possibly, whether it's in the world or in a relationship. But it seems to me what peace really means is valuing the ideal of that and just being mindful of it - working towards the maintenance of it, even though you understand it will not always exist. But the irony of being matter-of-fact about not thinking that way is really what the song is doing."
From 92.3 The Fort, June 2003: "I was working in a house that we were renting at the time -- my wife and I -- about three years ago, [when 'Peacekeeper'] was written. It was looking at the world just in terms of how we've become increasingly desensitized to how brutal the world is. How in many ways it makes it easier to be brutal. It turns on itself. It's looking at the nature of peace. It's an illusion to think that there can be a static condition that we will eventually arrive at that is peace. But you have to just maintain a set of values that elevates the idea of peace in order to work towards that, even if you fail sometimes. There's so little of that in the world now. That's what the song was talking about. The reason it was chosen for the first single, it wasn't really my choice. There were people over there at Warner Bros. who just saw it as something which, stylistically, was walking the line between being quite modern and quite familiar. In many ways, they were shooting high in terms of where they thought it could be placed on radio and, actually, we are in what someone has called uncharted waters in terms of being able to achieve the kind of visibility on radio that the song has been able to get. Someone had the right idea."
From Lindsey's FleetwoodMac.com Fan Club Q&A: "The inspiration for that song, was really just a kind of peace song first of all, although it seems to be interpreted in any number of ways. Quite honestly it is kind of a satire. Its kind of a critical look at the arrogance and the sort of distance and disengagement that the mechanism that seems to be in charge of America today has for America as a whole, as opposed to America the few, and just how easy it is over a period of time to kind of rationalize away into any number of things. And how brutal acts in general become sort of something that we are more and more desensitized to as time goes by. And certainly, that mechanism is in charge of America which is completely desensitized to it and how it might have a tendency to fall back on itself, so it is all done in a kind of tongue and cheek satire way. I would think if you look at the words they are very dry. But it is almost humorous, so I guess the inspiration was just looking around and seeing what is going on in the world today."
The first time I heard this I thought "Peacekeeping Troops" sent in by the U.N. In this light the song would be a highly ironic commentary on war. However, the fact that this was written a few years ago complicates that interpretation somewhat. I have come up with several "alternate," non-political interpretations, but the contradictory elements of the song - peacekeer/only kill, etc - frustrate any kind of straightfoward analysis. So I'm just going to go ahead and evaluate it as political commentary. I'm interested to hear what Lindsey himself says about this song, and so I've prefaced all the comments with interview snippets from him. I'm sure it has a "message" and, what with everything that's going on in the world, it will need to be explained. In fact, if one didn't know better, this could appear as an endorsement of Bush's role as a "peacekeeper" through military action. Lindsey has always bad-mouthed Bush so I doubt he would want people to think that, but perhaps he does.
If placed in the context of war, the first verse could be referring to how all these leaders are all futilely making weapons of mass-destruction (to coin a phrase). If something goes wrong, it doesn't matter who made the weapons, they are all just as deadly when detonated/exploded, and all mankind will suffer from the path of destruction they blaze. The second verse about "poisoning the well" could be a reference to the self-destructive nature of warfare for the sake of advancement of political power.
In this interpretation, the chorus would be an extremely ironic characterization of the "Peacekeeper." However, that is not obvious at first. It's only after the next verse that we discover the "Peacekeeper" is only there to kill. Perhaps "Love is the sweet surprise" is a darkly caustic joke, or mocking representation of the attitude of the "Peacekeeper" as spreading love through war.
Going on, the "painting of a face" could be a person dissembling, hiding behind a painted face/mask and pretending to agree with the so-called gods / allies until he is alone. Then, he can work his own will, even though it is destructive.
In the repetition not only of the chorus but of the dark bridge, the song ends on an ominous note. If this song is indeed a big exercise in irony, then the final ironic element is the melody itself. The chorus is melodic and bright sounding, a stark contrast to the bitterly sarcastic lyrics. I know this is crazy but it actually makes me sad that such a pretty melody would be used as a device to express disgust. (This is also how I feel when I hear the old song "Suicide is Painless" from M*A*S*H. The melody is gorgeous but it's impossible for me to enjoy, even on an instrumental level, because of the wretched despair in the irony that always comes to my mind with the music). However, I do enjoy Peacekeeper a lot, so it's not to that level, thank goodness.
Thanks for the lyrics. Timing the release of this single as the country goes to war is itself an act of aggression. Doesn't matter whether it's meant to be tongue and cheek, no one will even notice. It will only serve to normalize the oxymoronic idea of the warmongering "peacekeeper".
