Wolves

Album: No Gods No Masters (2021)
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Songfacts®:

  • Garbage frontwoman Shirley Manson wrote this song after coming across an eastern European folktale of a grandfather teaching his grandson about life. The old man uses a metaphor of two wolves – one evil and one good - fighting within him to explain his inner conflicts to his grandson. When his grandson asks which wolf wins, the grandfather says whichever wolf he chooses to feed is the one that wins. Here, Shirley Manson references the dueling inner wolves' legend to illustrate the power of youth and the danger within.

    Which one of my two wolves will I give my attention to tonight?
    Which one will I decide to feed? Which one will I decide to fight?
    I was impulsive, I confess, talked a lot behind your back
    I was judgmental, played too cool, I was not so nice


    The evangelist Billy Graham first popularized the wolf fable in his book The Holy Spirit: Activating God's Power in Your Life. Graham credited the storyteller as "an Eskimo fisherman," but it is also sometimes attributed to Native Americans.
  • Manson said the song reminds of her younger self when there was both a good and bad side to her personality. She admitted to hurting many people back then, but added, "When you're young and in self-survival mode, much like a baby rattlesnake, you have no idea how strong your venom is. But it has the power to kill."

    "This is a song about inner conflict," she continued. "About regret. About duality... This song is an ode to that idea of: Who are you going to be as a person? Are you going to be a force of harm or are you going to try to do good in the world? A song about the struggle that exists inside ourselves as humans."
  • Manson told Apple Music after stumbling across the fable, she thought about her nephew who is just like her. "His emotional makeup's really like me," she said. "I recognize myself in him all the time."
  • The third single (after "The Men Who Rule The World" and the title track) from Garbage's No Gods No Masters, album, this is a more traditional Garbage song than the previous two politically themed releases. Manson said she wrote most of the lyrics for the album in the late 2010s, and most of the tracks were the band trying to make sense of how "nuts the world is and the astounding chaos we find ourselves in."

    Manson described "Wolves," on the other hand, as the record's "pop song."
  • Chilean film director, animator and painter Javi Miamor directed the mixed media video. He also shot the clip for "The Men Who Rule The World."

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