Where do I take this pain of mine?
I run, but it stays right by my side

So tear me open, pour me out
There’s things inside that scream and shout
And the pain still hates me
So hold me until it sleeps

Just like the curse, just like the stray
You feed it once and now it stays
Now it stays

So tear me open but beware
There’s things inside without a care
And the dirt still stains me
So wash me until I’m clean

It grips you, so hold me
It stains you, so hold me
It hates you, so hold me
It holds you, so hold me
Until it sleeps

So tell me why you’ve chosen me
Don’t want your grip
Don’t want your greed
Don’t want it

I’ll tear me open, make you gone
No more can you hurt anyone
And the fear still shakes me
So hold me until it sleeps

It grips you, so hold me
It stains you, so hold me
It hates you, so hold me
It holds you, holds you, holds you
Until it sleeps

I don’t want it

So tear me open but beware
There’s things inside without a care
And the dirt still stains me
So wash me... 'til I'm clean

I’ll tear me open, make you gone
No longer will you hurt anyone
And the hate still shapes me
So hold me until it sleeps
Until it sleeps


Lyrics submitted by fennsk, edited by Ashram

Until It Sleeps song meanings
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93 Comments

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  • +8
    My OpinionPersonally I don't like to use the phrase 'This song is about.....' as whatever inspired the lyrics be it cancer, heroine or personal demons it means different things to different people. For me this is one of the most powerful songs ever written, not just by Metallica, but anyone, obviously James Hetfield has drawn on personal anguishes but kept the source of the pain hidden making it easy for each and every one of us to relate it to the lowest point of our lives.
    When I first heard the lyrics I was amazed at how it explained exactly the pain I was currently feeling as if he'd got inside my head and put into words the absolute agony I was suffering, esp 'Hold me until it sleeps' suggesting that I'd get through but never exorcise the underlying causes. I hope i've made sense!! You can see why I need lyrics to express myself, I just cant project the same depth of emotion!

    Either way this is my favourite Metallica song and possibly fave song ever.
    DizziDogon April 02, 2010   Link
  • +4
    General CommentI think this song represents a struggle with a darker side of a person, that was cause by a lot of pain, such as Jame's Dad's cancer. The lines seem to be talking about a horrible thing inside that,.."hates you" it could mean the person is lashing out at people, because of all the pain they hold inside.
    bananaheadon June 12, 2003   Link
  • +2
    General Commentthough the song may have been written about his mother's heroine addiction or cancer or his father's cancer, or his battle with abusing alcohol, or what ever, this song is truly for the listener, in a sense that it is for your interpertation, like for however it speaks to you personally. here are some of the lyrics and what they mean to me:

    I RUN BUT IT STAYS RIGHT BY MY SIDE
    he tries to escape the addiction but he cannot

    DONT WANT IT, WANT IT, WANT IT, NO....SO TEAR ME OPEN BUT BEWARE...
    the point in addiction where you know you shouldnt do it and you know its bad, but the horrible temptation is there and you give in

    THERES THINGS INSIDE THAT SCREAM AND SHOUT
    inside him he knows he is torn because of the addiction;this embodies his two sides, the sane and addicted sides, providing almost a bi-polarity


    so much for analyzing it...i love metallica anyway they come!
    HijoDelMetallicaon April 19, 2009   Link
  • +2
    General CommentWhen i hear the song it kinda sybolizes darkness and depression that lives in us. It never leaves and always has grip on you. (where do i take this pain of mine, i run but it stays by my side) Thats exactly how i feel.
    metalhead1980on September 26, 2010   Link
  • +1
    My InterpretationI was thinking what HijoDelMetallica wrote. Clearly it's about the struggle to overcome an addiction (more generally, it could also refer to compulsive, destructive behavior).

    There's nothing in this song to suggest anything regarding cancer, so I'm not quite sure where others are getting that from (other than some mysterious quote from James than no one seems to have a link to).
    MasterOfLyricson June 22, 2009   Link
  • +1
    General CommentTo me this song is about dealing with depression. How a person struggles to break free from it but is consuming him.
    Soulviveron October 11, 2010   Link
  • +1
    My InterpretationThis sounds like somebody coming down off of whatever...amphetamines, alcohol ect. They desperately want comfort but it's a false sort of comfort...they'll go right back to doing what they do once they feel alright, until then they sincerely want/need somebody to help them deal 'until it sleeps' I don't believe the person sincerely wants to be helped, even though they promise to reform (I'll tear me open make you gone, no longer can you hurt anyone) they're just seeking any form of comfort they can (hold me until it sleeps).
    TravelingCornedBeefon January 02, 2011   Link
  • 0
    General CommentIt's about cancer.
    Necrothon April 25, 2002   Link
  • 0
    General CommentIve heard that this song is about the death of James's dad, i think from cancer. But i think it also goes deeper than that. It has to do with general interal pain and loss and the inablily to make sense or cope with it. But if youve ever seen the video, which was based on a painting, you've seen the recuring scenes of Jesus's death and Adam and Eve's fall from grace. To me it represents the redemption given by Chirst's sacrifice on the cross and the remorse of having sinned. Its one of their best songs i think and has comforted me in tough times. I cant get enough of it.
    TheGame56on April 30, 2002   Link
  • 0
    General CommentIt is another dealing of Jaymz with the Christian-science. It was written by James to cope with the illness of his father by cancer.

    "So tell me why you've choosen me ..."

    Kookkieon May 06, 2002   Link

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