A Tooth For An Eye

Album: Shaking The Habitual (2013)
  • songfacts ®
  • Lyrics
  • The video for this six-minute, Caribbean-influenced tune was directed by Roxy Farhat & Kakan Hermansson, and shows an all-male dance class led by a young woman. According to The Knife, the clip looks to deconstruct "images of maleness, power and leadership" via dance.
    The Swedish Dance-Pop duo explained in a statement: "Who are the people we trust as our leaders and why? What do we have to learn from those we consider inferior? In a sport setting where one would traditionally consider a group of men as powerful and in charge, an unexpected leader emerges. A child enters and allows the men to let go of their hierarchies, machismo and fear of intimacy, as they follow her into a dance. Their lack of expertise and vulnerability shines through as they perform the choreography. Amateurs and skilled dancers alike express joy and a sense of freedom? There is no prestige in their performance. The child is powerful, tough and sweet all at once, roaring 'I'm telling you stories, trust me.' There is no shame in her girliness, rather she possesses knowledge that the men lost a long time ago."
  • The song title is a play on Jesus Christ's teachings about retaliation when he said during his Semon on the Mount, "You have heard that it was said, 'Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.' But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also." (Matthew 5 v 38-39)

    "An eye for an eye and tooth for a tooth" was originally part of The Old Testament law in which damages in criminal cases were limited to no more than the loss suffered. However the Jews in Christ's day were justifying personal vengeance (in other words taking the law into their own hands) by appealing to the same texts. Jesus' instructions on morality challenged this interpretation of the Old Testament law.
  • Shaking The Habitual won the Nordic Music Prize, an annual award for the best award for the best album from the Nordic countries (that's Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden as well as their associated territories). The judging committee said in a statement: "This year's winner of the Nordic Music Prize is radical on so many levels. Lyrically, visually, musically and politically. It's a brave and challenging work."
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