"And All That Could Have Been" as written by and Michael Trent Reznor Daniel Lohner....
Breeze still carries the sound
Maybe I'll disappear
Tracks will fade in the snow
You won't find me here

Ice is starting to form
Ending what had begun
I am locked in my head
With what I've done

I know you tried to rescue me
Didn't let anyone get in
Left with a trace of all that was
And all that could have been

Please, take this
And run far away, far away from me
I am tainted
The two of us were never meant to be
All these pieces and promises and left behinds
If only I could see
In my nothing
You meant everything, everything to me

Gone
Fading
Everything

And
All that
Could have been
Could have been

Please, take this
And run far away, far as you can see
I am tainted
And happiness and peace of mind
Were never meant for me
All these pieces and promises and left behinds
If only I could see
In my nothing
You meant everything, everything to me


Lyrics submitted by ikari

"And All That Could Have Been" as written by Trent Reznor Daniel Lohner

Lyrics © Kobalt Music Publishing Ltd.

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And All That Could Have Been song meanings
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  • +6
    My InterpretationThis guy absolutely nails classic depression in a way i haven't ever seen before..This song really explains that 'buried under a heavy weight' feeling that most kinds of depression afflicts on sufferers...You actually feel that you can break the surface of those waves of emptiness/apathy..It's right there if you just try..But you can't..And you can't explain why either..This song is painful but there's a morbid beauty in it.

    "Breeze still carries the sound
    Maybe I'll disappear
    Tracks will fade in the snow
    You won't find me here"

    I take this to mean that the person wants to fade away..They don't want to be noticed or any kind of remnant/memory in the world they don't want a part of anymore.


    "Ice is starting to form
    Ending what had begun
    I am locked in my head
    With what I've done
    I know you tried to rescue me
    Didn't let anyone get in
    Left with a trace of all that was
    And all that could have been"

    There's a numbness to depression and the mind becomes a bleak prison of everything negative..Insecurities/self loathing/apathy/low self esteem all swirling around, and you can't escape them and maybe even like it in a 'twisted' way cause it's the only place you feel you deserve..There's a sick comfort there.

    The people that don't exist in or can't understand your world are knocking and asking you to let them in so they can help you..You know that maybe if you did things would get better..Love/comfort/connection and all that, But it's like you're slightly out of phase with them...A ghost in the world.

    You know you're killing something good..Something 'real' with your actions..You can see the 'ice forming' the relationship slipping away but you just don't have the capacity to care.. The feelings are there somewhere, but they are muted and dull, and like i said before, like trying to break the surface of water...It's just within your reach but you can't or won't reach for it.


    "Please
    Take this
    And run far away
    Far away from me
    I am
    Tainted
    The two of us
    Were never meant to be
    All these
    Pieces
    And promises and left behinds
    If only I could see
    In my
    Nothing
    You meant everything
    Everything to me"

    You know that what you're feeling is not healthy and so wrong...So you wouldn't wanna afflict it on your nearest and dearest.

    But there's a part of you that wants to stay in that bleak bubble..It's your safety net..Where you feel that no matter how detrimental that place is to your psyche...You belong..You can just stay there in a holding 'denial' pattern.

    So you close yourself off and push for both them and yourself..Self sabotage..Kill that connection cause you hate yourself so why would they like you..Can't they see that you're not worth it.

    You're also afraid that somehow they'll see the 'real' you..The you that your twisted perceptions have put in place...There's a shame and discomfort in that. You can't let them so you clam up and retreat.

    And there is also a part of you that knows you still care somewhere or have those memories when you were able to...You somehow convince yourself that they can catch the same thing like a cold, and when you love and care for someone you only want happiness for them, but with depression all you feel you can give them is pain/grief/misery..So you close that door on them cause you convince yourself that once they get away they'll see you weren't worth it after all, and that will reinforce those 'bad' thoughts about yourself and somehow you can get some kind of sad comfort in 'being right'..You are worthless but at least you know that right?


    "Gone.. fading..
    Everything..
    And..
    All that..
    Could have been..
    All that could have been."


    You have those happier memories when you weren't broken so 'all that could have been' is there and still maybe can be..But you're drawn to the darkness.

    everything is slipping further away from you..Going deeper into that 'apathetic' state of mind...Being submerged under those waves..There's only one way now and that's down..In a way you sort of welcome it..It's a relief to lose yourself and just fall.


    And then he repeats the chorus again to the end..That constant slow building repetition mirroring that round and round never ending negativeness..You keep telling yourself the same things over and over as if somehow they'll make sense..You know you're lying to yourself and running from what's right in front of you 'You're sick and you need help' but the 'enemy' is calling you and it's damn attractive cause maybe you'll find your way out in that direction 'possible suicide'
    rochey1on December 20, 2012   Link
  • +5
    General CommentThe concept that "Nothing in life is sadder than what might have been" is devastating.
    A Staring Elfon March 03, 2003   Link
  • +3
    General CommentTo me, this is a song about how someone tried to help him, but he didnt feel like he deserved their help, and pushed them away.
    "I know you tried to rescue me
    didn’t let anyone get in"

    "I am
    tainted
    the two of us
    were never meant to be"

    Its also about regret. He regrets how he pushed that person away, because he now realizes just how much they meant to him
    "in my
    nothing
    you meant everything
    everything to me"


    He realizes that if he hadnt pushed them away, there could have been a beautiful future.
    "and all that could have been"
    kira midnighton April 27, 2002   Link
  • +3
    General Commentthis is, in my opinion, trents best song ever. i love this. when he echoes "...could have been"....its so powerful...
    could have beenon May 01, 2002   Link
  • +2
    General CommentThis has got to be one of the most beautiful forms of depression I've ever heard.
    Reverie_In_Duston January 17, 2008   Link
  • +1
    General Commentthanks, kira midnight. that's exactly what I was going to say. *sigh* doesn't it suck when you hear such an immensely sad song like this and just know that it's your life in music? Yay for Trent and his ability to make songs that reflect EXACTLY how he feels, and in effect, reflecting how all us screwed up little bastards feel too.
    IndustrialVixenon July 13, 2002   Link
  • +1
    General CommentNIN is god.
    One Crayzee Fullaon July 06, 2003   Link
  • +1
    General CommentTo me this song is about a man so tainted (possibly Trent) that he feels unworthy of the love of the one he cares for because he knows she has potential to make someone happy, but in the end, he is too tainted to ever be made happy by her no matter how hard she tries. She means a lot to him, but she would be better off without him. This is unlike the song "The Fragile", in which Trent believes he can save possibly the same untainted girl from impurity by walling her up. In that song he mentions the world picking at the wall he used to keep her pure, and here it seems he's given up entirely and realizes that he might even taint her just by being around her.

    The great below mentions a line from this song and I think this song is written in the same vein.
    BuckWilderon June 04, 2004   Link
  • +1
    General CommentWhy dose everyone think that all NIN songs are about Trent himself. Part of the fragile (over half) was about his grandmother who raised him alone and I think this song is about her and how she felt.
    Keeper of Burritoson June 18, 2004   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI think this song is about how depression can make you destroy the things you love. I liken the whole song to the line "For once in my life I feel complete, and I still want to ruin it". It's a sentiment I can relate too, something I've struggled with my whole life. I'm sure I'm internalizing it, but I guess that's the point. In a way, who cares what Trent was thinking when he wrote it, the beauty of songs like this is that we can all take what is important to us out of them. It's an incredibly beautiful song.
    gobblyon January 28, 2006   Link

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