Staring at the sea
Will she come?
Is there hope for me
After all is said and done
Anything at any price
All of this for you
All the spoils of a wasted life
All of this for you

All the world has closed her eyes
Tired faith all worn and thin
For all we could have done
And all that could have been

Ocean pulls me close
And whispers in my ear
The destiny I've chose
All becoming clear
The currents have their say
The time is drawing near
Washes me away
Makes me disappear

And I descend from grace
In arms of undertow
I will take my place
In the great below

I can still feel you
Even so far away
I can still feel you
Even so far away
I can still feel you
Even so far away
I can still feel you
Even so far away
Even so far away
(Even so far away)
(Even so far away)
(So far away)


Lyrics submitted by thewhitepony33

The Great Below Lyrics as written by Trent Reznor

Lyrics © CONCORD MUSIC PUBLISHING LLC, Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Kobalt Music Publishing Ltd.

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The Great Below song meanings
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  • +5
    General Comment

    This song always reminded me of "Annabell Lee" by Poe... only told instead from Annabell Lee's point of view. I dunno, maybe I'm too much of a poetry dork. Either way, I love this song. Love it love it love it love it. Definitely one of NIN's best songs. I can sit there and put this on repeat and just drift off and yet still feel the song so passionately and so strongly that I can't help but sing along.

    lahdeefriggindaon April 21, 2003   Link
  • +5
    General Comment

    The great below starts as though trent is waiting from something, someone, an event. A loved one, a lover, like everything he does is for himself and someone else. He wants so much for them to be a part of this bigger picture. So much is at stake, so much could happen. He could only be happy if....... Then he comes to the realization that it will never be, fuck!, fuck the idea, he has given up all hope, all desire, and yearning. He makes peace with himself and resides himself to the idea that it will never be and outwardly he's ok with that, but still at the end of the song he wants it so much, secretly maybe he wants to belong again, he wants the bigger picture, a perfection. Listen to the melody of the song, and then listen to the words with it.

    my_beautiful_liar_on February 07, 2005   Link
  • +4
    General Comment

    I think this song is about a love in his life that has gone away and won't come back. He's given up on life and he's letting the currents take him wherever fate will allow.

    "Will she come?" No, she won't. He has given up. He has given her everything and she still ignores him.

    If you listen to this song while watching the sunset into the ocean, it has a deeper meaning.

    His life has spiraled into hell and even though he's no longer the person he once was..he can still feel her...even so far away..

    MrTragedyon May 07, 2003   Link
  • +4
    General Comment

    Well, i don't expect anyone to be as big of a fan as me, but he says clearly in an interview that he wrote this song right after the loss of his grandmother, who he was incredibly close to. I know the song is about the loss of her, and the rest could technically be interpreted how you want, and again there's usually no wrong or right interpretation to a song. That's why it's called interpretation. Yet, "staring at the sea, will she call. Is there hope for me, after all is said and done. etc." is him saying possibly that he might not feel as though he had a meaningful enough life so far in his days. "all the world has closed her eyes, tired faith all worn and thin." Being so close with his grandmother, he propably (and again, this is my interpretation) felt that the rest of the world didn't feel the loss like he did, and went on with their lives. "For all we could have done, and all that could have been." He most likely felt because of being so busy on the road, etc. like he could have spent so much more time with her, and if things were different, all that could have been between his grandmother and him." Now, "ocean pulls me close and whispers in my ear, the destiny of choice, all becoming clear" is him realizing that no matter how bad he felt, he (and only he) was responsible for his own choices, which can never be taken back. "the currents have their say, the time is drawing near" is that life takes it's course, and his time will come as well. "washes me away, makes me disappear." he feels his empty soul almost leaving his body temporarily. Next, which I feel is the climax in the song, and literally brought me to tears after i lost my grandmother, who i loved so much is the line, "as i descend from grace, in arms of undertow. I will take my place in the great below." He was afraid that if he continued the path he was taking, which again in interview he talks about not being fulfilled and happy at the time (which is a huge reason why he was using drugs so much) which would be descending or becoming farther away from grace and the undertow being life carrying him on his path which maybe he felt was inevitable, due to the popularity of NIN at the time. And then the obvious ending line which he repeats, " i can still feel you , even so far away" being him still feeling her soul, even though she was in another place and gone.

