Nature, nurture, heaven and home
Sum of all and by them driven
To conquer every mountain shown
But I've never crossed the river

Braved the forest, braved the stone
Braved the icy winds and fire
Braved and beat them on my own
Yet I'm helpless by the river

Angel, angel what have I done
I've faced the quakes, the wind, the fire
I've conquered country, crown, and throne
Why can't I cross this river?

Angel, angel what have I done
I've faced the quakes, the wind, the fire
I've conquered country, crown, and throne
Why can't I cross this river?

Pay no mind to the battles you've won
It'll take a lot more than rage and muscle
Open your heart and hands my son
Or you'll never make it over the river

It'll take a lot more than words and guns
A whole lot more than riches and muscle
The hands of the many must join as one
And together we'll cross the river

It'll take a lot more than words and guns
A whole lot more than riches and muscle
The hands of the many must join as one
Open your heart and hands my son
Or you'll never make it over the river

(Nature, nurture, heaven and home)
It'll take a lot more than words and guns
(Sum of all and by them driven)
A whole lot more than riches and muscle
(To conquer every mountain shown)
The hands of the many must join as one
And together we'll cross the river

(Braved the forest, braved the stone)
It'll take a lot more than words and guns
(Braved the icy winds and fire)
A whole lot more than riches and muscle
(Braved and beat them on my own)
The hands of the many must join as one
And together we'll cross the river


Lyrics submitted by Lody, edited by armorhide7, Deshra


The Humbling River song meanings
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46 Comments

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  • +4
    General CommentAbsolutely brilliant. Once again I have been Maynardized by a spiritual uplifting that is MJK.
    Humbling Indeed. Reminds us of the speculation that our spiritual evolution will bring about an end of the Age of the Warrior, and the Age of the Artist will triumph. Ego driven, emotionally rationalized, material natured beings brought into light where Love, Compassion, and Balance shall dictate the Infinite. For what is the purpose of existence if not to take the conquered country, crown, and throne; the words and riches; the courage of the flesh into a journey across the River to come out the other end...Humbled.

    -Mr. James
    LostInTheRaptureon November 11, 2009   Link
  • +4
    My InterpretationWow I reckon this song is Maynard at his best! Damn that man can write. Here is my interpretation.

    “Nature, nurture, heaven and home. Sum of all and by them driven to conquer every mountain shown. But have never crossed the river.”

    These form the fundamentals of what motivates us. nature = land/chattels/resources. nurture = love/family/offspring, heaven = religions/beliefs, home = what we identify as ours/a man’s castles/patriarchy. They are what motivates us to overcome adversity/obstacles/challenges, or to grow/bring about positive change. We generally accept that mountain = obstacle (for example, consider the saying “mountains out of molehills”). So, we have these motivations that drive us to overcome obstacles we face. These obstacles can be physical but could also be spiritual/intellectual/emotional.

    The river is the next obstacle we as a human race must face. It is less rigid and more fluid than the mountain. It is new territory for us. The human race has yet to conquer this.

    “Braved the forest braved the stone. Braved the icy winds and fire. Braved and beat them on my own. Yet I'm helpless by the river.”

    Listed here are examples of the elements the human race has faced throughout our existence. These appear to all be physical however, these may all be have an emotional, spiritual, etc – depends on your interpretation or where you are at when you listen to this song. (For me right now, these also represent emotional states and unique experiences that I have personally overcome). The human race has gotten through all of these hardships, used them to our advantage even. But we have done all of this from an egotistical standpoint (“Braved and beat them on my own”). We still have this lack of connectedness from our neighbours. We look after ourselves and what’s ours and our familes. We do not bend to a sense of connectedness with outgroups (ie: foreign countries, other races).

    We need to be equipped to cross the river, there are new tools we need to acquire. But until we realise this, we are helpless in passing this objective.

    “Angel, angel what have I done? I've faced the quakes the wind, the fire. I've conquered country, crown, and throne. Why can't I cross this river?”

    Here, the author is reflecting on his achievements/successes and asking himself / his God (a prayer if you will) what he is missing. Why have I been able to achieve all of this yet this simple damn river is uncrossable?

    “Pay no mind to the battles you've won. It'll take a lot more than rage and muscle. Open your heart and hands my son. Or you'll never make it over the river. It'll take a lot more that wars and guns. A whole lot more than riches and muscle. The hands of the many must join as one. And together we'll cross the river.”

