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Tool: The Grudge Meaning


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The Grudge Lyrics

Wear the grudge like a crown
Of negativity
Calculate what you will
Will not tolerate
Desperate to control
All and everything
Unable to forgive
Your scarlet letterman

Clutch it like a cornerstone
Otherwise it all comes down


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    Aug 24th, 2006 8:00pm report

    This album goes along with qabala and the tree of the sephirot. Which is on the back of the album case I believe, I don't have it right off hand here. This song is about the tenth path malchut (the kingdom). "wear the grudge like a crown."

    malchut is the beginning of personality and the physical body or the foundation, found in the lyrics "clutch it like a corner stone, otherwise it all falls down."

    this is also where the soul is united with source, this is the beginning of separating desire, the urge to individuate. I believe in the first half of this song this is where they are describing the feelings and thoughts they had early on in life. They also repeat a couple of these things near the end. (I am not gonna try and figure out what every single line means, if you want to know more go get a book on qabala and read about the 10th path you might find better answers in it then I did).

    Saturn's placement at birth influences the person's work in life, their obstacles, the challenges that will test them and build character. Saturn shows how a person will mature, and how they will learn to cope with adversity.
    Saturn has a 28 year cycle through the 12 zodiak signs. Spending about 2 years in each sign. When saturn is in your sign it faces you will many tests on your inner self. Having to do with some people mid life chrisis. It will also come when you are 55-60. And when saturn comes around you will either be lifted to a higher state of consciousness (not saying its gonna be christ concousness)or you will be hurt by these tests and be put further back.

    Ok one more thing and I'll stop "these leaden grudges into gold" talking about hard work turning the hard lead heart into something great.

    If you have read this far thank you, I could have missed some things I kinda rushed this cause half way through writing this my computer messed up and I had to rewrite it... But like I said if you want to know more go read up on qabala (there are a lot of ways to spell it) Im positive that this song is about the 10th path, not saying it isn't about more or could be about other things also, and I know this album is about the tree of life and every song pointing to a different path. This song is about saturn and the challenges it faces you with. And for those of you who thought this song was about a grudge Maynard has with someone... He isn't that straight forward about anything so usually the most obvious answer is not what he was intending the song to mean.

    And one more thing yes I know they mean us to interpret the songs how we see or feel them, but they did write these songs with something in mind and did write it about something, so you can take this song any way you want and you won't be wrong.


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    Jan 16th, 2006 1:11pm report

    This song is about people who hold grudges against other people. It's about how holding a grudge will only bring negativity to everyone involved, you included. If you are holding a grudge, you are just trying to control the situation (Calculate what you will/Will not tolerate).
    If you refuse to forgive, then you are never going to grow.
    "Give away the stone
    Let the ocean take and transmutate
    This cold and fated anchor
    Give away the stone
    Let the waters kiss and transmutate
    These leaden grudges into gold."

    The "stone" or "anchor" is the grudge, if you give it up, it can turn into something beautiful and valuable (not $$$).
    Not to sound emo, but this song helped me when my girlfriend broke up with me. It taught me that to grow from our experiences, we must learn to forgive and move on, otherwise, we may drown. Now, I am a better person than I was. In relation to the song I was transformed, by the ultimate alchemists (Tool), from a hateful, depressed, sinking boulder, into a golden pheonix, risen from my own ashes.


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    Feb 24th, 2006 2:22pm report

    I agree with most of the posts, this song is obviously about the dangers of holding a grudge. Someone wrote something about the scarlet lettermen being a reference to the Bible being written in red ink. I don't think that's quite right. There is a book called The Scarlet Letter. In the book, all who were convicted of commiting adultury were required to where a large red letter "A" on their chests. Go with the whole grudge idea... Unable to forgive your scarlet lettermen. It could well read, unable to forgive those who are adulterous. Or maybe, unable to forgive those whom everyone thinks is a horrible person. I am sure if I read the book again I could find something a little more relavant. I am sure it has something to do with the moral of that story. I am also sure that this was a heartfelt song and is probably a metaphor in general for holding a grudge against someone has done you wrong.


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    Sep 17th, 9:47pm report

    Also when Saturn comes around again... in it's 30 year cycle... have you learned your lessons? Are you doomed to relive the same mistakes during the next 30 yr cycle? Have you let your grudges go? because if you don't, you choose the 10 and you're the fated anchor/ stone and your grudges are dragging you down like a stone. Choose the 1 and don't repeat your mistakes/ forgive your grudges and now they aren't holding you back from enlightenment / ascension... (Also like the spit you out like a child / chronos theme)

    meybe bebe?


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    Oct 11th, 2016 10:47pm report

    If you watch the video (great vid) I personally take the songs as a symbol of how we are as humans operating under religion. If you see how the whole community ignores and scrutinizes as they blindly walk into the church. They sit in church and will hate who ever doesn't conform to him. When everyone goes home at then end of the day, they all have problems. (Judge not unless ye be judged thyself)

    So they all hate the one guy because of following the pastures desires, and end up turning on each other. Simply put, making good others suffer because you are unable to think for yourself will ultimately destroy yourself.

