Like its predecessor 'The Prisoner', this song is based on the British TV series The Prisoner. "The Village" is the name of the mysterious place which is the setting for the story. This place really exists and is actually called Portmeirion, in North Wales. Although it has decent guitar solos, some people don't like this song much. Some accuse it of suffering from a horrible chorus where Dickinson seems to be more shouting than singing, but I personally think it's a brilliant song yet again a matter of taste!
There is a neat thing where Bruce sings "...I see sixes all the way...". Superimposed on this is a whisper saying six six six. You can hear a RealAudio sample of it here.
Welcome to The Village!
An interesting interpretation of the song's meaning was submitted to me by HConnor7. Although I don't agree with it, it sheds an entirely new light on the lyrics and I thought that it should appear here
I found your commentary interesting on 'Back in the Village'. I would like to add an additional explanation for some of the lyrics in this song. Note that in verse 1, Bruce sings "drop your bombs and let them burn". He later sings "there's a fox among the chickens". When a military pilot releases outboard ordnance it is referred to as a fox (number), where the number indicated the type of ordnance. An infrared guided air to air missile is 'fox 2', a radar guided missile is usually 'fox 1'. Napalm bombs have been commonly referred to as 'fox 6'. So when Bruce sings "I see sixes all the way", I believe this is to what he is referring.
I do hear a noise in the background that could be interpreted as "six, six, six", but such things always are matters of interpretation. Keeping with the pilot theme, I believe it could be a matter of reproducing a pilot's transmission of a successful delivery of napalm bombs, but this is all conjecture obviously.
This interpretation is certainly the most original I have ever heard about this song. I know that Dickinson (who co-wrote the song with Adrian Smith) is an air enthousiast and a pilot himself, and I answered the mail pointing out that the song refers to the British cult series of the late 60s "The Prisoner", with Patrick McGoohan, and that most of the lyrics are actually catchphrases that can be found in the episodes of the series, like "Questions are a burden and answers a prison to oneself" for instance. My interpretation of the 'fox' is not that of a codename but rather an image indicating that nb 6 the main character of the series is the only dangerous inhabitant of the famous Village (try to visualise what a fox would do among chickens). Besides, I added that the term 'fox' is used mostly by USAF pilots and that, as we all know, Maiden are English.
The explanation makes sense, but not within the context of the song (in my opinion anyway). Nevertheless, HConnor7 insisted:
I am still sticking with my views on the song, in part anyway, because of one line in the song, "In a black hole, and I'm spinning, as my wings get shot away", which I believe can only be interpreted as pilot talk of getting shot down after he has dropped his munitions, as per the "I see (fox) sixes all the way". We all know that Maiden are a British band, and therefore would have little use for exclusive USAF lingo, but NATO pilots of all nationalities will often use USAF lingo. The truth probably lies somewhere between our 2 respective interpretations.
Just a (second) thought.
I am now leaving this interpretation open to discussion...