Lost In Translation: Union Of the Snake

I’ve have a theory percolating in my mind for the last year or so about “Union of the Snake”. Reading the Daily Duranie blog and listening to the always excellent D-Side podcast from David (@boysmakenoise on Twitter) brought me back to my theory and I decided to flesh it out on paper for the first time. 

Let’s call this Lost In Translation and, hopefully, I can tackle more songs in the future. Let’s face it, Simon LeBon leaves the door wide open to interpretation with his lyrics. Let’s rummage through these words and see if we can make sense of them. In this case, I definitely agree with the consensus view that Seven & Ragged Tiger is basically a concept album about the band’s struggle with fame. So, what is the union of the snake?

Telegram force and ready

I knew this was a big mistake

There’s a fine line drawing

My senses together

And I think it’s about to break

The first verse for me sets the narrative and, for me, this narrative is a continuation of LeBon’s plea to John in “Hold Back the Rain”. The union of the snake represents the marriage of success and temptation that was tearing apart the band – specifically through the excessive lifestyle of John and Andy. That fine line drawing the sense together? It’s made of white powder and it moves as quick as a telegram through the bloodstream.

If I listen close I can hear them singers, oh

Voices in your body coming through on the radio

The union of the snake is on the climb

Moving up it’s gonna race it’s gonna break

Through the borderline

The singers they hear are the sirens sweetly singing – the call of the rock and roll lifestyle. It only leads to personal shipwrecks but once you’ve tasted success, the temptations are impossible to ignore for they are everywhere you look while on tour.  The pace only quickens until it breaks through the borderline of sanity and leaves you empty. 

Nightshades on a warning

Give me strength at least give me a light

Give me anything even sympathy

There’s a chance you could be right

I am probably overthinking LeBon in this verse but I read nightshades as a reference to the flowering plants. Some, of which are “can be desirable, toxic, or both” to humans according to the always handy Wikipedia. Again, desirable and toxic sounds a lot like the marriage of success and temptation that the band found themselves in. 

The desperation in this verse feels significant. Give me strength, sympathy, a light, anything? That sounds like a soul searching for something to hold onto in its darkest hour. And for John and Andy, their lifestyles during this commercial peak sounded just like that based on their own books. The uncertainty that comes with being given every earthly temptation so suddenly unsettles the psyche and you lose a sense of right and wrong. 

If I listen close I can hear them singers, oh

Voices in your body coming through on the radio

The union of the snake is on the climb

Moving up it’s gonna race it’s gonna break

Through the borderline

Was “Union Of the Snake” another attempt by Simon LeBon to reach the guys before they chased the sirens of temptation too far? The more I study the band, the more I see LeBon as the one who needs the rest of the guys the most. He lives for happy times making music with the other guys in the band and seeing them in peril would have certainly affected his mental state as a lyricist. If that is true, that speaks to the camaraderie of the members and how bravely they wrestled the ragged tiger in their own ways.  

One thought on “Lost In Translation: Union Of the Snake”

  1. I love this song but admit I did not interpret the lyrics the same way as you. But I prefer yours because I’m a sucker for signs of the interpersonal relationships of the guys. Simon’s concern for John is well known and of course he recognized the dangers they all faced. I’m thinking that it isn’t that Simon needs the other guys more, he’s just more open with his feelings and has been characterized as wearing his heart on his sleeve.We can all see the bond the band share and it’s my opinion the need is mutual.

We (Amanda and Rhonda) appreciate discussion and differences of opinion. We respectfully ask that you fully read the blog before bitching us out. If you're only here to take us down a notch, note that we moderate replies (meaning we're not printing rude comments). Thanks a bunch!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.