His hands are clenched
His knuckles white
He got a gun
And gave up the fight
When I found out
I couldn't even cry
Well I am now
And I'm tryin' to figure out why
I'll save it for you
You save me from me
And the hole in my head I can see
Tell her I love her
Tell the kids that I loved them
Oh, it's a bad dream
I've got only time
Yeah, it's a bad dream
I've got only time
You know it's a bad dream
I've got only time
I wish it was a bad dream
I wish it was a bad dream
'Cause it's gonna hurt a long time, yeah
He lies awake
With saddened eyes
Sleeping babies
Keeping him alive
I'll save it for you
You save me from me
And the hole in my head I can see
Tell her I love her
Tell the kids that I loved them
Oh, it's a bad dream
I've got only time
Yeah, it's a bad dream
I've got only time
You know it's just a bad dream
I've got only time
I wish it was a bad dream
I've got only time
I wish it was a bad dream
'Cause it's gonna hurt a long time, yeah
Or get on with dying


Lyrics submitted by black_cow_of_death

Hurt A Long Time song meanings
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7 Comments

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  • +1
    General CommentI like your interpretation, but that's not how I see it. I've always seen this song as more personal for Jerry. I heard that his uncle committed suicide and that influenced this song.
    "His hands are clenched - his knuckles white -
    he got a gun, and gave up the fight."
    This is about someone about to kill himself. His hands are clenching a gun, and when you clench your hands tightly that naturally makes your knuckles white - the phrase "white knuckle ride" refers to a fast ride where you'll be holding on to something for dear life.
    "When I found out, I couldn't even cry.
    Well I am now, and I'm tryin' to figure out why."
    The speaker of the song heard about the person who'd killed himself and was so shocked that he couldn't show his emotions right away. Later, it hit him really hard, and he wasn't sure why, but he found it was that he could actually relate to the situation...
    "I'll save it for you; you save me from me...
    and the hole in my head - I can see."
    I see this as a statement to a significant other: he'll save his own life for her which means that she'll effectively save him from himself. However, it's only a temporary salvation, as he can still see the day come when he'll do it.
    "Tell her I love her, tell the kids that I loved them."
    Yeah, he's going to eventually do it, so this is his plea to whoever is listening to comfort the family he leaves behind.
    "Oh, it's a bad dream."
    He's trying to tell himself that it's just a bad dream; the fact that he's going to kill himself can't be real, can it? (This becomes more obvious when he finally says "I wish it was a bad dream.")
    Now, "I've got only time" can be confusing. I don't see it as saying that he's got "all the time in the world," but instead that it's only a matter of time until he does it. This fits with what I said earlier.
    "He lies awake with saddened eyes;
    sleeping babies keeping him alive."
    He saved it for her, and they had children, and those children are keeping him alive, but eventually they won't need him to be responsible for them and then he's going to "get on with dying."
    That's my take on it.
    CapnFarrllon January 26, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI think those are both good in breaking down the songs but I have heard about his uncle, but great song, one of Cantrell's best.
    Imperialski2000on April 15, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThe last line is a misprint in the cd cover, or get on with dying is the last line in "satisfy"
    killervon April 02, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General Commentit reminds me of Melvin Purvis. maybe it was Cantrell's tribute to him, who knows.
    dark_eyez_666on August 06, 2009   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI don`t know if he composed it thinking in his uncle , but for sure it depicts the lasts moments of an agonizing man after committing suicide. Damn well explained , for sure transports me to those moments and the melody can`t be better; one of the best Cantrell`s songs .
    Themboneson February 07, 2014   Link
  • 0
    My OpinionI know this song probably has some very personal ties with Cantrell's life, but it reminds me so much of things that have happened to me that I can't help but relate a small bit.

    To me, this song can almost be related to any terrible travesty. After all, things like broken relationships, death, disease, and of course, suicide, hurt for a long time. They feel like bad dreams.

    This song to me is a sort of theme for the times in life when things really do hurt. Since they so often do, this song is very personal for many. Including myself.

    Thanks for the awesome music, Jerry.
    wbarrettm03on August 05, 2017   Link
  • -1
    General Commenthmm noone has commented on this song yet, which is surprising...i think it's one of jerry's best. i think this is about kurt. soo i tried to interpretate everything:

    "His hands are clenched
    His knuckles white"
    - in the infamous "greenhouse picture" of kurt, you can see the right half of his body. his hand is clenched in a fist and yes, his hand is white, cause he had been dead for quite some time. then...

    "He got a gun
    And gave up the fight"
    -this is a little more obvious, he gave up his heroine addiction, and his everyday troubles.

    "When I found out
    I couldn't even cry
    Well I am now
    And I'm tryin' to figure out why"
    -it didnt really affect jerry at first, and probably thought it was just a stupid thing to do, but then later in life, he realized what a great songwriter kurt was, but doesnt know why he didnt notice earlier.

    "I'll save it for you
    You save me from me"
    -jerry's sayin' "kurt, i'll save the music for you, buddy" and hes saying that kurt saved jerry from goin down the bad road of drugs and depression.

    ---then...begins the chorus, which is like kurt talking through jerry...

    "And the hole in my head I can see
    Tell her I love her
    Tell the kids that I loved them"
    -the first line is morbidly obvious, then he says to tell courtney he loved her, and also "the kids" that he loved them...kids being his fans.

    "Oh, it's a bad dream
    I've got only time
    Yeah, it's a bad dream
    I've got only time
    You know it's a bad dream
    I've got only time
    I wish it was a bad dream
    I wish it was a bad dream
    'Cause it's gonna hurt a long time"

    -this is kurt saying (through jerry) that his life was no good (a bad dream) and now he has all the time in the world up in heaven.

    "He lies awake
    With saddened eyes
    Sleeping babies
    Keeping him alive"
    -kurt is too depressed to even sleep, but he still goes on for his fans...but he couldnt hold out forever.

    the rest is repeated.
    TransparentSunChildon November 18, 2004   Link

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