"By Crooked Steps" as written by and Matthew D Cameron Chris J Cornell....
I'm addicted to feeling, stealing love isn't stealing
Can't you see that I understand your mind?
I'm a walking believer, I'm a ghost and a healer
I'm the shape of the hole inside your heart

Not looking for a brighter side
Crooked steps will take me higher
I don't care if you want to cry

I'm a soldier for hire killing all you admire
And you live in denial but that will change, hey

Not looking for a brighter side
Crooked steps will take me higher
I don't care if you want to cry

When blood is raining down, it cuts a deep deep river, yeah
And we're diving, yeah, we're diving

My crooked steps right behind you (Right behind you)
My crooked steps right behind you (Right behind you)
My crooked steps right behind you (Right behind you)
My crooked steps right behind you (Right behind you)

I'm a walking believer, I'm a ghost and a healer
Can't you see that I understand your mind?
Can't you see that I understand your mind?

My crooked steps right behind you
My crooked steps right behind you
My crooked steps right behind you
My crooked steps right behind you
My crooked steps right behind you
Right behind you, right behind you, right behind you


Lyrics submitted by SongMeanings, edited by Mellow_Harsher, PhX

"By Crooked Steps" as written by Hunter Benedict Shepherd Chris J Cornell

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By Crooked Steps song meanings
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  • +3
    My InterpretationTo me this song is about a girl whose with someone else. Either the person loves them, or the girl loves him and it is still having the same affect.

    "I'm addicted to feeling, stealing love isn't stealing" - This, to me, is why I think the singer is in love with someone. Being addicted to feeling could mean he tries to be in love with someone/everyone. Needing to feel as much as he can to feel human/alive. Stealing love isn't stealing is him possibly making himself feel it is okay to take her from someone else. Love isn't a physical object, he could argue it's always been there, he's not stealing something someone feels towards him.

    "Can't you see that I understand your mind?" - This could be the singer saying that unlike her partner/anyone else, he understands her. He can make her happy and is better for her than anyone else. Or he knows what she wants, even if she doesn't/can't accept it herself.

    "I'm a walking believer, I'm a ghost and a healer." - Probably one of my favourite lyrics on the album. To me it is saying he believes this is right, or will happen. Being a ghost is perhaps the first sign he is seeing things different to her. He thinks they are meant to be and that she loves him. But she doesn't see him. Being a healer could mean he is always there for her, and because he understands her he can always help. Being both of these would lead to the next section, but first is "I'm the shape of the hole inside your heart." Which amplifies that he knows what is wrong, and she needs him.

    "Not looking for a brighter side
    Crooked steps will take me higher
    I don't care if you want to cry." - To me this section changes focus, possibly aimed at this girls partner. When he thinks about how this will affect him, he doesn't need to justify it. Even if what he is trying to do could be perceived as morally wrong (Crooked steps), it will take him higher, or to where he wants to be. He doesn't care if this will make other people want to cry.

    "I'm a soldier for hire killing all you admire
    And you live in denial but that will change" - Again to this girls partner, killing all you admire could mean his relationship with her, he's in denial that he will lose her to the singer, but that will change.

    "When blood is raining down, it cuts a deep deep river
    And we're diving, yeah, we're diving" - No idea about this, could try to make something up to fit it but I'd rather not.

    "Right behind you, right behind you
    Right behind you, right behind you" - Back to the girl, he's saying him, and everything they feel, is right behind her. And will start to make things change soon.

    The rest is him telling her that he understands her, and soon something will happen. Whether it is good or bad to other people he doesn't care. But he is right behind her and something will happen.


    Chances are this is way off, but it was my first thought when hearing it, guess as soon as I heard the song I was putting my own situation and thoughts into it. Good how Chris always says he doesn't give a song a meaning, so the fans can. Makes me feel I'm not 'wrong', even if it's just my view :)
    VibrantJackalon November 24, 2012   Link
  • +1
    General CommentWe can see an obvious "love song", and I can even relate to it in some fashion, but what if this had more of a political/sociological meaning?
    Krymzon June 02, 2013   Link
  • +1
    General CommentAm I the only one who gets a religious vibe from this song? Think about it.

