What does Shadow on the Sun mean?

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Audioslave: Shadow on the Sun Meaning


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Shadow on the Sun Lyrics

Once upon a time
I was of the mind to lay your burden down
And leave you where you stood
You believed I could
You’d seen it done before
I could read your thoughts
And tell you what you saw
And never say a word
But now that is gone


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    Aug 27th, 2009 8:30am report

    Do you know yourself?

    What if your life suddenly changed, and in doing so you changed? This song is certainly open to many interpretations and each individual will, and should, put their own twist on it. In my opinion this song is about one person, a person that has suddenly, and against their wishes, found themselves in a difficult situation and as a direct consequence they are losing their own identity.

    This song relates well to the movie (Collateral) and the scene where it was played. Max has been forced to drive a sociopathic killer (Vincent) around, from hit to hit, while trying to stay alive himself. Max, as an individual, has found himself in a situation that is forcing him to rethink what kind of person he it, even who he is. The song marks a moment in the movie where Max struggles with what to do and I believe he realizes the old Max no longer exists, and a new or redefined Max, is going to have to do things the old Max couldn´t even fathom to get out of his situation.

    He left the burden of old Max behind, a person he knew so closely because it was him. I could read your thoughts….over with and done and never to return. He is forced to accept that who he was, is a Shadow on the Sun, something that does not exist. He grieves the loss of himself and even feels like he is going insane because of the internal struggle. The end will never come because before you die the current you will become extinguished and who you were will become someone else.

    All of us change. Sometimes by conditions forced upon us and, sad as it may be, there is no going back.

    What would you do when faced with a drastic life changing situation? Maybe you would become a Shadow on the Sun.


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    Mar 30th, 2007 3:41pm report

    I agree. And I am bold enough to contend that the people who are frequesntly making these assumptions are, in all probability, the people with the drug problems. You see, people have a tendency to interpret songs in a manner that allows them to relate to them.

    For example, I drew an altogether different meaning from this song than those described herein. Probaby because of my familiarity with Jungian psychology, and avid interest in archetypes and symbols, I interpreted this song in a much broader context than most would expect.

    In Jungian psychology the shadow is representative of the bad in the world. The primitive, lustful, canniving, appetitious part of the personality found in every person. And moreover, the light, the sun, represented the opposite. The goodnes...the purity..all the beauty in the world.

    Accordingly, because I can relate to these concepts, when I hear this song it seems to me as if he is telling us that all the bad stuff in the world, like how people die alone, go insane...how they feel like they are living without souls..everything undesirable..happens because of the shadows on the sun..the bad parts inside of all of us good people...all the bad mixed with all the good in the world leave us all vulnerable to emptiness and strife.


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    Oct 4th, 2008 10:46pm report

    This is an amazing song, songwriting at it's best, for sure. Every time I listen to it, I get "Epic Chills" down my spine! I think it has to do with people who are in great pain, sorrow, and the brink of insanity. I don't think he's talking about drugs, specifically, but maybe this pain and suffering COULD involve drugs, but drugs aren't the point of this song. It's much deeper. It's about people in such pain and misery, that they are in an insane daze, a prison in their mind. Their happiness is covered by an ominous shadow (shadow on the sun). For them there's no hope, and they are trapped in their own mind (the memory of the one, who lived inside my skin). The speaker's soul lived inside his own skin, but now lives a miserable, soul-less life.


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    Jan 9th, 2020 1:10pm report

    I agree with all of this bro.


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    May 23rd, 2019 5:05pm report

    I think chris cornell was once or many times I don't wanna say possessed, but more like had an evil spirit influence him. A spirit who has been around forever would have more knowledge and wisdom than ordinary humans, giving chris his extraordinary artistic talent. Evil spirits are not in a happy place, they live in darkness knowing soon GOD will destroy their soul. They possess people to see, feel any light, or to some how avoid their fate. Just throwing my two cents in. Plus most of his songs are spiritual. The last remaining light has The Book Of Revelations written all over it. Think about it Black Hole Sun starts with, In my eyes, indisposed
    In disguises no one knows
    Hides the face, lies the snake
    The sun in my disgrace. I could go on and on about comparing what I think to his lyrics, anyways just sharing what I think.


