Animal Mask


Beat the Champ


April 7, 2015



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Animal Mask is the fourth song on Beat the Champ. It was debuted at the 2013 Newport Folk Festival.


Eighteen-man steel cage free-for-all
Through the noise I hear you call for help
You can't protect yourself
Frog mask and yellow cape
So desperate to escape
I came to you, hands wrapped in adhesive tape
That was when we were young and green
In the dawning hours of our team

Some things you will remember
Some things stay sweet forever

Seen you backstage once or twice
Animal gimmick pops real nice 
Elbows sweep and tiger dance
Little extra fighter's chance 
"Hold on", I cried, "I'll be right there"
Pull your mask down through your hair
They won't see you
Not until you want them to
That was when we were green and young
Battle cry rising from your tongue

Some things you will remember
Some things stay sweet forever

Comments by John Darnielle About this SongEdit

  • "In professional wrestling, there's a thing called a 'battle royal', right? It sometimes takes place in a cage, so the people won't escape from the battle royal until they've been knocked right out of it. Okay, so I used to go to the wrestling matches when I was a child. They were not the big-money game it is now; it was, like—people who needed to stretch their entertainment dollar as far as it could possibly go, went to the wrestling matches, right? And so in a battle royal, allegiances form and dissolve rather quickly because you are trying to survive, and get rid of the people who are against you, but to keep the people who are for you on your side, because you're gonna see them later on down the line, and also in wrestling there's a thing where people try and tear off the masks of people who are trying to hide their identity. This song is about a battle royal; it's also about the labor and delivery room." -- 2013-07-26 - Newport Folk Festival - Newport, RI
  • "This is a song about how, from the moment of your birth, you don't owe anybody a look at your true face. It's called 'Animal Mask'." -- 2015-05-29 - The Showbox - Seattle, WA
  • "This song is also about a battle royal that takes place in the labor and delivery room, and about shared victories, and it's called 'Animal Mask'." -- 2015-06-03 - The Mayan - Los Angeles, CA
  • "So, one tiresome thing that singer-songwriters do, is, well they will have a child, and then inside of a year and a half, release an album telling you about their insights about parenthood. And I have always, since I was a child thought, what do you even know? You started writing this record before the child could even stand up, and you're gonna tell me what it's like, I think it's cynical. So, I've had this attitude problem about the whole thing my whole life, and then, I had a child. Now, I am not going to make the 'John's Insights About Parenthood' album, because there are so many of those by singer-songwriters that that corner is already worked. But if you think that a songwriter sitting around with a baby around the house, not sleeping at all, and the baby's very cute, doesn't eventually toss off one or two about the baby, then you have another thing coming. However, me being me, I framed the whole thing in the context of a wrestling match, uh, usually it's a very long story. Uh, the battle royal is a type of wrestling match. It's a greater match than others. In fact, it's a royal match. That's why it's called the battle royal. It's not your daily quotidian battle. It's royal. The battle royal, we think, was originated by kings, although its origins are shrouded in mystery. Uh, but in the battle royal, everybody beats up everybody else at once, right. You put about eighteen wrestlers in the ring and like, they just all start going completely ape on each other. You would almost think that they had gotten together and choreographed it ahead of time. It just - it goes so swimmingly as you can't believe. It's like, wow, to think that this is just actually being improvised right there in - wow, who could imagine, who could imagine. But, uh, in the battle royal, you go over the top rope, if you get thrown over, you're out. And eventually, only one will remain. And in the space of this heated battle, a lot of alliances are formed in the heat of the moment. You make friends with people you've never seen before to help you overcome obstacles and demons in your path. So this is about a battle royal, and it's also about the labor and delivery room, and it's called 'Animal Mask'." -- 2015-09-12 - Maximum Ames Festival - First United Methodist Church - Ames, IA

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