This is an occult meaning referencing astrology that this band knows all too well. Saturn is associated with discipline (and control as mentioned earlier). As Saturn returns in the individual, it is the...
Wear the grudge like a crown of negativity.
Calculate what we will or will not tolerate.
Desperate to control all and everything.
Unable to forgive your scarlet lettermen.

Clutch it like a cornerstone. Otherwise it all comes down.
Justify denials and grip 'em to the lonesome end.
Clutch it like a cornerstone. Otherwise it all comes down.
Terrified of being wrong. Ultimatum prison cell.

Saturn ascends, choose one or ten. Hang on or be humbled again.

Clutch it like a cornerstone. Otherwise it all comes down.
Justify denials and grip 'em to the lonesome end.
Saturn ascends, comes round again.
Saturn ascends, the one, the ten. Ignorant to the damage done.

Wear the grudge like a crown of negativity.
Calculate what we will or will not tolerate.
Desperate to control all and everything.
Unable to forgive your scarlet lettermen.

Wear the grudge like a crown. Desperate to control.
Unable to forgive. And we're sinking deeper.

Defining, confining, controlling, and we're sinking deeper.

Saturn comes back around to show you everything
Let's you choose what you will not see and then
Drags you down like a stone or lifts you up again
Spits you out like a child, light and innocent.

Saturn comes back around. Lifts you up like a child or
Drags you down like a stone
To consume you till you choose to let this go.

Give away the stone.
Let the oceans take and trans mutate this cold and fated anchor.
Give away the stone.
Let the waters kiss and trans mutate these leaden grudges into gold.
Let go.

Lyrics submitted by Everlong, edited by Ateam7001, Renzo315, D34thFate, jdknight9, DiogoLopes

"The Grudge" as written by A. Jones M.j. Keenan


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The Grudge song meanings
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  • +14
    General CommentJust like schism86 said, i had this post before the site re-vamped... I'm just gonna copy what I wrote before.. It's hella long, so only read it if your REALLY interested.

    First off, sorry this is gonna be so long, I'm gonna disect pretty much every line
    Well guys, I'm not here to clear anything up on the meaning of this song, cuz I don't know it for sure. I like to think my interpretation is right (some of you are probably closer though), but it's open to everyone's views, and I love reading what all of you think. But anyway, here goes.

    I think unlike most songs, Tool is pretty straightforward on this song. It doesn't seem allegorical, but it is quite deep. To be honest, after buying lateralus and hearing this song, it became my life motto. I hate grudges, and I can't stand holding them now. It just seems so childish.

    I think Maynard is almost throwing the idea of grudge holding back into the faces of people that do it. He's making fun of them for such a savage thing. Like the first line...

    "wear the grudge like a crown of negativity" (go ahead, put your grudge out where everyone can see it, let everyone know that you're mad and that you want to be that way).

    "calculate what we will and will not tolerate" (decide exactly what you want to get mad over that would make you hold a grudge. this way when it happens, you can keep putting that crown back on)

    "desperate to control all and everything" (you don't want to be on good terms. you WANT the grudge. if you can control the grudge, you can control the person you hold the grudge against.)

    "unable to forgive your scarlet letterman" (although they know they've done wrong, you won't forgive them under any circumstance)

    "clutch it like a cornerstone, otherwise it all comes down" (clutch the grudge that you hold like a cornerstone, because you know if you don't then the grudge dies. you don't want that)

    "justify denials and grip em to the lonesome end" (come up with excuses to continue holding the grudge, and stand by them until the end, even when everyone hates you for what you're doing, hence lonesome)

    "Terrified of being wrong, ultimatum prison cell" (you're scared to death that someone can prove that you have no reason to hold a grudge. you worry about it so much you put yourself in your own little prison over it)
    [Remember this whole time, I believe Maynard's making fun of the people that do this. Almost reverse psycology by showing them how stupid it is]

    Then I have to agree with 'Insecure Dilusions' idea on the Saturn thing. Saturn was god of all greek gods. he was sooo worried he could be overthrown he ate his children. Yet Zeus was the one thing that Saturn overlooked. That one thing overthrew Saturn and killed him. Hang on to the grudge like saturn would, because if you don't you'll be humbled in your ignorance. And later he says "ignorant to the damage done"... ignorance isn't stupidity, it's not knowing about something. in this case, Saturn was ignorant to the damage done to himself until Zeus killed him.

    "unable to forgive and we're sinking deeper" (you won't forgive, and for this you're slowly creating a larger grudge)

    The grudge begins to define you, confine you, even control you.