I realize this song was written before this war but think of Stevie & how she has written songs before their time. I think Lindsey royally proved himself with this song. It was to become a prophetic sheet of lyrics. I didn't really bother to listen to it until 3-21-03 but when I did, I was almost brought to tears to think of our service men & women fighting for their & OUR freedom. We really don't show them enough appreciation for what they do for us. Even if we are against war the fact remains we are in war & the lives of Americans are being defended by these wonderful people. I appreciate Peacekeeper because it made me think of these people & appreciate them more as well. Thank you Lindsey & Thank you Fleetwood Mac for coming back to us just when we needed you most.
After repeated listening to this single. I think it may be Lindsey writing to himself, a reminder that despite all the chaos around him, war, his feelings for Stevie, that no matter what happens Love will prevail and keep us going. Just my two cents worth, maybe a song of hope................
I've been listening to this song for about 20+ times, these past few days. There's a very pronounced, mystical melody of the musical instrumentation, which flows and meshes with their soothing voices. It is both, hypnotic and inspiring. The lyrics are very moving and prophetic, with all of the madness and sadness that's going on today. Ultimately, Love will shine. This song is like a soft, warm blaket, providing comfort. I commend them for this coming together in the studio again and creating this beautiful seed of hope.
Listening to the latest song Peacekeeper by Fleetwood Mac, I feel what the song is about is really peace in general and means of getting to that peace, either through change of mind, kindness or force as a last result. The song strikes an amazing balance between force and love. In any peacekeeping that is done there is a time for love, respect, and force. Knowing which to use at what time is the very job of a peacekeeper. Listening to first verse, I think they are talking about equality and how different peoples are still the same.
The chorus I feel tells the peacekeeper or the reluctant warrior to take his time and wait for the "dark of night" or the opposing force, the persons that would wage war against civilians. The line "soon all the suns will rise" sounds like soon the dawn or changing of the peoples will come, or it could mean something all together different like soon all the people will rise up to peace, or come out of the dark.
The second verse I feel talks about hate breeding hate. "Only creatures who are on there way. Ever poison their own well". Meaning only people that hate poison their own children's minds with hate. In other words mean people breed little mean people. "But we still have time to hate, and there's still something that we can sell" Meaning there will always be hate and we can always propagate peace.
Third verse I feel speaks about the use of force to keep peace. "Take no prisoners, break their will" in my view speaks of breaking the wills of anyone who would go against peace and wage war against other people fueled by hate.
The last verse I feel speaks of how everyone has an opinion and everyone thinks they have the answer. "You know all of our friends are Gods and they tell us how to paint our face". They tell us how to act and what to do. "But there is only one brush we need, it's the one that leaves no trace". This speaks of the only thing that we need to "paint" is peace across the land, because peace leaves no wounds, or hate that festers in the minds of the next generation.
Okay, this is a long-shot and pretty off the wall to boot, but...
Is there any possibility this song could have been in part inspired by the television show "Farscape?"
One of the characters, ex-Peacekeeper Aeryn Sun fits the lyrics pretty well: Peacekeepers in the show breed their children to be soldiers and they're some of the main "bad guys" to be found, trying to keep in control of everything. Aeryn breaks away from them and starts to learn how to be compassionate and how to love from the people she is forced to hook up with.
I just couldn't agree more than with Rachel and her musings about Fleetwood Mac and their new song "Peacekeeper". The Farscape idea popped into my mind immediately as soon as I heard it.
DAVE S. speculates:
Here's a very pessimistic interpretation of the stunningly beautiful "Peacekeeper", offered in hopes someone will convince me it's wrong. "Peacekeeper" is the name of a U.S. nuclear missile class which may be being referred to. Waiting for the dark of night is a military reference to preferential times for bombing, and the suns rising (note the plural) is a reference to the resulting explosions, those which "leave no trace" (due to the totality of the destruction). Suffering the fire we make, poisoning the well, this is not a test, not a drill (of emergency nuclear awareness systems), and other lyrical content find easy placement within this theory. If so, "Love is the sweet surprise" may be either the darkest of ironies, or a ray of hope, or transformation. If it is the latter, I have yet to find it in the context of the song.
The song is so powerfully and sweetly sung that I sincerely hope to be convinced my view is incorrect. For the band that has meant so much to me to find their complete voice now only in such a dark vein would be deeply sad and meaningless to me. Prove me wrong!
This song is so beautiful. It is absolutely haunting. The lyrics are very well written and the band plays very strong behind the singers...that being said, I didn't realize who produced this when I first heard it, until I caught Stevie's voice.
It is hard to discern what that words may mean. But just the SOUND of this cut is worth listening to time and time again.
[In reference to Performing Songwriter]: So now it's about a married couple???? I think LB is just trying to avoid saying what it's really about...
THE BREWMEISTER PHELPS speculates:
I think that this song really isn't about anything in particular. I think that Lindsey liked the verbal phrasing, but didn't really have a specific message of what it all might mean. The fact that he wouldn't really say what it meant (besides the vaguest concepts) would back this up. I think that sometimes song writers really aren't trying to "say" something, but just want to write a song. I also think that the main melody is a shameless rip-off of Paul Simon's Kodachrome.
