The Weapon

Background and Commentary

“The Weapon” is about figures of authority wielding fear of consequences to keep people in line.

“Though it seems like the establishment as a whole is accused in this song [of using fear to cow us], institutional religion is used as the instrument and perhaps as the figurehead for the establishment. Certainly the established church, moved by ignorance, prejudice, and fear, has more than once felt entitled to beat, burn, and kill. . . . The church and its leaders in ‘The Weapon’ are just like the Grand Inquisitor in Dostoevsky’s parable (in the Brothers Karamazov) [in which Jesus appears on earth and is promptly locked up by the authorities of the Church and interrogated and admonished by the Grand Inquisitor for making it harder for the church to keep order.]”—Carol Selby Price and Robert Price, Mystic Rhythms

“The song alludes to U.S. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s inaugural address, with the memorable line, ‘the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.’ Once again we have the church/kingdom/glory/power references [as in ‘Something for Nothing’].—Robert Telleria, Merely Players

It deals with “how people use your fears against you, as a weapon, and that took little longer to come to grips with [than group fear, as in ‘Witch Hunt’], but eventually I got my thinking straightened out and the images that I wanted to use, and collected them all up, and it came out. (Jim Ladd Innerview) [The tempo] brings the feel of the song perilously close to a (shudder) d-d-d-dance song, like, you know, disco! Treason! They wrote a song you can dance to! (Stories From Signals)—Neil in Merely Players

The piece is the second part of the four-part Fear series. (Originally it was a trilogy.)

“The idea for the trilogy was suggested by an older man telling that he didn’t think life was ruled by love, or reason, or money, or the pursuit of happiness—but by fear. This smart-but cynical guy’s position was that most people’s actions are motivated by fear of being hungry, fear of being hurt, fear of being alone, fear of being robbed, etc., and that people don’t make choices based on hope that something good will happen, but in fear that something bad will happen.

“I reacted to this the way all of us tend to react to generalities: ‘Well, I’m not like that!’ But then I started thinking about it more, watching the way people around me behaved, and I soon realized that there was something to this viewpoint, So I sketched out the three ‘theaters of fear,’ as I saw them: how fear works inside us (‘The Enemy Within’), how fear is used against us (‘The Weapon’), and how fear feeds the mob mentality (‘Witch Hunt’).

“As it happened, the last theme was easiest to deal with, so it was written first, and consequently appeared first on record, and the other two followed in reverse order for the same reason.”—Wikipedia

The fourth in the series, ‘Freeze,’ released almost 20 years after release of ‘Witch Hunt,’ looks at that moment when one chooses to fight or flee.


We’ve got nothing to fear but fear itself?
Not pain, not failure, not fatal tragedy?
Not the faulty units in this mad machinery?
Not the broken contacts in emotional chemistry?

With an iron fist in a velvet glove
We are sheltered under the gun
In the glory game on the power train
Thy kingdom’s will be done

And the things that we fear are a weapon to be held against us

He’s not afraid of your judgment
He knows of horrors worse than your Hell
He’s a little bit afraid of dying
But he’s a lot more afraid of your lying

And the things that he fears are a weapon to be held against him

Can any part of life be larger than life?
Even love must be limited by time
And those who push us down that they might climb
Is any killer worth more than his crime?

Like a steely blade in a silken sheath
We don’t see what they’re made of
They shout about love, but when push comes to shove
They live for the things they’re afraid of

And the knowledge that they fear is a weapon to be used against them

Tablature (Opening Riff)

From Fretplay.


Sorry there isn’t more, but this is the only part that I know. The \ with a P above it is a pull-off.



“The Weapon” bass cover

“The Weapon” drum cover

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~ by rvkeeper on February 6, 2011.

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