"Prison Sex" as written by Paul D'amour, Daniel Carey, Adam Jones and Maynard James Keenan....
It took so long to remember just what happened.
I was so young and vestal then,
You know it hurt me,
But I'm breathing so I guess I'm still alive
Even if signs seem to tell me otherwise.
I've got my hands bound,
My head down, my eyes closed,
And my throat wide open.
Do unto others what has been done to you
I'm treading water,
I need to sleep a while.
My lamb and martyr, you look so precious.
Won't you come a bit closer,
Close enough so I can smell you.
I need you to feel this,
I can't stand to burn too long.
Released in this sodomy.
For one sweet moment I am whole.
Do unto you now what has been done to me.
You're breathing so I guess you're still alive
Even if signs seem to tell me otherwise.
Won't you come just a bit closer,
Close enough so I can smell you.
I need you to feel this.
I need this to make me whole.
There's release in this sodomy.
For I am your witness that
Blood and flesh can be trusted.
And only this one holy medium brings me piece of mind.
Got your hands bound, your head down,
Your eyes closed.
You look so precious now.
Show me something
Thought I could make it end
Thought I could wash the stains away
Thought I could break the circle if I
Slipped right into your skin
So sweet was your surrender
We have become one
I have become my terror
And you my precious lamb and martyr.
I have found some kind of temporary sanity in this
Shit blood and cum on my hands.
I've come round full circle.
My lamb and martyr, this will be over soon.
You look so precious.


Lyrics submitted by dank, edited by TragicGuardian

"Prison Sex" as written by Paul D'amour, Daniel Carey, Adam Jones, Maynard James Keenan

Lyrics © EMI Music Publishing

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Prison Sex song meanings
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187 Comments

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  • +13
    General CommentPrison Sex is about child molestation and cycles of abuse.

    The creaking at the beginning of the song is meant to emulate a door being gently pushed open, creaking loud among the silence.

    He hadn't picked up the name Maynard yet, that came later. He was James now. Probably was referred to as 'Jimmy' around this time. He was 11. His mom had her fateful aneurysm that left her broken down and paralyzed, forever changed, her faithful devotion intensified and led her to become more and more delusional and willfully ignorant.

    Jimmy's stepfather was caring for him at this time, he inspires the content for this song for about two years until Judith finally sends him to his fathers in Michigan.

    The part that gets me is that the child molestation is only the first verse, the rest of the song is about him, the victim, becoming the perpetrator. What fucks my mind is that i cant decide whether of not this is a metaphor for him getting into sodomy as a result (4 degrees, stinkfist) or if he for real raped a dude. Or both.

    In the live sessions of Prison Sex they add a set of lyrics right before the 'i have found some kind of temporary sanity..' climax, Here they are:

    "Show me something (4x)
    Thought I could make it end
    Thought I could wash the stains away
    Thought I could break the circle if I
    Slipped right into your skin
    So sweet was your surrender
    We have become one
    I have become my terror
    And you my precious lamb and martyr"

    I never quite understood the 'Lamb and Martyr' part until i heard/read this, and even so i hope its only just my interpretation. he's referring to a single person. If you can't see what im getting at maybe its best i don't spell it out..

    Before playing 'Jimmy' live once, Maynard addressed the crowd, announcing it as the sequel to Prison sex. Jimmy being a very personal story, the announcement of it as a 'Sequel" to Prison Sex is kind of shocking. That gives it a light of being a personal story, just by that strong association. H is a sister piece to Prison sex, its about him struggling with the abuse he grew up with, in the face of having a child of his own. The snake hissing was his lamb and martyr. That's a beautiful song about him realizing he doesnt have to perpetuate.

    I have a deeper respect for Maynard than i ever have ever had for a singular artist, and the reason for that is songs like Prison sex, Jimmy, H, Judith, Passive, Orestes... he just completely opens himself up and turns his personal pain and sorrow into beautiful art as a means to move forward himself and as a tool for others to do so as well. "Turn these leaden grudges into gold"
    Tunes24on October 03, 2012   Link
  • +5
    General Commentok this song is for one about exactly what it sounds like - rape - but more importantly the psychology of a rapist. now take it a step further i beleive he uses this example to get accross a broader point. that point is that when horrible or traumatizing things happen in our past especially childhood it has a certain affect on people. one way some people deal with it is by inflicting pain on others as an outlet. "you are my martyr my lamb" means that you must suufer / be sacrificed for me to feel better or maybe to feel anything at all. hands bound and head down obviously works as a rape visual but also as a symbol that he is a slave bound to repeat these horrors without controlle or so it seems.
    minty33on October 05, 2012   Link
  • +4
    General CommentFrom the most superficial standpoint, this is a gross song about being butt-raped in prison...not very appealing, so looking deeper's necessary. The following lines are the most important, I would say:

    Do unto others what has been done to you

    Do unto you now what has been done to me

    I've come round full circle.
    (quoted from tool's official site's lyrics)

    I think it's more about victims turning around and victimizing others. At first they are violated, but with time they "come around" to their predator's ways, and violate others themselves.

