The Riddle

Album: The Riddle (1984)
Charted: 3
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  • This song doesn't appear to make much sense when the lyrics are studied closely, so many theories have popped up regarding the meaning (many of them concerning drugs). Nik Kershaw had written the music but had no idea what the song was going to be about, so to practice the tune he added random lyrics to be used until he made the song properly, but he ran out of time and had to use the lyrics on the album. He named the song "The Riddle" because that's essentially what it is. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Mjn Seifer - England
  • Nik Kershaw has said that he has received hundreds of "solutions" to the riddle that supposedly explain exactly what the song is about, even though the lyrics are more-or-less random and the song isn't actually about anything at all. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Gareth - Dubai, UAE

Comments: 16

  • Lena from CroatiaWhy can't people just accept that a song sometimes doesn't have a deeper meaning XD, just because it has an evocative melody and is emotion packed doesn't mean it has to have a meaning equally deep, what mental gymnastics did you people have to use to call this occult and about the devil, you just can't handle things you don't understand, not everything is about christianity.
  • Taramaiden from NottinghamshireTalk about pure entertainment while reading a load of psycho-babbling drivel! Night owl from Athens, good try but no cigar... Elisa from Canada and Denmark.. what meds are you non, because I'd love to try them! What a load of pretentious twaddle! Still, thanks all, it brightened up an otherwise dull day! Whot a laff!
  • Night Owl from AthensSo here is the thing . Nik Kershaw himself said in an interview that this song it's just random nonsense lyrics which wrote just in order to help him find the tune and that he preferred to let these in order to play with people minds and make them trying to solve the riddle . But i don't know if its an honest answer . So i think here he have to possible answers . The one is that actually is a nonsense song or the second opinion that has meanings about devil or magic and Nik doesn't want to reveal or admit . I think that the possibility of the nonsense is the favorite here but if there is a chance to be about something else i think that as Elisa said here in comments maybe it's about Devil who comes down to earth and tries to steal a girl who fell in love and go together to hell .The Devil wants to continue be nice with her (I only know what to discuss of for anything but light). But because he is the devil he also have to continue his job (Time to carry on and try for sins and false alarms ) . Τhe girl loves him back because she can she only the good side of him because he is very nice to her but the devil even if she loves her badly and he love her back too he tries to be honest by telling her that he is not as good as she thinks and she sees him so nice and gentle because she is madly in love ( it's not me you see, pieces of Valentine ) . In the refrain i think Nik tries to present the battle between Heaven and Hell and the choice between God or Devil . (Near a tree by a river, there's a hole in the ground Where an old man of Aran goes around and around ) This might talks about the choice the girls have to do , she has to choose between the tree(heaven) or the hole (hell) . The old man of Aran (God) is the protector of the Tree and the Devil the protector of the hole . Then says that the girl has to make a final decision .Hell or Heaven and that God will not give any pressure to her to decide (For a strange kind of fashion, there's a wrong and a right But he'll never, never fight over you) .

    But guys as i said in my opinion is just that is a nonsense song like Nik Kershaw said . I think are just lyrics in order to discover the tune . And it was really crappy thing to do .
  • Bastet from At The DoorIf there is anything more incoherent than the lyrics of this song, produced by relatively sane people, it has the be in this comment section.
    Atleast its entertaining to see what the human mind is capable of in trying to make sense out of nonsense.
  • Gimjo from Wherever You Gogood song :)
  • Nadeem from South Africa Well if you get here the lady Elisa from Canada and Denmark quiet gets the picture... in a nut shell all music are whispers of the devil and magicians hence people end up in trances.... alil on the song the mention of Babylon is what kicks things of basically.... If you didn’t know Babylon was the era where magic and magicians where born it is said that two angels came down in the form of man ... and basically thought people magic the forbidden arts those angels said who ever learns the art will have no share in the next life hence the cost of it .... so yea just refer to miss Elisa interpretation it’s a real good effort... must have a knack for poetry to grind out that interpretation
  • IluvfigsIt's occult. Reference Babylon and the old man is the devil. So many artists make up cover stories. Lol haha. I know... that's why you never understand wtf songs are talking about. Love love love = tolerance of evil and the Alastair Crowley mantra:" do what thou wilt ". So many music industry and all the entertainment industry elites, all into the occult, which is opposition to God, to the truth. Babylon references Revelations, Babylon is depicted in the Bible as the occult and satan's tool. All the people who are not followers of Jesus follow the occult or the devil. That's why songs don't make sense. Then they smokescreen to cover it up! If you all don't believe in God or the devil, why do you talk about it all so much?
  • Elisa from Canada And DenmarkI’ve Always thought that this song was from the perspective of the devil who has fallen in love with this very naive and pure hearted girl who loves him back.