    I think it's a very accurate description of modern religion. It cause more damage to community then any good. The grudge would be the grudge held against the ones that don't use a pasture as a higher power. We don't need pastures to connect to God.


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    Jul 20th, 2015 7:13pm report

    It's about an episode of desperate housewives.


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    Dec 12th, 2014 12:47pm report

    This song according to Maynard is about the anger one's spirit has after dying while in the midst of a goal. He said that it's about a cartel member in Arizona who had his head cut off and in retaliation and out of sheer anger and wrath, he stays until he can cut the head off of all involved in taking his head.


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    Nov 23rd, 2010 11:18am report

    In simple terms the song is about the dangers of holding a grudge, even when you are in the 'right', when the healthy option is to let go and forgive.

    Many have had a go at the Saturn reference but suba_357 was the only one to get close.

    The Kabbalah Tree of Life is imagery used in several of Tools songs (Lateralus for one) as well as in album and stage artwork.

    "Saturn ascends, the one, the ten"

    Saturn (Binah, 3) represents reasoning and intelligence, or the awareness of the Grudge and the chance to make a decision to hold on to it or forgive.

    "the one" (Kether) is ideal wisdom and is the choice to let go of the grudge

    "the ten" (Malkuth) is the physical reality and represents the choice to keep holding the grudge because you are the one in the right, no matter the consequences.

    On the tree of life "the one" is at the top and "the ten" is at the bottom which is referenced in the following lyrics (along with release from burden).

    "Saturn comes back around
    Lifts you up like a child
    Or drags you down like a stone"

    As someone pointed out adulterers were made to wear a Scarlet Letter so that all future actions are judged on their previous sins. Just as in the song the protagonist is judging all the actions of the person he holds the grudge against based on a past wrong.

    This was meant to be a short interpretation funny how Tool makes that impossible. :)


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    Nov 4th, 2010 11:56am report

    "Wear the grudge like a crown" is a reference to the grudge held against Christ and was the reason for his crucifixion. He had to wear a CROWN of thorns since he was labeled "king of the Jews". The whole song talks about feeling imprisoned by the grudges being held against the singer just like Jesus was held in prison and executed because of the grudge against him.

    This interpretation has been marked as poor. view anyway


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    Oct 14th, 2010 10:50pm report

    I like the dual themes of hanging on and letting go. Very alchemical.


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    May 3rd, 2010 5:35pm report

    Clever and beautiful song about alchemicaL philosophy.
    So large in is scope, oridinary definitions can not wrap around this subject, Alchemy. This song is full Alchemy symbols and archtypes.

    If you have studied THOTH, Hermetica, The Emerald Tablets, or Alchemy... even more of this song will be open to you.


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    Nov 2nd, 2009 11:17am report

    Where the grudge like a crown of negativity...unable to forgive your scarlet lettermen...

    Matthew 27:28-29 (New International Version)

    28They stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him, 29and then twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on his head. They put a staff in his right hand and knelt in front of him and mocked him. "Hail, king of the Jews!" they said.


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    Jul 24th, 2009 7:01pm report

    Has no one even thought that this song could be "poking fun" at astrology? I'm not going to go through the whole song but actually listen to lyrics and how maynard projects them. I'll start with the very beginning of the song. "wear the grudge like a crown" - take your astrological readings and "flaunt" them." "Calculate what we will and will not tolerate."-- this could relate in how astrologists give their "readings" on what we believe and hold fast to. "Desperate to control all and everything."-- could relate to people trying to control everything in their life.? "Unable to forgive these scarlett letterman."-- could be that people tend to believe in what the astrologist says and again holds fast to it... just think about it in that sense and see if it doesn't seem more plausible than your favorite band TOOL, who has been bashing organized religion since their debut, actually encouraging alchemy and astrology... come on guys


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    Apr 14th, 2009 4:39pm report

    This song is all about holding a grudge and the dangers and destruction in doing so. Saturn is a grudge itself and when it orbits your mind, you might forget about it for a while, but it always comes back around for you to decide if you can let it go and start living, or let it eat you up again and bring you down, sinking deeper.


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    Dec 17th, 2008 12:06am report

    This song.. everytime I hear makes me feel a calamity... and tells you to let go... but at the same times reminds you of those grudges... and makes you feel anger then tells you to let go of the anger. "Saturn ascends.. ultimatum prison cell." When the grudge descends on you have a choice... to feel the anger and hold on to that feeling.. and imprison yourself. Or "be humbled again" and let go of the anger... give away the stone if you will. Again.. like all of their songs the listener feels alot of emotion.. not just through the lyrics but the tone of music can give away what a verse might be trying to say.. ecspecially in Tool's case.


