I'm becoming less defined as days go by
Fading away
And well you might say
I'm losing focus
Kinda drifting into the abstract in terms of how I see myself

Sometimes I think I can see right through myself
Sometimes I think I can see right through myself
Sometimes I can see right through myself

Less concerned about fitting into the world
Your world that is
'Cause it doesn't really matter anymore
(No it doesn't really matter anymore)
No it doesn't really matter anymore
None of this really matters anymore

Yes I am alone but then again I always was
As far back as I can tell
I think maybe it's because
Because you were never really real to begin with
I just made you up to hurt myself

I just made you up to hurt myself, yeah
And I just made you up to hurt myself
I just made you up to hurt myself, yeah
And I just made you up to hurt myself

And it worked
Yes it did!

There is no you
There is only me
There is no you
There is only me
There is no fucking you
There is only me
There is no fucking you
There is only me

Only
Only
Only
Only

Well the tiniest little dot caught my eye and it turned out to be a scab
And I had this funny feeling like I just knew it's something bad
I just couldn't leave it alone
I kept picking at the scab
It was a doorway trying to seal itself shut
But I climbed through

Now I am somewhere I am not supposed to be
And I can see things I know I really shouldn't see
And now I know why, now, now, now I know why
Things aren't as pretty
On the inside

There is no you
There is only me
There is no you
There is only me
There is no fucking you
There is only me
There is no fucking you
There is only me

Only
Only
Only
Only
Only
Only
Only
Only


Lyrics submitted by ab0ve, edited by keh61991

Only Lyrics as written by Trent Reznor

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

Lyrics powered by LyricFind

Only song meanings
Add Your Thoughts

184 Comments

sort form View by:
  • +4
    General Comment

    This song is about hell.

    Real hell - not fire and brimstone, but complete alienation, from God and others.

    malcolmchaos7on May 09, 2007   Link
  • +4
    General Comment

    He's saying his self-worth is not based on what other people think of him (there is no fuckin' you, there's only me).

    And that any concept of what other people are thinking, are imaginary to him (I just made you up to hurt myself).

    And his realization of this is strange, something that he shouldn't know (Now I'm somewhere,I am not supposed to be, And I can see things I know, I really shouldn't see).

    Thus,

    "Less concerned About fitting into the world Your world, that is 'cause it doesn't really matter Any more No, it doesn't really matter Any more None of this really matters Any more"

    intricaticon August 01, 2012   Link
  • +3
    General Comment

    "Only" is a self-evaluation of the artist's reality. I'm sure i'm touching on what many of you have said earlier, but i want to point out a couple more things.

    The song begins with a confident statement, "I'm becoming less defined...kind of drifting into the abstract" That entire stanza reveals that the artist feels as if he once was focused, or had his mind set on "reality" and such, but that more and more he finds himself slipping away into the unknown, or the mysterious. The world that he has lives and that he was percieved to be true is slipping away from fact towards myth. He no longer grasps with such strength the reality the society has created for him. Relationships fade away into the meaningless, love drifts into the lies, and life, in general, can no longer be viewed as this clear, black-and-white reality.

    In the second stanza, the artist then delvs into himself, saying that he no longer gives the same efforts to try and see the world as everyone else does. he refers to the world as "you world" which i think means society's world. And why, because it doesn't really matter. All the instituions he held to dear are slowly less important and more meaningless. Laws, religion, media, peers- they all don't matter any more, because, as far as the artist is concerned, they are not real, he only PERCIEVED them as real.

    The third stanza brings in some tendancies of mentally "ill" patients. The artist says he was alone, and always was. All other people, again "you", as in society, are not real. People are just a manifestation of his imagination. Like in the movie "Vanilla Sky", he has imagined this entire world. Nothing is real, except himself. he created everything. He created the concept of earth, the universe, everything could just be one huge dream of a man in a coma finally realizing that he is jusy dreaming. Kinda of scary :(

    The fourth stanza repeats "there is no you" which affirms that society is not real, and that the only real thing is the artist himself.

    Now, the fifth stanza is where i think the artist describes HOW he got to thinking this way. He say a small dot, maybe he experienced something, say saw a car crash that altered his views of the world. He somewhow got to thinking that nothing is real and as such, everything is meaningless. Once he saw this dot, he couldn't quite picking on it, because it was like a scab. As a scab, it itched, it itched to be opened. And the artist ithced it until he could climb through it, metaphorically. The dot transformed into a scab and then a doorway. From one incident, or person, (i have no clue who/what) his whole perception of the world has been fundamentally altered. And now, the artist says "I can see things I know I really shouldn't see" as if he really shouldn't be thinking this way. Well let's face it, if he was dead serious about this, why even live? If life is just a dream that you are dreaming, why don't you just wake up? So the artist realizes that the world he has entered is not pretty, it's not pretty on the inside. He has this knowledge, and i'm pretty sure he regrets thinking this way. Maybe this is a declaration of instanity, or, just maybe, reality!

    dmangler00on March 04, 2006   Link
  • +3
    General Comment

    This song is the most inspirational and beautiful piece of music ever written by man or woman and is my favorite song in life thus far. To me, its about self realization, something trent has a lot of expierience in in its struggles and triumphs. Its about a person who begins to realize the reason they are unhappy is because they arent being who they are at heart and that its part of why theyre blue is because they know who they are but theyd rather go about being self consious and hurt. I cannot describe the balls it took reznor to write a song with such truth, depth, emotion while still maintaining a wicked beat accompanied by larger than life sounds. you wont find honesty like this anywhere else... THANK YOU TRENT REZNOR.

