"You Know What You Are?" as written by and Michael Reznor....
I try to slip myself through, try to get to the other side
I have to patch up the cracks and the holes that I have to hide
For a little bit of time, even, maybe, it worked okay?
Just long enough to really make it hurt
When they figured me out and it all just rotted away

Don't you fucking know what you are? (x3)
(go on, get back to where you belong)

You better take a good look cause I'm full of shit
With every bit my heart and I tried to believe in it
You can push it all out, you can try to pretend
But you can't change anything, you can't change anything in the end

Don't you fucking know what you are? (x3)
(go on, get back to where you belong)

Don't you fucking know what you are...?

Remember where you came from?
Remember what you are?

Don't you fucking know what you are?
Go on, get back to where you belong...


Lyrics submitted by brettjrob

"You Know What You Are?" as written by Michael Reznor

Lyrics © THE BICYCLE MUSIC COMPANY

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You Know What You Are? song meanings
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38 Comments

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  • +3
    General CommentIt is hard to believe in yourself and in your art when it is being sold to the masses for a gross profit.
    Nine Inch Nails writes emotional, and intellectual music that transcends mere sales... yet don't forget its part of a consumer network.

    You better take a good look cause I'm full of shit
    With every bit my heart and I tried to believe in it

    Looking back on it, the images he presented and themes dealt with in albums are beautiful, yet they are industrialized to the point of being souless...

    You can push it all out, you can try to pretend
    But you can't change anything, you can't change anything in the end

    His battle with interscope over control of his music was long and dirty...
    couldn't even play with the set he wanted at the grammy's... so he denied it.

    This song is his stage of recognition, that his music has become another aspect of consumer culture, yet its marketed as 'underground' to all the subversive teens...

    So ask yourself DON'T YOU FUCKING KNOW WHAT YOU ARE?
    You are a consumer whore if you bought this record or payed 60 bucks to see a show.
    He realizes that he is no better (thankfully he is respectfully independently now).

    As for you, Go on, get back to where you belong...
    himopolioon March 19, 2009   Link
  • +2
    General CommentA train full of Nine Inch Nails leave a station. Meanwhile, somewhere else, at the same time, a train full of punk music leaves another station along the same track.

    For some odd reason, the two collide.

    The outcome is this song.
    Spoon333on August 10, 2007   Link
  • +1
    General CommentThis, I think, is part of the realization that the answers you desperately hoped you could find in someone else can only be found within. This is the probably the hurtiest part-- right after the heartbreak, after you're told it'll never work, that you'll only ever be friends. You put on a brave, brave face, trying with all your heart to believe in it, but it's just a facade waiting to crumble. Honesty with yourself brings it down all the faster, and it *must* happen, or you lose your mind. I know this because I just lived through it. Kindness to others is the only way out.
    Maxwell_Blankon June 14, 2005   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI think it's simple, but I think people here have misinterpreted it grossly (would have happened)

    it's about trying to get through society the only possible way, but covering up what you really are. He (not personally implying Trent, but who knows) tries to meet his goals by "slipping by" with a few lies here and there. Everyone has to do it, maybe he has to do it more because he isn't "normal" by others standards (as example, if you like being alone, people single you out as strange) so he has to "patch up the cracks and the holes that I _HAVE_ to hide"

    Sooner or later people figure it out, because people are nosey and the more you get into their business the more they must know about you. They figure it out just when it hurts the most, and you're instantly placed in the bad books.

    The second verse seals it IMO, he is saying that he's been called out for who he is, he tried to believe he could be what others wanted, but it really didn't change anything (he's who he is, that can't be changed). So he can go back to where he belongs (alone maybe?)

    Anyhow, other people don't mind being complete fakes, lead around by trends and other bullshit. And to those people reading:

    DON'T YOU FUCKING KNOW WHAT YOU ARE?
    brinkon April 08, 2007   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI agree with Maxwell Blank, well put:

    This, I think, is part of the realization that the answers you desperately hoped you could find in someone else can only be found within. This is the probably the hurtiest part-- right after the heartbreak, after you're told it'll never work, that you'll only ever be friends. You put on a brave, brave face, trying with all your heart to believe in it, but it's just a facade waiting to crumble. Honesty with yourself brings it down all the faster, and it *must* happen, or you lose your mind. I know this because I just lived through it. Kindness to others is the only way out.
    OnlyNINon June 21, 2010   Link
  • +1
    General Commentlol I thought it was a break up song with Manson.
    Sarrellson November 15, 2010   Link
  • 0
    General CommentHi, so for the first comment on the song, I think an example of one of the meanings of the song is that the leaders of the country and leaders all around the world including the fore fatherswere slave drivers doing more bad than good. The line that made me think that was "Remember where you came from? Remember what you are?" What do you think?
    davilmanon April 26, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI think this song is about being yourself, and not pretending to be something that you are not. "You can try to pretend. But you can't change anything" - pretty obvious.
    Eatcarpeton April 28, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThis songs meaning is of course very debatable (well... Untill Mr. Reznor decides to perhaps tell us what its about). To me its bassicaly making fun of sheeple, worthless people who live worthless lives and do nothing for mankind, and remain willfully ignorant of things... I just like thinking that because bassicaly I think most people are completly pathetic, and Reznor shares my distaste for how worthless people are... Lines that might back my theory:

    But you can't change anything, you can't change anything in the end

    (Peoples inability to do anything meaningfull with there lives)

    When they figured me out and it all just rotted away
    (People who would mock Reznor, despite his musical genius and inteligence and influence in music and peoples lives, just because they dont like his music).

    Very personal take, I look forward to the day when Reznor might say what this is about.
    SwiftSlothon April 28, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThis is a song about trying to believe the lies you tell, and trying to convince others that they're true.

    Basically, trying to prove you love someone whom you really don't love or something like that.

    verything goes great untill you make one wrong move, and expose how you truely do feel, then everything just gets fucked up in the end.

    The female you're with tries to ignore the fact you don't love her, and pretends that it isn't true. But in the end...she "can't change anything."

    The song during the chorus regresses and basically tells the non-loving person to get out of the other side, and get back to where they belong. Alone.

    They're loveless.

    This song is infact, about living a lie and it being exposed to someone who's using you, who tries not to believe it, and tries everything to change it, but can't.
    BLEEDTHROUGHon April 30, 2005   Link

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