"Twist In My Sobriety" as written by and Tanita Tikaram....
All God's children need traveling shoes
Drive your problems from here
All good people read good books
Now your conscience is clear
I hear you talk girl
Now your conscience is clear

In the morning I wipe my brow
Wipe the miles away
I like to think I can be so willed
And never do what you say
I'll never hear you
And never do what you say

Look my eyes are just holograms
Look your love has drawn red from my hands
From my hands you know you'll never be
More than twist in my sobriety
More than twist in my sobriety
More than twist in my sobriety

We just poked a little empty pie
For the fun people had at night
Late at night don't need hostility
Timid smile and pause to free

I don't care about their different thoughts
Different thoughts are good for me
Up in arms and chaste and whole
All God's children took their toll

Look my eyes are just holograms
Look your love has drawn red from my hands
From my hands you know you'll never be
More than twist in my sobriety
More than twist in my sobriety
More than twist in my sobriety

Cup of tea, take time to think, yea
Time to risk a life, a life, a life
Sweet and handsome
Soft and porky
You pig out 'til you've seen the light
Pig out 'til you've seen the light

Half the people read the papers
Read them good and well
Pretty people, nervous people
People have got to sell
News you have to sell

Look my eyes are just holograms
Look your love has drawn red from my hands
From my hands you know you'll never be
More than twist in my sobriety
More than twist in my sobriety

Look my eyes are just holograms
Look your love has drawn red from my hands
From my hands you know you'll never be
More than twist in my sobriety
More than twist in my sobriety
More than twist in my sobriety


Lyrics submitted by Novartza, edited by Bashfull

"Twist in My Sobriety" as written by Tanita Tikaram

Lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc.

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Twist In My Sobriety song meanings
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26 Comments

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  • +4
    My InterpretationI think that this song is about atheism or agnosticism & the struggle to come to terms with what that means... how utterly devastating it could be to face/accept that disconnect, the isolation, guilt, depression, etc. that comes with renouncing your faith.

    "All God's children need travelling shoes" because life is long and hard.

    "All good people read good books
    / Now your conscience is clear." She's amidst a learning experience, being exposed to new ideologies that are causing her to question life. To assuage her guilt, she's trying to justify it to herself by saying that "good people" have a thirst for knowledge.

    The chorus is about resentfully admitting that religion has become a hollow vessel. She's saying, "hey God (or whatever Higher Being), if you exist, thanks a lot for allowing me to do this to myself!"

    "Sweet and handsome / Soft and porky / You pig out 'til you've seen the light / Pig out 'til you've seen the light". Some people say that religion is an opiate for the masses. She's saying that hypocritical, self-serving behavior doesn't discriminate against anyone. She's resentful of people who have learning experiences that go in the opposite direction of hers -- starting out as a non-believer & then "seeing the light."

    But whatever! Music articulates emotions & thoughts in a way that words often fail to do. Songs can mean just about anything, depending on the ears/heart/mind of the listener. That's part of the beauty.
    nokturnelleon November 13, 2010   Link
  • +2
    My InterpretationI always thought "sobriety" is not just about alcohol but about being sensible and making the best choices for herself; and the "twist" is deviating from that path.

    So perhaps she normally makes logical choices, but she's looking back at a time she did something she wouldn't normally do. Perhaps she's talking to someone who was very close to her once but isn't now, and wants them to know that now she looks back at them, with detached curiosity, as a small reminder of a time when she did something unusual.

    But that's just the chorus! And nokturnelle's thoughts about the religious imagery means I'm sure there's more to it than that.

    The music is wonderful - particularly the insistent notes in the chorus - is it a clarinet?
    ikayon March 19, 2012   Link
  • +2
    Song FactThe first line of the song, "All God's children need traveling shoes", is the title of a book by writer/poet Maya Angelou.

    Speaking about the somewhat obscure and enigmatic lyrics, Tikaram has offered different views on their meaning, but said it's mostly about the particular relationship with the world one feels when entering adulthood. "the song is really about not understanding - when you're 18, you've got a very particular emotional relationship with the world, you feel very isolated, and everybody else is so distant and cold. And I think I was singing about not feeling anything or not being moved by things around. I think this is a strong feeling when you're just after adolescence."
    oleg726629on February 01, 2017   Link
  • +1
    General Commenttanita tikaram once claimed that it was about a one night stand that she had
    however im curious if there are other explanations for this song
    carcaterraon May 28, 2007   Link
  • +1
    My OpinionI also think that the music video gives some credence to my interpretation w/the Jesus imagery, the dust in the wind (like the Kansas song, that's "all we are"), the gun hanging over the rearview (when lots of people opt for rosary beads instead). Plus the whole dreary grey landscape and cinematography convey a sense of detachment & isolation.
    nokturnelleon November 13, 2010   Link
  • +1
    My OpinionDon't forget this song was written in the late 80s. Recall Bob and Midge making their massive "Petition."

    Aside: Why did they something about snow in Africa? It doesn't really snow in Africa.

