Alice In Chains: Don't Follow Meaning
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Song Released: 1994
Don't Follow Lyrics
Hey, I'll just wander my own road.
Hey-hey, I can't meet you here tomorrow - no, no.
Say goodbye don't follow -
Misery so hollow.
Hey you, you're livin' life full throttle.
Hey you, pass me down that...
anonymous Mar 26th, 2013 3:26pm report
Ok, so many people think pretty much every AIC song is about drug addiction, which is a very sadly common misconception. However, anyone who has ever struggled with heroin addiction, would hear these lyrics & this music & know that this does happen to be one of their songs that is about heroin addiction. Although Jerry wrote this song, I believe it was his interpretation of what Layne was going thru, & in my opinion, he pretty much nailed it! Layne was determined to get the point across that heroin is th devil, & to make people aware of what it did to him, & there are many metaphors in this song explaining how you feel as an addict & the results of heroin addiction, & how you isolate yourself & feel alone, & don't want anyone to follow your path. You just want to be left alone, you feel there is no hope for a life without that one particular substance. You can't live with it & you can't live without it. It's a vicious cycle almost impossible to break or overcome. He sees what its doing to him & it scares & depresses him but he can't get away. He doesn't want to burden the people that love him, he just wants everyone to leave him be & stay away from the very thing he couldn't. Heroin. And this was how Jerry viewed Layne's feelings & standpoint throughout his struggle. Rest in Peace Layne Thomas Staley! You will never be forgotten! A true work of art, you're the reason I still walk this earth so far! <<<<3
This song is about suicide, regardless of the reasons for the act. It is not about heroine addiction. Yes Jerry wrote it, and sounds more like Lane’s life, but that changes nothing.
If you will, follow my trane of interpretation:
“Hey, I ain't never coming home.”
I have decided to end my life.
“Hey, I'll just wander my own road.”
I am so lost and alone. And have run out of hope. My misery has pushed everyone I care for so far away. But I don’t want to tell you my decision yet. You’ll understand once I am gone. (or perhaps it’s a sort-of filler lyric)
Hey-hey, I can't meet you here tomorrow - no, no. -
By tomorrow, I will be dead.
Say goodbye don't follow. Misery so hollow.
Don’t take my suicide as something to consider for yourself.
Don’t romanticize my, your own or anyone else’s dark struggles: if it draws you in, you’ll find there is no sweet spot or silver lining to internal darkness. The attraction is real, the reality is fake. So you’re left with nothing.
"Hey you, you're livin' life full throttle."
I have no clue what this means. Maybe referring back to “Don’t do what I am about to because you’re life is going well.”
"Hey you, pass me down that bottle, yeah..."
OK, I’ve made up mind my, hand me the bottle of pills to kill myself.
Or… He’s found some comfort among others who also want to die – let’s take a swig of booze and get this over with.
The pills are taken, it’s just a matter of time now.
Now he’s entering a state of transformation: aware and existing between living and dead.
"Hey-hey you, you can't shake me round now."
He’s now remembering the first time he went through that transition - …being born. Opposite direction but similar experience. So he is now telling his mother (not in person), he’s not in her womb, or dependent on her, so he is free and a bit bitter about the past.
"I get so lost and don't know how, yeah..."
Being a sensitive soul, the bitterness shifts to an attempt at explaining to her that he did try over and over, but always ended up in a living hell.
"It hurts to care, I'm goin' now."
He realizes that he dropped his guard, so he is starting to feel sadness, reflect on regret and guilt for the pain he will cause others. “OK, enough. I AM doing to die. So one last time: goodbye.”
*** The song tone changes, indicating that he’s now shifting from “looking back” and saying goodbye to looking forward at what’s to come.
"Well I forgot my woman, lost my friends
Things I've done and where I've been,"
His identity and any relation to what he knows as life are now gone.
"Sleep in sweat - the mirror's cold -
Seen my face? It's growin' old -"
His body is reacting to the drugs – cold sweats.
Looking in a mirror, he gets a chilling view of a dying face. Or he’s sick of being reminded of his life, which is strongest when looking at himself in the mirror.
"Scared to death, no reason why"
No more misery, depression, or agony, so why be scared?
And… it is a play on words: Why be ‘scared to death’ when he has already insured that he will get to death very soon anyways.
"Do whatever to get me by,"
He’ll grab any distraction to avoid experiencing the horrors the poison he took is causing… until he is dead. So he chooses to:
"Think about the things I've said
Read the page its cold and dead"
But reflecting on anything he has said is pointless: he can’t address who he said them to, or adjust to how people react, but as far as he is concerned he is already dead.
"An' take me home!
Yeah! Take me home!
Oh-oh... take me home
Take me home, yeah.
Take me home. Yeah, oh."
Home is resolve, relief, comfort. And he has felt dead for so long, being dead will be like home to him than living another day.
He’s now feeling hopeful and optimistic. Leaving the body, the relief of the pain feels so good.
