Pay the Man
Foster the People Lyrics


Jump to: Overall Meaning ↴  Line by Line Meaning ↴

What you mean, what you mean?
What you mean, man, what you mean?
What you mean, yeah, what you see?
What you see, yeah, oh no

Well I need a little something to pull my head off
Need a little something to pull my head off, yeah
Need a little something
Because I've been running from the truth
Will never lose
Lies come from loose teeth
Tied to the noose
Climbing up my own tree hoping it can hold
All the things I've seen but I've chosen to ignore
Well, I said, well I believe I've been well fed, yeah
But the wolf's not dead

Say what you love, it's alright
Don't be afraid to find your light
Embrace the day, like night
We hear the fire
We all go wild again
And you have the name
Of someone I love
You said, just keep it true
Lift up your name
Seasons change
You know it'll never be the same
We'll see the sun again
Before it fades
I just wanna say that I love you

Pay the man, pay the man
Got to pay the man
Run as fast as you can
Call out to God, praise to the Most High
Call out for help 'cause I'm playing with fire
Call out to mountains till my voice goes faint
Echoes through time then goes back with new strength

And when it's raining
We're sailing
Oh yeah, we're sailing
We're sailing

I'm off the leash
I go to war for peace
Must've been touching everything that I can
I've got blood on my hands
Guess I'm going deaf with the cry of this sin
Oh please forgive me I don't understand
We all believe we've been well fed, yeah

The deaf man heard what the mute man said
Then they all followed where the blind man led

Say what you love, it's alright
Don't be afraid to find your light
Embrace the day, like night
We hear the fire
We all go wild again
And you have the name
Of someone I love
You said, just keep it true
Lift up your name
Seasons change
You know it'll never be the same
We'll see the sun again
And before it fades
I just wanna say that I love you

(Pay the man, pay the man, pay the man)
Pay the man, you got to pay the man
Pay the man, you got to pay the man
Pay the man
Well, I was laughing real hard until my teeth fell out
Laughing real hard until my teeth fell out
Was laughing real hard but my teeth fell out
Need a little something
Need a little something
(A little something, little something, little something)

You said, just keep it true
Lift up your name
Seasons change
You know it'll never be the same
We'll see the sun again
Before it fades
I just wanna say that I love you

Can't you see
Can't see me
Can't see me
Can't see me
And can't see me
Can't see me
We all run when the light comes on




Am I wrong, for wanting it all?
But I warned you

Overall Meaning

The song Pay the Man by Foster the People is open to various interpretations, but on the surface, the song seems to be about the struggle to find oneself amidst the chaos of life. The lyrics express a need to find clarity through external sources, which might seem like a contradiction. The repetition of "What you mean" and "What you see" implies the search for understanding and guidance.


The lyrics suggest that the singer is living in denial, as they have been "running from the truth" and "chosen to ignore" the things they've seen. However, they are also self-aware, knowing that there is something they need to change in themselves. The line "Well, I said, well I believe I've been well fed, yeah. But the wolf's not dead" hints at this - the wolf representing their inner demons that still need to be dealt with.


The chorus is an uplifting message that encourages listeners to be true to themselves and pursue what they love even if the process seems uncertain. Pay the Man is a plea to embrace change and be willing to pay the price to achieve one's goals. The final lines about laughing until one's teeth fall out and needing "a little something" could be interpreted in different ways, but perhaps it represents a desire for more than material possessions to find true happiness.


Line by Line Meaning

What you mean, what you mean?
Asking for clarification and understanding about what is being said.


Well I need a little something to pull my head off
Desiring a substance to escape from reality and forget stress.


Because I've been running from the truth
Avoiding facing the reality of a situation or one's own actions.


Lies come from loose teeth, tied to the noose
Deception stems from insecurity and the fear of getting caught.


Climbing up my own tree hoping it can hold
Taking risks and relying on oneself regardless of the uncertain outcome.


Well I said, well I believe I've been well fed, yeah
Having a comfortable life but still feeling incomplete and unsatisfied.


