Wear the grudge like a crown of negativity
Calculate what we will or will not tolerate
Desperate to control all and everything
Unable to forgive your scarlet lettermen

Clutch it like a cornerstone, otherwise it all comes down
Justify denials and grip 'em to the lonesome end
Clutch it like a cornerstone, otherwise it all comes down
Terrified of being wrong, ultimatum prison cell

Saturn ascends
Choose one or ten
Hang on or be humbled again
Humbled again

Clutch it like a cornerstone, otherwise it all comes down
Justify denials and grip 'em to the lonesome end
Saturn ascends, comes round again
Saturn ascends, the one, the ten
Ignorant to the damage done

Wear the grudge like a crown of negativity
Calculate what we will or will not tolerate
Desperate to control all and everything
Unable to forgive these scarlet lettermen

Wear the grudge like a crown
Desperate to control
Unable to forgive and sinking deeper

And sinking deeper
And we're sinking deeper

Saturn comes back around to show you everything
Let's you choose what you will and will not see and then
Drags you down like a stone or lifts you up again
Spits you out like a child, light and innocent

Saturn comes back around
Lifts you up like a child
or drags you down like a stone
To consume you till you choose to let this go
Choose to let this go

Give away the stone
Let the oceans take and trans mutate this cold and fated anchor
Give away the stone
Let the waters kiss and trans mutate these leaden grudges into gold

Let go

Lyrics submitted by Everlong, edited by Ateam7001, Renzo315, D34thFate, jdknight9, DiogoLopes

The Grudge Lyrics as written by Daniel Carey Adam Jones

Lyrics © BMG Rights Management, Royalty Network, Warner Chappell Music, Inc.

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The Grudge song meanings
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  • +19
    General Comment

    Just like schism86 said, i had this post before the site re-vamped... I'm just gonna copy what I wrote before.. It's hella long, so only read it if your REALLY interested.

    First off, sorry this is gonna be so long, I'm gonna disect pretty much every line Well guys, I'm not here to clear anything up on the meaning of this song, cuz I don't know it for sure. I like to think my interpretation is right (some of you are probably closer though), but it's open to everyone's views, and I love reading what all of you think. But anyway, here goes.

    I think unlike most songs, Tool is pretty straightforward on this song. It doesn't seem allegorical, but it is quite deep. To be honest, after buying lateralus and hearing this song, it became my life motto. I hate grudges, and I can't stand holding them now. It just seems so childish.

    I think Maynard is almost throwing the idea of grudge holding back into the faces of people that do it. He's making fun of them for such a savage thing. Like the first line...

    "wear the grudge like a crown of negativity" (go ahead, put your grudge out where everyone can see it, let everyone know that you're mad and that you want to be that way).

    "calculate what we will and will not tolerate" (decide exactly what you want to get mad over that would make you hold a grudge. this way when it happens, you can keep putting that crown back on)

    "desperate to control all and everything" (you don't want to be on good terms. you WANT the grudge. if you can control the grudge, you can control the person you hold the grudge against.)

    "unable to forgive your scarlet letterman" (although they know they've done wrong, you won't forgive them under any circumstance)

    "clutch it like a cornerstone, otherwise it all comes down" (clutch the grudge that you hold like a cornerstone, because you know if you don't then the grudge dies. you don't want that)

    "justify denials and grip em to the lonesome end" (come up with excuses to continue holding the grudge, and stand by them until the end, even when everyone hates you for what you're doing, hence lonesome)

    "Terrified of being wrong, ultimatum prison cell" (you're scared to death that someone can prove that you have no reason to hold a grudge. you worry about it so much you put yourself in your own little prison over it) [Remember this whole time, I believe Maynard's making fun of the people that do this. Almost reverse psycology by showing them how stupid it is]

    Then I have to agree with 'Insecure Dilusions' idea on the Saturn thing. Saturn was god of all greek gods. he was sooo worried he could be overthrown he ate his children. Yet Zeus was the one thing that Saturn overlooked. That one thing overthrew Saturn and killed him. Hang on to the grudge like saturn would, because if you don't you'll be humbled in your ignorance. And later he says "ignorant to the damage done"... ignorance isn't stupidity, it's not knowing about something. in this case, Saturn was ignorant to the damage done to himself until Zeus killed him.

    "unable to forgive and we're sinking deeper" (you won't forgive, and for this you're slowly creating a larger grudge)

    The grudge begins to define you, confine you, even control you.

