Sublime: Badfish Meaning
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tell me that i never be set free.
but im a parasite.
creep and crawl i step in to he light.
2 pints of booze.
tell me are you a badfish too.
aint got no money to spend.
i hope the night will never end.
anonymous Oct 14th, 10:30pm report
Seeing as this song was supposedly written prior to his heroin addiction. I believe 'reef' to be weed. And maybe he may have been depressed and/or suicidal. Being someone feeling that way, I can relate to these lyrics although it may just be me trying to relate idk. I honestly think he could have been depressed and had suicidal thoughts or maybe even just the feeling of accepting death without any plans for suicide
anonymous Oct 14th, 2014 10:48am report
When you grab a hold of me
Tell me that Ill never be set free
(How Heroin addiction grabs you and never lets go)
But Im a parasite, creep and crawl
I step into the night.
(Heroin addicts are called "parasites" because they steal and take)
Two pints of booze
Tell me are you a badfish too? are you a badfish too?
(Badfish is slang for needle junkie)
Aint got no money to spend
And I hope this night will never end
(the high only lasts the night, addicts are broke)
Lord knows Im weak
Wont somebody get me off of this reef
(God knows his pain)
And baby your a big blue whale
I'll grab the reef when all duck diving fails
(Blue whale is heroin that swallows swimmers whole; he'll use again when everything falls again)
And I can swim but I wish I had never learned
(swimming is slang for shooting; He shoots and he regrets doing it)
Cuz the waters too polluted with germs
(shot has heroin in it "dirty")
Dive deep when its ten feet overhead
And grab the reef, that's underneath my bed
(he shoots it when he can't take it anymore)
Aint got no quarrels with God, aint got no time to grow old
(he has made peace with god; he's ready to die)
Lord knows that Im weak
Wont somebody get me off of this reef
(someone get him away from this place)
anonymous Aug 22nd, 2014 8:51pm report
Big blue whales refer to Vicodin. brad was most likely using pills at this point and was referring to that. Eventual oral dose opiates aren't enough and the addict turns to IV.
anonymous May 23rd, 2014 5:54am report
Soooo, are you saying that using this song as a first dance for my wedding might be a bad idea?
I've always wanted to believe this is a love song.
anonymous Jun 5th, 2013 6:11am report
what in still don't quite understand is brad had yet to be an addict of heroin when this song was recorded... And even when it was released in the summer of '92 yet it's indicated that he hadn't started using heroin till around fall or winter of '92... Could it be that he had been beginning to get into it and wrote the song knowing what he was in for? Or are all of our assumptions in the wrong direction
anonymous Oct 9th, 2012 10:07am report
as a herion addictt myself , hes sayin this shit grabs u and pulls u under !!!!!!!! point blank !!!!!!
anonymous Aug 26th, 2012 8:25pm report
I think most have hit this one on the head. It's quite obviously about Brad's heroin addiction which was relatively new when Sublime recorded this song. Some things I think have been missed:
- "Reef" is a direct moniker for heroin in this song.
- Being underwater is a euphemism for being strung out or being on heroin.
- Most opiate addicts know that you hide your gear in places that can't easily be found. The line "I dive deep when it's 10 feet overhead -- Grab the reef underneath my bed" refers to Brad going back to heroin when the world above (a world above water being without heroin) is hectic, chaotic, and too hard to handle. He the grabs his gear underneath his bed (where many people hide their shit).
- He "swims but [he] wish[es] [he] never learn[ed]" meaning he wishes he never touched the drug in the first place, but still uses. Most opiate addicts think this way.
- Many above have got it right. The song is about the struggles of an opiate addict. Not too hard to dissect, especially if you know from experience.
anonymous May 30th, 2012 5:01pm report
This song was written before he started using. On there first ever tape....jah wont pay the bills,,,just thought i should throw that out there
anonymous Mar 5th, 2012 3:16am report
Okay, I've thought that reef could have many meanings. Yes, short for reefer which is another word for weed.
But I also thought reef meant a literal reef in the ocean. I thought a guy got drunk, blacked out, found himself in the water hanging onto a reef, and is feeling too overwhelmed (w/panic) or is maybe injured to make his way back to shore.
