"Cure for Optimism" as written by and Steven John Wilson....
Up there a mountain rises
Down here an ocean dives
A stranger with a head full of lead
Photographs me

Steel bars and a doctor's note
Don't give up
They can plead and beg but don't let them fix your head

Outside a path to knowledge
Inside a waste of cells
A serpent with a mobile phone
Sweet talks me


Lyrics submitted by Ministry

Cure for Optimism song meanings
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  • +1
    My Interpretation// Up there a mountain rises
    // Down here an ocean dives
    // A stranger with a head full of lead
    // Photographs me

    Someone with a bipolar disorder is brought to an asylum. "Up there, a mountain rises" is the manic phase that was prevalent when he was outside - he was "up", almost "high" and optimistic. "Down here, an ocean dives": Now he is in the depressive phase. Down, dark and deep like an ocean.
    He gets photographed when he gets into the asylum, by some stranger, probably someone heavily pierced ( "a head full of lead" ), so the protagonist might think "who is the normal person here? This stranger with the head full of lead??"

    // Steel bars and a doctor's note
    // Don't give up
    // They can plead and beg but don't let them fix your head

    He is locked behind bars in an asylum. But the doctors might not just force him into medication without consent. Many people with a bipolar disorder deny taking medication because it does not just take away the dangerous depression but also supresses the manic "high" phase -- so the medication would be a "cure" for optimism too ( hence the song title ).

    // Outside a path to knowledge
    // Inside a waste of cells
    // A serpent with a mobile phone
    // Sweet talks me

    Again while outside the protagonist was in his manic phase. He felt optimistic, as if he could rule the world. He had all the knowledge ( at least he felt as if he had ). Now he is locked in and could not do anything and even feels down. He is just a waste of cells here. A doctor/psychologist ( or at least someone of the staff since he has a mobile phone and thus contact with the outside world ) tries to talk him into taking the medicine. But the protagonist sees him as a serpent, as a liar who only wants to give him the "cure for optimism".
    arneon May 09, 2014   Link
  • 0
    General CommentSo good.
    Wakeboard_Snufkinon August 12, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentSo fucking amazing.
    lacuna112on December 11, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentVery Pink Floyd like.
    Wakeboard_Snufkinon February 02, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThe piano is haunting, its amazing. A great song that few know about.
    Thrombicon July 24, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThe 5.1 version on the new LBS DVD is even better.

    Since FOABP has been released I've started thinking this might be some sort of precursor to that, thematically - It sounds like it's about being in a mental institution, and SW's dislike of various pharmaceutical techniques.
    gzazon April 19, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General CommentAmazing song. I think it has something to do with a mental patient.
    [Service to busy]on July 07, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI interpret this song as about the music industry again.... the mountain possibly referring to the famous bands whilst SW feels he is achieving nothing in his ocean. I can imagine the band having their photo taken feeling kinda dispirited not knowing if it's going to be worth it.

    The next part does seem to be about perhaps a mental institution or maybe about feeling caged in like some kind of animal.

    "They can plead and beg but don't let them fix your head"
    I suffer from bi-polar disorder and I believe it is both a blessing and a curse. Some of my greatest pieces of writing have been when I have been feeling one extreme or the other.


    The final lines make me think of PR/management types...

    "A serpent with a mobile phone
    Sweet talks me"


    Hmmm. I'm just not sure. I do enjoy how ambiguous PTs music is. Makes it much more fun :)
    kiiabbyon April 29, 2009   Link
  • 0
    General Commenti feel like this song is about someone being put into an Asylum, or mental hospital
    (hence the steel bars and a doctors note) or maybe jail, but the doctors not wouldent fit.

    also "They can plead and beg but don't let them fix your head" makes me think of how they give you pills to make you normal, or a lobotomy.

    "Inside a waste of cells" makes me think they its a waste of a place because no one is really "crazy" just different

    but anyway the sings beautiful.
    geddyleerocksmysockson August 12, 2011   Link
  • 0
    General CommentGotta agree with Geddyleerocksmysocks about the asylum theory, although the "inside a waste of cells" line is about him feeling worthless. A mind inside a waste of the cells that make up the body.
    popmchnexon February 08, 2014   Link

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