    However, Tanita's too smart for that. She's simply making her own political stance, personal feelings to anyone who will listen and with great irony, it's even included in the song: nobody cares, their too wrapped up in their own lives.

    Anyway, if this was actually a song about a one night stand? To extrapolate it from that and create this? That is pure genius!!!

    Or on the flip side, maybe it was literal. Maybe the two of them sat up and talked about politics until the sun rose.

    Nonetheless, her "sobriety" has nothing to do with alcohol. That's TOO literal for all the very complicated similies and metaphors. I think the "twist" is a sort of "wake up call" to what's going around her. Like taking time to drink some tea and think about what's REALLY going on.

    Final answer? No. You're not going to break (twist) me in knowing what these people need (my sobriety!) I know they need help!

    People, forget your selfish, superficial, garbage and even racism: "I don't care about different thoughts. Different thoughts are good for me."

    I've struggled with these lyrics for years. At first I thought it was a love song. Then addiction, but now? It's totally clear to me? And the video nailed it.

    Cheers,
    EarHoleson April 19, 2013   Link
  • +1
    My InterpretationIt was very interesting for me to see religious interpretations. I almost never think about these sorts of meanings (as a third-generation atheist), but they make sense.

    My interpretation of this song: it's about a fantasy relationship with a real person, happening in a crowd (I picture New York), among all these other people...

    The real relationship with that person is shallow - like a fellow traveler, just one of many "God's people" or "good people who read good books". The conscience is clear, because there are these weak ties, so this person is considered vaguely good.

    But the two people will go their separate ways, wiping the miles away in the morning, never meeting again to do - or even to hear - what another says.

    The eyes are supposed to be mirrors of the soul, but not with strangers. A hologram consists of many layers that form a ghostly, unreal image. When you look into a stranger's eyes, you see no soul, just your own thoughts about stereotypical people from news, books, etc. Unless you develop the relationship deeper, the other person, for you, will never be more than a hologram made of these stereotypes and fantasies - a twist in your sobriety.
    MariaDroujkovaon August 17, 2014   Link
  • +1
    My InterpretationTanita Tikaram said she got the idea for the song after an unpleasant one night stand. However she also said that the song was about perception and reality and apathy.

    'All God's Children Need Traveling Shoes' is a title of a book my Maya Angelou.

    From those thing, I can say a few things that may help people understand the song meaning a little more. Of course it's just my opinion, but it is an opinion based on some facts.

    I think the song is about how people in Civilized Countries tend to stay ignorant of the real struggles in life and the problems everywhere else in the world (especially 3rd World Countries) Our news and Preachers don't tell us about the global raping and murdering of children and women; or genocide; or war and poverty and famine, or of Governmental Corruption that has led many of these countries that were previously "civilized" into Third World Conditions. (east not until it's too late or it's finally in the history books). We read and pray to God and help the needy so we think our Conscious is clear. OUR perception is very far from true REALITY. (Side note example: I was 22 when the Genocide occurred in Rwanda and never fully understood what happened until the movies Hotel Rwanda and Sometimes in April were released).

    So when she talks of God's children and Good People using their tools of religion or Books to clear their conscience it is not the same as really seeing what is going on and taking real action, maybe risking your life to make changes.

    We watch news (holograms, basically) that is told from the perspective of the editor with input from the reporter. Never do we see the whole story from all sides and all viewpoints, which helps to skew our perceptions from reality. And while we watch, people die, suffer and go hungry or live in fear and hiding while we have food and homes and comforts. So we're getting fat on the hog! (Soft and Porky you pig out until you see the light.)

    She talks about how when you attack these beliefs even in jest (we just poked a little empty pie) they get up in arms and act chaste and whole to assuage their guilt but their hostility isn't solving the problems because it's misdirected. (I don't care about their different thoughts, different thoughts are good for me)

    She talks about how she gets up and works and wipes her brow and thinks she is doing something more. Being so willed that she doesn't have to follow and conform to the apathy and complacency she sees around her.

    So she kind of leaves off with:
    Half the people read the papers
    Read them good and well
    Pretty people, nervous people
    People have got to sell
    News you have to sell

    which I take to see as more sarcasm or her chastising and patronizing our civilized society. Saying Yeah just keep reading your papers and books and watching TV and chasing fads and ads until the world ends because we like things pretty and edited like models, actors reporters and our news and that's what sells, so why waste more breath trying to make you into an activist.

    That's what I get from it and from her comments and the video itself anyway.
    Lasher820on December 28, 2014   Link
  • +1
    My InterpretationWhen I think about it, the meaning seems quite obvious to me. Many people here seem to get distracted by terms like "all God's children" and start to wonder if there was a religious meaning. But that means nothing more than "people" with a cynical undertone that is present in the whole song - and that first line is also the title of a book about civil rights, if I remember correctly.
    Well, I think it's about a one night stand the singer had with a girl, maybe while being a bit tipsy. While she didn't regret it and doesn't care what people might say, she makes it very clear to the girl that there won't be a relationship.
    glasratzon April 17, 2015   Link
  • 0
    General Commentthe evening news.
    roger wilcoon May 20, 2002   Link

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