"A Stranger" as written by and Maynard James/howerdel Keenan....
Cast the calming apple
Up and over satellites
To draw out the timid wild one
To convince you it's alright
And I listen for the whisper
Of your sweet insanity while I formulate
Denials of your effect on me

You're a stranger
So what do I care
You vanish today
Not the first time I hear
All the lies

What am I to do with all this silence
Shy away, shy away phantom
Run away terrified child
Won't you move away you you fuckin tornado
I'm better off without you
Tearing my will down


Lyrics submitted by ObsessiveTendencies, edited by Serspring

"A Stranger" as written by Nathan Lyons Adam Lyons

Lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Warner/Chappell Music, Inc., Universal Music Publishing Group

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A Stranger song meanings
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  • +4
    General CommentThis is the actual song meaning explained by MAYNARD JAMES KEENAN.

    "A STRANGER, UM BREIF EXPLANATION. I'M SURE MANY OF YOU HAD THAT SITUATION WHERE YOU'VE COME IN CONTACT WITH SOMEONE YOU THOUGHT YOU HAD A SPECIAL CONNECTION WITH BUT THEIR BEHAVIOR WAS SO ERRATIC AND OVER THE TOP YOU'RE NOT SURE WHAT HIT YA. KIND OF LIKE A TORNADO RELATIONSHIP. UM, AND THATS KIND OF WHAT A STRANGER IS ABOUT."
    Aso there you have it.
    Lloyd-Giovanni666on September 18, 2004   Link
  • +3
    General Commentmind you, all other interpretations have validity, and this is mine. I think that if you continue with the drug motif of the entire album, it seems that at this point, the addict is begining to realize what the drugs are doing to him. He speaks of the "sweet insanity" that the high brings while the addict forms denials of the way the drug is tearing apart his life (in the song, the addict is personally addressing the drug as if it were a person, by the way)
    The addict refers to the drug as being a stranger, partly because of the inhuman affect it has on him. It is astranged to his emotions, indifferent to the way he feels.
    Lastly, the addict comes to the decision that he no longer wants the drug to be a part of his life. He has grown tired of the wall he has put between himself and the world and the silence it has brought down on him. The drug has felt him feeling like a "terrified child" and now the child is going to run away.
    When put in this perspective, it becomes obvious that the tornado is a reference to the whirlwind effect that has personified the drug. Finally, the addict has resoved to break his addiction, weary of the drug breaking down his willpower again and again.
    maddawgon April 20, 2004   Link
  • +2
    General CommentI always thought it was "move a way from the tornade"....
    makes more sense to me.
    I still can't quite figure out what this song is really about, but it is soooo beautiful... like a cold sunset.
    NyanaKittyon April 11, 2004   Link
  • +2
    General CommentIt's fine to have varying interpretations, and if you want to believe that this song is about a relationship, or that he says tomato, or that this is from the perspective of a drug dealer, thats your prerogative.

    My interpretation, however, is as follows:

    Thirteenth Step is about addiction. It's not necessarily addiction to drugs, it could be an addiction to ANYTHING. That said, this song is being sung from the perspective of someone who has decided to conquer their addiction.

    The stranger is themself. This is very difficult for someone who has never been addicted to something to understand. The stranger is the addiction, and the addiction is themselves. It's one in the same.

    What I mean is that the person singing this song has decided to end their addiction, and can now see the person who they were, and it is a complete stranger to them. It's a controlled puppet version of themself.


    This is a person who is aware that their addiction is ruining their life, and is in the beginning stages of STOPPING the addiction altogether.
    I'll explain line by line:

    "Cast the calming apple
    Up and over satellites
    To draw out the timid wild one"

    Apple imagery is used repeatedly on this album. Perhaps this is the apple from the garden of eden?
    Using this logic he is taking the apple - which is a symbol of the downfall of man and evil (JUST LIKE ADDICTION) and he's tossing it away - he's throwing it as far away as possible... throwing something over a satellite is a pretty damn long distance. So he's casting out his addiction. For example, he has stopped using drugs. "To draw out the timid wild one" - basically to get rid of the addict inside him.


    The next couple lines:

    "To convince you it's alright
    And I listen for the whisper
    Of your sweet insanity while I formulate
    Denials of your effect on me"

    This is the part that a true addict will understand and it reinforces my interpretation.
    "the whisper" is the little voice in the back of your head that tells you to give in to your addiction. It is as if your soul is telling you its okay to give into the addiction and continue doing drugs or whatever without question. Believe me, it's there, and an addict trusts this voice because it is themself. It's an extremely difficult voice to say no to, more difficult than any peer pressure.
    He's coming up with ways to deny that the drug is effecting him so that when the voice comes to tempt him, he can give into it and not feel like he has to fight it.
    THIS IS THE HARDEST PART OF OVERCOMING ADDICTION!!! Your will power has to be stronger than your desire to feed the addiction, and it's very draining. its a constant internal fight!