    Again to the Saturn reference for almost the rest of the song. Saying that Saturn, almost as if, takes over your body. He and you become one, you make the decisions Saturn chose. And not until you end the grudge will he quit tearing you apart.

    Finally Maynard quit's criticizing and simply tells them what they need to do. Give away the (corner)stone. Let the oceans take and transmute this cold and weighted anchor (that was your grudge, holding you down). Give away the stone. Let the waters take and transmute these leaden (heavy burdensome) grudges into gold. LET GO.

    And thus ends my entirely too long interpretation. However, this is what I believe and exactly how I feel. This pretty much explains my life motto. I thank each of your for your time in reading such a long and drawn out post. You deserve a pat on the back for putting up with my jabbering.

    madson4562on December 13, 2001   Link
  • +10
    General Comment

    Sorry for the length of this. It's a paper I wrote in school about the grudge. Let me know what you guys think.

    Letting go is the sometimes the hardest thing to do in life.  Moving on is hard whether we are facing a death or holding a grudge.  Both circumstances take an emotional toll, but they can be amplified by an unwillingness to let the past rest.  Perhaps the hardest part about situations like these is that the longer we hold on to the past, the stronger its grip is on our lives.  The Grudge, by Tool, is the first song from their album, Lateralus.  Simply defined, a grudge is a “feeling of deep-seated resentment or ill will”. A grudge is more than a surface unwillingness; a grudge takes on a personality, it grows in strength, and it eventually controls our life.  Destruction is the only outcome for someone who cannot escape the deadly grip of a grudge — he has to let go.  
    In the first line, Maynard James Keenan, Tool’s lead singer, describes the grudge as a “crown of negativity”.  Crowns are usually seen as something glorious, brilliant, and beautiful; Keenan takes this symbol of power and authority and twists it into something dark and terrifying, but the idea of power is retained.  He is almost saying we are imbued with some sort of negative power when we allow this grudge to define us.  He goes on to say, “Calculate what we will or will not tolerate/ Desperate to control all and everything”.  With this false sense of power created by a grudge, the person becomes filled with a sense of being able to control everything around them.  Typically, with the presence of a grudge comes a plan for revenge.  A person wearing this crown of negativity is oftentimes so blinded by it they are unable see the limits of their power.  

    I believe the next line, “Unable to forgive your scarlet lettermen,” is an allusion to Nathaniel Hawthorne’s Scarlet Letter. The antagonist in this book, Roger Chillingworth, is seeking revenge on his ex-wife. He believes that she has committed an act of adultery against him. His quest for revenge consumes him so much that it affects his external appearance. His ex-wife’s lover, Arthur Dimmesdale, dies before Chillingworth is able to exact his revenge. Chillingworth soon follows him. His life had become so intertwined with his grudge that they were interdependent. When the source of power, the target, of his grudge was gone, the life drained out of him. He died with nothing. Just like Keenan said in his song, “Clutch it like a cornerstone/otherwise it all comes down/justify denials and grip it to the lonesome end”. A cornerstone is the source of stability for any building. It needs to be solid and immovable. Similarly, a grudge provides stability for a person’s life, no matter how false that stability is. Friends around us may point out how silly we are, but the holder is blinded by power. Part of us is, “terrified of being wrong,” as Keenan says. In the eyes of the holder, if he is found to be wrong, he will be put in an ”ultimatum prison cell”.
    If the song ended here, we would be without hope — locked away in a prison cell, left to our own devices. But Keenan tells us, “Saturn ascends/choose one or ten/hang on or be humbled again”. The reference to Saturn ascending is an astrological idea of changes in life associated with the completion of a revolution by Saturn around the earth. At this time in life, a choice has to be made. When he says “one or ten,” I believe he uses this to express to polar opposites. There is no middle ground; either the grudge is given up or held on to for another period of life. The one glimmer of hope here is the presence of a choice. Despite all of the power the grudge has, we can still choose to cast it away.
    Even though Keenan provides a way for escape, he does not want us to become complacent; he reminds us of the only outcome if we choose to hang on to the grudge. If we are “wear[ing] the grudge like a crown/desperate to control/unable to forgive,” then we will be “sinking deeper”. This begs the question, deeper into what? I believe when a grudge comes to be, it is born out of reason. We were wronged in some way, but as a grudge lingers in our mind it begins to create a false reality. The truth we see with our eyes becomes distorted when it passes through the filter of the grudge. The grudge becomes “defining, confining, [and] controlling”. Our real self is buried away within our subconscious; seemingly powerless to regain control. So we continue downward.
    Then “Saturn comes back around to show you everything”. Now is the time to make a choice. This stanza is the first time in the song that Keenan refers to the grudge as a stone. He says, “[the grudge] drags you down like a stone”. The other option is to be treated like “a child, light and innocent”. The process of separating ourselves from the grudge is not easy. We have to completely humble ourselves to the level of a child. He is saying there must be a return to innocence; all of the unnecessary weight in life must be eradicated. All the “[calculations of] what we will or will not tolerate,” and the “[desperations] to control all and everything,” serve only to complicate and fill our life with meaningless pursuits that waste any chance we have of living. We must be like a child because only a renaissance of innocence will bring freedom from this “cold and fated anchor”.
    Finally, Keenan begs us to “give away the stone/let the oceans take and transmutate this cold and fated anchor/give away the stone/let the waters kiss and transmutate these leaden grudges into gold”. His imagery of the oceans and waters is an allusion to baptism. A thorough cleansing is necessary for change, but with change comes reward. If this trial in life is endured, then “these leaden grudges will be turned into gold”. Perseverance breeds greatness. Keenan breaks down in the end of the song. He lets out a passionate scream — I envision him falling to his knees with his hands on his head. He knows he must let go, has to let go. He begins whispering “[l]et go, let go, let go…,” over and over, almost chanting it. The song crescendos as he chants louder and louder until he is screaming “let go!” He knows where the grudge is taking him; he sees the destruction waiting for him if he cannot let go. Change is never easy, but he has to try.
    A grudge begins in reason but transforms into a powerful entity capable of destroying lives. The only way to escape the endless spiral of increasing desperation to control everything around us is to choose to change. No matter how attractive the crown is, we need to take it off. Maynard James Keenan begs us to throw away “this cold and fated anchor,” but no one can make us let go, it must come from within. In the end, it is up to us…it always has been.

