"Undertow" as written by Daniel Carey, Adam Jones, Paul D'amour and Maynard James Keenan....
Two times in
I've been struck dumb by a voice that
Speaks, from deep beneath peerless water that's
Twice as clear as heaven
Twice as loud as reason
Deep and rich like silt on a riverbed
Just as neverending
Current's mouth below me
Opens up around me
Suggests and beckons all while swallowing
Surrounds and drowns, and wipes me away
But I'm so comfortable
So comfortable

Shut up, shut up, shut up, shut up
You're saturating me
How could I let this bring me
Back to my knees?

Third time in!
I've been baptized by your voice that
Screams, from deep beneath the cold black water that's
Half as high as heaven
Half as clear as reason
Cold and black like silt on the riverbed
Just as neverending
Current's mouth below me
Opens up around me
Suggests and beckons all while swallowing
Surrounds and drowns, and wipes me away
But I'm so comfortable
So comfortable

Shut up, shut up, shut up, shut up
You're saturating me
How could I let this happen?
Why don't you kill me?
I am weak and numb and insignificant
How could I let this bring me back to my knees?

Euphoria
Euphoria
Euphoria
Euphoria

I'm back down, I'm in the undertow
I'm helpless and I'm awake, I'm in the undertow
I'll die beneath the undertow
There doesn't seem to be a way out of the undertow

Euphoria


Lyrics submitted by dank, edited by Kangus, treachery3

"Undertow" as written by Maynars Keenan Adam Jones

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Undertow song meanings
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  • +5
    General CommentThis song is definitely about heroin. I am a heroin user., have been for almost a year now. This is about heroin, how wonderful it is as well as how terrible can be the comedown. Let's cite examples, shall we?

    "I've been struck dumb by a voice that speaks from deep beneath the cold black water."

    For starters, 'cold black water' should have been a dead giveaway if you've ever seen a heroin shot mixed and ready for injection. If you've ever tried to talk to anyone who's just bee shot up, you'll find they're unable to do anything but dreamily nod at you -- struck dumb by a voice from beneath the cold black water, quite literally. All the water imagery in this song, and much of it in the whole album, I believe, refers to heroin and the life-changing effects of the "black water".

    "But I'm so comfortable...Too comfortable."

    This is really easy. It refers to what we call "nodding out," where you are totally awake, but so comfortable you can't move at all.

    "shut up shut up shut up shut up
    shut up shut up shut up shut up
    you're saturating me
    So how could I let this bring me
    back to my knees again again again "

    This refers to about three hours after your shots, everyone becoming unable to deal with anyone else's voice, any sounds, everyone demanding absolute silence, feeling weak and vulnerable and poor and guilty.

    The final verse repeats a lot of this imagery from te perspective of the end of the night. You don't have much left, you're scraping your bag, etc., etc., and can't get nearly as high as you were before, filled with guilt and poverty and residual euphoria.

    Euphoria.... can anyone argue that this isn't about heroin?
    fifteenfathomsdownon September 23, 2004   Link
  • +3
    General CommentIf you're going to convince me on the meaning, you're going to have to explain the lyrics in relation with your ideas. This song is definitely about drugs. I'm thinking heroin because of the lines "Two times in", meaning the 2nd time he took it, "twice as high as heaven, and twice as clear as reason" are the ways it made him feel. I think this because the "third time in", it was only "half as high" and "half as clear". No other drug is really like heroin in that way. Like someone else said earlier, you NEVER get a high like that 1st heroin high. Heroin is the only drug that sours so quickly. Also, to WHITEOUT, who says that TooL never did drugs and all of that mess... You've obviously NEVER did drugs, and you don't understand TooL the way that you think you do. I grew up with this band and progressed along the same lines and at the same time as the band. During Undertow, I was a teenager with a lot of angst and anger, and TooL was there to let me know that they were too. Then I started experimenting with LSD, and other types of drugs, and I changed. TooL changed as well, tripping out to some degree and cracked open the egg with Third Eye from Aenima. I would laugh at anyone who thinks that Maynard particularly has never used LSD. LSD will make you want to be a more enlightened person, and also will make you want to quit drugs to start a spiritual journey WITHOUT drugs. This is what spawned the idea for Lateralus. EVERY TOOL ALBUM HAS BEEN A PROGRESSION FROM THE LAST. One might even argue that 10,000 Days is a slight "regression" to embrace some of the former ideas, as not to completely lose yourself.