    Treznor 111on January 05, 2007   Link
  • +3
    General Comment

    There is no YOU there is only ME

    I am unto myself. I can't get inside anyone's head, really. People can tell me about themselves and I can make connections, but that's it. Every person I come into contact with is going to be seen according to ME. YOU is a logical fallacy because of this fact. YOU cannot exist because YOU precludes that I know YOU and that YOU are REAL. If YOU are real, then so are your thoughts, ideas, opinions, actions, and so on. If YOU are not real, then all of your thoughts, opinions, actions and so on are actually just existing in my head. And I'm modifying my behavior to suit these ideas thoughts opinions that I attribute to YOU, that I externalize outside of MYSELF to justify modifying my behavior. When it's all really just a construct inside MY head that, if validated by ME, is allowed to continue. It restricts and modifies my behavior. This is what society is based on, one giant YOU. YOU is a reflecting mirror that makes ME self conscious, self doubting, unsure. YOU force ME to have a "YOU" that I think others see when they look at me. Of course, nothing could be further from the case. I am matter in motion, constantly changing and never frozen. All living creatures are in constant flux. I can look in the mirror and have the illusion of a fixed appearance for a moment, but even that is a lie, because when I walk out that door into different lighting, I look different. When I start talking to people, I look different. When I get into the flow of life, I am changing every second to be in that flow. I am like water. YOU is frozen forever, it is a lie. YOU assumes that there is a constant ME, that there is:

    A: a fixed notion of how I should act according to YOU. B: a fixed ME that is unchanging

    Nothing is fixed, everything is in flux in the material world. Therefore the idea of YOU is absurd, an illusion, a lie.

    bizzolizzoon January 09, 2011   Link
  • +2
    General Comment

    This song is about Solipsism, the theory that everything and everyone is just a figment of your own imagination. For example I didn't write this, you did, and you created this website, and all of it is in your head. He is saying he is the only real person, his mind is the only thing he considers real.

    oakley242424on February 05, 2009   Link
  • +2
    General Comment

    The "scab" he talks about is his psychological scab which brings him into his own world of viewing things with clear perception that other people can't see. He sees the "shadow" behind everyone, everyone's true intentions (the will to power) and it poisons his former image of "beauty" to the point where he hates life.

    SpunkySkunk347on September 05, 2009   Link
  • +2
    General Comment

    First of all: I don't come here to see people shout about how much they love NIN! Please people, save that crap for fan sites and stop spamming songmeanings.net with your zombie retardation.

    Secondly - I'm so sick of seeing people immediately jump on the first tired old symbol they can connect with a new song. If you were truly a fan of this artist you would give him enough credit to start interpreting the song from the basis that he is writing from some degree of new evolution in life/consciousness. I don't come here just to see how may votes the drug/gf/depression categories get.

    Third - if you connect with a new song on a feeling level there must be a freshness to it (unless you are a zombie retard or cowardly suburbanite). Since the meaning of the music itself is immediately obvious on a feeling level, what we real people come here for is help with understanding the words, especially understanding how they fit with and connect to the feeling of the music.

    Rather than try to put the song's meaning in a nutshell, I will just add a few definite points I see. I find that the more good points I read before analyzing a song the better the points I have to add will be. To give a truly complete analysis of a song you must genuinely feel you are experiencing what the artist experienced in making the song. For many reasons that probably rarely if ever actually happens.

    The line I am the least sure of is "I just made you up to hurt myself" This seems like an oxymoron if read in the most normal, literal sense. Since this isn't an especially 'dark' feeling song, I think we can rule out a 'masochistic' interpretation of this line. Since it isn't masochistic, it means he wasn't planning on hurting himself. He is being sarcastic I think. Somehow he was tricked or made the mistake of buying into something or someone that turned out to be an illusion.

    With this established I'll take the rest of the lyrics in order. ---I'm becoming less defined as days go by ---Fading away, well you might say I'm losing focus ---Kind of drifting to the abstract ---In terms of how I see myself To me this is one event, as opposed to later parts in the song. "abstract" and "see myself" are the core phrases of this block. His sense of 'what he is' - not WHO but WHAT - is losing concrete value. What is it exactly that makes the various decisions throughout the day, when and what to eat, who to meet, where to go, which thoughts seem accurate, etc. What EXACTLY decides these things? He doesn't know, his idea of what he is as opposed to the outside world is becoming blurry, ie "losing focus".