    I got two strong arms
    Blessings of Babylon
    (The devil obviously got strength from a holy place or God.)

    Time to carry on and try
    For sins and false alarms
    (Lucifer sinned when he tried to take over heaven, and now after he has wandered on earth, it is time to go back to hell and sin)

    So to America the brave
    Wise men save
    (The girl might either be from America and the wise men is trying to save her from the devil, or she might be British and therefore God or other forms of wise men make sure that America wins the revolutionary war)

    Near a tree by a river
    There's a hole in the ground
    (The tree in the garden of eden symbolizes heaven which the girl was supposed to go, but because she is naive and don’t look down, she doesn’t see the hole that symbolizes hell in which she falls due to her love)

    Where an old man of Aran
    Goes around and around
    (God is guarding heaven and sees the girl fall down the hole/hell)

    And his mind is a beacon
    In the veil of the night
    (God is the light/everything good, and as the girl falls down she sees his face lighting up the darkness)

    For a strange kind of fashion
    There's a wrong and a right
    (Every action has a good and a bad ending, the girl of course choose the bad ending)

    And he'll never fight over you
    (God will not fight to keep the girl in heaven because he knows she will be happier in hell)

    I got plans for us
    nights in the scullery
    And days instead of me
    (The devil has a plan for the girl and him, they will of course spent their time at night, and he remarks that she gave up the daytime to be with him)

    I only know what to discuss
    Of for anything but light.
    (He says that they can do or talk about everything but the truly good things)

    Wise men fighting over you
    (The wise men are trying to fight the devil to get the girl back)

    It's not me you see
    pieces of valentine
    (The devil says that she doesn’t see the real him, but only the romantic side of him, or maybe just that he is a shapeshifter, and that he is making himself more visually appealing to him)

    With just a song of mine
    To keep from burning history
    (He sings a song or maybe he is just calming her down so that she doesn’t regret going with him)

    Seasons of gasoline and gold
    (He talks to her about the golden times which also were wild(gasoline being often a symbol of speed) which they either have or will share)

    Wise men fold
    (The wise men have given up on getting the girl back)

    I got time to kill,
    (He is the devil so his “job” is to kill people)

    sly looks in corridors
    Without a plan of yours
    (He talks about how she flirted with him without having a backup plan if something went wrong, because she is so naive)

    A blackbird sings on bluebird hill
    (He talks about himself(black bird) interfering with her world(the girl being the blue bird))

    Thanks to the calling of the wild
    (He thanks her for choosing him)

    Wise mens child
    (He implies that she might is the daughter of a priest or at least a religious person)
  • Malhia from JapanSome of legends says about the earth's reincarnation.
    Some of God books says Doomsday.
    However, these data is poor to overcome Doomsday.
    To interpret the world based on prescient images are difficult.
    "The Riddle" is coherent lyrics, in spite of scattered words,
    Nik has shown considerable prescience in the face of ambiguous data.
    I imagine he had studied about God books or legends deeply.
    If he was not submissive to visual data(=prescient images), he could not write such the sentence, "Nights in the scullery And days instead of me"
    Then, I regard him as a psychic.
    I see Nik as the reincarnation of Druid.
    I am inspired shockingly by the lyrics.

    mlahia site:
  • Malhia from Japan>I got plans for us

    I know how to overcome Doomsday.

    >Nights in the scullery
    >And days instead of me

    Light a candle in the shelf of gods against evil.

    ** scullery:shelf of gods
    ** days instead of me: the true vine(John15:1-6)=Coriolis force makes "rising air" the counter-clockwise state.(Only the Northern Hemisphere)=fire=candle
    ** Fire is the sorcery of Alpha&Omega. The counter-clockwise state is one of Alpha&Omega sorcery.

    >I only know what to discuss
    >Oh, for anything but light
    >Wise men fighting over you

    We should discuss on the real except things well known to the public.
    A reign of terror has come, by Jewish-plutocracies.

    >It's not me you see
    >Pieces of valentine
    >And just a song of mine

    This is the Classic gospel.
    This song is the Classic gospel.
    (In order to overcome Judgement day.)

    >To keep from burning history
    >Seasons of gasoline and gold
    >Wise men fold

    For resource problem, Jewish-plutocracies have started Population adjustment.

    ***valentine= a sign of love = love message = Gospel
    ***It's not me(but Blessing) you see. Pieces of valentine=John 15:1-6

    >I got time to kill

    I know the dark chronicle to erase.

    >Sly looks in corridors
    >Without a plan of yours

    Jewish-plutocracies have succeeded in trapping all people in idiot plot.
    A man cannot choose any right information in an excess of information.
    (Jesus'word is simple.
    "Use two strong arms (Alpha & Omega) to be a good man."
    Jewish-plutocracies hid his word.)

