What does Undertow mean?

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Tool: Undertow Meaning


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Undertow Lyrics

Two times in! I've been struck dumb by a voice that speaks from deep beneath the endless water. It's twice as clear as heaven, twice as loud as reason. Deep and rich like silt on a riverbed, just as never-ending. The currents' mouth below me...


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    Nov 28th, 2006 11:59pm report

    alright. This song is not about drugs, it's not about an induced euphoria, it is about society and the 'undertow' it pulls you along with from the day you are born. It refers to maynard, knowing this, and trying to stay 'above water' so to speak(hence the lyircs, 'under a second/third time now), but he keeps getting pulled under again because its all aorund him. The government tells you what to think and feel, media dictates what you want, parents and others already brainwashed and so giving you your opinions, some things have been so solidified that no one even questions society anymore, and that is what this song is expressing.
    the end bit, euphoria, is about how incredibly easy it is for people to fall into the patterns and behaviors that society and the government want you to, to follow accepted religion and question very little, how euphoric it is to be at ignorance with truth. 'numb and insignificant' is an expression of being overwhelmed by this new truth he's discovered. essentially, it is saying that we will go no where without those who question what most are afraid to, and we will all 'die beneath the undertow' because we are all being swept along by the government and society and religious groups so much we are all but too far in to possibly escape it, and only those who dare will have to deal with the truth, to know, as the others float along in blissful ignorance.


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    Jun 28th, 2006 6:05am report

    It kind of sounds like a depression song. If you havn't been depressed (for real) this would be hard to understand.

    To me, it sounds like his emotions have overcome him but he's "too comfortable" to do anything about it. Or just too tired to recover. He says "you" often too so maybe someone is preventing him from finding what he wants. And then in the end the undertow keeps sucking him under so he can't get out.


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    Jan 21st, 2006 1:01am report

    Let me just say that without you people not seeing anything that he stresses through his music, there would be nothing to talk about. The song undertow is one of my favorites because it expresses most of what he says in so many of his other songs, but instead much more direct. He speaks of this water, or this undertow which metaphorically is the world. The world how he once knew it. He continuously keeps falling into this old pattern because it is what he has always known, even though he does not choose that way, or should I say chosen that way. It is a constant cycle of realizing that he does not want to live like that so he climbs to a new place, but he can only stay away so long before he finds himself back where he is comfortable, back to what he had always known. "shut up shut up" reminding himself that he does not want to follow that way anymore. He is constantly using this analogy, the water, "i'm treading water" "the water will come and claim what is mine" "quicksand=water=the world" "almost like I'm swimming" "Seems like I've been here before.
    Seems so familiar.
    Seems like I'm slipping
    into a dream within a dream." "It doesn't have to feel water"(-maynard's dick)
    "So how could I let this bring me
    back to my knees again again again"
    " I'm weak and numb and insignificant,
    and I'm back on my knees."--he feels like this because he keeps going back to the emptiness. Most of his songs are like a puzzle, you have to keep refering to another song to define a meaning. There are certain things that you have to do in order to hear what the lyrics mean. Yes, everyone has their own opinion, but do you really? Is your opinion made solely from within, or do you think that you think the way that you do, or your process of thinking, was influenced somewhat by your prior experiences? first track on salival, you must be vulnerable, not in a way where you will be taken advantage of literally, but vulnerable enough to set aside old views and doubts and be openminded. You have to have an open mind to see these messages, or you will think that a song is about jesus faking his death, or a crazy man LITERALLY standing halfway in lake of water. come on, I am sorry to be so... whatever I am being, but seriously. In a nutshell, YOU are what keeps my fire burning, or should I say, "you are fuel that sets my head on fire"


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    Mar 11th, 2011 3:25pm report

    "I've been struck dumb by a voice that speaks from deep,
    beneath the cold black water.
    It's twice as clear as heaven,
    Twice as loud as reason.
    Deep and rich like silt on a riverbed,
    Just as never-ending.
    The currents mouth below me opens up around me.
    Suggests and beckons all while swallowing.
    Surrounds and drowns and wipes me away".

    the imagery of the cold black water and the rich silt on the riverbed sounds like a description of black tar heroin. im not a junkie but i know about the eupouric effects of a heroin high and how the high can make everything appear "twice as high as heaven" and the influence of the drug on decision making can be "twice as loud as reason". and as your wading in the euphoric waters of the high, the current of addiction is opening up and already getting ready to swallow you into the inescapable clutches of the undertow

    "But I'm so comfortable,
    Too comfortable".
    you can see whats happening, and that your on the verge of drowning but the high has made you

    Shut up, shut up, shut up, shut up
    You're saturating me,
    How could I let this bring me
    Back to my knees?

    sorry i gotta go no time to finish. hope i dont sound too full of shit.


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    Sep 16th, 2010 9:10am report

    A lot of their songs are about the effects of DMT and interpreting the effects. Most people claim to speak to inter-dimensional travelers gods and aliens under their effects of DMT look it up.


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    Jun 26th, 2010 6:25am report

    Ok, this is just my thought.
    sorry i take a bit to get to the point.

    As you may notice, Undertow is immediately after Swamp Song. this is not a coincidence, as Swamp Song talks about warning a person that they are getting themselves into something that is hard to get out of. Maynard constantly warns the person that they will get stuck, but they do not heed his warnings and they get caught in the "swamp". But then for the first half of Undertow, Maynard seems to have ventured into this so-called "swamp" to save this stupid ignorant person and he gets caught himself. He seems to get pulled down by the undertow of the quicksand.

    sorry i've explained it so literal and not metaphorically like i intended it to be.
    i may be wrong but thats how i interpret this song.



