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Tool: Sober Meaning

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Song Released: 1993


Sober Lyrics

There's a shadow just behind me, shrouding every breath I take, making every promise empty, pointing every finger at me. Waiting like a stalking butler who upon the finger rests. Murder now the path of must we just because the son has come....

  1. 1TOP RATED

    anonymous
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    Aug 3rd, 2007 8:12am report


    For anyone on this wall who called everyone else an idiot for their views is the one who is NOT A REAL TOOL FAN. Every member of the band has stated that every song they write is open for interpretation and that no one is wrong because Tool is about showing people how to think for themselves. Adam Jones said in a Guitar World interview upon 10000 Days release that they tell fans their views are right, simply because no one's opinion is wrong.



  2. 2TOP RATED

    SongBird_Singer
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    Apr 21st, 2007 4:29pm report


    Geez, there are a lot of angry Tool fans....huh....

    anyway, I think Tool wants you to interpret the song on your own.
    whether it be about drugs, alcohol,religion,sex, love, murder, jesus or mother mary and so on-- it doesnt' matter!! I love the Undertow album, it's just so great.
    To me the song personally means that a man has been through such a bad life caused by his own decisions and demons that he just does not want to be sober. He gives into his own evils, and brings down the one's he loves with him.
    It's tragic, but brilliant. :D



  3. 3TOP RATED

    anonymous
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    Feb 19th, 2007 2:23am report


    i agree with all the people who think this song is talking about religion, any real Tool fan would know that...the song is talking about how religion always make you feel guilty for the so-called sins that people do everyday.(this is the finger that keeps "pointing" at him in the beginning) ... Tool doesn't believe in religions if you read the little except in the booklet on the "Ænima" album it says how religion allows the brain to stop thinking/asking questions making the brain useless "believe in nothing!"...also on the "opiate" album they say religion is the opiate(depressant drug) of the world...so in the song when he ask "why can't we not be sober?" he's saying why can't society/mankind wake-up and realize how ridiculous religion is and how it keeps people from really living there lives and thinking for themselves.

    "jesus won't you fucking whistle"..lol that is so funny to me



  4.  

    anonymous
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    May 23rd, 5:39pm report


    Haha they state it's open to interpretation and every meaning it correct. Each song for me means different things at different points in my life.

    For me right now this song relates to an ex gf I have who made me vow my life to her but went on to "find my center chew it up and leave with her lies and betrayel. She wanted what she wanted and in her selfishness failed to communicate to work through the issues at hand. Now I want to start things over and wish I could just sleep forever. I wish a mother figure "Mary" would help me heal but my own mother points the finger at me as she fails to give me the love I need to see this through. My ex assumes no responsibility for her actions. And by trusting these people I have allowed such a situation to occur. But my desire to want to have faith in things as holy as love and trust within others has brought me here.



  5.  

    anonymous
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    Jul 21st, 2013 7:18am report


    I don't know what it means to everyone else, that is your choice, express yourselves freely.

    To me the song to me is about depression.
    Having been brought up as a violent misogynist arsehole, then meeting a peace loving lentil burger girl, us falling madly in love with each other, me changing to become more of a sensitive new age guy, then her realising that she loved the person she met, but then could not stay in that relationship because of how others viewed me.

    After our breakup, I connected with this song and used it to justify her actions because to me she was a goddess.

    But then again, what do I know, I am just a worthless liar, I am just an imbecile, I will only complicate you, Trust in me and fall as well, I will find a center in you, I will chew it up and leave....



  6.  

    anonymous
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    Dec 25th, 2012 12:22am report


    Haha! What a couple of retards. Tool the band has stated time and time again that their lyrics and songs are open for interpretation by each fan on an individual basis. And yet you somehow have a couple of assholes up here claiming to be holier than thou when it comes to Tool. Maynard has stressed on numerous occasions that he wants the fan to feel comfortable taking their own interpretation; thus the song means what it means to each individual person. I would think that a couple of people who cuss others out and say that they are not real fans; would know something like this. Yet somehow, you manage to miss some of the most basic Tool knowledge there is. But that's okay, because in doing so you make yourself sound like some of the assholes that he's talking about in the song AENEMA! A SONG WHICH, BY THE WAY, IS DONE MOSTLY IN LITERAL TRANSLATION, WITH VERY LITTLE METAPHOR! SO MAYBE YOU SHOULD STUDY A LITTLE ON TOOL BEFORE YOU COME BACK THINKING YOU KNOW SOME SHIT, GENIUS!!!!



  7.  

    anonymous
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    Dec 24th, 2012 12:58pm report


    This song is definitely inspired. He is not encouraging free thinking & it is not anti-religious. This song describes a terrible reality that is happening right now.