    Again to the Saturn reference for almost the rest of the song. Saying that Saturn, almost as if, takes over your body. He and you become one, you make the decisions Saturn chose. And not until you end the grudge will he quit tearing you apart.

    Finally Maynard quit's criticizing and simply tells them what they need to do.
    Give away the (corner)stone. Let the oceans take and transmute this cold and weighted anchor (that was your grudge, holding you down). Give away the stone. Let the waters take and transmute these leaden (heavy burdensome) grudges into gold. LET GO.

    And thus ends my entirely too long interpretation. However, this is what I believe and exactly how I feel. This pretty much explains my life motto. I thank each of your for your time in reading such a long and drawn out post. You deserve a pat on the back for putting up with my jabbering.
    madson4562on December 13, 2001   Link
  • +6
    General CommentSorry for the length of this. It's a paper I wrote in school about the grudge. Let me know what you guys think.

    Letting go is the sometimes the hardest thing to do in life. Moving on is hard whether we are facing a death or holding a grudge. Both circumstances take an emotional toll, but they can be amplified by an unwillingness to let the past rest. Perhaps the hardest part about situations like these is that the longer we hold on to the past, the stronger its grip is on our lives. The Grudge, by Tool, is the first song from their album, Lateralus. Simply defined, a grudge is a “feeling of deep-seated resentment or ill will”. A grudge is more than a surface unwillingness; a grudge takes on a personality, it grows in strength, and it eventually controls our life. Destruction is the only outcome for someone who cannot escape the deadly grip of a grudge — he has to let go.
    In the first line, Maynard James Keenan, Tool’s lead singer, describes the grudge as a “crown of negativity”. Crowns are usually seen as something glorious, brilliant, and beautiful; Keenan takes this symbol of power and authority and twists it into something dark and terrifying, but the idea of power is retained. He is almost saying we are imbued with some sort of negative power when we allow this grudge to define us. He goes on to say, “Calculate what we will or will not tolerate/ Desperate to control all and everything”. With this false sense of power created by a grudge, the person becomes filled with a sense of being able to control everything around them. Typically, with the presence of a grudge comes a plan for revenge. A person wearing this crown of negativity is oftentimes so blinded by it they are unable see the limits of their power.
    I believe the next line, “Unable to forgive your scarlet lettermen,” is an allusion to Nathaniel Hawthorne’s Scarlet Letter. The antagonist in this book, Roger Chillingworth, is seeking revenge on his ex-wife. He believes that she has committed an act of adultery against him. His quest for revenge consumes him so much that it affects his external appearance. His ex-wife’s lover, Arthur Dimmesdale, dies before Chillingworth is able to exact his revenge. Chillingworth soon follows him. His life had become so intertwined with his grudge that they were interdependent. When the source of power, the target, of his grudge was gone, the life drained out of him. He died with nothing. Just like Keenan said in his song, “Clutch it like a cornerstone/otherwise it all comes down/justify denials and grip it to the lonesome end”. A cornerstone is the source of stability for any building. It needs to be solid and immovable. Similarly, a grudge provides stability for a person’s life, no matter how false that stability is. Friends around us may point out how silly we are, but the holder is blinded by power. Part of us is, “terrified of being wrong,” as Keenan says. In the eyes of the holder, if he is found to be wrong, he will be put in an ”ultimatum prison cell”.
    If the song ended here, we would be without hope — locked away in a prison cell, left to our own devices. But Keenan tells us, “Saturn ascends/choose one or ten/hang on or be humbled again”. The reference to Saturn ascending is an astrological idea of changes in life associated with the completion of a revolution by Saturn around the earth. At this time in life, a choice has to be made. When he says “one or ten,” I believe he uses this to express to polar opposites. There is no middle ground; either the grudge is given up or held on to for another period of life. The one glimmer of hope here is the presence of a choice. Despite all of the power the grudge has, we can still choose to cast it away.
    Even though Keenan provides a way for escape, he does not want us to become complacent; he reminds us of the only outcome if we choose to hang on to the grudge. If we are “wear[ing] the grudge like a crown/desperate to control/unable to forgive,” then we will be “sinking deeper”. This begs the question, deeper into what? I believe when a grudge comes to be, it is born out of reason. We were wronged in some way, but as a grudge lingers in our mind it begins to create a false reality. The truth we see with our eyes becomes distorted when it passes through the filter of the grudge. The grudge becomes “defining, confining, [and] controlling”. Our real self is buried away within our subconscious; seemingly powerless to regain control. So we continue downward.
    Then “Saturn comes back around to show you everything”. Now is the time to make a choice. This stanza is the first time in the song that Keenan refers to the grudge as a stone. He says, “[the grudge] drags you down like a stone”. The other option is to be treated like “a child, light and innocent”. The process of separating ourselves from the grudge is not easy. We have to completely humble ourselves to the level of a child. He is saying there must be a return to innocence; all of the unnecessary weight in life must be eradicated. All the “[calculations of] what we will or will not tolerate,” and the “[desperations] to control all and everything,” serve only to complicate and fill our life with meaningless pursuits that waste any chance we have of living. We must be like a child because only a renaissance of innocence will bring freedom from this “cold and fated anchor”.
    Finally, Keenan begs us to “give away the stone/let the oceans take and transmutate this cold and fated anchor/give away the stone/let the waters kiss and transmutate these leaden grudges into gold”. His imagery of the oceans and waters is an allusion to baptism. A thorough cleansing is necessary for change, but with change comes reward. If this trial in life is endured, then “these leaden grudges will be turned into gold”. Perseverance breeds greatness.
    Keenan breaks down in the end of the song. He lets out a passionate scream — I envision him falling to his knees with his hands on his head. He knows he must let go, has to let go. He begins whispering “[l]et go, let go, let go…,” over and over, almost chanting it. The song crescendos as he chants louder and louder until he is screaming “let go!” He knows where the grudge is taking him; he sees the destruction waiting for him if he cannot let go. Change is never easy, but he has to try.
    A grudge begins in reason but transforms into a powerful entity capable of destroying lives. The only way to escape the endless spiral of increasing desperation to control everything around us is to choose to change. No matter how attractive the crown is, we need to take it off. Maynard James Keenan begs us to throw away “this cold and fated anchor,” but no one can make us let go, it must come from within. In the end, it is up to us…it always has been.
    mfallowon October 10, 2010   Link
  • +3
    General CommentPeople use grudges as a means of control and supremacy, to make other people feel lesser. I think it’s about how letting go of past indiscretions and moving on will lead you to absolution, but allowing yourself to feel guilt because of someone else’s resentment of your actions will only tie you down. Resentment is futile. but that's just what i get from the song.
    crystalizelieson March 23, 2011   Link
  • +3
    General CommentMaynard once said he used his music to get out frustrations he had of his past, and this I believe is him letting his past go. About his Family life, his look on other people, and even God. He really sees his life of anger leading him no where. Tool's earlier records showed Maynard's and the bend's anger and frustrations to the point where they were called an anti religious band by many. (In ways they were) Well Lateralus came and showed us a new side.

