What does The Patient mean?

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Tool: The Patient Meaning


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The Patient Lyrics

A groan of tedium escapes me
Startling the fearful.
Is this a test?
It has to be
Otherwise I can't go on

Draining patience
Drain vitality
This paranoid, paralyzed vampire act's a little old

But I'm still right here
Giving blood,...


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    Jun 6th, 2008 6:13pm report

    Tool, or Maynard says he writes words what the music says to him, in a way. I doubt it has just one meaning.

    I do believe it has a lot to do with tensions in the band, they have stated many times that frustration, tension, and anger towards each other is a usual tool (no pun intended) to express oneself and outlet those frustrations in a good way. It seems pretty obvious that they don't get along perfectly, and continue to work together because they know what they have together.

    During the time when they were in the studio, they weren't exactly getting along, The record company was dragging them through lawsuits, and Maynard was getting into A perfect Circle.

    Now, I think a good portion of the lyrics came from that tension, the tedious bullshit that was making Tool no fun for them, but the desire to continue with the band, knowing even though they were pissing each other off, and getting screwed by thier label, they still cared for eachother, fans and such cared, and that was a big part of wanting to continue. To be Patient. Wait it out.

    I think this song, and Schism are very similiar, from an emotional point of view.

    As with every song though: "when you listen to 'em, whatever you think it's about... THAT'S what it's about!"-Layne Staley


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    May 22nd, 2008 5:18pm report

    I'd say pretty confidently that the song is about Maynards mother, Judith Marie, and her years of suffering, spent in paralysis after she suffered a stroke. She clung on for 27 years, and even after all these horrible events she remained faithful to God, and clung to her life, praying for her loved ones, -especially maynard.

    The songs about her time in this state, so the title "patient" doubles as both someone who is hopeful and has patience, AND a patient in a hospital. It focuses on her determination to stay faithful through and through her suffering, clinging on for whatever reason. The lyrics are either from Judith's perspective, or from Maynards himself.

    Either way, after her death (which occured after this album was released) Maynard had a revelation and his thoughts of his mother are much nicer than before. (especially from the APC song "Judith").

    Maynard always had a hard time with his mothers faith through his life, he always seemed to despise her blind trusting faith in the unknown, and the fact that she never shook this belief seemed to anger and confuse him more-so. You can see it in a lot of Maynards songs (like Weak and Powerless, and Judith)...
    This is a continuation of those feelings, and by this time, they had been dragged on for quite some time, so Maynard is getting tired of it all, which may be an explaination for the line "This paralyzed vampire acts getting old", and a few others.

    However the song is totally open to personal fan interpretations. Even if this is Maynards actual meaning in the lyircs, his interpretation of it is just as valid as anyone elses.
    (sorry for length) -Mac


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    May 20th, 2008 5:16pm report

    I think this song is about a person who waits, and waits for his salvation and never gets it , this song is clearly about the lies of christianity and how they leer you in with false hope, and promises of salvation.


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    Mar 25th, 2008 3:39pm report

    I only made it through the first five or so, I agree with a few but would like to submit. Tool as a group are frustrated. Like I am. We work and go about are lives without realizing our full potential. Every day I get home from my 18 hour day of work, I must remind myself of who we are and how magical it is that we get a chance to be here, alive and breathing. If the possibility of a united world of Peace (like friend of the band Bill Hicks preaches) where all are selfless and we live like Jedi (rewards to reap, you betcha. Imagine and you will see the rewards) what are we waiting for ? ? ? . . . . . . Be Patient, I am giving blood and keeping faith in the human experience but we have wars, class, it's frustrating, if the possibility of the future wasn't so bright, I certainly (ME TOO) would have walked away by now......the way it's looking, I still may.

    But Tool is not about despair, they ARE about hope, and we as a people MUST recognize and take control of our H-O-L-Y existence. god (a word invented by humans) surely won't.


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    Mar 4th, 2008 3:56pm report

    I believe it is about his faith in god.. for gods sake he was raised in the church.. He's just waiting to see if there is a reward. He like everyone should keeps his mind open...


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    Feb 27th, 2008 2:49am report

    The key to this song is "a groan of tedium escapes me, startling the fearful". The words are the thoughts of one entity, about its relationship to another entity. A groan of tedium from entity one is enough to startle entity 2. This implies that a direct "HEY" from entity 1 would completely overwhelm, shock, frighten entity 2. Looking back at the album Undertow, particularly 4 degrees, and considering many of their other songs, such as parabola, part of me, etc... I think that you will find that a very compelling interpretation of The Patient is simply this: Tool is a vehicle for an incorporeal spirit which is in you. You are being possessed. What you get out of it is the joy that the music gives you. But, until you recognize that this is a supernatural relationship and acknowledge the reality of that spirit, you are being a timid vampiric parasite on Tool's spirit. Open up and accept it, otherwise you are a "Tick/Leech." Once you do, this patient entity is promising, you will be able to move on together in a holy embrace in your body and then see red and yellow as the world takes on deeper reality. I, personally, doubt that MJK is entirely conscious of the tightly connected meanings of all of Tool's songs, but their consistency, beauty, and natural development from Opiate to 10K makes me believe that he/they are truly inspired in the Classical sense. I speculate that Wings for Marie, while ostensibly about MJK's mother on one level, is a sign that the inspiration behind Tool has completed a cycle and I would not be surprised if they did not produce another inspired album.


