"Tom Violence" as written by Kim Gordon, Lee M. Ranaldo, Steven Jay Shelley and Thurston Joseph Moore....
My violence is a dream
A 'real dream'
A skinny arm
A crush on living sin
My violence
Is a sleeping head
Nodding out to rising bliss
I left home for experience
Carved 'suk for honesty' on my chest
My violence is the number
Coming out of prayer
Find it in the father
Find it in a girl

There's a thing in my memory
Hoilding on for dear life
With a feeling of secrets
Beating up under my flesh
My tongue is tied
I'm sleeping nights awake
Tom violence is a dream
Coming out of a girl


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"Tom Violence" as written by Lee M. Ranaldo Kim Gordon

Lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

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Tom Violence song meanings
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  • +4
    General CommentI don't think it's about heroin or television. I think it's a bit more simple than that, actually.

    I've been listening to this song repeatedly for the last little while, really getting into it, and I think that, more than anything, it's about domestic violence. In particular, intergenerational domestic violence. The name "Tom Violence" could be anyone, but the fact that "Violence" is apparently a last name links it to family inheritance. A child of violence, if you will---one of the "violence" family, someone whose connection to their parents is "violence."

    The song starts out with what sounds like a justification for violence with reference to several parallel metaphors. It's a dream, first of all, and then a "real dream"---later, a "thing in my memory holding on for dear life." Anyone who has been abused at an early age knows that it's often hard to remember whether it was real or just a "dream," as in memory everything gets a little hazy.

    It's also several obscure physical symbols, which also sound like bits and pieces of memories. A "skinny arm," a "sinking head nodding out to rising bliss" (which, in this context, sounds more like a drunken, passed-out parent than a heroin addict).

    The repeated lyrical references to the father/girl dichotomy reinforce this. "Find it in the father, find it in a girl," "I left home for experience," etc.

    The ending is very disturbing. "I'm sleeping nights awake"---living and acting out one's dreams, so to speak. "The dream coming out of the girl," is "the thing beating up under my flesh," the uncontrollable, inherited tendency towards violence.

    I consider this an extremely powerful song about domestic violence, simply because it treats it so personally, so much in the abstract, and with such a sense of horror.

    Also, call me crazy, but the guitar chords seem (to me at least) to simulate the "as above, so below" theme---at the end, the fast strumming of three higher notes, followed by three lower notes, in succession.
    brian_jameson July 22, 2008   Link
  • +1
    General Commentfunny - I always thought it was "cock sucked for honesty . . ."

    I like the real lyric better. these guys still fuckin' kick ass.
    acmon July 09, 2007   Link
  • +1
    General CommentThe T.V. thing makes sense...never occurred to me.

    I'm a long-time fan of Sonic Youth (since 1985) and am aware of their penchant for writing about the Manson Family, especially during this early phase of their career. I think this song could be Manson-inspired -- think about it:

    "Tom violence is a dream
    coming out of a girl"

    What drew me to this site / song to begin with was the phrase 'Suk for honesty'; I wanted to find out about that...Suk was a character in Samuel Beckett's novel "Murphy." Suk was Murphy's mentor, or spiritual advisor, who drew up some sort of life-directing chart for him.. .any thoughts?
    froderikon October 25, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General Commentgoddamn Sonic Youth are the best band in history. im guessing that what Thurston is exploring here is how patterns of behavior ect are picked up from an early age. thats just my feeling....im probably way off
    The_Lost_Messiahon April 09, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General CommentDid anyone else notice that the Initials of Tom Violence are T.V.?

    Perhaps he's trying to say how the media instills violent thoughts into young people.
    timothyrealon June 27, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI heard its meant to be about Tom Valentine from Television
    whiskeyclonehotelon August 09, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General CommentIt's about Heroin.
    Although I have also heard it was about Tom Valentine...
    However, it's about Heroin.
    HexKasteron June 29, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentEvery rock song can be about heroin. That's the default guess when you have no idea what a song's about, and it usually carries 60% chance of being right.
    akagoldfishon January 11, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General Commenttom valentine?

    tom verlaine was in television
    sirwalterraleighon February 23, 2007   Link
  • 0
    My InterpretationI think it's about this guy who isn't aware of the "bad things" he's doing, and when he realizes it he tries to justify his actions to keep his sanity.
    Maybe my interpretation is very shallow but it makes sense to me.
    sombreroon January 26, 2009   Link

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