    Maynard sees the problem of hate and grudges, and the "Prison cell" it puts you in. As Saturn comes back around to show him everything, he sees it will consume him and spit him out until he chooses to let it go.

    The ending is so powerful. I just picture Maynard thinking of all the things he's mad about, and not just letting them go, but literally changing his mind set as he screams his heart out. "Turn these leaden grudges into gold". This song is an utter masterpiece. Plugged in online didn't give this album enough credit, cause I see more Christian lyrics in this song alone than I do in some songs on Christian Radio. Funny actually. (My opinion though)

    indeed478on March 18, 2013   Link
  • +2
    General Commenti think this song is pretty straight forward. Grudge, holding onto it, gives you a sense of worth, knowing whats wrong, who to blame. But it also holds you down, not letting you overcome what happened. Its refered to as a prison cell, confining you. You can hang on to it, or let it go and be humble.
    rzatherazaon December 01, 2001   Link
  • +2
    General CommentHere is my interpretation of 'The Grudge'

    "Crown of negativity"
    The first thing that pops into my head is Jesus' crown of thorns, a burden. The crown is thereby also a symbol of religion – but this is a negative symbol. Because these days Christianity is a controlling power, which has decided for us what we will and will not tolerate. But the crown of negativity represents the reduction of our thinking IN GENERAL. We carry the crown on our heads, the highest place of our body, and it overshadows everything else.
    "Unable to forgive your scarlet lettermen"
    "The scarlet letter" is a book by Nathaniel Hawthorne in which a woman who has committed adultery forced to wear a crimson 'A' on her chest for the crime. We stamp other people, judging them and refuse to forgive them.
    This hatred of a foreign party - another person, another religion, another culture - most people have to maintain. Many people clutch their grudge as if it were a cornerstone, everything their unity (if is a group of people) is build on. But it may also be that the individual clings to this feeling to keep himself/herself together. In such cases we always try to justify denials. We cultivate our hatred and dare not to let it go, because we are afraid to make mistakes. So we put ourselves in a prison cell of ultimatum.

