394 Meanings
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Sober Lyrics

There's a shadow just behind me,
Shrouding every step I take,
Making every promise empty,
Pointing every finger at me.
Waiting like a stalking butler
Who upon the finger rests.
Murder now the path called "must we"
Just before the son has come.
Jesus, won't you fucking whistle
Something but the past and done?
Why can't we not be sober?
I just want to start this over.
Why can't we drink forever.
I just want to start things over.
I am just a worthless liar.
I am just an imbecile.
I will only complicate you.
Trust in me and fall as well.
I will find a center in you.
I will chew it up and leave,
I will work to elevate you
Just enough to bring you down.
Trust me.
Mother Mary won't you whisper
Something but what's past and done.
Trust me.
I want what I want.
Song Info
Submitted by
Submitted on
Nov 26, 2001
394 Meanings
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It doesn't surprise me that people would really turn this toward religion. As against religion as Maynard or the band may be, i don't get that from this song.

Being someone who struggled with different addictions i can definitely relate to every line in this song.

"There's a shadow just behind me, Shrouding every step I take, Making every promise empty, Pointing every finger at me."

Drug/Alcohol addiction promises alot but there is always a price. People get high to feel good. However, You will feel empty when you aren't high, but you will be judged when you are. Hence the reason it makes "every promise empty and pointing every finger at me"

"Waiting like a stalking butler Who upon the finger rests. Murder now the path called "must we" Just before the son has come."

Addiction stands like a butler that follows you and like a butler it promises to help you through your day and the analogy of the butler on the finger as a way to use. Alot of drugs will lay on your finger especially if your snorting.

"The path called 'must we'" references to me the "Rules of the world". Kind of a Damned if you do Damned if you don't kind of thing. Addictions will tell the user that they need to not be concerned with what "needs to be done". Just sit back and use/drink/smoke/whatever.

"Jesus wont you Fucking Whistle Something but the past and done Jesus won't you Fucking whistle Something but the past and done"

Reaching out for answers but feeling like your past is the reason you won't ever find forgiveness or peace.(I mean come on how many of us have felt the negative effects of a night drinking/partying/smoking/whatever and gotten sick and cried out to God even if you don't believe he exists. "God if you get me out of this i'll never drink again".) Asking "Jesus if you are real all i want is a whistle" or "God if you are real now would be the time to show it".

"Why can't we not be sober? I just want to start this over. Why can't we drink forever. I just want to start things over."

This is the argument every person has at one time or another during their time of addiction. (if you haven't then congrats you are the first i've ever heard of.)

"I am just a worthless liar. I am just an imbecile. I will only complicate you. Trust in me and fall as well. I will find a center in you. I will chew it up and leave, I will work to elevate you Just enough to bring you down."

The reality of what our addictions bring in the end. And i'm not talking about the recreational or social users, i'm talking about the ADDICTS who need it. Those who cant function in their day without whatever their addiction is. (i'm not condemning, i was there at one point too and i know how that battle goes.)

So there's my take. it's all based on personal experience so i could be way off. I'm not personal friends with the band so obviously i can't say this is what they meant, but when i listen to this song, this is what it tells me.

Best interpretation I've seen on any song on the 'internetz' ever.

thats actually the opposite of the songs point. the song isn't about being addicted. its about if you can do drugs with out becoming an addict then fuck off and let me do drugs. source: Adam Jones

I have read a few comments regarding this song, and for once I have to admit I am pleasantly surprised to read some people actually believe in many respects that this song is primarily about God and the proof of his existence. I believe the reference to being sober refers to those who are not drunk on believing and or following God. This like MANY tool songs is about God...period!!! Maynard isn't "so deep", "so mysterious" he's a puppet, a pawn for the devil!!! The only reason this band is where they are is because they sold out to the...

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Maynard creates a character that epitomizes self hatred.

This song to me paints a picture of the loop this man gets caught in, where he hates himself, and absolutely wallows in it. Instead of looking for change, he persists in this stubborn cycle of nostalgia and depression. He just wants to start it over, but he's too fucked up by now to do it.

This is one of the only Tool songs that i don't see the "light at the end of the tunnel"

the light at the end of the tunnel is in 46 and 2. which is a continuation of the shadow reference in begginning this song. in sober he is "stalked" and controlled by his shadow self (see carl jung) and can't push through till he faces and accepts it in 46 and 2. At that point real change can occur. oddly enough this has personal meaning for me because i learned about shadow self and jung in therapy while getting sober myself.

@Tunes24 agreed. I do think it may be because of alcohol and drug abuse as well. This is his personification of himself at his worst and lowest. Absolutely correct too @minty33

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As numerous people have said before, yes, the chorus is a double-negative. "Why can't we not be sober" is the equivalent of "Why can't we just be drunk". I don't know if anyone else said this already, but I think Maynard was being clever with this song; the narrator is a drunk and a selfish hypocrite. Yes, he is an alcoholic. The shadow behind him is his CONSCIENCE. It follows him everywhere no matter how much he drinks and "points every finger at him" (AKA he knows he is responsible for his own faults, but will not accept it). "I just want to start this over" refers to his excuse for drinking, he wants to lose himself in the liquor and "start over", or in reality act like all his problems don't exist. He knows he is just a worthless liar, and is not willing to do anything about it. Everyone who has ever cared about him, he only made their lives more complicated by causing them the pain of watching his addiction consume him; they trusted him to take care of himself, but he let them down (trust in me and fall as well). The people who loved him watched as he destroyed himself (I will find a center in you, I will chew it up and leave), and despite numerous attempts at rehab, no matter how good things looked, he always reverted back to drinking (I will work to elevate you, just enough to bring you down). "Trust me" is a contradiction to what he clearly says earlier (trust in me and fall as well), he tells other people to trust him, that he can take care of himself, when clearly he cannot. "I want what I want" reinforces how selfish he is, he doesn't care that he's hurting others by hurting himself, he wants to drink and he will continue to do so. Its a sad story in my eyes. There's lots of people like that in real life I think. Of course this is just my interpretation though. All music is interpreted differently by different people.