    This is not confined to sexual predation or just to prison. In fact, it seems more like Maynard means to draw a parallel to other froms...religious "recruiters" seem a good example.
    preying on the weak and feeble-minded, they convert somebody to their faith, and they cannot defend against these people so because of weak-mindedness they go along, and ignorantly believe what they're told.
    Now, they become the missionaries, and ignorantly follow orders to find "recruits." They victimize other people based on how they were originally victimized.
    (I'm not dogging all religious types now, just those who fit this example)

    Even a child playing an online computer game can fit it. Someone cheats , and he loses out, so he gets angry and starts cheating, ripping off other people.

    The concept of this song relates to many many things, we "come around full circle" a lot, and adopt what is handed to us, whether by a malicious enemy, or by inadvertent ignorance. So keep your third eye open and think about this one...
    AlmightyRuleron December 13, 2001   Link
  • +1
    General CommentMaynard said in one of the rare interviews he did that it's about how he was raped as a child. End of story.
    Cold and Uglyon June 14, 2008   Link
  • +1
    General CommentAlso, he states in one interview how it is also about the cucle of abuse, the aspects of the constantly vitimized, and the about the thought of the perpetrator. In another interview, he states how all you people who feel the need to post your own meanings and ideas are bullshit people. The band makes music so you can think about it and analyze it by yourself. They dont even put the lyrics on the album because they aim for you to listen to the music with the creative side of your brain, to express yourself, to build upon yourself. When simply reading his message instead of individually gaining your own understanduing, you do not gain the ability to expand for yourself. Their goal is to create spiritual music that helps people, not bullshit rumors and illogical ideas to misconstrew other people's individual beliefs of the messages directed towards them and only them which they discover in the music. Fuck people. Think for yourselves.

    Lastly, this is just a personal note that i believe in. People keep asking bands if they are making new albums, yet they dont give them money, they steal their albums online. Fuck those people. If you people are going to download shit, then be grateful for whats out there, you are miserable fucks anyway.
    Cold and Uglyon June 14, 2008   Link
  • +1
    General CommentThe beginning of this song is meant to symbolize and simulate the sound of Maynard's stepfather's toolshed door opening and then closing. This song is about Maynard being sexually abused by his stepfather in that very tool shed. The music is a TOOL for Maynard to work through the abuse and other negative experiences of his life and heal as a result(with Maynard giving a phony explanation to his fellow band members so as to obscure the true meaning of the name Tool). Just as Maynard was a tool used for his stepfather's pleasure, the band Tool is used to express the demons within Maynard himself.

    Actually, I'm just full of shit.
    NicodemoBon June 18, 2011   Link
  • +1
    General Commentthe first line saying "Won't you come a bit closer,"
    is:
    "Won't you, won't you come on up closer"
    daisukemanon June 21, 2013   Link
  • +1
    General CommentThe meaning of the song is pretty simple, which makes it all the more horrify. Someone has been raped, and the only way they can find catharsis, the only way they can cope with the trauma, is by raping themselves. Considering this is how the cycle of abuse actually works it's pretty heavy.
    Ganondoxon September 11, 2013   Link
  • 0
    General Commentno this my friends.... this is a kick ass song
    lil cholitaon January 05, 2002   Link
  • 0
    General CommentOkay, I guess the way I see this song is a lot simpler. To me it seems like Maynard is talking about a child who was sexually abused and then growing up and abusing their child in the same way because its all that they really knew of childhood and growing up.
    "Do unto you now what has been done to me"
    In relation to the title of the song, the child's home became a prison because their abuser kept the child there, or if not that it could be seen as emotional imprisonment.
    For me, seeing the video really made all of this come together, but that's just my interpretation, so who knows what Maynard was really thinking about this song.
    er_bear54on January 22, 2002   Link

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