"Terrible Lie" as written by and Michael Reznor....
(Hey god) why are you doing this to me?
Am I not living up to what I'm supposed to be?
Why am I seething with this animosity?
(Hey god) I think you owe me a great big apology

Terrible lie
Terrible lie
Terrible lie
Terrible lie

(Hey god) I really don't know what you mean
Seems like salvation comes only in our dreams
I feel my hatred grow all the more extreme
(Hey god) can this world really be as sad as it seems?

Terrible lie
Terrible lie
Terrible lie
Terrible lie

Don't take it away from me, I need you to hold on to
Don't take it away from me, I need you to hold on to
Don't take it away from me, I need you to hold on to
Don't take it away from me, I need someone to hold on to
Don't tear it away from me, I need you to hold on to
Don't tear it away from me, I need you to someone on to
Don't tear it away from me, I need you to hold on to
Don't tear it, don't tear it, don't tear it, don't tear it, don't

(Hey god) there's nothing left for me to hide
I lost my ignorance, security and pride
I'm all alone in a world you must despise
(Hey god) I believed the promises, your promises and lies

Terrible lie
Terrible lie
Terrible lie
Terrible lie
Terrible lie

You made me throw it all away, my morals left to decay (terrible lie)
How many you betray you've taken everything (terrible lie)
My head is filled with disease, my skin is begging you please (terrible lie)
I'm on my hands and knees, I want so much to believe

I give you everything my sweet everything
You everything my sweet everything (I need someone to hold on to)
You everything my sweet everything (I need someone to hold on to)
You everything my sweet everything (I need someone to hold on to)
You everything my sweet everything (I need someone to hold on to)
You everything my sweet everything (I need someone to hold on to)
You everything my sweet everything (I need someone to hold on to)
You everything my sweet everything (I need someone to hold on to)
You everything my sweet everything (I need someone to hold on to)
You everything my sweet everything (I need someone to hold on to)
You everything my sweet everything (I need someone to hold on to)
You everything my sweet everything (I need someone to hold on to)
You everything my sweet everything (I need someone to hold on to)
You everything my sweet everything (I need someone to hold on to)
You everything my sweet everything (I need someone to hold on to)
You everything my sweet everything (I need someone to hold on to)
You everything my sweet everything (I need someone to hold on to)


Lyrics submitted by implode

"Terrible Lie" as written by Michael Reznor

Lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Peermusic Publishing, THE BICYCLE MUSIC COMPANY

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Terrible Lie song meanings
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46 Comments

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  • +5
    General CommentThe meaning of this song is pretty straightforward. It is not an atheist or anti-religion song like the other well known Heresy. This is about a man who is teetering. His whole life is collapsing around in and his faith in the god he believes in is slipping. It gets to the point where he is hopeless in life to the point where he surrenders himself entirely to his god, but his belief is slipping away permanently as the logical fallacies inherent in religious beliefs become clear. With everything gone, he begs on his hands and knees for salvation and to retain his belief "I want so much to believe", "don't take it away from me, I need you to hold on to (the idea of god)".

    Pretty powerful song, once you get the meaning behind it. If you are an agnostic, atheist or deist who was raised in a religious household like I was, and at one point in time you were forced into realization, then you know these feelings just as I and Trent do.

    So yeah, that pretty much sums it up.
    Jonseon May 31, 2012   Link
  • +3
    General CommentI think Terrible Lie refers to Trents sense of rejection from god. This song is a clear first impression of the straightfoward depth that Trent Reznor uses in Pretty Hate Machine. This song is amazing, especially live.
    landingstillon May 12, 2002   Link
  • +3
    General CommentI agree with punkedyou and Admiral Thumper...
    Fucking awesome 80's beat here! It's amazing, I love it!!
    DJgifon August 18, 2008   Link
  • +3
    My InterpretationHe's questioning his faith. Everyone here knows that Trent doesn't understand being boxed in by organized religion. The song is coming from someone who did all that God told him to do and bad things happened anyway, so he doesn't understand why God is punishing him.

