"Turnin' On The Screw" as written by and Josh/castillo Homme....
You got the question? Please don't ask it
It puts the lotion in the basket
You say bigger's better, but bigger's bigger
White boy dressed up like a figure

Drawn inside a toilet on the wall
The world is round, my square don't fit at all

They say those who can't just instruct others
And act like victims or jilted lovers
You can't lose it if you never had it
Disappear, man, do some magic

Want a reason? How's about because
You ain't a has been if you never was

I sound like this

Scared to say what is your passion
So slag it all, bitter's in fashion
Fear of failure's all you've started
The jury is in, verdict: retarded

I'm so tired, and I'm wired too
I'm a mess; I guess I'm turning on the screw


Lyrics submitted by ConceitedStu, edited by Primus2112, 2ft1st

"Turnin on the Screw" as written by Troy Dean Van Leeuwen Josh Homme

Lyrics © Kobalt Music Publishing Ltd., Warner/Chappell Music, Inc.

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Turnin' On The Screw song meanings
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  • +6
    General CommentThe song sets the tone for the rest of the album, which is full of Josh's observations on the state of the youth. Era Vulgaris is certainly the most insightful, if not outright political, Queens album to date.

    Josh seems to believe young people have conformity shoved down their throats from a young age ("got a question, please don't ask it") and how he uses the cliche of "square peg in a round hole" to represent himself as an outsider, someone who doesn't fit the prescribed norm.

    The song, like several others on the album, deals with apathy in young people. I love the second verse for this reason; it is a bitter condemnation of mental stagnation. He implies that those who never tried to follow their dreams act "like jilted lovers" but like a cheated lover, have only themselves to blame for their indifference.

    It's better to be a has-been than to never have actually accomplished anything; "I'm not good enough" is not a valid excuse for not trying.

    I gotta cut this off, but here's my interpretation of the title: a screw is a tool driven by something larger and more useful than itself. If you don't try to make yourself something, you are simply sitting on top of the screw as it turns and is driven into the static throes of apathy. The message is that you should be the drill and not the screw.
    DoubleZebraon November 08, 2007   Link
  • +5
    General CommentThis is the best song on the album. I bought it yesterday, and I'v listened to this song at least 22 times.

    I think it's about feeling awkward/not fitting in compared to the rest of society. Especially because of the Silence of the Lambs reference, and lines such as "The world is round, My square don’t fit at all" (My favorite line of the song). "Turning on the Screw" could mean going against what fits and what makes sense in society. The screw is conformity, and turning on it is rebellion.

    The title reminds on of "Taming of the Shrew." Anyone else think of this?

    The world is round,
    My square don’t fit at all
    ibanezfender63on June 15, 2007   Link
  • +4
    General CommentThe title may refer to the ghost story "The turn of the Screw" by Henry James. I think that at least part of this song refers the development of an unstable mind and the silence of the lambs quote on line 2 can only further describe it. Just the various sounds of this song hint at something slowly growing, like maybe one's insanity. He has rejected all chance of reason or sense because of inconsistency or even complete absence and instead he is satisfying his mind in another way.
    spdson May 24, 2009   Link
  • +3
    General Commentdoes anyone else think those cool guitar parts that pan left to right and left again after the first chorus (and they do it repeatedly at the end of the song when the drums start changing) sound sort of like an electric screw driver or some sort of drill? homme said in an interview that the album sounds electrical, like a construction worker and the title along with those guitar parts were the first connection i made.

    also, anyone know what he means by 'white boy dressed up like a figure drawn inside a toilet on the wall'?
    TheSteve0965on September 13, 2010   Link
  • +2
    General Commentyou guys are all missing the true greatness of this song it is at the very begining when he is like drum solo, "WHOA!" lol makes me laugh everytime
    kickjazzon September 17, 2007   Link
  • +1
    General Commentits "Turning on the Screw" not "Turning On A Screw"
    JoeBobJimon May 29, 2007   Link
  • +1
    General CommentIt's actually "Turnin' on the Screw", not "Turning On A Screw" or "Turning on the Screw".

    Ha. I had my fun, but I'm really liking this song. They had a video preview of this song, which made me excited for it. It really is a good song, along side "Suture Up Your Future".
    onethousandnailson June 06, 2007   Link
  • +1
    General CommentTurning on the Screw? Screws are the guys who run jails... I suppose that's Homme talking about turning on authority figures, but it's also surely a reference to the idiom: turning the screws. (Using coercion to force people to do what you want.)

    Perhaps the sight change in the phrase is meant to reference the idiom, while also implying the aformentioned rebellion. It's a brilliant twist of phrase. You're turning on the screws --so I'll turn on the screw. (i.e. you jerks)

    I think ibanezfender is right. This song is filled with comments about society, judgements, being different, and ambition.

    If have questions don't ask them, you won't be a loser if you never are anything, and if you have no talent just tell other people what to do. Society doesn't want you to think or try because they're jealous or small minded.

    The last paragraph is really telling. You pursue your passion because everyone's bitter and cynical.

    The jury line may either be Hommes simply commenting on society, (they're retarded) or society judging you/the different/the creative as retarded.
    SuperMutanton June 15, 2007   Link
  • +1
    My InterpretationThis is such a great and quietly cocky song. With hints of 'screw what everyone thinks'. It makes sense if you think about Josh Homme in general and some of the verses in 'Misfit Love' (His favourite song of the album) such as 'I'm born to win, i'm so sick baby it's a sin' and 'Sidewalks feel me strut so good'.

    The first two verses are about not being bothered by what others say and just be proud of who you are - 'Got a question?' don't bother asking, not interested in what you think. Just be obedient and put the lotion in the basket (obvious Silence of the Lambs reference- you're beneath me). Then 'a square don't fit at all' - considers himself to be different to the crowd.
    The 2nd verse: People telling him how he should sing, write songs, behave etc. (He's always been conscious of not fitting with the rest of music - watch the rolling stone interview about being a 'People person'). His response to them - Well, 'disappear man, do some magic', 'You aint a has been, if you never was'! (Nice!)

    The final verse is also about people's opinions: people being scared of trying to achieve something in life, so they just slag everyone else off. Which he thinks is retarded.

    Fantastic, underrated song. The beauty of Queens are that so many of their songs have different interpretations, that's what makes them so great.
    elnocho3on August 20, 2012   Link
  • +1
    Song MeaningIt's definitely about how sexculture has changed for the bad. I mean: TURNING on the SCREW. Turning is changing, and screw is of course screwing someone, so sex.

    It puts the lotion in the basket: So if you ask how you're supposed to have sex, you ruin the chemistry and the lotion goes in the basket, so no sex.

    You say bigger's better but bigger's bigger: Obviously about penis size

    White boy cast out like a figure: The white boy pretends to be something he's not.

    The world is round my square don't fit at all: His penis doesn't fit, but probably in a sarcastic way, because penises not fitting in the hole is bullshit.

    You can't lose it if you never had it: Virginity

    And then the most important one, Fear of failure is all you've started: People are afraid to fail at being good at sex etc etc etc

    I think you can fill the rest in for yourselves.
    JesperLocheron April 20, 2014   Link

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