    It's the thoughts and feelings of a fallen angel (a.k.a. demon) who knows its time is short and wishes it could undo the ruin it has caused and return to the life it had, when it was an angel. Explanation?

    "There's a shadow just behind me,
    Shrouding every step I take,
    Making every promise empty,
    Pointing every finger at me," - (it's being perpetually followed by something it dreads, that impacts on everything it does, destroying all it's hopes and making it an object of ridicule - like a much loathed prisoner on death row)

    "Waiting like a stalking butler,
    Who upon the finger rests,
    Murder, now the path called 'must we',
    Just before the son has come."
    - (the shadow is patient and always with it, like an attentive butler, that brings death to it and all it values, as it enters the time when it will be forced down a path it would rather not travel [hence 'the path called Must We'], just before the second coming of Christ, prophesied to lead to the imprisonment [and eventual death] of all spirits who were disobedient to God in the rebellion, such spirits being called fallen angels and more commonly, demons)

    "Jesus, won't you fucking whistle
    Something but the past and done?"
    - (Since Jesus is perceived as having successfully intervened on behalf of mankind to allow their redemption before God, the demon is asking for Jesus to do the same, even just 'whistle', in their defense and be done with - but by the tone of the request, the demon knows it asks for that which Jesus cannot do and hence, it asks in vain)

    "Why can't we not be sober?
    I just want to start this over.
    Why can't we drink forever.
    I just want to start things over."
    - (the demon longs to be unconscious of its reality and longs to 'start over' [return to normal, as things were before it rebelled]. 'Drink forever' refers to enjoying life without a perceivable end, as Angels were originally designed to)

    "I am just a worthless liar.
    I am just an imbecile."
    - (it is not happy with what it has become)

    "I will only complicate you.
    Trust in me and fall as well."
    - (a confession of its lunacy and almost helpless ability to devastate all it gets near to [and who get near to it])

    "I will find a center in you.
    I will chew it up and leave,
    I will work to elevate you
    Just enough to bring you down.
    Trust me."
    - (a confession of what / how it destroys)

    "Mother Mary won't you whisper
    Something but what's past and done."
    - (this links to the mistaken idea of idol worship and that Mary can intervene on its behalf as it asked Jesus to, earlier)

    "Trust me.
    I want what I want."
    - (if you listen to how this is sung, it suggests the hopelessness of insanity, much like some wild animals develop after being imprisoned in a zoo with inadequate facilities, for too long)

    In brief, there's a message in this children. Beware of demons and anything demonic because where a murderer may commonly attack from the outside - these are subtle and will gut you, like a fish, from within. There are no exceptions. They'll give you 1inch and will take from you 5inches, in return.

    Don't go to Church! Read your Bible, expressly Genesis chapters 1-3 and then the Christian Greek Scriptures (the 4 gospels up to the end of 2nd Timothy). I am not a 'Bible basher' but as a good analyst and researcher, one asset strips and takes operational and strategic information where ever it can be found. Do not let religious (or anti-religious) bias deprive you of potentially useful information. Knowledge is power! Have fun ;-)



  8.  

    anonymous
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    Dec 17th, 2012 12:53pm report


    This song is about Layne from Alice in Chains, who the band were close friends with.



  9.  

    anonymous
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    Mar 31st, 2012 3:54am report


    it isnt a good shadow cos it shrouds steps, makes empty promises and pointing fingers at maynard. that shadow waits like a butler who has something in his hands to give to his master, something that has to do with murdering or destroying the path called 'must we' what is a path called 'must we'?..the things we must be as a society but u usually arent those things if u r an...addict ...and in the days b4 the son came the only way u could get to heaven was thru sacrifice and following certain traditions...so these ppl not following the path of 'must we' are doomed..cos they r addicts because of the shadow that follows them: the addiction.
    why cant we not be sober is asking junkies and drunks why cant they be sober, why do they have to be high?..what is it about being sober they dont like and why do they prefer being drunk or on junk?
    why can not we (we being us people, us junkies and drunks) Not be sober and instead choose to be high..its kinda weird how he said it (double negative) so u got to translate each negative for itself and figure out what that question is asking. but i have wondered the same thing- just what is it about being sober they dont like? Why cant we drink forever? well, i guess u could if u wanted to, so why not? and the part about being a worthless liar up to trust me is the drug talking to the addict and the addict talking to his loved ones. and its also the answer to why cant we drink forever..but regardless, the addict always wants what he wants



  10.  

    anonymous
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    Jan 26th, 2012 1:43pm report


    My interpretation of Tool's Sober is that Maynard is relating religion to drugs as if they both have a hold on you and tear up who you really are inside, but also how both cause you to self destruct. Maynard says "I will find a center in you, I will chew it up and leave, I will work to elevate you, just enough to bring you down" as if both religion and drugs prep you up and give you some kind of confidence, only to realize when you die you have wasted your life. The words "trust in me and fall aswell" explain that if you trust in something other than yourself (drugs or religion) it will bring you down in the end. In this song Maynard has come to the conclusion that he's been trapped all his life when he says "we can't we not be sober" and he wants to break free but no longer has the strength so he gives into his fall.