    How many times has this happened? Many. Trent's being honest about it.
    PrincessaGothicaon April 18, 2009   Link
  • +3
    Song MeaningI'm surprised no ones mentioned the "music industry" angle here. God being the organisations that lord over artists. Fist filling their heads with dreams of riches and fame. But then once you're in the business, you discover its all a lie. And you're nothing but a little worker ant.

    "Hey God, why are you doing this to me?
    Am I not living up to what I'm supposed to be?
    Why am I seething with this animosity?
    Hey God, I think you owe me a great big apology"

    He's not producing cds fast enough, or that stay at number 1 long enough so he gets pressure and grief from the big men who run the show.This causes him to hold animosity towards the industry.

    "Hey God, I really don't know what you mean
    seems like salvation comes only in our dreams
    I feel my hatred grow all the more extreme
    hey God, can this world really be as sad as it seems?"

    Its not all about the music, its about the money. people become cash cows, and the masses eat it up. (this is in general, not that he is a cash cow.)

    "Don't take it away from me, I need you to hold on to"

    He still wants to be making music and doesn't want to be torn out of the industry.

    I find the religion angle to be very accurate. But i thought of this as a possible dual meaning hidden within the obvious messages.
    Renvexon April 12, 2011   Link
  • +3
    General CommentThis song is very much about God. That seems pretty clear. He is conflicted when it comes to God. He wants to hold on, but he doesn't know how long he can due to the screwy experience he is going through.
    Music4Realon July 24, 2012   Link
  • +2
    General Commentok for real, reznor claims to be atheist.
    then how can he write and sing about a higher being?
    it still baffles me...
    ikutsu2001on November 28, 2007   Link
  • +2
    General CommentThis is my one of my favorite NIN songs.

    I think this song is mainly about how you grow up with these images from TV and the media about what life is supposed to be like (that's what "God" is supposed to represent), and then you come to the realization that it's a lie (Terrible Lie).

    It's about the whole "ignorance is bliss" saying, and now that you know the truth, you want to go back to the way you were before you found these things out, when you were happy. (Don't take it away from me, I need you to hold on to)

    There's nothing to believe in, yet you want to believe it so bad. (I want so much to believe).

    Opening your mind can be great, but it can also mess you up.(You made me throw it all away
    My morals left to decay (terrible lie)
    How many you betray
    You've taken everything (terrible lie)
    My head is filled with disease)
    ningameron October 06, 2008   Link
  • +1
    General Commenti think of it more as realizationt that God is a lie.

    "Hey God, there's nothing left for me to hide.
    I lost my ignorance, security and pride.
    I'm all alone in a world you must despise.
    Hey God, I believed the promises, your promises and lies"

    he lost his ignorance, the beleif in god
    his security, the faith that there is something beyond this life
    his pride, the idea that "god made me, i'm special!"

    he's all alone in a world god must despise. if there was a god why would there be so much crap allowed to happen? if theres a god, he must hate the world is the assumption here.

    he beleived in the promises of god, essentially gods lies.
    the title of the song "terrible lie" the lie that is god.


    i beleive this, because i have been there.
    nsts_on July 27, 2002   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI believe that your interpretations is in the song. But, I took this song a bit deeper.

    Yes, he's talking about how God is a lie, but let me take you into another meaning, too.

    "Don't take it away from me, I need you to hold on to
    Don't take it away from me, I need you to hold on to
    Don't take it away from me, I need you to hold on to
    Don't take it away from me, I need someone to hold on to
    Don't tear it away from me, I need you to hold on to
    Don't tear it away from me, I need someone to hold on to
    Don't tear it away from me, I need you to hold on to
    Don't tear it... don't tear it... don't take it, don't take it, don't..."

    Here, taking it away from him means that he doesn't want to give up believing in God. He needs that to hold onto. To believe in. He wants it but he feels like he can't hold on to it.

    "My head is filled with disease
    My skin is begging you, please (terrible lie)
    I'm on my hands and knees
    I want so much to believe "

    And again, he wants to believe in God. And, he's begging people(and himself) to let him. He wants to feel comforted, touched, by God. And, his head with filled with disease because he doesn't believe in God. So, therefor he is sinning. He doesn't want to doubt the existance of God, but things around him has made him feel that way.
    punkedyouon May 06, 2003   Link

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