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    Feb 5th, 2008 2:09pm report

    I think that this song expresses how Maynard feels about his sometimes grueling schedule. (hence 'a groan of tedium escapes me, startling the fearful.') He feels like a robot sometimes, being forced to do this or that. Maybe he feels that the business that goes along with his career steers him away from the real reason he is doing this ... To make deeply profound music that is so hard for us to decipher! Good song though.


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    Nov 16th, 2007 11:34am report

    it's about waiting for god to reward you for your patience hence the name "the patient". Maynard is once again ragging on religion and saying that some people (like the person in the song)spend their whole life waiting for a gift or eternal life from god but he will never come because he doesn't exist.


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    Nov 13th, 2007 11:05am report

    I think that "The Patient" questions whether any act we commit is selfless, if you think about it, we do everything for a reward, whether physical or making ourselves feel better, I think that that is what this song is about.


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    Nov 12th, 2007 11:32pm report

    I half agree with the second submission. I think Maynard may be religious but on his terms and in his view of the very idea of religion. Obviously Maynard disagrees with established religion and if you disagree listen to the song "Opiate"


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    Nov 7th, 2007 11:29pm report

    To me its not that difficult. but until Maynard comes out with a dvd like the one he did with APC nobody is gonna know what the fucks up with any of his songs, I thought I knew what was goin on in a lot of them but there is so many different views on it all that I've come to the same conclusion that I've come to with religion. Its all true and its all wrong. (with me and religion its all wrong, but everything is relative so its right to somebody) anyways, this song to me is basically clownin on those people who are always waiting for god to come scoop them out shitty situations, or just waiting in general for someone or something who, if it is there, isn't about to do a damn thing but watch the world unfold... or fold. Not to say there's not a god, just not the one christians think of. and by clowning I don't mean making fun of, because his mother was one of those. She suffered plenty and still just sat and waited for "god" to help her while seeing no reward in the end


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    Oct 18th, 2007 10:57pm report

    I think this song refers to being trapped in the egoic need to find salvation in the future while trying to avoid negative emotions


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    Oct 13th, 2007 10:56pm report

    I believe this song equates patience with faith. It is about making the selfless choice to sacrifice for the sake of others and having faith in that choice. The path of selflessness is chosen both to fulfill a “desire to heal” and for “rewards to reap.” The path is made “tedious” by vampires who are “draining patience” and "vitality.” The persistent theme is vigilance to one’s cause, “wait it out,” “be patient” are echoed throughout.

    One such "patient" person is becoming disillusioned by the choice issuing a "groan of tedium” and wondering if his faith is being tested. Ultimately he decides he has to believe he is being tested because the alternative is giving up. "It has to be, otherwise I can't go on." This line seems to be a confirmation of faith but it is belied by its delivery which gives a sense of resignation. As if this person is simply following an already chosen path. Maybe a decision made in a more optimistic time.

    There are "broken and damaged," people who have lost their own paths or simply living languid ineffectual lives. These are part of the reason for following the "tedious path." The author has a desire to "heal" them. In the song it sounds like a spiritual rejuvenation but I believe it could take whatever form your particular path offers, emotional or intellectual healing are possibilities for example.

    The "vampires" could come in many forms: people who pretend to be "broken and damaged" for the sake of cozening possessions, people who obey no sense of morality maybe even celebrating destruction, people who use another's efforts for their own gain such as music industry executives.

    The "loving embrace" comes from kindred spirits. While there are "broken" and "vampires," there are also those that are fighting the same fight of faith. Each person sharing the author's path in this way gives some encouragement to "wait it out" and "be patient" and remain steadfast.

    Because the song ends with the author’s vow to “wait it out,” seemingly proclaiming that the “vampires” will be endured. This is a song of hope and perseverance. A testament to those that stand intransigent along their paths of righteousness, if for no other reason than that the alternative is accepting that there is no ultimate reward for our earthly toils.


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    Oct 6th, 2007 10:18am report

    Monk seems the most correct, though all are correct in their own way, if you listen to "Wings for Marie" and "10000 Days (Wings part 2)," you'll hear the story of Maynards mother and her 10000 day coma, which ended by pulling of the plug...

    'The Patient' makes this somewhat obvious...

    The Test being her time in the coma.. Having to wait it out.. She's keeping faith.. Though she hasn't really 'chosen the path' in the literal sense, she has fought, what could be a subliminal fight, to live.. Though no-one really knows what one experiences in a coma...
    No doubt there are many references to religion like some have said in it, as it is the same way for the Wings songs on "10000 Days"... (shaking her fists at the gates of heaven and saying that she's home now)

    actually a lot of this album seems to have some reference to her, or states of Consciousness, or faith as some have said... 'This body, this body holding me, feeling eternal
    All this pain is an illusion.' 'Hold on, stay inside
    This holy reality, this holy experience.'


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    May 27th, 2007 5:05am report

    This song has to be one of my favorite songs by Tool. I think that while many Tool songs have multiple meanings, this is one of their more straightforward ones. To me it is about someone who is in love, but the relationship is not what he wants it to be.

    He finds himself having to sacrifice -Draining patience
    Drain vitality.

    But he wants to stay in it and see what happens because of his love for this person-But I'm still right here
    Giving blood, keeping faith
    And I'm still right here.

    He thinks that (he not meaning Maynard, but the person in this song) all the sacrifice is worth it.-If there were no rewards to reap
    No loving embrace to see me through
    This tedious path I've chosen here
    I certainly would've walked away
    By now

    But even though he feels this love, it is so hard to stick with it and he must keep reminding himself of this.

    He says that he still may, but at the end he decides to wait more and everything will be worth it once things are how they should be in his relationship.

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