    The most interesting part of the song deals with Saturn. After a little research has been up to me that everything in the song forms a synthesis. First, it takes Saturn about 29 years to go round the sun. 29 years symbolizes a mid-term crisis, a split.
    "Choose one or ten"
    This refers to the zodiac in astrology, Aries is the number one and Capricorn is number ten. So the choice is between Capricorn and Aries.
    Capricorn is ruled by Saturn (Saturn is the creator of civilization and the social order, representing authority). Capricorn is stubborn, cautious and disciplined.
    Aries is ruled by Mars (Mars usually associated with strength, spontaneity and energy).
    Aries is bold and impulsive. In many ways it is the complete contrast to Capricorn. You could say that Aries is the Zodiac pioneer. By the way … Maynard a Ram himself.
    "Hang on or be humbled again"
    By choosing Capricorn you will again submit to the Authority and thus be humiliated, bow to other powers. We’ll continue living with this ugly feeling, unaware of how much damage we have caused to the outside world and ourselves. The grudge will narrow thinking further define and say that things can only be one way.

    "Saturn comes back around to show you everything
    Let's you choose what you will, will not see and then
    Drags you down like a stone or lifts you up again
    Spits you out like a child, light and innocent "

    This refers to the myth of the Greek god Cronos (which the Romans later called Saturn) who ate his sons, so they would not kill him. Rhea (Cronos' wife) gave birth to another son, Zeus, and she gives her husband a stone instead of the child, and Cronos swallows the stone, believing it is his son. Later Zeus kills his father and sets his siblings free. The song raises the question: Will go down like a stone – just like all the others ones –, or you will be like Zeus (Aries), escaping it all?

    "Let the waters kiss and transmutate these leader grudges into gold"
    If we look at everything in an alchemical way, the solid substance, which is associated with Saturn, is lead. Lead represents decay and death. When Saturn ascends, you’ve got the choice between remaining the way you are and fall into decay, or to let go of a part of yourself (death, in a way) and thereby transform lead to gold - dissolve "the cold and fated anchor."

    Just try to imagine all the energy we would have, if we did not spend so much time on bearing grudges.

    Like so many of Tools songs, this song is a metaphor for personal development.
    Afterthebattleon February 04, 2009   Link
  • +1
    General CommentAs for the mythological aspect, I really think it has af few key verses about Saturn, (Greek Cronos.) In the Cosmogony (Creation of existance,) there is a constant war of succession; It starts with Ouranos, who, to avoid being succeeded by his children, prevents their physical birth from Gaea by entraping them in her womb. A beautiful scene progresses where Cronos (Saturn) sits in the womb with an adamantine sickle, given by Gaea, poised to cut off his dad's wang when he gomes to fornicate with Gaea. Well, he does just that, and the children, the Titans, escape and Cronos takes over as the prime deity.

    The counter-succession continues when Cronos has children, but instead of trapping them inside like his father did him, he takes them directly from birth and devours them. Hence this whole idea of Saturn 'consuming' in the lyrics.

    The 'stone' mentioned comes in as well--Zeus, who's craft is everlasting, decides he wants to succeed his father, and to avoid being devoured, he takes a chance, and dresses a stone in child's clothing. Cronos is fooled by the ruse and consumes all children but Zeus, and the stone. Zeus then overthrows Cronos and reigns as the Prime Deity.

    While I'm sure there are other intended meanings, you can see how I came to take this song as "The Grudge" of children against the oppression of their authority figures, and the chances they took to overcome and improve their conditions of living.

    Maybe I'll also mention the part where the ocean transmutates Ouranos' castrated grudge of a penis into Aphrodite (Roman Venus).

