To pay the Piper is an allusion to the legend of the Pied Piper of Hamelin concerning the payment for whose services a dispute arose. This expression probably alludes to the 13th-century legend of the Pied Piper of Hamelin in which the piper, upon being refused the payment promised for ridding the town of rats, played his pipe again; this time, however, it was the children who were led out of town to their death. Thus, the residents suffered the consequences of their decision, having ‘paid the piper’ with their children’s life.
Pied Piper – a person who induces others to imitate his example, esp. by means of false or extravagant promises.
pied piper – one that offers strong but delusive enticement; a leader who makes irresponsible promises.
pied piper – a person who entices or misleads others.
A ’60’s folk singer, Bob Zimmerman AKA Bob Dylan, does refer to pied pipers in his hit Like A Rolling Stone. Instead of pied piper he uses jugglers, clowns, and diplomat. It is the same thing.
You never turned around to see the frowns on the jugglers and the clowns
When they all come down and did tricks for you
You never understood that it ain’t no good
You shouldn’t let other people get your kicks for you
You used to ride on the chrome horse with your diplomat
Who carried on his shoulder a Siamese cat
Ain’t it hard when you discover that
He really wasn’t where it’s at
After he took from you everything he could steal.
A ’90’s rapper, Marshall Mathers AKA Eminem, does use the phrase payin’ the pied piper in his Lose Yourself hit.
I was playin in the beginnin, the mood all changed
I been chewed up and spit out and booed off stage
But I kept rhymin and stepwritin the next cypher
Best believe somebody’s payin the pied piper
All the pain inside amplified by the fact
That I can’t get by with my 9 to 5
In 1969 I loved hearing Like A Rolling Stone thru the halls of my college dorm, and I was thinking to the How does it feel refrain that it is feeling mighty fine to have left the nest. Thirty-three years later my daughter is leaving the nest, and the rap song Lose Yourself sounded like a good suggestion for my daughter to find her calling and make the most of any opportunity that came her way.
Another explanation of the phrase paying the piper is that the person who is paying the piper is the one who gets to call out the tune to be played. I know the artists I speak of have certainly played tunes meant to win approval and fans who are leftys, but I do not care about anything these artists have to say about politics and politicians. The songs I like are about individualism and capitalism even if it is unintentional by these artists.
I care about those in the east and northeast that are going to have to pay the piper for the flood damage. There is one I met at a gathering in Austin, Texas last summer living in Vermont who I hope he and his family are safe and ok. I also hope a certain UP curmudgeon living in New Hampshire has not suffered badly from flooding. In this open thread let me know any news you can report about paying the piper and just getting by.