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    Sep 16th, 2008 9:41pm report

    I think That this song Refers to 'the faithful' (Abrahamic religions) jealously and desperately clinging on to religious principals.

    "Wear the grudge like a crown
    Of negativity
    Calculate what you will
    Will not tolerate
    Desperate to control
    All and everything
    Unable to forgive
    Your scarlet letterman"

    --Describing the self assumed rightousness and self interest of "the faithful". Then mentioning being "unable fo forgive your scarlet letterman", presumably refering to the First Council of Nicaea or the Book of Common Prayer and therefore the bearers of Christianity.

    "Clutch it like a cornerstone
    Otherwise it all comes down
    Justify denials and
    Grip 'em to the lonesome end

    Clutch it like a cornerstone
    Otherwise it all comes down
    Terrified of being wrong
    Ultimatum prison cell"

    --Decribing clinging on to the organised religion for fear of loss of rightousness and self-denial of wrongdoing.

    "Saturn ascends
    Choose one or ten
    Hang on or be
    Humbled again
    Humbled again"

    --Saturn, in astrology, is associated with (among others) limitation, restriction and structures. The rise in negative emotion is also suggested.
    This probably refers to the percieved collapse/ing of traditional religious beliefs and structures. Choosing one or ten, could be preposing that "the faithful" either cling on to orthodoxy and continue or accede to new ideas but be humbled for thier earlier ways. This is because saturn was traditionally considered the ruler of the first house but is considered ruler of the tenth house in modern astrology.

    The rest of the song pretty much repeats the theme with slight variation until the end.

    Towards the end, the lyrics extol allowing the religious beliefs to die and therefore allowing the rebirth and enlightenment to occur.
    The return of saturn also signifying a turning point in someones life.

    I think that the organised church (or the hierachy) could be the target or it could be the individual believer. Holding on to religion for fear of having to let it go and of being unknowing again. Knowing tool it seems likely to either, although in retrospect it seems more likely to be the individual since the theme of Lateralus is individual enlightenment and self-realisation.


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    Jul 31st, 2008 7:52am report

    The Grudge

    “Clutch it like a cornerstone. Otherwise it all comes down.”

    Anger, jealousy and greed are some of the rawest human emotions we will ever experience and we are all connected by this. Everyone knows what anger feels like just as everyone has experienced sadness at some point. These emotions make us human and help to shape us. They also connect us in a some what primitive way. We can all relate in one way or another to these emotions which allows us to sympathize and relate to the feelings of others. These emotions are great no matter how terrible they may make us feel because we are reminded at our most feeble that we are still alive and part of a fully functioning system far greater then the consumer plantation we have constructed. My greatest moment of sorrow is something I wouldn’t trade for the world because it is an experience that contributed to my personal growth in some way. The Grudge focuses heavily on elements of vengeance and spite. “Wear The Grudge like a crown of negativity” examines the way we parade our anger towards others like royalty. Its narcissistic and self-deprevating behaviour that detracts from all we could be experiencing. We allow our anger to be the cornerstone to our life and build around it fearing that if we abandon it everything will come crashing down on us. The anger we have created will continue to build despite our hopes and will become a factor in our life when it really seems petty in the grand scheme of things. “Saturn ascends, choose one or ten. Hang on or be humbled again”. No matter how important we feel our problem is when we compare it to the infinite galaxies all around us it seems to get a little less so. We can choose to continue our warm familiar embrace with our cornerstone or we can allow it to go, and stare at the vast beauty of the rest of the world. This choice will either leave us humbled with a very valuable lesson in tow or with us clinging to the last threads of spite. Either way the earth will continue to rotate and Saturn will continue its ascent with or without you. “Justify denials and grip em’ to the lonesome end”. Anger is uninviting and cold leaving you to wallow in self pity while people and opportunities pass you by. In the end you will be reinforcing your decisions to yourself detached and unaware of anything or anyone. Your absorption in a problem long forgotten will leave you alone to face the trials and tribulations of life creating a void that can never be filled until you decide to empty it. “Saturn ascends, the one, the ten. Ignorant to the damage done”. The cosmos have continued to operate in spite of your absence and are unsympathetic to your problem. Others have ascended and await your revival so you may join them and become part of what really matters. You are unable to forgive and sink deeper and deeper into the emotion you have created. You no longer feel happy because it has become foreign. To be happy is to release anger and invite in love. The consumption of your soul becomes inevitable, this is the crossroads where you must decide whether you will live or complete your fortress of solitude and misery.

    This is not a complete interpretation just a sample, I find everything on Lateralus so complex and intricate that my interpretations often change or I add things. There in lies the true essence of the album in my opinion.


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    Jul 17th, 2008 7:52am report

    It's actually based on the book "The Scarlet Letter"

    This interpretation has been marked as poor. view anyway

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