I started out drinking, it stays that way
Was not at all human and I killed another day
On the wall there's another earth at my neck there's another knife
Another wrinkle in my skin, another kick that I can't feel

I started out hating myself and when I'm through
I've gotta have something to hate, and I guess it's you
Man's gotta have something to hate, guess I'll do
And when I'm through with myself, I'll start on you

Everything I do makes me want to die
I started out drinking, I wonder why
I started out drinking, it stays that way
Was not at all human and I killed another day

On the wall, there's another earth
At my neck, there's another knife
Another wrinkle in my skin
Another trip that I can't make

Man's gotta hate someone, and I guess I'll do
And when I'm through with myself, I'll start on you
I started out hating myself, now that I'm through
I'm looking for someone to hate, guess you'll do


Lyrics submitted by infotainment_lad, edited by peter_floyd

Tiny, King Of The Jews song meanings
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5 Comments

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  • +5
    My InterpretationTiny, King of The Jews may not be the best title for this song, but it does hit the major themes. "Tiny" refers to a small man, an impotent man, a man who feels he is of no importance. A drunk with nothing better to do than spend his time drinking and despising. Yet "King of the Jews" implies he sees himself as a martyr. The lyrics suggest nothing that implies dissonance between his understanding of himself, therefore we have a minor disconnect in the song title. The subject of the song seems to have accepted his perspective on life, isn't necessarily content with it, but is probably unwilling to accept other points of view.

    This song is a foray into the mind of an alcoholic whose disease has progressed to a point that he is no longer functional. Without help, the alcoholic is confined to repeating a series of negative cognitive and emotional scripts, which lead to a downward behavioral spiral characterized by isolation and self-loathing. Isolation and self-loathing lead to drinking, drinking provides temporary relief from the unpleasance of isolation; withdrawal from alcohol leads to more self-loathing and failure to see one's part in social interactions. Ignorance of one's own part in interactions leads to blaming others for one's troubles and subsequent affective state, which is quickly fixed with more booze and drugs. Of course there is always the withdrawal or DTs; the alcoholic obsessively continues the process until someone or something intervenes. Afterward he may stay sober for a while, but relapse is a part of the disease and the cycle of hating and drinking will usually continue at some point or another.

    Tiny, King of The Jews is brilliant. The music delivers an affective theme that matches perfectly with the lyrical theme. It is structured repetitively just as the alcoholic's life repetitively revolves around pain, terror, anxiety, and trying to escape such feelings, only to experience more suffering as a result of the brief escape. As OutdoorMiner mentioned, the muffled vocals give it a menacing feel, but I'd go one step further and say the muffled vocals contribute to the theme of the impotence of an alcoholic; nobody trusts an alcoholic, not even the alcoholic himself, and being untrustworthy leads to powerlessness. Muffled vocals give us a greater sense of the powerlessness the subject of the song feels.
    Valentino3on July 02, 2011   Link
  • +1
    General CommentA lot of that isn't right, This is a version I got from The Steve Albini Lyrics Project, which I've fixed up in a few parts; missing lines &c.

    Of course this is far from perfect, but maybe a bit closer to the real words. Or not.
    --------------------------------------------------------------

    I started out drinking
    It stays that way
    Was not at all human
    And I killed another day
    On the wall is another earth
    At my neck is another knife
    Another wrinkle in my skin
    Another kick that I can't feel

    I start out hating myself
    And when I'm through
    I've gotta have someone to hate
    And I guess it's you
    Man's gotta have someone to hate
    Guess I'll do
    And when I'm through with myself
    I'll start on you

    Everything I do
    Makes me want to die
    I started out drinking
    I wonder why
    I started out drinking
    And it stays that way
    Was not at all human
    And I killed another day
    On the wall is another earth
    On my neck is the other knife
    Another wrinkle in my skin
    Another trip that I can't make
    Man's gotta hate someone
    And I guess I'll do
    And when I'm through with myself
    I'll start on you
    I start out hating myself
    And when I'm through
    I'm looking for someone to hate
    Guess you'll do

    --------------------------------------------------------------
    dio_marchon February 10, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI love the line:

    "I start out hating myself
    And when I'm through
    I've gotta have someone to hate
    And I guess it's you"

    And all it's variations. It just goes to show how those with the most hate in their hearts turn out to hate themselves even more.
    timothyrealon October 15, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General CommentOne of my favourite Big Black songs. The muffled vocals give it this really menacing feel that gets under my skin (in a good way). As for meaning, I'm not quite sure, other than the obvious self-hatred turned outwards.

    The title confuses me because I'm not sure what it has to do with Jews. I also wonder if the song is related to a particular event or person.
    OutdoorMineron May 28, 2009   Link
  • 0
    General CommentHoly shit, these lyrics made me almost start crying.
    RingAnimatedon April 05, 2014   Link

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