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There's a shadow just behind me,
Shrouding every step I take,
Making every promise empty,
Pointing every finger at me.
Waiting like a stalking butler
Who upon the finger rests.
Murder now the path called "must we"
Just before the son has come.
Jesus, won't you fucking whistle
Something but the past and done?
Why can't we not be sober?
I just want to start this over.
Why can't we drink forever.
I just want to start things over.
I am just a worthless liar.
I am just an imbecile.
I will only complicate you.
Trust in me and fall as well.
I will find a center in you.
I will chew it up and leave,
I will work to elevate you
Just enough to bring you down.
Trust me.
Mother Mary won't you whisper
Something but what's past and done.
Trust me.
I want what I want.



Lyrics submitted by dank, edited by minty33, lindalai5j, Soy

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

Lyrics © EMI Music Publishing

Lyrics powered by LyricFind


Sober song meanings
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362 Comments

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  • +15
    General Comment:It doesn't surprise me that people would really turn this toward religion. As against religion as Maynard or the band may be, i don't get that from this song.

    Being someone who struggled with different addictions i can definitely relate to every line in this song.

    "There's a shadow just behind me,
    Shrouding every step I take,
    Making every promise empty,
    Pointing every finger at me."

    Drug/Alcohol addiction promises alot but there is always a price. People get high to feel good. However, You will feel empty when you aren't high, but you will be judged when you are. Hence the reason it makes "every promise empty and pointing every finger at me"

    "Waiting like a stalking butler
    Who upon the finger rests.
    Murder now the path called "must we"
    Just before the son has come."


    Addiction stands like a butler that follows you and like a butler it promises to help you through your day and the analogy of the butler on the finger as a way to use. Alot of drugs will lay on your finger especially if your snorting.

    "The path called 'must we'" references to me the "Rules of the world". Kind of a Damned if you do Damned if you don't kind of thing. Addictions will tell the user that they need to not be concerned with what "needs to be done". Just sit back and use/drink/smoke/whatever.

    "Jesus wont you Fucking Whistle
    Something but the past and done
    Jesus won't you Fucking whistle
    Something but the past and done"

    Reaching out for answers but feeling like your past is the reason you won't ever find forgiveness or peace.(I mean come on how many of us have felt the negative effects of a night drinking/partying/smoking/whatever and gotten sick and cried out to God even if you don't believe he exists. "God if you get me out of this i'll never drink again".) Asking "Jesus if you are real all i want is a whistle" or "God if you are real now would be the time to show it".

    "Why can't we not be sober?
    I just want to start this over.
    Why can't we drink forever.
    I just want to start things over."

    This is the argument every person has at one time or another during their time of addiction. (if you haven't then congrats you are the first i've ever heard of.)

    "I am just a worthless liar.
    I am just an imbecile.
    I will only complicate you.
    Trust in me and fall as well.
    I will find a center in you.
    I will chew it up and leave,
    I will work to elevate you
    Just enough to bring you down."

    The reality of what our addictions bring in the end. And i'm not talking about the recreational or social users, i'm talking about the ADDICTS who need it. Those who cant function in their day without whatever their addiction is. (i'm not condemning, i was there at one point too and i know how that battle goes.)

    So there's my take. it's all based on personal experience so i could be way off. I'm not personal friends with the band so obviously i can't say this is what they meant, but when i listen to this song, this is what it tells me.
    iob890on October 01, 2012   Link
  • +8
    General Comment:Maynard creates a character that epitomizes self hatred.

    This song to me paints a picture of the loop this man gets caught in, where he hates himself, and absolutely wallows in it. Instead of looking for change, he persists in this stubborn cycle of nostalgia and depression. He just wants to start it over, but he's too fucked up by now to do it.

    This is one of the only Tool songs that i don't see the "light at the end of the tunnel"
    Tunes24on October 03, 2012   Link
  • +5
    General Comment:it can also be another Tool attack on organized religion, asking why people can't be sober and think for themselves
    treestumpon January 11, 2002   Link
  • +4
    General Comment:As numerous people have said before, yes, the chorus is a double-negative. "Why can't we not be sober" is the equivalent of "Why can't we just be drunk". I don't know if anyone else said this already, but I think Maynard was being clever with this song; the narrator is a drunk and a selfish hypocrite. Yes, he is an alcoholic. The shadow behind him is his CONSCIENCE. It follows him everywhere no matter how much he drinks and "points every finger at him" (AKA he knows he is responsible for his own faults, but will not accept it). "I just want to start this over" refers to his excuse for drinking, he wants to lose himself in the liquor and "start over", or in reality act like all his problems don't exist. He knows he is just a worthless liar, and is not willing to do anything about it. Everyone who has ever cared about him, he only made their lives more complicated by causing them the pain of watching his addiction consume him; they trusted him to take care of himself, but he let them down (trust in me and fall as well). The people who loved him watched as he destroyed himself (I will find a center in you, I will chew it up and leave), and despite numerous attempts at rehab, no matter how good things looked, he always reverted back to drinking (I will work to elevate you, just enough to bring you down). "Trust me" is a contradiction to what he clearly says earlier (trust in me and fall as well), he tells other people to trust him, that he can take care of himself, when clearly he cannot. "I want what I want" reinforces how selfish he is, he doesn't care that he's hurting others by hurting himself, he wants to drink and he will continue to do so. Its a sad story in my eyes. There's lots of people like that in real life I think. Of course this is just my interpretation though. All music is interpreted differently by different people.
    HammerFloydon September 29, 2011   Link
  • +2
    General Comment:Wow, all the irony and paradoxes aren't gonna get you anywhere Maynard. The speaker feels that he is always being blamed by others for everything he does wrong. And obviously he doesn't think much of himself. "Why can't we not be sober?" has a double-negative. Simplify it-- 'why can't we be drunk'-- he doesn't want to be sober and think, he wants to drown the problems. (Not that the song endorses alcoholism or anything.)

    "Jesus won't you fucking whistle/something but the past and done" is a rhetorical question. It asks higher powers for help for the present and to come.

    And I don't hear any whispering. Have I been listening to the song too loud?
    Babyeateron January 22, 2002   Link
  • +2
    General Comment:The whispering in the song is maynard saying "turn that shit down" which is seemingly ironic because you have to have the song very loud to hear it and it is still very failt in the background, the first time you ehar it you may think it is a neighboor or someone far away talking
    IAMTHEPATIENTon February 22, 2002   Link
  • +2
    Memory:We used to play this with our band, just to see who were musicians, and who were "regular" crowd.
    The regular crowd went to the bar when we started playing this, the musicians came toward the stage.
    Still an awesome song to play, just because of the emotions we could put into it.
    LittleCon November 06, 2012   Link
  • +2
    General Comment:The song seems to be about a self-loathing drug addict who wishes he never got himself into the hellhole he is in, is begging God for help, and now loathes every moment he isn't high.
    Ganondoxon February 19, 2013   Link
  • +1
    General Comment:This song is just awesome, both in the kewlness and wicked shit. It reflects my own opinions about religion. I thought that was the meaning behind the song in the first place. Like no matter how hard you walk the thin line of "holiness" your still faulted. There's always someone "pointing" at you. The sober part is like, "Wake the fuck up!" kinda thing. The one part I have hard understanding is... "something but the past and done? " part. Anyone have any ideas? Is that like others bringing up the past to taunt you????
    Blacq_pyrosaon January 14, 2002   Link
  • +1
    General Comment:"i will find a center in you/ i will chew it up and leave ..." in this verse maynard is mocking something that attacks the core of your being while giving you a false sense of security and happiness and fulfillment.
    slaphappyon July 01, 2002   Link

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