Say what you love, it's alright
Encouraging people to speak their truth and follow their passions.


We all go wild again
Embracing the uninhibited and primal side of human nature.


Call out to God, praise to the Most High
Turning to a higher power or religion for guidance and help.


We're sailing
Feeling liberated and free from restrictions or limitations.


Must've been touching everything that I can, got blood on my hands
Being reckless and destructive, causing harm to oneself and others in pursuit of pleasure.


You said, just keep it true, lift up your name
Encouraging others to stay true to themselves and be proud of who they are.


Before it fades, I just wanna say that I love you
Expressing affection and appreciation for someone before it's too late.


Can't see me
Feeling invisible or ignored by others.


We all run when the light comes on
Fearing exposure and running away from accountability for one's actions.


Am I wrong, for wanting it all?
Questioning whether ambition and a desire for success is worth the sacrifices and consequences.


But I warned you
Anticipating negative consequences or regret from taking certain actions.




Lyrics © DOMINO PUBLISHING COMPANY, CONCORD MUSIC PUBLISHING LLC, Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Kobalt Music Publishing Ltd.
Written by: ISOM INNIS, JOSH ABRAHAM, JUSTIN MOHRLE, KEINAN WARSAME, MARK FOSTER, MARK PONTIUS, OLIVER GOLDSTEIN

Lyrics Licensed & Provided by LyricFind
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Most interesting comments from YouTube:

@xojunho6389

Lyrics (Updated)

What you mean, what you mean?
What you mean, man, what you mean?
What you mean, yeah, what you see?
What you see, yeah, oh yeah

Well I need a little something to pull my head off
Need a little something to pull my head off, yeah
Need a little something
Because I've been running from the truth
Will never lose
Lies come from loose teeth
Tied to the noose
Climbing up my own tree hoping it can hold
All the things I've seen but I've chosen to ignore
Well, I said, well I believe I've been well fed, yeah
But the wolf's not dead

Say what you love, it's alright
Don't be afraid to find the light
Embrace the day, like night
We hear the fire
We all go wild again
And you have the name
Of someone I love
You said, just keep it true
Lift up your name
Seasons change
You know it'll never be the same
We'll see the sun again
Before it fades
I just wanna say that I love you

Pay the man, pay the man
Got to pay the man
Run as fast as you can
Call out to God, praise to the Most High
Call out for help cause I'm playing with fire
Call out to mountains till my voice goes faint
Echoes through time then goes back with new strength

And when it's raining
We're sailing
Oh yeah, we're sailing
We're sailing

I'm off the leash
I go to war for peace
Must've been touching everything that I can
I've got blood on my hands
Guess I'm going deaf with the cry of this sin
Please forgive me I don't understand
We all believe we've been well fed, yeah

The deaf man heard what the mute man said
Then they all followed where the blind man led

Say what you love, it's alright
Don't be afraid to find the light
Embrace the day, like night
We hear the fire
We all go wild again
And you have the name
Of someone I love
You said, just keep it true
Lift up your name
Seasons change
You know it'll never be the same
We'll see the sun again
Before it fades
I just wanna say that I love you

(Pay the man, pay the man, pay the man)
Pay the man, you got to pay the man
Pay the man, you got to pay the man
Pay the man
I was laughing real hard until my teeth fell out
Laughing real hard until my teeth fell out
Was laughing real hard but my teeth fell out
Need a little something, yeah
Need a little something
(A little something, little something, little something)

You said, just keep it true
Lift up your name
Seasons change
You know it'll never be the same
We'll see the sun again
Before it fades
I just wanna say that I love you

Can't you see
Can't see me
Can't see me
Can't see me
And can't see me
Can't see me
We all run when the light comes on
Am I wrong, for wanting it all?
But I warned you



@philiq18

For those who wanna sing-along...#lyrics

Pay The Man
[Intro]
What you mean, what you mean?
What you mean, man, what you mean?
What you mean, yeah, what you see?
What you see, yeah, oh yeah