@HammerFloyd This is the best writing of what I felt when I was listening to this song. Thank you so much for writing something so correct in so few words.

@HammerFloyd This is exactly right .... This is from the perspective of the alcoholic who is pissed that everyone keeps telling him to stop drinking. "Jesus won't you fucking whistle something but the past and done" has nothing to do with Jesus or religion. He is saying "Jesus" as in a curse - like "Jesus F-in Christ, would you shut up and talk about something else" - he's saying this to the people who are always on his case.

@HammerFloyd As someone who started my career working in drug and alcohol treatment facilities, and was engaged myself for a period of 8 years to an active alcoholic, I can tell you your reading of these lyrics as a portrayal of the addictive personality is spot on. Especially the "Trust me" part. Needless to say, the 8 year engagement didn't end well.

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it can also be another Tool attack on organized religion, asking why people can't be sober and think for themselves

"why can't we NOT be sober"

I find that few people in general think for themselves, whether they claim to be religious or not.

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Wow, all the irony and paradoxes aren't gonna get you anywhere Maynard. The speaker feels that he is always being blamed by others for everything he does wrong. And obviously he doesn't think much of himself. "Why can't we not be sober?" has a double-negative. Simplify it-- 'why can't we be drunk'-- he doesn't want to be sober and think, he wants to drown the problems. (Not that the song endorses alcoholism or anything.)

"Jesus won't you fucking whistle/something but the past and done" is a rhetorical question. It asks higher powers for help for the present and to come.

And I don't hear any whispering. Have I been listening to the song too loud?

Ther definatly is abit at about 4:02 because I always think its my mum calling me (my name is joe you will see what I mean)

It sounds like something scratching against a bass string.

dude man, the reason he was such an alcoholic was because his mother was paralyzed and bed-ridden for 27 years (approximately 10000 days, as the latest tool album suggests) before passing away. this song is about all of the guilt that he felt while losing his mother. if you knew anything about losing someone you would know that the guilt can fucking eat you alive man. and as for the "why can't we not be sober" vs "why can't be drunk"... well that just wouldn't quite have the same effect. and he's the artist, he created the song, he can...

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Wow!!! first thing's first: this song doesn't consult or insult any religion at all. Now: Maynard's only saying that we are all faulted and no matter how hard we try to look and become sober we're still filthy, hopeless, lier and not to mention fake (throughout a major fuck up) maybe not from the outside but from the inside.... The worst part is: We're so blissfully ignorant that we dont realize it has gone too far and now there's No Time to Start Over....

Maybe I'm wrong but this is the theory that came in my head when I heard Sober Thank You.

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The song seems to be about a self-loathing drug addict who wishes he never got himself into the hellhole he is in, is begging God for help, and now loathes every moment he isn't high.

@Ganondox Have you ever had an addiction?

@Ganondox As the one asked you before, as an addicted, hes saying that we probably didnt to have used anythig before.

@Ganondox everything is an addiction here. The things we are not suppose to do but, it makes us feel so good. Drugs and alcohol are not the only addictions in this forsaken place that society calls a world. Jesus was a whistle, like a train horn! Trying to wake all you mother fuckers up. But a whistle is not that loud, not like a train horn so I figure he was trying to be quiet about his mission here. A whistle catches your attention usually to get you to stop, like at a traing camp. Addictions can become trends and...

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Besides all the possible interpretations for this song, i believe its meaning is the same as Forty-six & 2's. It's about Jung's Psychological theory of the "Shadow."

It's pretty obvious in the firsts verses "There's a shadow just behind me, Shrouding every step I take"

Later on he says "I am just a worthless liar. I am just an imbecile. I will only complicate you. Trust in me and fall as well. I will find a center in you. I will chew it up and leave, I will work to elevate you Just enough to bring you down."

Here he talks about how people and himself are victims of his shadow, dealing with his consciousness and ego.

I don't know, this is just another way of interpreting this awesome song. And this is what i love the most about music, specially Maynard's..

(sorry about my terrible english too)

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The whispering in the song is maynard saying "turn that shit down" which is seemingly ironic because you have to have the song very loud to hear it and it is still very failt in the background, the first time you ehar it you may think it is a neighboor or someone far away talking

Nope, what's ironic is that someone who doesn't have any grasp of the concept of irony is posting a comment about it. Good day sir!

lmao you mean Maynard is saying "Turn that shit down" to you, the listener of the song, because the listener turned up their music really really loud. He's saying it directly to the listener.

ha ha.

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"i will find a center in you/ i will chew it up and leave ..." in this verse maynard is mocking something that attacks the core of your being while giving you a false sense of security and happiness and fulfillment.

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