    Here the higher power speaks back. As I am not a religious person, I prefer to think of this as the moment of enlightenment. The author comes to the realisation that all the tools acquired in the past and what he considered were most valuable are actually useless for this next obstacle. You cannot cross a river with a violence, aggression, wealth or power. Rather, the tools needed are love, compassion, empathy. The human race needs to open their hearts and join hands with all of humanity. Consider the Tool song – Reflection, from the Lateralus album (If I had to pick a favourite Tool song, I guess Reflection speaks to me like no other). We need to realise we are all one race and we are all connected to each other and to the Cosmos. Love thy neighbour. When we finally come together, then we can move on – over this obstacle.

    I think that crossing the river is the next step in our evolutionary chain. An evolution in consciousness. This is a much more fluid concept than our earlier obstacles, being more along the lines of energy sources, land ownership, war, power, wealth. We are at a point in time where there is much turmoil, inequality, capitalisation, marginalisation, poverty, turmoil, hopelessness. To truly overcome these new adversities, we need to look deep into our hearts and souls. We have to find a new way of thinking. We have to start looking out for one another. We need to join hands and become the one race that we are meant to be.

    I’m not saying my interpretation is right or wrong for everyone, it is a subjective thing. Like any interpretation should be, it just fits in with where my head is at these days. Hope you guys enjoyed it.

    Btw, I also love what LostInTheRapture had to say about this song.

    =)
    sinnamonsinson January 20, 2012   Link
  • +3
    My InterpretationI don't think that it necessarily means death, though it could definitely been taken that way. If you take the Buddhist interpretation it means reaching nirvana, often characterized as crossing a river. The only part that is puzzling to me is "the hands of the many must join as one." Typically in Buddhism it is possible for an individual to reach nirvana without help from others. A Bodhisattva, however, chooses to reincarnate over and over to help all sentient beings reach nirvana, so from a Bodhisattva's point of view, all sentient beings must join together so that we can all cross the river. I don't think Maynard is trying to be too specific, just giving a general feeling of letting go of achievements of the ego and working toward enlightenment, calling for others to join along.
    ChuanRion July 15, 2010   Link
  • +2
    General CommentIt seems to be a message saying "your actions are meaningless in the long run, unless you can bring yourself to harmonise with everyone"... Much more simplified than I would like, but hey... It's hard to put it into words.
    unbeliever121on June 19, 2010   Link
  • +2
    Song MeaningI believe he is referring to transcendence. Frequently in eastern religions a river is used as a metaphor for enlightenment. The irony is nobody can cross it, for once you glimpse transcendence, the landscape changes.
    MsTranscendenceon September 21, 2010   Link
  • +2
    My InterpretationI think this song is exactly what the title says. learning to be humble. you can be rich, strong, conqueror, etc but none of that matters if you're not humble and helping fellow man.
    kluvah711on May 05, 2012   Link
  • +2
    My InterpretationThere is a very obvious theme of overcoming obstacles, and an inability to do so at a certain point. When I listen to Maynard sing the words, I think about how he has accomplished so much in his life, with his career, and overcoming whatever personal obstacles he's faced in his life in order to succeed professionally. And yet, for all that, something is lacking. Even though he has embraced so much of the human experience, and tried to enhance his perspective to view humanity as a single entity, so many of the rest of us fail to do so. We're helpless by the river, in this sense. To overcome this obstacle, it will require a whole lot more than riches and muscle. A whole lot more than words and guns. Pay no mind to the battles you've won. To me, this line means that the various wars we have fought in the past are meaningless when you view all of humanity as one. War is just a failure to transcend our more primitive impulses. It represents a failure of different cultures to understand one another. Even if "your side" wins, we all lose, because we should all be on the same side, working together to make the world we all share better. This is the real struggle. In my opinion, religion only serves to divide humanity against itself. Muslims are not about to forget their religion and become Christians, and Christians are not about to forget their religion and embrace Islam. The only solution is to create a new philosophy based on peace and universal brotherhood and sisterhood. You can think up any rationalization or excuse you want, but the truth is that if there really is some all-powerful, all-knowing god, then that god has chosen to stand aside and do nothing while billions of people are being slaughtered and made to suffer through unspeakable hardships. The way I see it, there is no God, no Yaweh, no Allah, no Jesus, and no Muhammed, or whatever other name you may have for your god or gods and messiahs. There is only here and now. There is no end time or afterlife, there is only this moment. We have to work together to continue our evolution and preserve this planet for future generations, otherwise we are doomed to self-destruction.

    The hands of the many must join as one, because only together can we cross that river. Perhaps Maynard thinks that his generation has failed to achieve this, and he looks to future generations for hope. He speaks his hopeful warning to his son/future generations with the words: "Open your heart and hands my son, or you'll never make it over the river."