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    Feb 18th, 2010 2:13am report

    I see it as basically saying that the world is sucking him down into a false sense of safety (But I'm so comfortable, Too comfortable) and even though its evil(beneath the cold and black water) its less confusing and more comfortable than heaven (twice as clear as heaven)and he is being persuaded back into evil(Shut up, shut up, shut up, shut up)and he was there once before(How could I let this bring me back to my knees) and he knows its harming him (You're saturating me)


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    Jan 12th, 2010 1:03am report

    The song refers to this undertow and how it pulls you along from the day you were born. Maynard, who knows this tries to stay above water but its to late, and it keeps pulling him back under, because its all around him. I interoperate the undertow as Media, and Government, which controls how you think, and what you? want, from the first time you are exposed to media, till the last time, you are exposed to media its been so long since someone has questioned the Government, or Media, that people feel comfortable having that kind of life, and that there seems to be no escape from it


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    Nov 8th, 2009 11:46am report

    I disagree with the interpretation that this is only about his past life bringing him back. The second half of this song makes little sense in that regard, the undertow being violent in that half. Perhaps a religious belief?


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    Feb 6th, 2009 2:00am report

    " Heroin is by far the hardest drug to get off " Tobacco is harder to get off than heroin, I've known people on both and they have all agreed smoking ciggarettes is still harder to give up.

    just thought'd I'd add that and I don't think undertow is about drugs it's about depression and how hard it is to get out of the loop and it's much more easy and comfortable to just let things get the better of you and stay hidden from everything.


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    May 17th, 2008 5:07am report

    I think this song is about the cycle of addiction. It's about someone trying to help you and you trying to help someone. The voices and roles keep switching but the situation and environment are the same.

    I was in love with this album and song when I started using. I felt like it was describing exactly what I was going through.

    This mud is thick and easy to get stuck in..

    No one even invited you in you're still stumbling suffocate.


    This interpretation has been marked as poor. view anyway


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    Feb 5th, 2008 2:00pm report

    I think it's about an addiction, and when you're sober, you can see the effects it has, and you don't think you'll ever be able to escape, but once you take another hit, shot, or drink, you forget all about your problems and feel the euphoric effects it has.


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    Jul 18th, 2007 7:41am report

    Personally I do think this song is about drugs and maybe specifically heroin. Maybe! I don't know. He says how could I let this bring be back to my knees. Could be the alcohol. Heroin is by far the hardest drug to get off of and the undertow is referring to how he just keeps falling into this inescapable euphoria. He continually repeats euphoria. Saying he is going to die in the undertow and there is no way out of the undertow. I think it is about relapse because that is exactly what an undertow is. The regretion of the water back into the sea after a wave. The wave is a wave of pleasure from the drug but he simply can't just get a wave of pleasure and have it be left at that like many people can do for stuff like weed instead the undertow of heroin is washing him away and out to sea. He will die there because there is no way he can fight against it.


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    Dec 28th, 2006 12:00pm report

    I'm going to have to say I generally agree with "anonymous" but just for giggles let me add in my own two cents.

    I was watching this interview with Maynard back from the Undertow days, and he was commenting on the band's music. He said that people need to realize the bad in our world is just as important as the good, yet many people have a hard time understanding that and instead just label them as a pessemistic band. "Don't just call me a pessemist, try and read between the lines." ~Maynard, Aenema

    What I'm getting as it this just Maynard's justification for why he focuses on the bad in the world. He speaks of this voice "beneath the cold black water," that's sucking him under into some sort of anesthetic state of mind, where the bad in the world is no longer important. Fuck it. Let the world fall apart, as long as we're happy who gives a flying fuck? (Sarcasm intended)

    Maynard, along with the rest of us, are "weak and numb and insignificant," unable to overcome this machine creating this anesthesia over society; the media, the government, and fundamentalists who want us to ignore the hatred in the world along with all of its sheer stupidity, and misguided anger. This machine pulls us back into the undertow, back under the water into a state of euphoria, where the only well-being that matters is our own.

    "It seems there's no way out of this undertow."


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    May 31st, 2006 5:18pm report

    The song is (IMHO) about the effects of some psychodelic drug and coming down from a euphoric high. More specifically I'm confident the songs about Extacy. Maynards use of streams, undertows, swamps, bogs etc. like many of his lyrics mostly come from Carl Jungs influence.


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    Feb 20th, 2006 2:34pm report

    The song states it's meaning. It's about euphoria. It's a state of complete elation to everything around you. Your mind is completely cleared. Being a former practitioner of Ritual Magik (which we all know the members of Tool our devout in), I've achieved this state. It's something you have o experience to understand fully.


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    Dec 29th, 2005 12:05am report

    I think it's about your demons, ie: alchol abuse (I know all about it)

    This interpretation has been marked as poor. view anyway


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    Dec 25th, 2005 12:00am report

    This song if you ask me is about an insane man that stands in the water being caught by the undertow and being drowned. He likes it because he hears voices and is comfortable with dying because he thinks the voice he hears is god speaking to him, but what god is really saying is to stay alive and enjoy life. This is why he says 'shut up,' because he realizes what this god is saying to him and doesn't want to hear it because he is insane.

    That sounds good to me, but I'm only 14.

    This interpretation has been marked as poor. view anyway

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