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    Feb 7th, 2019 2:32pm report

    Like all good songs and music it allows the individual to make their own interpretation. Chris was pained, a ‘Shadow of the Sun’, while many of us, including myself viewed him as a voice of the sun.

    If only Chris knew, or maybe he knew too much, what his voice meant to so many. His voice is now muted, only through recording can we appreciate him.

    #dont mute yourself


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    May 19th, 2017 5:30pm report

    According to carl Jung's teachings about archetypes and the collective unconscious, the sun is representative of a father or father figure; the moon represents mother, or a maternal figure in one's life. Fyi


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    May 6th, 2013 5:54am report

    "Once upon a time I was of the mind
    To lay your burden down"

    He finally decides to move on and forget about her.

    "And leave you where you stood
    And you believed I could
    You'd seen it done before"

    She was left once before so she thinks it'll be easy for him to get over her when she walks out on him.

    "I could read your thoughts
    Tell you what you saw
    And never say a word"

    He was so in love with the bitch that he could read her mind and knew everything about her so insightfully that he could express his feelings and comfort her without ever saying a word.

    "but Now all that is gone
    Over with and done, never to return"

    She left him and burned the bridge and all trust by cheating on him.

    "and I can tell you why
    People die alone
    and I can tell you I'm
    A shadow on the sun"

    Because they never wanna feel that pain and rejection ever again. That's why people die alone. I can tell you because I'm a shadow on the sun. The darkness the hopelessness that no one can see. I walk around cheerful and bright like there is nothing wrong in my life while I'm dead and cold inside.

    "Staring at the loss
    Looking for the cause
    And never really sure
    Nothing but a hole
    To live without a soul
    And nothing to be learned"

    Always replaying events over and over in my head trying to pin down that one reason for her leaving and never finding it. It's just a hole in my soul that I'll never get back and it was so useless and pointless that nothing can be learned from any of it.

    "I can tell you why
    People go insane"

    I've gone crazy several times from the emotional train wreck she's put me through and I'm sure Chris feels the same.

    "I can show you how
    You could do the same"

    Just get yourself a Divorced 22y.o. bride and in 4 years you'll be just like me.

    "I can tell you why
    The end will never come
    I can tell you I'm
    A shadow on the sun"

    The end of the misery, the little reminders of her. Just when you think you've put it all behind, bam, there she is again. You've never let go completely, her memory still haunts you, it's fuckin 2013 already and she left your ass in 2002 wtf over????

    "Shapes of every size
    Move behind my eyes
    Doors inside my head
    Bolted from within"

    Trapped in my own mind with thoughts of her.

    "Every drop of flame
    Lights a candle in
    Memory of the one
    Who lived inside my skin"

    Mark 10:8

    New American Standard Bible (NASB)

    and the two shall become one flesh; so they are no longer two, but one flesh.

    The man feels as I do. Torn and ripped apart from the one that was once his own flesh. The one who shared everything with him, thoughts, feelings, emotions. She truly lived inside his skin. Now Divorced he is a shell of a man, a shadow on the sun.


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    Jan 12th, 2012 1:38am report


    It's a love song. Remember, along with rehab, Chris was in the process of divorce at the time. I think it's about the impossibility of forgetting and unmaking a love and a relationship, even if you leave it.

    The images are somewhat inscrutable, but what else would you expect from the man who gave you "Black Hole Sun?" A song he has said repeatedly, was the result of his playing with images and words. Make your own meaning.


