Alice In Chains: Man in the Box Meaning
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Song Released: 1991
Man in the Box Lyrics
Buried in my shit
Won’t you come and save me, save me
Feed my eyes, can you sew them shut?
Jesus christ, deny your maker
He who tries, will be wasted
Feed my eyes now you’ve sewn them shut
I’m the dog who...
1TOP RATED#1 top rated interpretation:anonymous Aug 28th 2014 report
This is definitely a song about struggling with sin.
Layne grew up Catholic. If Jerry took part in the writing, I think he mostly agreed because it sounded moving even if he didn't quite understand all of it. You can really hear Layne coming out here.
The man in the box is the man who is told to do x, y, and z. Shoved his nose in shit is a reference to his repeatedly sinning, i.e., not doing x, y, and z, and God convicting him of his failures.
Then he asks God to save him from his failures.
He says "Save my eyes," implying that he wants to be kept from the temptations to do whatever it is that is plaguing him.
I agree with the earlier commentator, that the second voice is best interpreted as the voice of Satan, or perhaps just the voice of human rebellion against God, angry and impatient for God to come through:
"can you sew them shut?" Is like an, "Oh really, God? Can you answer my prayers? And if you can, will you really? And keep me from my temptations?" Later Satan encourages Staley to deny his maker because God hasn't delivered him from his temptations. But then, he says what I think he genuinely believes, that one who does so "will be wasted." When God sews his eyes shut, it is a commentary on Staley's belief that God has abandoned him and left him to his sin. He fears that he is on the road to God's abandoning him. He does not entirely trust God to save him, or to grant him heaven in light of his failures.
I believe Staley was a Christian, in the sense that he believed that Christ was the savior. He wasn't struggling with this belief. He had a painting of Christ in the apartment where he died in his later years. Why would someone keep such a painting in their house, that was taunting them, if they didn't believe? He was struggling with his sin, and passages in Scripture that say if you live a life of sin, you will not inherit the Kingdom of God. He was wondering whether years in the music business and the sin that he fell into denied him of his future in eternity with God. I pray that it did not.
Any Christian who has repeatedly struggled with besetting sin should get this one.
But as everyone has said, this is my interpretation, as an ardent AIC fan and a Christian, who spent most of my life as an atheist, but have been a Christian long enough now to see how the continued struggles with sin could tear a man apart, if he did not quite trust God
not to condemn him. But it is not my part to judge the limits of God's mercy. I pray they are beyond my comprehension.
2TOP RATED#2 top rated interpretation:anonymous Dec 5th 2012 report
I’m the man in the box
Buried in my shit
MEANING: I'm miserable
Won’t you come and save me, save me
MEANING: God please save me.
SINGER: Feed my eyes, DEVIL: can you sew them shut?
SINGER: Jesus christ, DEVIL: deny your maker
SINGER: He who tries, DEVIL: will be wasted
SINGER: Feed my eyes now you’ve sewn them shut
Just my interpretation.
Layne had such a powerful voice, and range.
3TOP RATED#3 top rated interpretation:anonymous Jul 23rd 2012 report
They may have been thinking about censorship when writing this song, but the song is not about censorship. It is about Cantrell or the band blaming Christianity for the censorship, among other things.
This message is flawed in so many ways, but I'll just get to the meaning. I'm a guitar player. I'm a huge AIC fan, a Christian, and this meaning is extremely cut and dry, IMO.
(I'm the man in the box)
We live and die. We're born into the grave. They mention this in other songs, and a lot of their songs obviously deal with the topic of death.
(Buried in my shit)
This could mean sin, or a shit life [he's not dead yet here]. Interpret this how you want, it's not a pivotal point in the song.
(Won't you come and save me, save me)
Here, he is talking directly to Jesus (or God), but he is not asking for help like many others have said. They do not reveal the meaning of the song yet.
(Feed my eyes, can you sew them shut?)
Here is the meaning of the song: He can't believe in God (Jesus) and be delivered into the afterlife by Him, because he needs something more tangible - a sign.
(Jesus Christ, deny your maker)
This line basically sets up the next, and finally reveals that he is addressing Jesus by naming him.
(He who tries, will be wasted)
Exhibits some superficial knowledge of the Gospel [although in disbelief... remember he needs a sign to believe]. The knowledge is that, if you reject Christ as the only way to God [or in other words Jesus Christ as your Saviour], you're done at death... or worse go to hell [wasted].
(Feed my eyes now you've sewn them shut)
Again, pleading for a sign, but then you guessed it... he's dead now... it's too late. Makes another reference to death [eyes sewn shut], but in this scenario he's not being delivered into the afterlife [or everlasting life] by God.
