What does Sober mean?

Tool: Sober Meaning

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Album cover for Sober album cover

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 top rated interpretation:
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    Apr 3rd 2007 !⃝

    i agree it's about religion but the second part:
    "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,
    i will work to elevate you just enough to bring you down."
    this part definitely has drug addiction tied into it, and for a reason....i think it's disguised as a drug addiction to expose what christianity most frequently consists of... like a drug addiction, faith can lie, torment, and brain wash people...


    #2 top rated interpretation:
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    Aug 3rd 2007 !⃝

    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.


    #3 top rated interpretation:
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    Dec 12th 2007 !⃝

    People calling other people idiots because they haven't got the same opinion as you, you're the idiots, arrogant fucks, your opinion is no more important than anyone elses, are you Adam or Maynard? no...? exactly so shut the fuck up, only they know what the song is about for sure, and that's even if it does has one literal meaning which there's a good chance it doesn't it could mean a number of things.

    I think all the people here have come up with good interpretations so stop insulting each other.

  4. anonymous
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    Jun 16th !⃝

    Song is about a person who clearly wants to stop drinking but knows he can't. Blames God as he feels that God should intervene in some way as he's doomed otherwise because of his evil ways. Trys not to make any excuse as he clearly knows himself and the process of the problem of his addiction. Trying to rationalize to himself that he is weak and there is no other way of stopping unless he's in a slumber or dead. Wishing for another chance to attempt sobriety everytime he relapses knowing full well he's bound to fail, as he clearly gives in to his monkey on his back and is willing to repeat the process.

  5. Franco
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    May 29th 2023 !⃝

    I Want... What I Want...

    Narc & Empath... who’s who ???

    We can ever separate who we are from what we’ve done...


    There's a shadow just behind me

    Shrouding every step I take...

    Making every promise empty

    Pointing every finger at me...

    Waiting like a stalking Buttler

    Who upon the finger rests...

    I am just a worthless liar

    I am just an imbecile...

    I will only complicate you

    Trust in me and fall as well...

    Trust me ...Trust me....

    I will find a center in you

    I will chew you up and leave...

    I want ... what I want !!!

    Sent from my iPad

  6. anonymous
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    Dec 28th 2017 !⃝

    Anyone else see the relation to the poem A Tell Tale Heart by Edgar Allen Poe and this song just curious... didn’t know if anyone had the scoop on it?

  7. anonymous
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    Apr 1st 2015 !⃝

    Seems like many people think they know what the song, Sober, means to Tool itself, because well, in truth that is the closest to the absolute meaning behind the lyrics. Since they have refused to share that perceptive, no one really knows what its about.

    That being said, when an artist creates an illustration , what he means to express is in his mind is different than what his audience understands and it depends on the ability to articulate his ideas. In this case our Artist Tool seems to be deliberately ambiguous.

    So I think there is something to be said that so many people think is about the more... popular ideas in this thread.

  8. anonymous
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    May 23rd 2014 !⃝

    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.

  9. anonymous
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    Jul 21st 2013 !⃝

    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....

  10. anonymous
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    Dec 25th 2012 !⃝

    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!!!!

  11. anonymous
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    Dec 24th 2012 !⃝

    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 ;-)

  12. anonymous
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    Dec 17th 2012 !⃝

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

  13. anonymous
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    Mar 31st 2012 !⃝

    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

  14. anonymous
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    Jan 26th 2012 !⃝

    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.

  15. anonymous
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    Dec 7th 2011 !⃝

    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

  16. anonymous
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    Oct 20th 2011 !⃝

    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.

  17. anonymous
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    Sep 29th 2011 !⃝

    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"

  18. anonymous
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    Jun 28th 2011 !⃝

    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.

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