    Again, I'm sure this song isn't a literal telling of the Cosmogony, but it has some hints towards it.
    LiquidNastyon October 17, 2002   Link
  • +1
    General CommentThe most general and cohesive reading I can give to The Grudge is the grudge one could unwittingly have toward the existence of others, even more pronounced when the other emerges an inhabits your OWN being 'unable to forgive your scarlet letterman'. This may be someone who gives you a heads up. It progressively rears its head on you, the grudge, and then you realize you are begrudging others for inhabiting their OWN being. The realization that one can slink into this is cause for self-reproach, moreover. That others possess content identical to your own makes you not only question the grounds for your own self-identity but strikes at something even more fundamental: do I really OWN anything I think? Is it a product of my own adeptness or more likely do things just occur to me in too similar a character as it does for all if not many other beings. He can realize he is being seen as someone with a grudge. Trying to cling to some last shred of something substantial or all his own, he 'wears his crown of negativity'. Get an image of Jughead's paper tapped crown... 'yes, and?' So he sets out provisionally, awkwardly and with abandon to reconstruct his character (which can never be anything more than a self-percept) about this grudge. It doesn't seem to be a move made to advance ground with any scarlet lettermen, it is a move made in last dash for an inward sense of peace. Hang on or be humbled again, likely what should be inferred from the scarlet letterman's prompt. I have read briefly that Saturn is usually evoked as a symbol for the epithets 'the opportune moment for harvesting from life' and 'the death of old ways'. Also, more abstract and generally designated meanings of authority, steadiness, construction, integrity. So, yes the grudge could be spawned from someone keeping you in check. What spins the grudge tighter is your lacking the grounds to utterly hate them based on a smooth, kindred, genuine delivery they made for you, with whatever that sentiment is. Some specific species of love. The grudge and concomitant self-loathing is escaped from temporarily by denying of others their real inhabited being, 'justify denials', which is to go back to a state before the letterman spoke, where the now grudge-holding was conceiving himself or simply reclining into the self-percept of being the master of the show. While this might have something to offer in other spheres, when it enters into issues concerning realizing or evoking, if you are an idealist, the presence of others it can cause some problems. While it may be true of you it is just as well true of the other, in like character. The letterman called your behavior, preconscious or calculated, into the open maybe. Cause for soreness or indignation, seems to be the case in The Grudge. This is not someone with any immediate desire to seek a sort of penance. A sort of penance is the way out. Perhaps the grudge has an inherent recursive structure, meaning it rebounds or linearly, thought about the character of the grudge causes its character to get more pronounced. One has met a blockade which may be rerouted or assuaged with some ol' integral penance: acknowledgement of self-deceiving behavior and appropriate recompense in a spirit of seriousness. The fact that the grudge holder can understand himself to be occupying this pending position incites them to resign themselves to smoldering in fecklessness.
    hehkateon December 26, 2011   Link
  • +1
    General CommentAs with many Tool lyrics, these have deep spiritual meaning. It's a very simple truth. You don't have to cut the songs into a million pieces to realize that he is writing as his own ego. The EGOIC (thought based on form) mind clings to suffering to form our self projected identity. It's not who we are, Watch your thoughts and you'll realize that they are happening to you, it might make you laugh. GRUDGES cause suffering to yourself, it's pointless because what happened happened, it is what it is now, the past is the past and does not exist but as a thought. until people start to recognize that these thoughts (grudges, hatred, the ego loves it, the ego is that bastard thinker of your thoughts. You can either sit in the unconsious state and watch it happen or do something about it. the way the song is written is through the egoic (thought projections without basis) mind singing. If you let go of your grudge your ego will lose part of it's identity, which seems bad at the time but in the long run can be a blessing. it CONSUMES YOU. It took me a long road of suffering to realize that there is an easy way out of that prison cell and that is through recognizing that bastard voice we all have which is the ego telling us what's good and bad, keeping hold of that grudge, the longer you hold it the stronger the ego gets. I know I wrote a lot and no one has to agree with it but if you read this far certainly you must see some truth in it? your-self implies two. Can't live with your self? = 2 then recognize it and live as yourself. (see parabola for another crystal clear truth) Past and future are just thought forms, right now is the gateway and if you get angry at this examine that thought. Eckhart Tolle helped me realize most of that. Just realized Tool is hitting on the subject bigtime, it's like talking code to the egoic mind though.
    reckless8610on November 08, 2009   Link
  • +1
    General CommentJust wanted to leave a bit of feedback about the use of Saturn in this song...

    "Saturn is the planet of responsibility and symbolizies the ethic of hard work. Under its influence a person's character is strengthened through trial and difficulty. It has been said that Saturn disciplines us until we can learn to discipline ourselves.

    Saturn was a symbol for Father Time, for he brought to an end all things that had a beginning.

    In astrology, Saturn is the planet of diligence, self-control, and limitation. Its domain is patience, stability, maturity, and realism. Its influence is stern and restrictive, cold and severe.

    Saturn is called the Celestial Taskmaster, for it teaches us the lessons we must learn in life. In the grand plan of the universe, Saturn does not give us more than we can handle. Under Saturn's influence we achieve by overcoming obstacles and hardships. Somtimes the effort itself is the reward, for effort is what builds character. In the end, what we learn under Saturn's influence we keep for the rest of our lives.

    Saturn gives the power to endure and provides the tenacity and perserverance to realize your potential. Saturn's effect is to delay rewards until they are earned. It perfects human nature while it bestows an ability to wait. It is the planet of courage, steadfastnes, and integrity.

    In its symbolic form, Saturn is our destiny. It rules fate, the things we cannot escape, and the payment we must make for what we receive."

    --Joanna Martine Woolfolk
    mzfit4lifeon April 07, 2010   Link

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