    >A blackbird sings on bluebird hill
    >Thanks to the calling of the wild
    >Wise men's child

    Jewish-plutocracies deprive us of our justifiable happiness by the power.
    Anything goes here for Jewish-plutocracies.
    And the children of Jewish-plutocracies enjoy the unfair wealth.

    ***bluebird = we
    ***blackbird=the children of Jewish-plutocracies

    ***wise men's child: Jewish-plutocracies=the plutocracies who needs hereditary system
    ***the wild= power = wild card = greenman in video = JOKER

    "For a strange kind of fashion There's a wrong and a right" = Be careful not to be taken in by Jewish-plutocracies, a strange way hides a truth and a camouflage.

    The Riddle = How to overcome Judgement day
    The answer=Use two strong arms (The sorcery of Alpha & Omega) and get Blessing and be good man.
  • Malhia from Japan>I got two strong arms
    >Blessings of Babylon

    I know excellent sorcery (Alpha and Omega which uses twin pillars).
    It builds a prosperous world like Babylon.

    >With time to carry on and try
    >For sins and false alarms

    While in the end-time, Jewish-plutocracies do dark deeds and spread evil information for misleading to destruction.
    America rises up against Armageddon and falls.

    >So to America the brave
    >Wise men save

    Because Jewish-plutocracies coordinate the war with America along the schedule of Revelation.
    Jewish-plutocracies will save America.
    It is a drama written and enacted by Jewish-plutocracies.

    I imagine that the Riddle is Nik's scenes of his dream or his precognition images. Normally a precognition comes to a man, as only visual images without interpretation. Then, I imagine, perhaps, he could not interpret information contained in them completely.
    Usually, most of predictions are nonsense, till the time is ripe.
    Then Nik is not lying.
    I am trying to interpret "the Riddle" in my way.

    a tree=law symbol=a tree of fruit of knowledge=sephirot=WorldTree
    Genesis needs a tree(=law).
    This law is like a system of Gaia hypothesis.
    The law gives good accidents to living beings.

    a river: the Milky Way galaxy

    a hole in the ground:gravity
    Life can only exist in enough power of dark matter.
    Gravity is very important in ESP.

    Goes around and around: When using ESP, an ESPER kneads Life energy in counter-clockwise direction.
    ??=Life energy=Cosmic energy

    an old man of Aran=the oldest soul=Enoch=Jesus has a soul of Enoch.
    Only Enoch can change a planet to the planet to live.

    >Near a tree by a river
    >There's a hole in the ground
    >Where an old man of Aran
    >Goes around and around

    For humans, Enoch changes a planet to the planet to live, in the the Milky Way galaxy, near the darkmatters with sephirot.
    It's Genesis.

    >And his mind is a beacon
    >In the veil of the night

    He is Savior

    >For a strange kind of fashion
    >There's a wrong and a right

    God's Book(, such as Revelation) includes truth and interpolation.
    (Jesus's word is simple. He said only how to get Blessing.
    "Use Alpha&Omega and the true vine")

    >But he'll never, never fight over you

    Savior(Enoch) will never fight over all the human beings, inluding Jewish-plutocracies.
    Judgement day makes a man select planets to live.
    The judgment standard is only using Alpha&Omega or not.
    Two strong arms=Alpha&Omega=sorcery: twin pillars marked "u" and "n". The left is "u". The right is "n". This is the Star Gate., getting cosmic energy(=Blessing)

    the true vine=sorcery(a kind of Alpha&Omega):counter-clockwise:This is written in John15:1-6.

    Alpha & Omega is the most important sorcery.
    It is a tool to get real Blessing.
    When one has it, an accident supports to him.
    A man needs it to be happy.
    Alpha & Omega controls one's consciousness or one's flash to make him lucky.
    This is the real Blessing from the Creator.
    Being a good man is not enough in order to get Blessing.
    Every one needs "Real Sorcery" to live.
    Every one needs to save much good luck.
    The lack of luck causes unhappiness.
    This is a reason the case of a cruel death of a baby or a good man.
    And then, Alpha & Omega works to change evil mind to good.
    Building a good society needs Alpha & Omega.

