WALK THE MOON – “Iscariot” Lyrics Meaning

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Written By Joanna Landrum

Joanna holds a BSc in English Literature and uses her expertise in literary analysis to uncover the deeper meaning of her favorite songs.

WALK THE MOON’s “Iscariot” is a haunting tune about betrayal and the complexities of trust. Referencing the biblical character Judas Iscariot, who betrayed Jesus, the song talks about the gut-punch moment when someone you’d “follow into the lion’s den” lets you down. It wrestles with a blend of confusion, regret, and a sense of inevitable downfall—”That’s what you want, but it’s not what you’re asking for.” Written as if it’s a conversation between two close people, the song serves as a modern-day cautionary tale: Be careful whom you trust, because even those closest to you can let you down.

Discover the complex world of friendship and betrayal in WALK THE MOON’s “Iscariot,” a song that speaks the often unspeakable.

“Iscariot” Lyrics Meaning

The song starts with an intimate promise, “Until now, I knew this of myself, That if you had thrown yourself down, Into the lion’s den, My brother I’d follow you in.” It’s a declaration of loyalty, an oath of sorts between two individuals, implying a bond as strong as brotherhood. Yet, as the song unfolds, this sense of loyalty is questioned, turned on its head even.

The lines, “Perhaps I lack some foresight (should have known), But brother you were so right, Sure as the setting sun, You can’t trust just anyone,” come across like a sobering realization. The singer acknowledges his own shortcomings in judgment, admitting that his trust was misplaced.

The chorus, “That’s what you want, but it’s not what you’re asking for,” is particularly intriguing. It highlights the discrepancy between desires and reality. It tells us that sometimes what we wish for can have consequences we aren’t prepared for—a lesson learned too late in the context of betrayal.

The heart-wrenching lines, “I never imagined you dead (I never), But tell me, are you even aware, That all that we did, you undo?” express a sense of disbelief and disappointment. This isn’t just about the betrayal itself but the erasure of shared experiences, of a bond that once seemed unbreakable.

“Iscariot, you fool,” calls out the betrayer directly, likening him to the biblical figure Judas Iscariot. It’s an intense accusation, implicating the person for their unforgivable actions.

The outro repeats the phrase “You had it coming” multiple times, signifying a change in attitude. If earlier the focus was on the shock and hurt, here it’s more about karma, as if saying ‘what goes around, comes around.’

The Story Behind “Iscariot”

WALK THE MOON wrote “Iscariot” during a phase when the band was still making its mark in the music industry. The emotional weight of the song might be indicative of the kinds of relationships that were tested during these trying times. The music industry is, after all, an environment where trust and loyalty are often put to the test.

The band’s frontman, Nicholas Petricca, is known for his introspective lyricism. At the time “Iscariot” was written, he might have been contemplating the price of success, the betrayals one might face, and the relationships that could suffer along the way.

It’s also worth noting that the album “Iscariot” is a part of, titled “WALK THE MOON,” marks a sort of coming-of-age for the band. The themes of growth, transformation, and the painful lessons that come with it, seem to be overarching motifs. “Iscariot” fits right into this narrative, dealing with the darker aspects of relationships and personal growth.

The song’s biblical reference to Judas Iscariot isn’t just for dramatic flair; it reflects a more profound exploration of the themes of betrayal and trust. By utilizing this heavy symbol, the song is elevated from a mere personal tale of woe to a universal story, one that has been repeated throughout history.

In the broader context of WALK THE MOON’s discography, “Iscariot” is an anomaly, diverging from their usually upbeat, dance-y tracks. This departure might signify the band’s willingness to tackle more challenging, darker themes, rounding out their musical and thematic scope. And in doing so, they’ve created a song that serves as both a warning and a lament, a tale as old as time but as relevant as ever.