Whistleblower

Songfacts®:

  • This hauntingly beautiful track is about the range of feelings human beings experience when they're emotionally volatile.

    In our interview with Dan Mangan, he revealed this song's meaning. "That song is really about the spectrum that we all go through," he said. "One end of the spectrum is feeling super connected and energetically open and emotionally available for people. You feel the weight of the world and you take things in and you are acting out from a place of being pushed and visceral. It's heavy. You can't be there all of the time.

    The other side of that spectrum is being robotic and numb and just feeling like you're on autopilot. You're going from chore to chore taking the carrot directly in front of you. You're actively disengaged, but just going through the motions of existing and keeping yourself alive.

    So both of those extremes are pretty intense in their own way and I think we flutter in between them. That's what that song is about: it's finding your equilibrium and your balance between those two extremes. If I have to choose to lean one way or the other, I'm going to go toward feeling things as opposed to actively trying not to feel things because it's scary.

    The line in the song that says, 'All this suffice to say, I'll come back from being away, get complacent and unawake, back to my senses,' is tongue-in-cheek because what it's saying is 'back to my senses' means numb. So, don't worry, I'm feeling it all right now but I'll go back to being numb and complacent and unawake because it'll be easier on everybody including myself. It's just taking the piss out of myself for being emotionally too attached to things.

    But it's also saying, 'This is how I feel,' and I think people feel that way, too. I think articulating things through song is a good way of letting people know that they're not alone. So if I write about something that I've experienced and somebody goes, 'Oh my God, I feel the exact same way,' then both of us are connected, and when you feel connected to people, you feel understood. You feel a sense of purpose.

    On a darwinistic sense as an animal connection, it's basically the heart of everything that we crave all of the time. It's the heart of love, the heart of ego. So I think that's why art prevails: because it helps people in a fairly intangible, magical way feel more connected to each other."
  • During a radio interview with Jon Williams on 91.3 The Zone, Mangan explained who the mysterious "whistleblower" is in this song. "I think the 'whistleblower' is a mythological person that maybe doesn't exist," he said. "The song says 'you could be the whistleblower, you could really sound it out.' Maybe it's talking to the listener. Maybe it's talking to someone who doesn't exist. It's casting aside the responsibility of it because I don't have the strength to be the whistleblower that changes the world, so maybe you do? In a sense, it's almost wishful thinking. It's suggesting this other person could be the one who does it."
  • Mangan wrote about the evolution of this tune in a newsletter to his fans: "We recorded 'Whistleblower' in 6/8 for Club Meds and it got lost in the shuffle and never made the record. Putting it in 4/4 and reducing it to my acoustic and Gordon Grdina's electric noise-washes seemed to give it a classic protest song kind of vibe within a modern context."
  • Regarding the video, Mangan wrote: "Seems there is a lot of anger in the world. Anger can be important. Anger can topple tyrants. Anger can be a catalyst to growth. But if it becomes the default lens through which the world is seen, it can blind us from the redemption or beauty that can be found in this absurdity of errors. This video does not intend to incite anger, but it does rally to work through it and find the other side of it. To find resolution, forgiveness, and peace."

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