Two Minutes To Midnight

Album: Powerslave (1984)
Charted: 11
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  • This song is about the threat of nuclear war. On disc 2 of the DVD release of Live After Death, Bruce Dickinson explains: "It's about the romance of war, and how we're all repelled and fascinated by it at the same time." >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Caitlin - Colmesneil, TX
  • The title is a reference to the Doomsday Clock, which was created in 1947 by the magazine Bulletin Of Atomic Sciences. It was set at 7 minutes to midnight, indicating that due to the threat of nuclear war, the world was running out of time. As tensions escalated over the years, the clock was moved forward, but has been set back several times as treaties are signed and the threat decreases. In 1958, the United States and Soviet Union were both testing hydrogen bombs, and the clock was moved up to 11:58 - the closest it ever got to midnight. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Sarah - Winnipeg, Canada
  • Steve Harris does not have the composer credit on this song - Adrian Smith and Bruce Dickinson both share it. This is one of the few Iron Maiden songs where Harris' name is not given on the composer credit. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Bryant - Salina, KS
  • This song was featured in the video game Grand Theft Auto: Vice City on a radio station, VRock, which included such other artists as Megadeth and Judas Priest. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Kyle - Montreal, Canada
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Comments: 28

  • Brian from AmericaThose of you spouting of that this song is about abortion obviously weren't alive when it was released or can't comprehend simple spoken English. Our quite possibly both. It's about the doomsday clock and nuclear war. Study your history before you shoot your mouth off.
  • Templar from Edinburg , ScotlandSarah, Winnipeg , Canada your dates are wrong for the 2 minutes to midnight dates.
    1953 2 minutes to midnight - 23:58 The United States and the Soviet Union test thermonuclear devices within nine months of one another. (This is the clock's closest approach to midnight since its inception.)
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Doomsday_Clock#Symbolic_timepiece_changes
  • Thiago from Campinas, Brazil"The golden goose is on the loose and never out of season " refers to the never ending wars in order to make profit out of it
    "To kill the unborn in the womb" is the whole point of a nuclear war, to exterminate a whole nation, even the unborns.
    That's why Maiden is so awesome lyrically, they get into the meaning of the subject and make you think of it.
  • D from Oakland Ca, CaThis song is about warmongering, and the DOOMSDAY CLOCK. It couldn't be more obvious to those aren't reading there own abortion agenda into the song, based on one line. which say nothing about it being an intentional abortion on the mothers part. War and W.M.D's always lead to the the murder of the innocent as well,including those who will then never have the chance to live, the most "innocent" if you will,the unborn. You can argue that it is included as an example/result of wars abomination, but that hardly makes it the focus of the song.
  • Bmn from Hisuan, ArgentinaWow, it's amazing that people can take a single poetic statement like "kill the unborn in the womb", take it literally, and then force all of these hidden meanings onto the other words. It's 100% obvious the song is about war, not abortion.

    As for the golden goose, that's a reference to the war industry. War is a golden goose for companies that profit off of war. There is always seemingly reason to go war with one country or another. The US rarely goes a few years without being involved in some war in one way or another. Even when we aren't in war, those companies profit by selling arms to our allies. When our economy tanked, the companies that made the tools of war were the ones who continued flourishing.

    So the line "the golden goose is on the loose and never out of season" means war is a way for people to get rich, and it's out of control on a never ending cycle. It relates back to the first line "kill for gain".
  • Caitlin from Colmesneil, TxThe song is about nuclear war. To quote Bruce Dickinson: "The song... is about how we're at the same time repelled and fascinated by [war]." It's one of several soungs that pretty well showed how current events can have an effect on pop culture, when you think about how many songs in the 80's raised the issue of nuclear war: 2 Minutes to Midnight, 99 Luftballons by Nena, Fight Fire With Fire by Metallica, Killer of Giants by Ozzy Osbourne, Christmas at Ground Zero by Weird Al Yankovic, Enola Gay by OMD, Breathing by Kate Bush (which is actually from the POV of an unborn in a womb)... and I know I haven't named them all... But, the whole abortion interpretation would be fitting for Bruce Dickinson, considering he was at least once told by his mom that the only reason he exists is because her abortion failed...
  • Sillyrabbit from San Antonio, TxThe true nature of the song's lyrics are epitomized in the following passage:

    "The blind men shout let the creatures out
    We'll show the unbelievers,
    The Napalm screams of human flames
    Of a prime time Belsen feast...YEAH!
    As the reasons for the carnage cut their meat
    and lick the gravy,
    We oil the jaws of the war machine
    and feed it with our babies."

    The "reasons for the carnage" are the politicians, generals, and world leaders.
    Feeding the war machine with babies alludes to the fact that is our young men and women that are pitted against each other as members of each countries' military.

    "Belsen" was a Nazi concentration camp which was liberated by British Troops in 1945. The scene is described by Richard Dimleby of the BBC partly as follows:

    "..Here over an acre of ground lay dead and dying people. You could not see which was which ... The living lay with their heads against the corpses and around them moved the awful, ghostly procession of emaciated, aimless people, with nothing to do and with no hope of life, unable to move out of your way, unable to look at the terrible sights around them ... This day at Belsen was the most horrible of my life."
  • Ola from Norge, NorwayThe refrain is where Iron Maiden seemingly confirms to crowd of shallow followers that the lyrics are about war and nuclear threat. A song can have several messages, not only one, but the main message is not about war. However, this is well known trick in rock lyrics; the fans want blood, death, drugs, sex and violence, and they are more than willing to seduce themselves in believing that lyrics proclaim exactly that based on singled out quotes. However, in this case the refrain only strengthen the underlying message. "The hands that threaten doom" is the hands of the surgeon, and doom, in the sense of fate, is not only the foreseen Armageddon, but also the fate in the sense of hope of new life. "To kill the unborn in the womb" could hence be interpreted literally, or allegorically (in the sense of worlds destruction - kill all life).
  • Ola from Norge, Norway"The killer's breed or the demon's seed
    The glamour, the fortune, the pain
    Go to war again, blood is freedom's stain
    But don't you pray for my soul anymore". "killer's breed" means man or male, as "breed" in this sense means "mate". "demon's seed" means the woman, referring to Eve tricking Adam into tasting the forbidding fruit (?). Added together the first line means "Man or woman (the one as guilty as the other)". Glamour, fortune and pain are the results of their actions. "Go to war again" would mean "take another abortion". The rest speaks for itself.
  • Ola from Norge, Norway"Here's my gun for a barrel of fun
    For the love of living death" - "my gun" simply means "my tool" or "my method". "Living death" is referring to the living mother who has made herself to the death of unborn children, and the "fun" is done for the love of this, because obviously the down side of abortion far outweighs the fun of causing pregnancy. Or does it? It also refers to expressions "living dead", or "no rest for the wicked", which implies the sinful aspect.
  • Ola from Norge, NorwayThe Golden Goose phrase is beautifully commented by Starcinder, 1, MO so I will not comment this further. "Blackened pride still burns inside
    This shell of bloody treason" - obviously one's pride would turn black when using abortion against pregnancy as others take aspirin against headache. In the end you are left a shell, a strong outer structure - but what's inside of it? Merely blackened pride? And what is this shell other than a gruesome betrayal of trust between the mother and the unborn? A bloody treason...
  • Ola from Norge, Norway"Kill for gain or shoot to maim
    But we don't need a reason" - these two opening lines defines the lyrical frame of the song, they use expressions that are normally associated with acts of war, but the hidden meaning is referring to abortion. "Kill for gain" would in this sense refer to the gain of being freed from the awkwardness of giving birth to a child. "Maim" refers to the literal disfigurement of separating two dependent lives, while "shoot" is the act that causes it - not necessarily an actual shot. To be continued...
  • Martin from Reading, United Kingdomgreat comments & clearly most understand the concept - but what about the video? Even the band admitted it made little sense & vowed never to do another storyboard style vid again, with the exception of 'can I play with madness', automatically brilliant for featuring the late great graham chapman
  • Avery from Bucksport, MeIDK but this song is awesome
  • Starcinder from 1, MoAll the Golden Goose comments are wrong. "The Golden Goose is on the loose" refers to the pursuit of money. Everyone's chasing the dollar and many will do whatever it takes (war or other willful and neglegent destruction) to get it.
  • Justin from Albany, Nyumm personally i think that the line about killing the unborn in the womb really says that a nuke will kill everyone even for generations to come. I think that it says that the nuke will prevent the existence of generations to come.
  • Josh from Phoenix, Az"2 Minutes" was actually the closest the BoAS ever set the clock to midnight. They did so after the Suez crisis between Britian/France and Egypt.
  • Devon from Westerville, Ohone of my alltime favorite songs from Maiden. This song is where it's at.
  • Melissa from Spring Hill, Fl"In the English language, "Killing the golden goose" has become a metaphor for any short-sighted action that may bring an immediate reward, but will ultimately prove disastrous."
    from Wikipedia
  • John from Los Angeles, CaThe term "The Golden Goose" may also refer to the nickname given to the briefcase that follows the President whenever he?s away from the White House. This briefcase contains the daily cipher & authentication codes to launch our nukes. It's had other nicknames in the past, such as "The Football" & "The Iron Boot"

    "The Golden Goose is on the loose and never out of season" Could be referring to the fact that the briefcase goes everywhere and is ready all the time.
  • Rojellio from Fruita, CoI think the lyrics speak for themselves. Ther is no great mystery or hidden meaning involved. It is about war. It is every bit as applicable now, as it was back in the 80's. "Go to war again.. BLOOD is freedoms stain".

    Think about it next time you hear the word "freedom". That word gets used rather a lot lately, and very few people stop to think about what it means. Freedom leaves a mark on the ground. Somebodies mother gets a knock on the door, and precision folded flag. That mark on the ground grows lovely flowers. (an offhand reference to the Bagpipe Funeral Tune "flowers of the forest")
  • Dan from Zagreb, Croatiathe song was covered by Primal Fear.
  • Dan from Zagreb, Croatia"the golden goose is on the loose and never out of season" refers to wild goose chase. but even though it is obviously stupid to go for it, the hunt for it never stops due to human nature which "kills for gain or shoots to maim", but actually needs no particular reason for doing so. about abortion...I'd say that in this song the human need for destruction and killing even goes so far that it has a bloodthirst for the ones that are not even born yet. to kill life before it even starts. IMO, the most powerful lyrics by Iron Maiden.
  • Eric from Joelton, TnI think that the line "The Golden Goose is on the loose and never out of season" means that peace is always possible.
  • Josh from Las Vegas, Nvi'd like to know what the hell the line "the golden goose is ont eh loose" means
  • Oscar from Stockholm, SwedenThe "unborn in a womb" line referrs to the fact that when(if) doomsday arrives EVERYONE will die, including women and children. The unborn in a womb is sort of short for women and children. That's my opint of view...feel free to argue.
  • Ian from New York, NyI think that line actually means killing of un-born possiblities that the soliders have not an actual unborn. But that's just me.
  • Cody from Houston, AkI think this song is about the lead singer protesting abortion. Mainly, I get that idea from the lyrics in the chorus, "2 minutes to midnight, the hands that threaten doom! 2 minutes to midnight, to kill the unborn in the womb!"
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