"Say goodbye. Don't follow."
One final time, reminding others not to do what he has now done.
Follow that into the song Swing On This (the next song on that album). Death is over. The song is more upbeat. He’s confronted with feeling his family and friends' desire for him to come back to life (…said come home), but he still wants to die (heading towards what home is for him.) He hears a voice that says you have a choice, but he knows he can’t go back, only choose how fast he heads home.
Or I am completely wrong and all of that was just my weird mind getting too creatively over-active.
anonymous Nov 3rd, 11:47pm report
I feel this song is a way for Jerry Cantrell to tell Layne that his addiction is out of control. The lines: “pass me down that bottle” and “forgot my woman, lost my friends” just all seem like references Jerry made towards Layne’s addictions with drugs and alcohol. It’s a beautiful song, there’s a lot of emotion to it. The song also seems like Jerry trying to be brotherly in a way towards Layne, trying to help him out.
anonymous Sep 28th, 9:45am report
people will say it's about heroin, depression, suicide, but i think it all holds true. anyone can connect all three of those together in the context of this song. at it's core, it's about a mentally compromised individual dealing with their demons.
the phrase "don't follow" (being the reoccurring theme of the entire song) could mean one of two things, or even both. the first being that the individual is telling others to stay off the path wrought with drug addiction because you will lose your friends, loved ones, your home, and ultimately yourself.
my second interpretation is that this individual is committed to their demise. it almost reads like a suicide note. they believe they've fallen so far that suicide is the only solution. the individual is reminding the people dear to him to not "follow" the treacherous path he paved; rather they wish for their loved ones to say good-bye and accept what had happened, and ultimately move forward with a path that didn't end as tragically as the individual's.
anonymous Jul 26th, 7:04am report
Yeah. I met Lan Stanley, stuggled with addiction as as a teen. Went to Lalapalooza, in 92, in RI. Shook Lan's hand. My dad died on Christmas Day, 93. So I get this. This song is my heart.Love Lan
Bet I been listening to Alice and all this before you were an echo. Saw him booed off the stage as opening act for Van Halen. Really??? Man In The BOX
anonymous Apr 4th, 2020 4:25pm report
When reading about how Jar of Flies was created - constructing the music and then writing the lyrics to fit in an amazing 1 WEEK PERIOD, AIC Cantrell probably matched somber lyrics about loneliness, not Staley's heroins addiction. I don't care....I just absolutely love this song....AIC was just incredible and Jar of Flies is a treasure....so different, and this was done right after the pitch black Dirt album
anonymous Dec 12th, 2019 12:45pm report
Layne said it best “every songs meaning is what the listener gets out of it”. What does it mean to you-that’s the songs meaning. LTS
anonymous Aug 6th, 2019 8:04pm report
Heroin, alcohol, severe depression, whatever the poison, I get it. I miss who I was before the addiction, and who I could have been without it. If this song isn't about that, then I am just damaged enough that it is that to me. God help me.
anonymous Jun 17th, 2019 6:03pm report
It's a man running from himself and his purpose. He has, before verse one even begins, given up on what he knows is true and declares he is going to do things his own way. Sort of a "prodigal son" mentality mixed with prolly a sh!t ton of resentment. He wants to disassociate himself with all of it.
But this proves not to be what he envisioned. Passing the bottle becomes just a bandage. Sh!t gets old quick.
In the bridge, he's counting up what it has all cost him and in a moment of lucidity realizes his only sane and viable option: bring me back to that place I once hated.
Peace ensues at the end where he reflectively and very unsorrowfully relinquishes ...
anonymous Oct 21st, 2014 10:50am report
As an addict myself, booze, not horse, I think I can throw out an opinion. This song is about hitting rock bottom and waking up in withdrawal. After YEARS in a blur of F-edupedness wondering if it all happened or not. Take me home...back to the first choice that was the wrong one. My high school best pall just OD-ed on heroin. I've lost countless former pals to drugs. Fortunately I DIDN'T follow.
anonymous Mar 12th, 2013 3:28pm report
This song was one of my cousin's favorite songs . We played it at his funeral yesterday . He died of a overdose .I will miss him !
anonymous Nov 29th, 2012 11:19pm report
You all obviously dont know anything about Alice in Chains. Jerry Cantrell wrote this song.
anonymous Jul 21st, 2012 7:53pm report
Everybody is allowed their own interpretations and opinions, of course, but if you're one of these people that thinks every song MUST BE ABOUT DRUGS because the lead singer died of an overdose, you're missing something. Sure, a lot of songs are but not EVERY SINGLE FUCKING SONG.
anonymous Jul 14th, 2011 7:51pm report
An exact lyrical interpretation of drug addiction. Layne staley couldnt have said it any better
anonymous Apr 30th, 2011 4:35am report
the meaning to this is basically a warning to people what happens with drug addiction. telling us dont follow as in dont follow me down this path of misery and self destruction. telling us what to expect if we do follow
This interpretation has been marked as poor. view anyway
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