    mfallowon October 11, 2010   Link
  • +7
    General Comment

    Maynard once said he used his music to get out frustrations he had of his past, and this I believe is him letting his past go. About his Family life, his look on other people, and even God. He really sees his life of anger leading him no where. Tool's earlier records showed Maynard's and the bend's anger and frustrations to the point where they were called an anti religious band by many. (In ways they were) Well Lateralus came and showed us a new side.

    Maynard sees the problem of hate and grudges, and the "Prison cell" it puts you in. As Saturn comes back around to show him everything, he sees it will consume him and spit him out until he chooses to let it go.

    The ending is so powerful. I just picture Maynard thinking of all the things he's mad about, and not just letting them go, but literally changing his mind set as he screams his heart out. "Turn these leaden grudges into gold". This song is an utter masterpiece. Plugged in online didn't give this album enough credit, cause I see more Christian lyrics in this song alone than I do in some songs on Christian Radio. Funny actually. (My opinion though)


    indeed478on March 19, 2013   Link
  • +5
    General Comment

    Here is my interpretation of 'The Grudge'

    "Crown of negativity" The first thing that pops into my head is Jesus' crown of thorns, a burden. The crown is thereby also a symbol of religion – but this is a negative symbol. Because these days Christianity is a controlling power, which has decided for us what we will and will not tolerate. But the crown of negativity represents the reduction of our thinking IN GENERAL. We carry the crown on our heads, the highest place of our body, and it overshadows everything else. "Unable to forgive your scarlet lettermen" "The scarlet letter" is a book by Nathaniel Hawthorne in which a woman who has committed adultery forced to wear a crimson 'A' on her chest for the crime. We stamp other people, judging them and refuse to forgive them. This hatred of a foreign party - another person, another religion, another culture - most people have to maintain. Many people clutch their grudge as if it were a cornerstone, everything their unity (if is a group of people) is build on. But it may also be that the individual clings to this feeling to keep himself/herself together. In such cases we always try to justify denials. We cultivate our hatred and dare not to let it go, because we are afraid to make mistakes. So we put ourselves in a prison cell of ultimatum.