    "I'm a WALKING BELIEVER. I'm a GHOST and a HEALER. I'm the SHAPE of the HOLE INSIDE YOUR HEART."

    The entire song runs off of one idea: following someone BY CROOKED STEPS.

    THEN there's the reference to blood cutting a deep river, "and we're diving." Remind you at all of baptism maybe?

    Just a thought, and it wouldn't be the first song that Chris has written with some twisted spin on spirituality or containing vague religious reflections.
    danyelRMon November 03, 2013   Link
  • +1
    General Commentaddendum: the phrase "crooked steps" is a favorite in cloak and dagger stories, so literally "right behind you" is not necessarily a supportive position.

    there is, though this emily dickenson quote:

    “I wish one could be sure the suffering had a loving side. The thought to look down some day, and see the crooked steps we came, from a safer place, must be a precious thing…”
    books.google.com/…

    so maybe you guys aren't so far off. the quote though is not about a lover, but about a beloved family member, a "Myra" who has just recently died (in the letter, written in 1862)
    neuromanticon March 31, 2014   Link
  • +1
    General CommentThe speaker is definitely looking to be this girls partner. She has a current lover, but he keeps insisting that he's better suited for the job. He's a "ghost and a healer" because he can solve her problems, but she can't see him....
    Alice_in_Soundweezeron January 25, 2016   Link
  • +1
    My InterpretationIt could be (and the video would seem to support this interpretation) about what's left of the rock scene and the current shape of the music industry.

    "Stealing love isn't stealing" could be a reference to illegal music downloading, leading to loss of income for bands, leading further to the dilution of music to the point where all we're left with are the kind of "laptop-based performers" portrayed in the video.

    "By crooked steps": even though today bands of people who can actually play a real, mostly-analogue instrument in an honest, intentionally imperfect, and deeper, manner are seen as dinosaurs, they'll keep on making music the right way (the "crooked steps" here is sarcastic, shining a light on the superficiality of, and disdain for, whoever the song is addressing).

    "Can't you see that I understand your mind?" / "I'm the shape of the home inside your heart": the singer understands how the mind of this person is working better than (s)he does. Clearly the downside of convenience in this case is the void in the soul of the listener, even if they don't see it (yet).

    But at this point the singer doesn't think he can remedy the situation, nor does he feel any more empathy for the listener: "I don't care if you want to cry". The listener is taking away the livelihood of many artists: "Blood raining down / Cuts a deep, deep river / And we're diving". But (s)he's making the world much, much worse, and so is not worthy of any more compassion.

    The short version: we're killing music, and they're sticking to their truth as they watch it all die, regretfully but accepting the situation for what it is.
    razvan1001on June 06, 2017   Link
  • 0
    General CommentAfter reading the lyrics, I'm no closer to understanding the meaning. But it's still one of my favorites from King Animal.
    kanoe13on November 21, 2012   Link
  • 0
    My InterpretationVibrantJackal's interpretation is pretty good, and I think his concept is overall nail on the head. But I think this song is much, much deeper and darker. Matt Cameron has called this a very "serious" song, not a sad song. I think this song is about a man (possibly in the friendzone) in love with a girl (or obsessed with her) and he is about to kill the man she's with in order to win him. Let's go verse by verse:

    "I'm addicted to feeling
    Stealing love isn't stealing
    Can't you see that I understand your mind?"

    The word "addicted" here makes me feel he can't live without her. He's so used to having her presence and her affection in some form that he can't afford to lose her. He considers himself in love with her, so he doesn't think he is stealing her away from the other bloke, because it's love, so it's ok. And the last question is a kind of defiant, desperate way to make her understand that she's better off with him than with her current partner.