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    Jul 8th, 2011 7:27am report

    When he talks about the one who lived inside his skin he may even be talking about himself and not about someone else... This could be, for example, his conscience, his ability to overcome difficult things, his self-awareness of his own capabilities, similar of what hope and self trust could be... therefore he would be singing of this part of him in third person and it could be assumed it may be a dead part already


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    Mar 14th, 2010 3:21pm report

    I think it is about a connection with another person. That person who was very close to him, somehow lost connection with him and now one or both of them are sorry - "starring at the loss, looking for the cause and never really sure". He is angered, frightened with what has happened and doesn't know what to do. "i can tell you why people go insane, i can tell you how you could do the same, i can tell you why the end will never come, i can tell you why shadow on the sun" - is an explanation about why people are angry and frightened - because they are alone. He is trying to get by. Tormented from inside. And sometimes the sun - representing the human soul and the human love has a shadow, which has to be because of something in the way. Like doubt, anger, being unsure about losing the one you love.


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    Nov 21st, 2009 11:17pm report

    It's a love song - plain & simple - He has been reduced to a "Shadow on the Sun" ...or "nothing" because of the loss of "The One Who Lived Within His Skin". Trust me - I've been there - still am.


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    Apr 17th, 2009 4:04am report

    It's about the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center.

    This interpretation has been marked as poor. view anyway


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    Dec 18th, 2008 12:45pm report

    I think that Chris cornell has inclined more towards the Jungian philosophy as someone stated here. To relate this song to drugs is obscure, in my opinion...

    Chris is talking about his existential ways and how he really doesnt care about Joe the plumber's problems ...Sympathy can be regarded to be a human weakness and in a subjective way. But from a collective principle, overlooking sympathy and staying indifferent is a selfish trait which makes one to be cast out as a 'shadow on the sun'..or in words, a blemish on the universal truth...

    'shapes of every size move behind my eyes'

    I see it this way...The debauchery and mundane activities that masqerade in front of my eyes are not registered inside...but just shapes of various sizes...the doors inside my head are tightly bolted from inside... not letting anything that i see or experience affect me..All that I have valuably learned throughout my life are manifested as emotions that symbolize nothing but drops of flame that light the memories within..flames that lick the battered soul inside...


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    Nov 9th, 2008 11:15pm report

    I don't believe that this has to come down to drugs/alcohol or even another person who was close. In a general view, interpreting for oneself rather than what Cornell may have intended, I think it's a loss of oneself and identity to the point where the person you see isn't the person you knew - which could be a result of many things including what's been mentioned, but life's a bit more than drugs and a significant other. He speaks of being able to tell you how people fall apart, having experienced it himself either internally or seeing everyone around him fall, thus losing his own mind, or both.

    I think with every change in ourselves this happens, however depending on how critical or negative it is, the you outside has become a shell encasing a maelstrom of what you once were, or a void of little presence.


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    Oct 7th, 2008 10:35pm report

    I think that to get the full meaning you need to look out of Coronell's eyes. let's take a look here, at this time he had just stopped drinking not to long ago. So first possibility the shadow on the sun could be his bad deeds leaving a shadow on his past good life. and basically when all he did was sit, drink, and write music, you could possibly say that him talking about people going insane is from his past emotional problems. now another way to look at it is that chris is looking at it as an overall and spiritual view. The shadow could be the bad things of this world such as drugs alcohol and murder. He could possibly, as one guy suggests, be talking for god as if he is God looking at the earth and seeing the "shadow on the sun" as the unfaithful in the church and the divisions like catholic methodists baptists.

    or,(I left this on separate because it is most likely not true) he could have just thrown a lot of words on each other with no meaning.

    This interpretation has been marked as poor. view anyway


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    Jan 16th, 2008 1:23pm report

    What I got out of this song is something from the republic. The sun symbolizing the good in the world and the bringer of reality is shadowed by some unvirtuous human, maybe himself. So he can tell you how people go insane and all that stuff because he is the shadow on the sun. know as for the shapes and the flames and candles its just explaining how things are when you view them from his perspective, maybe an nonreligious one, and maybe the way life is. There is a difference between your flesh and your mind. Its not drugs though.


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    Jan 5th, 2008 1:58am report

    Maybe I'm naive, But to me It seemed as though He could be Speaking as someone scorned and cannot let His Ex-lover find happiness.

    This interpretation has been marked as poor. view anyway

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