[Verse 1]
Well I need a little something to pull my head off
Need a little something to pull my head off, yeah
Need a little something
Because I've been running from the truth
Will never lose
Lies come from loose teeth
Tied to the noose
Climbing up my own tree hoping it can hold
All the things I've seen but I've chosen to ignore
Well, I said, well I believe I've been well fed, yeah
But the wolf's not dead

[Chorus]
Say what you love, it's alright
Don't be afraid to find the light
Embrace the day, like night
We hear the fire
We all go wild again
And you have the name
Of someone I love
You said, just keep it true
Lift up your name
Seasons change
You know it'll never be the same
We'll see the sun again
Before it fades
I just wanna say that I love you

[Verse 2]
Pay the man, pay the man
Got to pay the man
Run as fast as you can
Call out to God, praise to the Most High
Call out for help cause I'm playing with fire
Call out to mountains till my voice goes faint
Echoes through time then goes back with new strength

[Interlude]
And when it's raining
We're sailing
Oh yeah, we're sailing
We're sailing

[Verse 3]
I'm off the leash
I go to war for peace
Must've been touching everything that I can
I've got blood on my hands
Guess I'm going deaf with the cry of this sin
Oh please forgive me I don't understand
We all believe we've been well fed, yeah

[Pre-Chorus 2]
The deaf man heard what the mute man said
Then they all followed where the blind man led

[Chorus]
Say what you love, it's alright
Don't be afraid to find the light
Embrace the day, like night
We hear the fire
We all go wild again
And you have the name
Of someone I love
You said, just keep it true
Lift up your name
Seasons change
You know it'll never be the same
We'll see the sun again
Before it fades
I just wanna say that I love you

[Bridge]
(Pay the man, pay the man, pay the man)
Pay the man, you got to pay the man
Pay the man, you got to pay the man
Pay the man
I was laughing real hard until my teeth fell out
Laughing real hard until my teeth fell out
Was laughing real hard but my teeth fell out
Need a little something, yeah
Need a little something
(A little something, little something, little something)

[Chorus]
You said, just keep it true
Lift up your name
Seasons change
You know it'll never be the same
We'll see the sun again
Before it fades
I just wanna say that I love you

[Outro]
Can't you see
Can't see me
Can't see me
Can't see me
And can't see me
Can't see me
We all run when the light comes on
Am I wrong, for wanting it all?
But I warned you



@DanielKintner

Full Lyrics

What you mean, what you mean?
What you mean, man, what you mean?
What you mean, yeah, what you see?
What you see, yeah, oh yeah

Verse 1
Well I need a little something to pull my head off
Need a little something to pull my head off, yeah
Need a little something
Because I've been running from the truth
Will never lose
Lies come from loose teeth
Tied to the noose
Climbing up my own tree hoping it can hold
All the things I've seen but I've chosen to ignore
Well, I said, well I believe I've been well fed, yeah
But the wolf's not dead

Chorus
Say what you love, it's alright
Don't be afraid of the light
Embrace the day, like night
We hear the fire
We all go wild again
And you have the name
Of someone I love
You said, just keep it true
Lift up your name
Seasons change
You know it'll never be the same
We'll see the sun again
Before it fades
I just wanna say that I love you

[Verse 2]
Pay the man, pay the man
Got to pay the man
Run as fast as you can
Call out to God, praise to the Most High
Call out for help cause I'm playing with fire
Call out to mountains till my voice goes faint
Echoes through time then goes back with new strength

[Interlude]
And when it's raining
We're sailing
Oh yeah, we're sailing
We're sailing

[Verse 3]
I'm off the leash
I go to war for peace
Must've been touching everything that I can
I've got blood on my hands
Guess I'm going deaf with the cry of this sin
Please forgive me I don't understand
We all believe we've been well fed, yeah

[Pre-Chorus 2]
The deaf man heard what the mute man said
Then they all followed where the blind man led