(I'm the dog who gets beat)
(Shove my nose in shit)
Now, finally, after laying out their flawed [IMHO] beliefs, they [or perhaps Cantrell alone] go on to complain about censorship - apparently at the behest of some Christian "moral authority," as the song's previous complaints suggest. Then the chorus repeats. Don't make me explain it again.
Since I am a Christian, and have helped to enlighten you mere mortals of this song's flawed yet esoteric meanings, I feel as though it is my duty to leave you with something more substantial.
"But he answered and said unto them, An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas:
For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale's belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth." Matthew 12:39,40
anonymous Oct 12th, 19:50 report
The writer himself said it's about the media. Do you people make any use at all of the internet you're connected to right now? Holy crap, man!
anonymous May 5th report
The black box principle as a metaphor for things for which you are blind: your inner workings, metaphysics. Like some sort of prison. Sh*t might be a metaphor for the media bullsh*t he is fed with. Sometimes better answers might be found within when you just shut your eyes. The "box" could also symbolize the coffin in form of a lobotomy during drug therapy though.
Jerry once said they have something in mind when they write the lyrics for people who might interpret the meaning their own way.
anonymous Apr 13th 2018 report
stuck, overwhelmed but questioning why, then terrified when answers start coming first feed my eyes then hoping to unsee, you can't really deny something you've seen after you've seen it but you never understand it completely...very relatable for me
This interpretation has been marked as poor. view anyway
anonymous Jun 23rd 2017 report
Maybe the point is that denying your maker is natural, if not essential to come to ones own conclusions. What's wrong with denying our maker in order to test our own logical beliefs? I think Staley is saying that there isn't anything wrong with denying your maker, but the world is such that "he who tries will be wasted". Maybe if we were all free without religion trying to sew our eyes shut, we would see everything and come to beliefs/conclusions on our own.
anonymous May 19th 2017 report
Its about eating pussy. They were on howard stern talking about it!!!
anonymous Mar 16th 2017 report
I'd say it's mocking religion. Pointing out the problems of our world. The mistreatments like the man in the box and the dogs nose in shit. Jesus save me, but no one comes. So now he urges you to deny your maker.
anonymous Oct 22nd 2016 report
Jack in the box hamburgers are collectively crying out for help before they're eaten.
anonymous Aug 19th 2016 report
My Grandpa who fought in Vietnam said it was about a P.O.W. that they locked in a box and left him there until he was released during a prisoner exchange.
anonymous Feb 24th 2016 report
The song is about giving his soul to Satan. Feed my eyes, meaning wanting the spirituality, because he's empty. Satan replies can you sew them shut. He cries out to Jesus Christ, Satan replies deny your maker. He thinks about trying, Satan tells him that trying only leads to waste, then when he says feed my eyes, Satan has taken over and his eyes have been sewn shut.
anonymous Feb 13th 2015 report
You are all way to deep for me. It's about fucking animal abuse!
The beauty of this song, as well as soooo many more is that it will mean different things to different people, at different times, including the artist's themselves. I love the interpretive banter and perspective many of you have shared. A good song will make you FEEL something. If that is accomplished then the purpose is filled.
anonymous Oct 17th 2013 report
The man in the box buried in shit is a priest in a confessional booth who he himself is a sinner and in need of salvation regardless of being an anointed absolver of sins. (Feed my eyes) the eyes are the window to the soul and the priest has his eyes closed praying in petition to God to feed his eyes with heavenly glory and true light in regards to disciplining in spiritual matters by which Jesus says: If your eye causes you to sin then it is better for you to pluck it out rather than walking in hell blind -Your eyes are like a lamp for the body.When your eyes are sound,your whole body is full of light;but when your eyes are no good,your whole body will be in darkness.
The lyrics with the dog is translated as God correcting His servant for insubordinancy.The servant is experiencing difficulty in what God's will is or how to appease Him.
anonymous Sep 11th 2013 report
It's about animals that are treated unfairly and caged its brilliant its thief voice and how gov hide it from us - not everything is about humans the time
In case you haven't figured out the nature of the music, or indeed, the entertainment industry, I recommend you attempt to understand why so many in that field die or appear to go nuts. This song is an unanswered appeal for help. Pete Ham of Badfinger committed suicide and wrote this on his note: "I will not be allowed to love and trust everybody. This is better." It also included an accusatory blast toward Badfinger's business manager, Stan Polley: "P.S. Stan Polley is a soulless bastard. I will take him with me." Check out the website Vigilant Citizen.
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