    ez2bagon February 07, 2012   Link
  • +3
    General Comment

    i don't think this is about death. it's all metaphor, darlings, in my opinion: having a meaningless life and suddenly finding someone worth being something for. but how can you surpass all that came before and be everything he/she needs from you? your destiny was marked long before, because society will never see what this person does in you. and they tear you apart...

    irate hippi chicon June 27, 2003   Link
  • +2
    General Comment

    I agree that the song is about what he thinks death is. And how its not really a terrible one... its nothing to fear...

    its peaceful... its like the ocean.

    EmpireOfDirt NINon April 19, 2002   Link
  • +1
    General Comment

    Staring at the sea, will she come? Is there hope for me after all is said and done? -The “she”, the only one that can save him now. The song begins with a final, desperate cling of hope unto this world. “She” may be referring to a person, an idea, a life style, a thought.

    Anything at any price, all of this for you All the spoils of a wasted life; all of this for you -Here he’s trying to win over the “she” with anything. He shows the listener that nothing matters in this world; he has no reason to cling onto anything, for his life has been wasted and pointless without whatever it is that makes him whole.

    All the world has closed her eyes Tired faith all worn and thin -This is the first line in which the loss of hope is being manifested. “All the world has closed her eyes” meaning, to me, the world shutting him out. The world has closed it’s eyes on him and he is nothing.

    For all we could have done And all that could have been -Simple, yet deep, powerful lines. Contemplating on the fact that nothing will ever happen. The knowing that there is no resolution is settling in. “And all that could have been”… that speaks for itself.

    Ocean pulls me close And whispers in my ear The destiny I've chose All becoming clear The ocean, representing death, is drawing near. He knows, looking back at all his mistakes, that is it time. His destiny set out in front of him. He looks forward and sees what is ahead of him.

    The currents have their say The time is drawing near -The currents, the atmosphere of the death of his mind. The time is drawing near to the enter the vast ocean.

    Washes me away Makes me disappear -He’s been swept away by the ocean by jumping off the cliff of life. “Makes him disappear”.

    And I descend from grace In arms of undertow I will take my place In the great below -Descending from everything he ever was; from this world. The arms of undertow, the grasp of depression, of death. “The great below”, meaning to me, the pit of never-ending depression, of loss of hope and desperation.

    I can still feel you even so far away -Even in this empty void of depression, even after everything is gone, all the feelings and numbness has settled in, he can still feel whatever it is that he admired so dearly. He can still see what it is, yet he can not see himself…

    Ms Self Destructon April 12, 2005   Link
  • +1
    General Comment

    Let's just say i never cried about something that happened in a movie or song...not even when my grand parent died..the only time i ever cry is when my brother beats the shit outta me...

    until i heard this song...so beautiful and fucking good

    NINharryon June 24, 2007   Link
  • +1
    General Comment

    Personally this song identifies with my life in the sense of rejection leading into worse thoughts. Once rejected... fear overcomes you and that makes it even harder to try again, and again. The more you fail, the more you blame yourself, hence the great below. It's yourself making yourself go lower, and lower, yet you can still feel the pain lower and lower. Once you hit the Great Below, or sever depression, its so hard to climb back up. This brings sadness because of the loss of confidence. It's about a kind of death, but not actual death. I believe it's a part of you dying and it keeps getting pulled away until it hits rock bottom. And the roots of how your mentality got there are still apparent, hence why you can still feel the original source of the disease. I thank Trent Reznor for expressing his emotions, ideas, thoughts and accidents through his art. I can connect and identify on so many levels that I don't know if I'd be any better than I am now after hearing his talent.

    strokesloton June 07, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General Comment

    This is one of my favorite NIN songs. The music, the lyrics, Trent's voice..it all melts together beautifully. I would <b>love</b> to make the video for this song, because I have a perfect idea for it. Besides my idea, though, I wish they had made a video for this song, as well as for 'The Day The World Went Away'.

    the wretchedon February 09, 2002   Link

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