On the Backs of Angels
A Dramatic Turn of Events
Length 08:42
Working title (Unknown)
Release date 29th June 2011
Lyrics John Petrucci
Music Petrucci, John Myung & Jordan Rudess
First live performance 4/7/2011 Rome, Italy (A Dramatic Tour of Events - 1st European Leg)
Total live plays
Recorded Cove City Sound Studios
Other appearances
Previous song The Count of Tuscany

Raw Dog (B-Side, Compilation.)

Next song Build Me Up, Break Me Down

On the Backs of Angels is the first track and first single released from A Dramatic Turn of Events. It was the first song to be released featuring Mike Mangini on drums, and the sixth Dream Theater song not to feature Mike Portnoy on drums (after Wait for Sleep, Regression, Through My Words, Through Her Eyes and Vacant). On the Backs of Angels was nominated for a Grammy award at the 2012 ceremony, in the category Best Hard Rock / Metal Performance. It lost to the song White Limo, by Foo Fighters.

Some fans believe that the song shares structural similarities with Images and Words lead single and opening track Pull Me Under.

Thematically, the song deals with political upheaval and the financial crisis.


Standing on the backs of angels
Destined to create
Mounting the attack
While heroes carry your weight

We spiral towards disaster
Survival fading faster

Riding out the wave
Content to feed off the machine
Bleeding us to death
The new American dream

You're blinded by your hunger
Beware your days are numbered

[Chorus]: Tears fall from the shameless
Shelter me, guide me to the edge of the water
Selfless are the righteous
Burden me, lead me like a lamb to the slaughter

Blurring lines drawn in between
What is right and what is wrong
Victims on the radar string us along

We're on to your agenda
The dead end road to nowhere

(Repeat Chorus twice)