System of a Down often comes up with bizarre lyrics and it has been revealed that one of their better-known songs was written, in part, by a random book.
Rick Rubin opens up on the matter
According to a recent interview with Rick Rubin on The Joe Rogan Experience bandleader Serj Tankian literally pulled one of his most famous lyrics from a random page in Rubin’s library.
“My experience is, when you are open and looking for clues in the world, they’re happening all the time,” Rubin told Rogan. “And they’re happening, often right when you need them.”
He continued: “This System of a Down song called ‘Chop Suey!’ … You know that song? It has this big bridge section in it where Serj, lyric writer — the singer — didn’t have words for this one part of the song.”
We’re sitting in the library in my old house and he said, “I don’t have words for this,” and we were finishing and it’s like, okay. “Any ideas?” He didn’t have any ideas. So I said, “Okay, pick a book off the wall.” He picked a book randomly off the wall. I said, “Open it to any page [and] tell me the first phrase you see.” He opened it. First phrase he sees, that’s what’s in the song and it’s a highpoint in the song. It’s incredible, like magic.”
Rubin goes on to point out that the line “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit / Father, into your hands / Why have you forsaken me? / In your eyes forsaken me” — arguably the most quoted lyric from System of a Down’s discography, perhaps second to the super-scary “Wake Up!” from the same track — came from that book.
The first single from their 2001 album Toxicity, “Chop Suey!” would go on to become their first Top 10 single on Billboard’s Alternative Airplay — despite the track’s line about “self-righteous suicide” earning it a spot on a list of post-9/11 inappropriate titles. It also went on to become Gold and Platinum certified in several countries.