When I heard this song, I thought of Farscape too. It does sound too much like Aeryn. The Suns reference. Even though it's pronounced different it's still Aeryn's last name. Even though their name is Peacekeeper, they are the most violent race. The only thing that doesn't connect with the show is the line "take no prisoners, only kill." The Peacekeepers did take prisoners, and made very good use of them.
Here are my insights, opinions and possibly facts about Peacekeeper.:
Peacekeeper is an absolutely beautifully written song. It contains the melody, voice, and powerful, haunting background music that brings a strong reference of the night. Although this song has a dark meaning behind it, it displays an important, but grisly point, the entire race of human and biological life exterminated by nuclear war.
The references of the song "we made our suns the same" probably refers to the massive cloud that is produced when an atomic weapon is detonated. In the 1945 nuclear test at Alamogordo, New Mexico, scientist Robert Oppenheimer stated that the detonation produced a "cloud that is twenty times as bright as the midday sun".
The term "poison their own wells", I think most likely refers to the radioactive fallout from an atomic bombing. The fallout contains hundreds of highly unstable isotopes such as cobalt-60 and iodine-72 that could be carried by the jet stream, and dumped all over the world. "Only creatures who are going on their way"... refers to the nation who chose to use the bombs, and the radiation would perhaps be carried back to them "poisoning their own wells".
"Everyone will suffer the fire we made", refers to the devastating effects of the blast, especially that of an antimatter blast. (Antimatter are atoms with a positively charged valence electron orbital, and they will form a chemical bond with a regular atom to produce apocalyptic effects, as the nucleus splits to release hundreds of high energy particles. Thus, "they will all explode the same", all living matter will perish when exposed to the radiation, "a brush (probably refering to the bomb), that leaves no trace", all forms of life extinguished and the earth transformed into a burning ember.
"When the night is cold and still, when you thought you had your fill" refers to someone, during a dark, cold night, who thought all is safe, but "this is not a test, it's not a drill", an attack will come, it's for real, and "takes no prisoners, only kills", the explosion does not discriminate, it will not judge who will live and who will die, instead the shock wave of the radioactive cloud will smother the land, killing everthing it contacts.
"Our friends are gods", they determine whether the race should be wiped out or not, tell us "how to paint our face" (to use the bombs and technology), that exterminates the whole race.
I think these meanings are real, and this is the point Fleetwood Mac is trying to make. We must be aware, and try all attempts to keep peace, or else, this is how we would all die, our bodies ionized, vaporized into brittle shreds, and blown away by the extreme radiation such as that of a nuclear holocaust.
This song was written after L.B. had been married a while. I speculate he started thinking about making peace with Stevie and the love he really had for her.
Let me explain:
We make all of our suns the same - (They are always thinking of each other)
Everyone will suffer the fire we've made- (Kristen and the children will suffer from their cont. passion)
They all explode just the same- (There is no stopping this passion)
And there's no going back on the plans we've laid -(They are soul mates)
Peacekeeper, take your time- (A cry that eventually things will work out.)
Wait for the dark of night
Soon all the suns will rise (They will eventually be together)
Peacekeeper, don't tell why- (Let's not talk of it for now)
Don't be afraid to fight- (Hang on to our love until it can happen)
Love is the sweet surprise
Only creatures who are on their way
Ever poison their own well- (This explains how they tore up their relationship when they shouldn't have)
But we still have time to hate- (There is more time left for them in life)
And there's still something we can sell- (They can still be together through the band)
Peacekeeper, take your time
Wait for the dark of night- (They may be together occasionally in secret)
Soon all the suns will rise- (eventually they will be together)
Peacekeeper, don't tell why- same as above
Don't be afraid to fight
Love is the sweet surprise
When the night is cold and still
When you thought you've had your fill- (Can't stand being apart any longer)
Take all the time you will- (be patient)
This is not a test, it's not a drill- (I'm very serous about this)
Take no prisoners, only kill*- **(Note Lindsey doesn't say kill)
You know all of our friends are gods
And they all tell us how to paint our face- (Forums, etc. where fans want them together)
But there's only one brush we need
It's the one that never leaves a trace- (We know we will eventually be together)
I probably should have my ears checked but I keep hearing
But there's only one Bush we need
It's the one that never leaves a trace
I think this song can be related or compared to the book 1984. "We make all our suns the same" - The Party wants everyone to look, act, think, everything the same, so they can tell when someone is commiting a thought crime or something. "Take no prisoners, only kill" - While the Party does take some prisoners, Winston talks more about people being vaporized than taken to jail. "But there's only one brush we need, it's the on that never leaves a trace." The Party always covers everything up, anything that didn't look good on their part, they wanted it erased and rewritten. Or when soemone became an unperson, you had to get rid of any evidence that the person ever existed.
Want to speculate about "Peacekeeper"? E-mail me and I'll post your comments.