Then I've thought "Won't somebody get me off this reef!" was just a whimsical way of saying that he needed help with his problems.
Songs don't always make sense, but I thought he said "Grab a reef when all duck diving fails!" meant that in his part of the world sometimes you have to grab onto something like a reef before being overtaken by a wave or the ocean. Then metaphorically speaking, I thought it was his way of saying sometimes all you've got or can grab is temporary solutions to overwhelming problems that try to sweep you away.
I'm really sad that this song is about heroine addiction. I'm going to ignore it, and just like what I thought I liked about the song.
anonymous Mar 5th, 2012 3:53am report
I thought "Lord knows I'm weak!" has multiple meanings. It's an acknowledgement that God is stronger than all of us. God knows are shortcomings. God is the one who would know our feelings of powerlessness even if other people don't.
I thought "I ain't got no quarrels with God" meant that he's acknowledged that it's useless to fight or blame God. Or it's another way of saying "God's Will be done."
I didn't see the morbid side of "I ain't got no time to grow old." I thought it meant that he's having fun in life or enjoying his youth. I thought it was his way of saying, "you're as young as you feel." I thought this song was infused with same kind of spirituality found in reggae.
anonymous Mar 5th, 2012 3:41am report
I thought, "I got no money to spend" meant he either spent all his money or doesn't have to pay for things or is just done buying things or that he's poor
I thought, "I hope this night will never end" meant that he was having a good time or a night that he wished could last forever.
Then because I didn't know that this song was about heroine, I thought "Won't somebody get me off of this reef" meant that he blacked out after drinking and literally woke up to find himself on a reef. I thought this was a humorous song; I didn't know it was a cry for help from a heroine addiction.
I thought, "Baby, you're a big blue whale," meant that
this woman he loves has a "big heart" because the blue whale is the mammal with the largest heart on earth or in the ocean. Then, blue whales are kind of mysterious because they are a rare species. So I thought blue whale meant something mysterious, rare, & very special. I also thought blue whale meant something/someone strong enough to navigate the depths of the ocean. Also since whales "sing" I thought it meant this love interest is also into music too.
anonymous Mar 5th, 2012 3:21am report
When he calls himself a parasite, I thought it was a way of expressing doubt in himself, of maybe not being good enough, and self-reliant
Then when he creeps and crawls and steps out, I thought he was feeling faded/intoxicated and went for a walk towards the beach before ending up in the water literally/figuratively.
I had no idea that "bad fish" meant heroine pusher. I thought bad meant cool or adventuresome like "one bad ass." And fish was just another idiomatic word for person like in "big fish in a small pond" or "fish out of water" etc. Or someone who likes to drink &/or spend a lot of time in the water (i.e. drinks like a fish/swims like a fish, etc.)
I thought 2 pints of booze meant 2 servings of beer that they serve in pint glasses at pubs. So, I thought it meant that him and a girl may have met over a couple of drinks. Or, I also thought it could mean that the night started off with 2 drinks which you could be enough for you if you didn't have a drinking problem or a high tolerance for alcohol. Then when he asks, "Tell me are you a bad fish. Are you a bad fish too?" (And I didn't know it meant heroine pusher) I thought he was just seeing if he and this girl both had a love for the ocean, drinking, and all the things that can be enjoyed in the South Bay.
anonymous Mar 4th, 2012 3:51pm report
I thought "When you grab a hold of me, tell me that I'll never be set free," meant how he felt for a girl, that he wanted to spend forever with her, maybe even tie the knot.
anonymous Oct 10th, 2011 10:05am report
There was a story about Bradley high on heroin, and he was trying to get more, but his dad wouldn't let him. His dad just grabbed him and bear-hugged him to restrain him until Bradley was to exhausted and came down from his high. Not sure if that is true can't verify from any legitimate source, but that first line backs up that story. "When you grab a hold of me, tell me that I will never be set free"
anonymous Oct 6th, 2009 10:38am report
When he says "When you grab a hold of me
Tell me that I'll never be set free " (He's saying he doesnt want the feeling to go away)
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