  11.  

    anonymous
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    Dec 7th, 2011 12:39am report


    I agree with the fans who say it is an open interpretation. But to me this song does have a religous and alcohol meaning, Maynard is assosiating being drunk with being religous. When you are drunk, You do things that you regret or dont want to do, Same as religon, To me he is saying that Alcohol and Jesus tell you to do stupid things, But in the end, They both screw you over. But this is just my opinion



  12.  

    anonymous
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    Oct 20th, 2011 10:23pm report


    On the Wikipedia website, it states that it's about a friend of the band who's artistic ability only came out when he was under the influence. Adam Jones states, "Everyone would always give him shit for it. If you becoma addicted and a junkie it's your fault." True or not, it's possible, but I like what #1 said about how Tool writes songs to make you think. They're written to expand your mind. Rob Zombie, Kurt Cobain, and Jim Morrison do it also. It's just a way to make people think. It's entertainment for those who have creative minds, and teaching for those who don't. Though, when you think about it, every song can be interperated differently. It just depends on the person and their mind/motivation to think. After reading these interperates' statements, it's clear to me that anyone can produce a valid meaning of a song.



  13.  

    anonymous
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    Sep 29th, 2011 9:11am report


    At a concert back in the late 90s in Houston Maynard stated before performing this song that " Today society is drunken with religion why cant we be sober"



  14.  

    anonymous
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    Jun 28th, 2011 6:52pm report


    Look i admit that i only started listening to tool recently, but even i know that Tool applies interpretations to their songs because they want each fan to take away a different resulting meaning to apply to the lyrics. Anyone above who said the songs is about either A) alcohol/drug addiction or b) about religion is correct. This song has a double meaning the obvious one being an addiction to alcohol, with the underlying message of how religion is used to control us.

    "Theres a shadow just behind me"
    "Shrouding every step I take"
    "Making every promise empty"
    "Pointing every finger at me"
    "waiting like a stalking butler"
    "who upon the finger rests"
    "Murder now the path called must we"
    "just because the son has come"

    The verse if applying alcoholism means his obsessive drinking is catching up with him and ruining his future, his reputation, and his sanity. If you factor in the religous meaning it loosely translated means- Religion is all around him, dictating others judgements of him. Because those with religion tend to wield it, and tend to be disdainful to non-believers of their religion. Murder is committed in the name of religion all the time by zealots who either a) are criminally insane and seek to use it as an excuse for their crimes or b) have been brain washed to the point where they think they're actually doing the right thing.

    "Jesus won't you fucking whistle"
    "something but the past and done?" x2

    Alcoholism: Seeking religions as a means to either free him from his guilt or blaming god for his mistakes, denial in it's most blatant form.
    Religion: it could be translated to meaning there is no god or he would make some signs of announcing himself. All there is for a certainty is what has happened in the past.

    "Why can't we not be sober?"
    "I just want to start this over"
    "why can't we dream forever?"
    "I just want to start things over"

    Alcoholism: Wishing he had never picked the vice up in the first place or that he could quit. Wishing he could drink without consequences. Then asking why he can't just permeneantly escape his problems that the addiction caused, and finally wanting to just start with a clean slate as if it had never happened.
    Religion: Why can't people wake up and see the lies that religion has sewn in our society. Could we go back and make it so religion never exists. Let people use their own minds to decide how to live their lives instead of having religion choose it for them.

    'I am just a worthless liar"
    "I am just an imbecile"
    "I will only complicate you"
    "Trust in me and fail as well"
    "I will find a center in you"
    "I will chew it up and leave"
    "I will work to elevate you"
    "Just enough to bring you down"

    This verse is the most debatable part of all the lyrics because it applies to both meanings so well and only gives vague hints at what it is referred to.

    Alcoholism: The effects of the disease, it will give you false happiness for a short while, it will leave you witless, it will make your demons stronger and failures more obvious. Believe that it is not a problem and over time it will prove otherwise, it will find what makes you content with life and then it will strip you of it and break you. Again it will make you happy temporarily in the beginning just enough to make the resulting failure that much more painful.

    Religion:Speaks what gods message from the words of men truthfully, they are bigots, hypocrites, liars who wish to force their truths into the minds of those who don't wish to hear it, until either they believe or are dead. That they are only after what they want and if it causes you to fail they won't protect you.

    "Mother Mary won't you whisper"
    "Something but the past and done?"