    Satan definition: opposing

    Therefore, opposite-Alpha&Omega provides evil energy. The evil energy works to stack people's bad luck. It makes it easier for people to be illness, to commit a crime and to encounter troubles or accidents. It gets people to choose the way which worsens human relations, or the way in which they fail. It makes people enjoy other man's pain. It leads people evil.

    opposite-Alpha&Omega=evil sorcery: twin pillars marked "u" and "n". The right is "u". The left is "n".
    Worst vine=the wine of the wrath(in Bible)=clockwise
  • Martino from Melbourne, AustraliaJust to add to the other theories on this song's meaning, I thought it relevant to point out that "old Man of Aran" actually alludes to a 1934 documentary by Robert J. Flaherty, a filmmaker famous for capturing the lifestyles of so-called "primitive" communities. The documentary is about a small community living on the Aran Islands (off western Ireland), who in Flaherty's day were still (supposedly) living a traditional lifestyle untouched by modern society. In view of this, I always imagined the "old man of Aran" was an allusion to pre-modern humanity, whose way of seeing the world could enlighten our disillusioned modern society (hence "his mind is a beacon in the veil of the night"). The reference to "man of Aran" seems to specific and obscure to be merely a throw-away "placeholder" lyric as Mr. Kershaw has claimed, and combining thise with the song's melody, which has more than a whiff of traditional Celtic folk, I get the sense that the "riddle" is a secret we have lost sight of in the prosperous but vacuous modern world, in our "seasons of gasoline and gold", and it is the "old Man of Aran" who can reveal it to us. But he won't be fighting to reveal it.
  • Nathan from Adelaide, AustraliaThe original and rather bizarre video clip left clues all over the place as to the song's real meaning.

    Gigi D'Agostino's animated video clip also lifted the veil on the song's actual meaning.

    I can't believe that Nik Kershaw just randomly created lyrics for this song. He's either lying, or he's been inspired by some unseen force. Either way, we'll never know for sure!

    Anyway, the meaning of the song is a spiritual metaphor.... not too unlike the likes of which are used in the Bible in a sense. I'll go through each line, and what I think it means.


    I got two strong arms
    Blessings of Babylon
    (I'm a living creature with the gift of life)

    Time to carry on and try
    For sins and false alarms
    (With time on the earth do all kinds of bad things)

    So to America the brave
    Wise men save
    (So like the pilgrims, wise men must go and save these people)

    Near a tree by a river
    (The tree of life in the garden of eden?)

    There's a hole in the ground
    (Hell. Death. etc)

    Where an old man of Aran
    Goes around and around
    (The old man, presumably a saviour or God, is warding people away from the hole)

    And his mind is a beacon
    In the veil of the night
    (And his mind lights up the hole, like a lighthouse, so you don't fall into it)

    For a strange kind of fashion
    There's a wrong and a right
    (for each behaviour there is good and evil)

    And he'll never fight over you
    (And he won't stop you choosing good or evil)

    I got plans for us
    nights in the scullery
    And days instead of me
    (Whoever is speaking only talks of night, and isn't around during the light, or daytime. This is standard metaphor for an evil character)

    I only know what to discuss
    Of for anything but light
    (More clues that whoever speaking is evil, death, etc. as he will not speak of light.)

    Wise men fighting over you
    (The two wise men - good and evil - fight over control of you)

    It's not me you see
    pieces of valentine
    (The other wise man is hidden, but offers love)

    With just a song of mine
    To keep from burning history
    (Calling out to us so that we don't destroy ourselves)

    Seasons of gasoline and gold
    (History is full of times of peace and war.)

    Wise men fold
    (The wise men have finished having their say)

    I got time to kill,
    (We still have time on earth while we live)

    sly looks in corridors
    Without a plan of yours
    (and we're going into weird and strange places... if we have no plan. But whose plan?)

    A blackbird sings on bluebird hill
    (And as a result we see things that are strange and contradictory)

    Thanks to the calling of the wild
    (The wild, probably meaning evil and untamed nature leading us down a dark path)

    Wise mens child
    (That's us. Left to make our choice)
  • Chris from Nagoya, JapanI had always viewed this song as being an anti nuclear war song, about early 80's Cold War paranoia. Lines like the "Hole in the ground" represented the missile silos,...
    "The Old man of Aran goes around and around",..clutching at straws perhaps, but in Tamil, aran is "defence" going around and around, the beacon in the night I took as being a reference to a radar defense system...
    "For a strange kind of fashion there's a wrong and a right,"
    Meant in the Cold War both sides, for whatever reason, thought themselves to be right, and they will never fight over you, but over their political ideology. (Wise men fighting over you)
    The next lines could well have meant hiding in the underground bomb shelters,.."I got plans for us, Nights in the scullery..." etc.

    It's not me you see This is a Valentine Just a song of mine
    To keep from burning history, Seasons of gasoline and gold
    Wisemen fold:
    ie, burning history, destroying all that has been created, seasons of Gasoline and gold, = fighting over commodities?

    Other lines point also to fears of nuclear war, including
    "Wisemen's child"...the Atomic Bomb, (Oppenheimer's toy??)
    No he'll never never fight over you...the riddle was, what are they fighting over, and will it really happen?
  • Nelson from MelbourneGigi D'Agostino did a remix of this along with a simple but clever video clip.
  • Terry from Northampton, EnglandThere is a film called 'The Riddle.' If it is as confusing as this song,then you will never know what it's all about
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