    "I'm a walking believer
    I'm a ghost and a healer
    I'm the shape of the hole inside your heart"

    He believes in their love, and he won't let it die. When he calls himself a ghost, it may be because he feels invisible to her, but he's always around her. Maybe he haunts her in a manner of speaking, or maybe he stalks her. He says he completes her in every way (by filling up the hole in her heart) and calls himself a healer because he will heal her from her past hurt (come on, everyone has been hurt in love at least once in their life).

    "Not looking for a brighter side" -- This line is a retaliation to when people say things like 'Oh, well, look on the bright side' whenever we face a loss or a disappointment.

    "Crooked steps will take me higher" -- This is a clear indication of his intent. He's not content to look at things on the brighter side. He's going to take steps (crooked as they may be) to reach above this place of loss or disappointment.

    "I don't care if you want to cry" -- This is a temporary and probably untrue statement to her. She's going to cry at her loss of her current partner. He says he doesn't care about that because he's passionate about getting her. And also, he's confident that he'll "heal" her, isn't he?

    "I'm a soldier for hire
    Killing all you admire"

    This, to me, is the clearest way of saying that he will kill her current partner. He calls himself a soldier for hire, like a mercenary, because maybe he doesn't like the idea of killing, but he has to kill anyway, for his love for her and in order to have her all to himself.

    "And you live in the cloud but that will change" -- Cloud here refers to the fact that she's unable to see clearly (clouded vision/clouded judgement), which is why she's with her current partner instead of him. And he intends to make her see more clearly.

    "Blood raining down
    Cuts a deep, deep river
    And we're diving
    And we're diving"

    I think this is a metaphor. When he says they're diving, he means to say that they're about to dive into a new life together, probably marriage (marriages are often called "taking the plunge", aren't they?). And in order to dive, you need a water body that is deep and that will allow you to dive safely. And the blood (of her previous/current partner) will create a river deep enough for them to dive safely into, meaning that his death will allow them to live happily ever after, since there is no chance that he could come back and try to win her back.

    --

    This is obviously just one interpretation, so please feel free to add on to this.
    PhXon March 28, 2013   Link
  • 0
    My InterpretationI think this song is about love, he is in love with someone but the girl doesn't feel same think with him. She is probably with another guy and the singer is trying to tell he is gonna make the girl love him.

    "Blood raining down, cuts a deep, deep river, and we're diving" And those lyrics mean that they're gonna "fall on black days" :D
    bakaraybeyon March 02, 2015   Link
  • 0
    My InterpretationTo me, this song sounds like a letter addressed to someone very close to Chris Cornell.

    The song has some interesting references to addiction recovery. “I'm addicted to healing” is a statement that he is not addicted to any destructive behavior; he just needs love and affection like everyone else. That could be a rebuttal to someone trying to convince him that he has some kind of drug problem. He goes even further in turning recovery language around and using it against the person the song is addressed to with “I'm the shape of the hole inside your heart.” One of the big ideas in recovery culture is that everyone has a subconscious desire for God represented by a God-shaped hole in their heart. Some people try to fill this hole with drugs which supposedly leave them unfulfilled because drugs do not fit the shape of the hole. Chris is telling someone that she is the one with a problem and he can fulfill her needs if she would open her heart to him.

    This song also has a very confident and defiant tone expressed with lines like: stealing love isn't stealing; can't you see that I understand your mind; not looking for a brighter side; I don't care if you want to cry; killing all you admire; and you live in denial but that will change.

    The overarching theme is about a commitment to the person he is addressing and following her until she gets over whatever her problem is and surrenders her heart to him: “My crooked steps right behind you.” “Crooked steps will take me higher,” conveys that he knows the path ahead is difficult, but he believes it will lead them both to the right place.
    GetyourselfCtrlon September 04, 2017   Link

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