Cry for Judas


Transcendental Youth


July 25, 2012


the Mountain Goats



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"Harlem Roulette"

Cry for Judas is the third song on the album Transcendental Youth. A music video for the song, directed by Carlo Mirabella-Davis, can be viewed here.


Some things you do just to see
How bad they'll make you feel
Sometimes you try to freeze time
'Til those thoughts are a blur of spinning wheels
But I am just a broken machine
And I do things that I don't really mean

Long black night, morning frost
I'm still here, but all is lost

Speed up to the precipice
And then slam on the brakes
Some people crash two or three times
And then learn from their mistakes
But we are the ones who don't slow down at all
And there's nobody there to catch us when we fall

Long black night, morning frost
I'm still here, but all is lost

Feel the storm every night, hope it passes by
Hallucinate a shady grove where Judas went to die 

Unfurl the black velvet altar cloth
Draw a white chalk baphomet
Mistreat your altar boys long enough
And this is what you get
Sad and angry, can't learn how to behave
Still won't know how in the darkness of the grave

Long black night, morning frost
I'm still here, but all is lost

Comments by John Darnielle About this SongEdit

  • "It's a song about the shame that you carry within you throughout the world and that you can never seem to shrug yourself free of. You will get free of it someday, but I personally can't tell you how because I don't know." -- 2012-12-17 - The Showbox - Seattle, WA
  • "I mean, the 'this is what you get' in 'Cry for Judas' isn't a vengeance visited upon an external party but on the victim by himself. The full line is: 'And this is what you get: sad and angry, can't learn how to behave/Still won't know how in the darkness of the grave.' It's kind of naively hopeful that the imagined victimizer would think about the effects of mistreating someone and feel bad about that." -- Interview, Sadie Magazine
  • "I'd like to play you another song about suicidal depression. It's about - if you are a certain type of person - me - you, you, but I'm not the only one, uh, you hear about somebody who did something horrible and drastic and you feel bad, but there's a part of you that goes, 'what, that's, now I know, now I recognize my kind, because he did that.' So this is about a guy who did a terrible thing and he couldn't live with the memory of it, and so he went and did a worse thing, and it's called 'Cry for Judas.'" -- 2015-04-02 - Mercy Lounge - Nashville, TN

Things Referenced in this SongEdit

  • "Hallucinate a shady grove where Judas went to die" is a Biblical reference. Judas Iscariot famously betrayed Jesus for 30 pieces of silver, led the army to arrest Jesus, and found him in a grove. The lyric implies that when Judas led the army to Jesus, he already regretted his betrayal and was willing to die by the hand of either Jesus, God or even himself (this makes sense considering his suicide soon afterwards.) This ties in with regrets and betrayal in the rest of the song. (Either that, or he had already spiritually died when he had betrayed Jesus.)
  • The song also references Satanism and consequently, why good people turn bad. The lyric "Unfurl the black velvet altar cloth / Draw a white chalk baphomet" references the typical satanic ritual setup, along with the famous satanic symbol of the 'Baphomet'.

Live Shows this Song Was Played atEdit

Videos of this SongEdit

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