    My point is that 1 or more members of TooL HAVE experimented with drugs in the past, and based on the fact that i KNOW what he is describing, this song is definitely about HEROIN, BUT ALSO... open to interpretation so that everyone can pull something different from it.
    ShoTguNGeNeTicSon February 23, 2012   Link
  • +2
    General CommentOne of my personal favorite Tool songs. The intensity emitted at the finale of this song puts shivers through my spine as Keenan stretches the word "euphoria" out over what seems to be eons of time, symbolizing the pull of the undertow as it brings you down into oblivion.

    Of course as with all of Tool's songs, the lyrics are not very user friendly, and are quite open to metaphoric interperetation. My current thought, and probably the most obvious would be that the undertow represents the numbing pull of addiction. Addiction to anything really, something that someone becomes attatched to, sucking them into a mindless typhoon of bliss where they don't need to think, and where they can't feel. Something all too common in todays world of sitcoms and QVC, this complex world has a man-made veil of simplicity masking it from the things we fear, and instead of living life we get sucked into the mindless euphoria represented by the undertow in this song.

    That is my current thought on it, always changing, always thinking.

    Please, I would like to hear others opinions as well.
    Makoeon January 22, 2002   Link
  • +2
    General Commentthis song is not about drugs (tool members are not addicts as far as i know).
    its a representation of society which dictates your life. you are brought into a world where you are taught religion and where you enjoy all the matierial possesions. these things restrict the true nature of life which is to simply exist till you die. you have religions saying you can and can't do certain things, you have government and media showing you what you want to do, being swept under in the ocean of lies that society has created. you get used to the way it all works and think you're enjoying this reality others have dictated to you when in actuality, you're on your knees worshipping and contributing to the system of lies. when you become aware of how screwed up our world is and how wrapped up most of the world is in their petty matierial problems, you're helplessly awake in the undertow. and you will die in the undertow that you were raised and lived in because there is no way out of the laws and rediculous wars that the world around us creates. so stay ignorant and blissful or become aware and bear the burdon of the knowledge that you are being swept along in the sea of chaos at the mercey of of governments who think they know whats best for us.
    Eightba||on June 09, 2002   Link
  • +2
    Song Meaning"Undertow is a song about repeated drug use. The voice that he hears is some sort of craving for this drug (or something), it suggests nice things to him, and beckons him. When it surrounds and drowns and wipes him away, he is obviously succumbing to this drug. Then, he regains his senses and asks 'How could I let this bring me back to my knees?' realizing that this thing isn't good for him ... The undertow represents the state of being under the influence, euphoria has it's obvious meaning."
    Phrontisteson June 20, 2010   Link
  • +2
    General CommentWell, you can replace drugs with self-pity, feeling defeated and not being able to get back on your feet again. And of course your shadow that comes to the rescue and helps you stitch yourself back together.
    kraherton October 30, 2010   Link
  • +2
    My InterpretationI think Undertow is a allegory describing Manic Depression aka Bi Polar Disorder, or some other form of mental disorder. Reading accounts of people and knowing people who experience manic highs and depressions make these lyrics stand out as this is the only possible meaning this song could have...of course with any great allegory or metaphor, it is left to our interpretations and we can utilize these great songs to fit our lives. What philosopher or poet would want to write something that only applied to a single collective group of needle users?

    The voice that speaks from deep, is his depression calling him. Beyond all reason, opens up and swallows him into a cold dark place that for some reason he is comfortable in, although he knows its suffocating him.
    Shut up, Shut up…..Fighting the empty and cold feeling, he knows its overwhelming him and it isn’t what he wants, wants to fight this feeling, fight the voices in his head.
    He is feeling defeated, doesn’t know how he could have let this happen, and is throwing his hands up, saying kill him already….
    Euphoria = Manic Highs….absolute EUPHORIA, just as the music is retarding, BAM back into the undertow of cold black waters (depression)

    At least this is what this song means to me.
    Biff2252on October 11, 2011   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI have to assume this is like many of tools songs about matters metaphysical and alchemical. Specifically, being touched by kundalini.
    svasanvedanaon November 06, 2011   Link
  • +1
    General CommentThis song means to me quite literally what it feels like to be in an undertow. As in wiping out on a huge wave. You're at the mercy of a vast force that will hold you down until it lets you go.

    This is symbolic of our place in the universe. it is cold and hostile place, indifferent to our wants and needs, it goes as it goes. To realize this i think is the euphoria.
    Tunes24on July 05, 2014   Link
  • +1
    QuestionI'm pretty confident that this song is about addiction. There are too many songs written by Maynard in the early days of Tool that are so clearly about 'Opiate's and 'H' specifically to ignore that possibility. However, I was singing along to this song last night and had an interesting thought.

    Could this song possibly be using a dual meaning to reference the death of Jeff Buckley as well? Just a thought :)
    reilly1202on July 13, 2016   Link

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