    The most interesting part of the song deals with Saturn. After a little research has been up to me that everything in the song forms a synthesis. First, it takes Saturn about 29 years to go round the sun. 29 years symbolizes a mid-term crisis, a split. "Choose one or ten" This refers to the zodiac in astrology, Aries is the number one and Capricorn is number ten. So the choice is between Capricorn and Aries. Capricorn is ruled by Saturn (Saturn is the creator of civilization and the social order, representing authority). Capricorn is stubborn, cautious and disciplined. Aries is ruled by Mars (Mars usually associated with strength, spontaneity and energy). Aries is bold and impulsive. In many ways it is the complete contrast to Capricorn. You could say that Aries is the Zodiac pioneer. By the way … Maynard a Ram himself. "Hang on or be humbled again" By choosing Capricorn you will again submit to the Authority and thus be humiliated, bow to other powers. We’ll continue living with this ugly feeling, unaware of how much damage we have caused to the outside world and ourselves. The grudge will narrow thinking further define and say that things can only be one way.

    "Saturn comes back around to show you everything Let's you choose what you will, will not see and then Drags you down like a stone or lifts you up again Spits you out like a child, light and innocent "

    This refers to the myth of the Greek god Cronos (which the Romans later called Saturn) who ate his sons, so they would not kill him. Rhea (Cronos' wife) gave birth to another son, Zeus, and she gives her husband a stone instead of the child, and Cronos swallows the stone, believing it is his son. Later Zeus kills his father and sets his siblings free. The song raises the question: Will go down like a stone – just like all the others ones –, or you will be like Zeus (Aries), escaping it all?

    "Let the waters kiss and transmutate these leader grudges into gold" If we look at everything in an alchemical way, the solid substance, which is associated with Saturn, is lead. Lead represents decay and death. When Saturn ascends, you’ve got the choice between remaining the way you are and fall into decay, or to let go of a part of yourself (death, in a way) and thereby transform lead to gold - dissolve "the cold and fated anchor."

    Just try to imagine all the energy we would have, if we did not spend so much time on bearing grudges.

    Like so many of Tools songs, this song is a metaphor for personal development.

    Afterthebattleon February 04, 2009   Link
  • +5
    General Comment

    People use grudges as a means of control and supremacy, to make other people feel lesser. I think it’s about how letting go of past indiscretions and moving on will lead you to absolution, but allowing yourself to feel guilt because of someone else’s resentment of your actions will only tie you down. Resentment is futile. but that's just what i get from the song.

    crystalizelieson March 23, 2011   Link
  • +3
    General Comment

    i think this song is pretty straight forward. Grudge, holding onto it, gives you a sense of worth, knowing whats wrong, who to blame. But it also holds you down, not letting you overcome what happened. Its refered to as a prison cell, confining you. You can hang on to it, or let it go and be humble.

    rzatherazaon December 02, 2001   Link
  • +3
    My Interpretation

    I think "one or ten" means "all or nothing". In other words, "no compromise", "my way or the highway", etc.

    vitaminfon April 27, 2013   Link
  • +3
    General Comment

    The 'Saturn comes back around' and 'Saturn ascends' lines makes me think of the No Doubt album 'The Return of Saturn'.

    Seems like an astrology reference to me. Anyone know the relevance of Saturn ascending and descending in astrology?

    Nosferobtuon April 09, 2014   Link
  • +3
    General Comment

    Some of you are much closer than others but still too much dissaray. I feel as if I am completing treason by literally translating it for you but afterall, this song is the holy gift in every sense of the term. Tool is heavily aligned with the esoteric and masonic occult symbology. Many people fail to make the parallels between these truths and our advanced ancient civilizations. The scarlett letterman are in fact alien beings who are in contact with many people on this earth. They created the human race and have directed our progress over many thousands of years. Saturn signifys destruction and mortality. The ancients were not savages like we were told, in fact they were far from it. The earth is surrounded by a false ascension matrix, it is a prison planet. It is more like a zoo than anything. When humans reach a certain technological peak we are wiped from the globe again by great flood and catastrophe. The only truth left is inscribed in the only thing that survives, stone. The grudge is the enlightened humans who are fully aware of this profound truth that resent their creators for placing them in a kind of matrix or prison. We have reached this technological point many times already, only to succumb to greed and depravity. Afterall, many different alien beings have attempted to have a hand in the path humanity decides to take. Transcending this barrier or obstruction and breaking free is knowing forgiveness and reaching true polarity of the soul. Ultimately, it was what we refuse to see that will decide our fate [or anchor]. We can walk with the Gods in eternity or we can be doomed over and over again. Spit back out like an innocent child with no recollection whatsoever.

    Adequacy13on October 25, 2017   Link
  • +2
    General Comment

    Awesome song! w00000t! A lot of good songs off of Lateralus!

    Kenshinon November 26, 2001   Link

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