[Chorus]
Say what you love, it's alright
Don't be afraid to find the light
Embrace the day, like night
We hear the fire
We all go wild again
And you have the name
Of someone I love
You said, just keep it true
Lift up your name
Seasons change
You know it'll never be the same
We'll see the sun again
Before it fades
I just wanna say that I love you

[Bridge]
(Pay the man, pay the man, pay the man)
Pay the man, you got to pay the man
Pay the man, you got to pay the man
Pay the man
I was laughing real hard until my teeth fell out
Laughing real hard until my teeth fell out
Was laughing real hard but my teeth fell out
Need a little something, yeah
Need a little something
(A little something, little something, little something)

[Chorus]
You said, just keep it true
Lift up your name
Seasons change
You know it'll never be the same
We'll see the sun again
Before it fades
I just wanna say that I love you

[Outro]
Can't you see
Can't see me
Can't see me
Can't see me
And can't see me
Can't see me
We all run when the light comes on
Am I wrong, for wanting it all?
But I warned you



@plaiielq1096

What you mean, what you mean?
What you mean, man, what you mean?
What you mean, yeah, what you see?
What you see, yeah, oh yeah

Well I need a little something to pull my head off
Need a little something to pull my head off, yeah
Need a little something
Because I've been running from the truth
Will never lose
Lies come from loose teeth
Tied to the noose
Climbing up my own tree hoping it can hold
All the things I've seen but I've chosen to ignore
Well, I said, well I believe I've been well fed, yeah
But the wolf's not dead

Say what you love, it's alright
Don't be afraid to find the light
Embrace the day, like night
We hear the fire
We all go wild again
And you have the name
Of someone I love
You said, just keep it true
Lift up your name
Seasons change
You know it'll never be the same
We'll see the sun again
Before it fades
I just wanna say that I love you

Pay the man, pay the man
Got to pay the man
Run as fast as you can
Call out to God, praise to the Most High
Call out for help cause I'm playing with fire
Call out to mountains till my voice goes faint
Echoes through time then goes back with new strength

And when it's raining
We're sailing
Oh yeah, we're sailing
We're sailing

I'm off the leash
I go to war for peace
Must've been touching everything that I can
I've got blood on my hands
Guess I'm going deaf with the cry of this sin
Please forgive me I don't understand
We all believe we've been well fed, yeah

The deaf man heard what the mute man said
Then they all followed where the blind man led

Say what you love, it's alright
Don't be afraid to find the light
Embrace the day, like night
We hear the fire
We all go wild again
And you have the name
Of someone I love
You said, just keep it true
Lift up your name
Seasons change
You know it'll never be the same
We'll see the sun again
Before it fades
I just wanna say that I love you

(Pay the man, pay the man, pay the man)
Pay the man, you got to pay the man
Pay the man, you got to pay the man
Pay the man
I was laughing real hard until my teeth fell out
Laughing real hard until my teeth fell out
Was laughing real hard but my teeth fell out
Need a little something, yeah
Need a little something
(A little something, little something, little something)

You said, just keep it true
Lift up your name
Seasons change
You know it'll never be the same
We'll see the sun again
Before it fades
I just wanna say that I love you

Can't you see
Can't see me
Can't see me
Can't see me
And can't see me
Can't see me
We all run when the light comes on
Am I wrong, for wanting it all?
But I warned you



All comments from YouTube:

@seanoneill732

" The deaf man heard what the mute man said then they all followed where the blind man led "

Fuuuucccckkkk i love that verse.

@allegiant347

Sean Oneill RIGHHT?

@blackfrancis8900

Mark is a good writer.

@blackfrancis8900

I think it'd be cool if FTP did a record with a narrative throughout like a movie. I think Mark would do that idea justice.

@timwinterhalter5233

that's called a concept album and i agree

@kaylons

Sean Oneill A concept album can also have songs that have different narratives or none at al and still are unified by a theme.

33 More Replies...

@Coltenj

Foster the People are back.

@Trumppower

CrColten FC they need money..

@Coltenj

TrumpCorp. Back making music, they're always making money

@luisangelrojasmunoz377

TrumpCorp. looool

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