    Same meanings as "Jesus won't you fucking whistle."

    "Why can't we not be sober?"
    "I just want to start this over"
    "why can't we dream forever?"
    "I just want to start things over"

    Same meaning as above.

    'I am just a worthless liar"
    "I am just an imbecile"
    "I will only complicate you"
    "Trust in me and fail as well"
    "I will find a center in you"
    "I will chew it up and leave"

    Again same meaning as above.

    "Trust me, Trust me, Trust me, Trust me, Trust me."

    Alcoholism: The addiction will cause you to allow yourself to deny the problems your vice is causing in your everyday life.

    Religion: Speaks what religion tries to demand of us, to mindlessly worship an absent father figure.

    "Why can't we not be sober?"
    "I just want to start this over"
    "why can't we dream forever?"
    "I just want to start things over"

    Same meaning as above.

    "I want what I want"
    "I want what I want"
    "I want what I want"
    "I want what I want"

    Alcoholism: In the end if you do not abandon your addiction, it'll cause you to become selfish and not care for what anyone else wants or hopes for you, even those closest to you.
    Religion: They wish only gain followers and could care less what their mind numbing influence causes, they don't care if you can no longer think for yourself because it's what they want, as long as you follow them they control you.



  15.  

    anonymous
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    Jun 28th, 2011 6:45am report


    Ok you guys must be idiots, it's not about religion.It is about being "under the influence. Know something before you speak.



  16.  

    anonymous
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    Jun 26th, 2011 6:54am report


    Here in 2011, we have this thing called Wikipedia. :P Just kidding, but seriously, check out the wiki page for this song. It will tell you that the song is about a friend of the band. But it can also mean whatever you want it to!!! I like to think of the subject of the song as alcohol. Think about it.



  17.  

    anonymous
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    Jun 21st, 2011 6:33am report


    The profound sense of despair that this song so perfectly encapsulates is the pain of an ancient demon forced to lament on his own fate as one who once enjoyed basking in the light of God and who now is condemned to an unimaginable eternity of sorrow in the shadow of the Devil's hell. He is bitter and twisted and deeply, tragically sad and the worse part is he knows it's all his fault for making one wrong choice in his past.

    "Just because the son has come"

    The son here is Jesus Christ who the dark angel feels incredibly bitter towards, as an only child feels jealous towards a newborn brother who gets more love from their mutual parents.

    "Jesus won't you f*cking whistle something but the past is done"

    Jesus is again mentioned here in bitterness, as if to say, "I know I screwed up, I know I am cursed with an eternity of twisted sorrow for being an evil bastard, change the tune already, whistle something but what's past and done".

    "I am just a worthless liar. I am just an imbecile.
    I will only complicate you. Trust in me and fall as well.
    I will find a center in you. I will chew it up and leave."

    The biblical fall of the dark angels is mentioned here, and the process by which a demon tempts a man to make the same choice he once did and join him in falling from grace is chronicled perfectly in this section of the song.

    "Why cant we not be sober? I just want to start things over.
    Why cant we sleep forever? I just want to start this over."

    This demon really does mean "forever". He is cursed with an eternity of suffering and sorrow, why can't he just sleep forever instead of having to endure it? Or have a chance to start things over and make a different choice?

    This deeply tragic sorrow and abject hopelessness is one that the demon does not want to experience alone, it is his duty as an agent of his master to drag as many of us down with him as he can, so we too can be damned and share in his eternal suffering.

    I have not found a song such as this one anywhere else, that it posits the POV of a fallen angel so perfectly cannot be a coincidence, to some extent, something made sure it turned out the way it did. It is a deliciously dark song and a tremendous piece of music, I would honestly say it was demonically inspired and these parallels aren't mere coincidence.



  18.  

    Jeff McAllister
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    Apr 20th, 2011 4:24pm report


    Sober is about religion. I stand with Maynard and his views.Chistianity preaches that one should be drunk in the spirit of Christ, this way a person does not think for themself and excepts what they are told to believe.I am against all religions, they are just tools used by man to control the minds of the week and the ones born to follow.Even though Jesus as well as Budda , have some very wise words of wisdom,they where just men that shared the same flaws as you and I..religion takes words and ideas out of context and uses it for it's own purpose of control. It's not Jesus that is pointing the finger at you, It is religion, society, our peers, and even ourselves.We all feel we must be a part of some kind of group ,gang, party , orginazation, klan or what have you, and except their belief. When you do this you loose self and the ability to think on your own.You are now controled by that group that now takes on a life of it's own devoring everything around it just for self preservation. Self no longer exist. We should all stand alone as individuals, together.
    The past and done part I believe is just about the preaching of the bible and how it always try to make it's point by telling stories or paraboles. The same way we do today



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