    Bill Hicks can tell you what this song is about better than I can. I'll let his words do the talking:

    The world is like a ride at an amusement park, and when you choose to go on it, you think it's real, because that's how powerful our minds are. The ride goes up and down and round and round. It has thrills and chills, and it's very brightly colored, and it's very loud, and it's fun, for a while. Some people have been on the ride for a long time, and they begin to question: "Is this real, or is this just a ride?" And other people have remembered, and they come back to us, and they say "Hey! Don't worry! Don't be afraid, ever! Because this is just a ride." And we kill those people.

    "Shut him up! We have a lot invested in this ride! Shut him up! Look at my furrows of worry! Look at my big bank account, and my family! This has to be real!"

    It's just a ride. But we always kill those good guys who try to tell us that. Have you ever noticed that? And we let the demons run amok. But it doesn't matter, because it's just a ride, and we can change it any time we want. It's only a choice. No effort, no work, no job, no saving of money. A choice, right now, between fear and love. The eyes of fear want you to put bigger locks on your door, buy guns, close yourself off. The eyes of love, instead, see all of us as one. Here's what we can do to change the world right now to a better ride. Take all that money that we spend on weapons and defense each year and instead spend it feeding, clothing, and educating the poor of the world, which it would many times over, not one human being excluded, and we can explore space together, both inner and outer, forever, in peace.
    Ryan9145on March 12, 2013   Link
  • +2
    Song MeaningI have been listening to this song ever since I heard it on the first cinematic trailer for Transformers Fall of Cybertron. Anyways, I believe this song is about a man who has conquered anything and everything. In the first part before the angel, he is talking of his great feats but how he can't cross the river. Then it seems to shift, he is actually asking a question. He tells the Angel that he has done all these amazing things, but why can't he cross this river? during the next part, when you hear the womans voice in the song, its the angel telling him that it can't be done by riches and muscle, not all the wealth and strength in the world can help you cross it. Instead, the only way to cross this river is by becoming one, no racism, no hatred, no xenophobia, nothing, just everyone considering themselves as one people, joined hand in hand. "the hands of the many must join as one", the lead singer of Puscifer is the lead singer of Tool and A Perfect Circle. The lead singer is very well known for speaking of unity and putting our beliefs, religion, race, etc. aside to love each other because we are all human beings. I believe this song is amazing and it is his best work yet as far as unity goes, the next one besides that is Tool's Schisim.

    So the songs meaning is......We as a Human Race, have conquered many things. We build buildings to withstand quakes, we can put out fires, we have conquered stone with steel, iron, and diamond, we have conquered over floods, we have gained the throne as a dominate species, yet there is one thing that holds us back, one thing we can't seem to overcome. Our differences, our racism, our hatred for each other, our religion, our beliefs, our limitless capability to see only the flaws in each other but never the beauty. The river is this hatred, and the only way to cross it, to over come it, is by joining hand in hand, loving every human being, its the only way to cross the river!
    OfficialXenoOskurazJuggaloThanaton September 05, 2013   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI believe that the metaphor for crossing over to death is very likely and probably correct. But I also believe that these lyrics can be applied for overcoming many obstacles in our lives. Despite all of our accomplishments, we cannot do everything by ourselves and need each others' shoulders more often than we're willing to admit. We must open our hearts to each other (which in itself can be severely difficult) in order to persevere through some of the hardest feats in life.
    Deepwood313on July 18, 2010   Link
  • +1
    Song MeaningHello again,

    Let me clear this up for you all. Think of this song as a sort of near death experience.


    This song is representitive of a character who has done "wonderful" things in life. Or what we as humans may consider wonderful things... such as earning lots of money, being powerful, being famous and other such material earthbound things...


    The "character" is either on the brink of death, or is in a state in which he is communicating with the Other Side. (Maynard is said to have experimented with DMT LCD, etc..)

    The river is similar to the river Hades in Greek mythology...

    He cannot cross it to get into Heaven because he has done nothing worthy of being allowed to cross..The character is humbled by the fact that for once he is not in control. He has come to the realisation that he has done NOTHING except things that help HIMSELF and his own prosperity in life.

    So, the Angel is either telling him he cannot die, and he must go back and deliver the message to the others, and spread the word that we are on a downward spiral to hell..and it needs to be fixed...

    Or, he will remain in limbo by the river until other souls can come vouch for him and increase his vibration enough to where he is worthy...

    Life is a multitude of lessons that we learn and take with us even after we die... We have to listen to the messages we are being given... =)

    Have a good day.. -Dr Pariah
    DrPariahon December 10, 2010   Link

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