    "You're a stranger
    So what do i care
    You vanish today
    Not the first time I hear"

    The tense remains the same, the "you" is still the addiction, its still that voice in his head that I was talking about. Again he's trying to justify or find a way to continue feeding the addiction. Addicts do this!
    The purpose these couple lines serve, and the title of the song, is to show just how powerful and how controlling addictions are. You're not really me, what do I care anyway, you'll leave me when the effects wear off...you'll leave and I can quit later.

    But he's fighting this...he's determined to quit....

    "What am I to do with all this silence?"

    There is a big void in your life, a big silence, when you remove an addiction. Its like losing a loved one; suddenly one of the most important things in your life is just gone! This is probably the most emotionally moving line on the entire album.


    "Shy away, shy away phantom
    Run away terrified child
    Won't you move away you fuckin tornado
    I'm better off without you
    Tearing my will down "

    His will to stop the addiction is speaking here. He's saying that the tornado - which is the addiction thats been ripping up his life needs to "fuckin" move away! He knows he's better off without it, and he knows that it's trying to defeat his will to quit.

    Again, the hardest part about overcoming addiction is fighting your internal desire to continue and feed it. I think that people who aren't addicts and can't understand this underestimate how powerful it is and how difficult it is to overcome.
    I have never been addicted to hardcore drugs, but I was a smoker for 5 years, and I know what these feelings are like.

    This is my favorite song on the album.
    lonelytowerson February 10, 2005   Link
  • +2
    General CommentI think the lyrics are wrong, this is what I hear:

    Not the first time I hear all the lies*
    Shy away
    Shy away Phantom
    Run away
    Terrified child
    Won't you
    Move away
    You* fuckin' tornado
    I'm better off with you
    Tearing my will* down

    Some one/thing is having a negative effect on him, and he is living in denial. Finally he snaps out of it.

    The tornado is some strong negative force in this persons life, and he's standing up to it by calling it name and telling it to get the fuck away from him. He's tired of it, well, "tearing his will down".
    rarecorojoon August 31, 2009   Link
  • +2
    General CommentA classic theme: unrequited love
    ForeverShelyon April 15, 2010   Link
  • +2
    General CommentTHIS is from A Perfect Circle's Website:

    Cast the calming apple
    Up and over satellites
    To draw out the timid wild one
    To convince you it's alright
    And I listen for the whisper
    Of your sweet insanity while I formulate
    Denials of your affect on me

    You're a stranger
    So what do I care
    You vanished today
    Not the first time I hear
    Or the last.

    What am I to do with all this silence.
    Shy away, shy away phantom
    Run away terrified child
    Won't you move away you fucking tornado
    I'm better off without you
    Tearing my world down.


    FINALLY THE ARGUMENT OVER LYRICS IS DONE!
    Donzion March 20, 2011   Link
  • +1
    General Commenti think maddawg is on the right track, but i think the theme of the CD isn't drugs, i think its addiction in general, be that whatever it may.
    RTKon June 08, 2004   Link
  • +1
    General CommentIt's not "fucking tornado" or tomato or anything, it's PHANTOM MAIDEN. Jesus.
    Wurby Tictocon October 06, 2004   Link
  • +1
    General CommentAfter deep thought into the meaning of this song, I believe I've found the truth.

    Following MJK's religious themes, I correlated the words from the song to the words of Genesis.

    Think of this as a 3rd Person Omniscient character narrating the acts of God in Genesis.

    "Cast the calming apple"
    Plant the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil.

    "Up and over satellites"
    Satellites can be used to describe smaller likenesses of a greater being, much like humans are smaller likenesses of God.

    "To draw out the timid wild one"
    The Devil is the Timid Wild One. He is the wild one that comes calmly and convincingly.

    "To convince you it's alright"
    The Devil convinced Adam and Eve it was alright to eat the fruit of the tree.

    "And I listen for the whisper of your sweet insanity"
    Listen for the whisper, aka repercussions, of your insanity.

    "While I formulate denials of your effect on me"
    This is God, upset and torn apart by what these silly humans have done, trying to tell himself he doesn't need them.

    "What am I to do with all this silence"
    God is no longer directly talking to Adam and Eve, as he once did.

    "Shy away, shy away phantom"
    Speaking to God, telling him to 'shy away'.

    "Run away terrified child"
    Speaking to Adam and Eve, the children of God.

    "Won't you move away you fuckin tornado. I'm better off without tearing my will down"
    God convincing himself that humans only destroy, and ruin the will of God.

    More later.
    halfbakedlammaon April 09, 2008   Link

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