    ---Sometimes I think I can see right through myself(x3) ---Less concerned about fitting into the world ---Your world that is --Cause it doesn't really matter any more

    He can "see right through himself" perhaps because his idea of himself is foggy. The things that affect him and what he actually is are blurring together. Therefore when "he" does something, he can see his actions before they even happen, like forecasting the weather. Even though in theory if he is choosing to do something he doesn't actually know it's going to happen until he has made his decision.

    Another angle on this group of lines is that his existence doesn't seem to have much substance. It's not totally nihilistic or solipsistic, he DOES exist, but he's just not very solid anymore.

    Now "the world" "your world" is the cultural/scientific map/understanding that we inherit and update from day to day to navigate/manipulate the waking world (math formulas, traffic laws, history, techniques and ideals/values and so on) Things have come to the point where he doesn't really know if he is making the right choices. Or what's worse, if the things he does even have the effect he thinks they do. Or even worse, if he is actually doing what he's trying to do. The effort he exerts trying to keep up with all the responsibilities/potentials we supposedly have in life might actually be a total waste ( back to "I just made you up to hurt myself").

    ---Yes I'm alone, then again I always was ---As far back as I can tell ---I think maybe it's because you were never really real to begin with ---I just made you up to hurt myself(x5) ---And it worked...yes it did

    I believe this song is "almost" solipsism, but technically it's not. Being alone does not mean that no one else exists anywhere in the universe, but it means, as far as the musical tone of this song goes: All that he "knows" or feels about the existence of other spirits/consciousnesses etc actually just seems like rumors to him now that he really looks at it up close. He had always assumed that life must be at least a small fraction of what it seems, now he's beginning to realize that for all practical purposes: ---There is no fucking you! There is only me

    "I may as well be dreaming" seems to me to be the feeling of this song. The particular main idea of this song is not concerned with discerning dreaming world from waking world, but the sense of being "Only" has overwhelmed everything and anything to the contrary.

    ---Well the tiniest little dot caught my eye ---And it turned out to be a scab ---And I had this funny feeling ---Like I just knew it's something bad ---I just couldn't leave it alone ---I kept picking at the scab ---It was a doorway trying to seal itself shut

    For most dreams that I remember, I'm not paying attention to how strange the experiences are while they are happening. Or if they are nightmares, even if I am terrified in the dream I'm no where near as terrified as I would be if the thing were to be really happening to me in the waking world. Because in the waking world losing my arm/eye etc would be a major tragedy but in a dream I can have a brand new body in the very next dream.

    In dreams while they are happening, no matter how many 'characters' are there, I never stop to realize that I am actually alone, making all these people up. I feel like I'm "really" with someone.

    So here he is, in this illusion (almost like a dream, which is why i mentioned dreams) This illusion is a solution to being alone. YOUR world, the cultural world, the conclusions and teachings that other people exist and have these and those sorts of desires and experiences in relation to you The illusion is that you forget that when you feel you are "with" people what you are really "with" is your ideas of them, what you think they are feeling inside. The reality is you actually have no idea what they are feeling!

    THERE IS NO FUCKING YOU, THERE IS ONLY ME!

    Normally scabs are good, but he is seeing a scab and saying deep down inside he feels or knows its wrong He could live blissfully ignorant if he would just choose to but that kind of existence is just so disgusting and pathetic he can't bring himself to do it

    The scab turned out to be a doorway, not a scab on his own being The scab is on "your world' the mental simulation we use to navigate the waking world the Matrix or the Pretty Hate Machine, all the same thing actually The scan is from a damaged part of the machine world he broke though because he felt deep inside something was wrong with the world now he finds that he never really had a direct experience of anything but himself

    But in his own mind he can see that there IS an outside world but only according to the understanding he has of his own life Living and acting as though other people exist works to keep you alive etc but in the end you never experience anything other than yourself

    This is what I think this song is about. I don't necessarily think Trent Reznor ALWAYS feels this way but he might

    I certainly feel this way most of the time that I am awake and sober

    ---Now I am somewhere I am not supposed to be ---And I can see things I know I really shouldn't see ---And now I know why, ya now I know why ---Things aren't as pretty, on the inside

    Now he is 'under the hood' of the machine. Society teaches us all these false notions about how we work Pleasant fictions we can entertain ourselves with while we pretend to have meaningful interactions So that the machine can continue to function using human labor Now he is having a horrible experience living inside a place that wasn't designed for him Its like waking up into the real world in the Matrix a desolate post-apocalyptic landscape where humans never roam only machines

    But for this song more specifically why are things "not as pretty on the inside" I'm not 100% sure on this what he means Maybe someone else can help me out until later

    seanbay0120on July 04, 2010   Link
  • +2
    General Comment

    yea who the fuck are you guys kidding, theres no, im the only one that exists.. Ive made up all your usernames and comments in my head.

    homerunhydockon December 15, 2011   Link
  • +1
    General Comment

    I think that this song is about not believing in god. The verse "there is no you (you being god) there is only me" is why i think this. it may not be. Trent Reznor is a genius because all his songs make you think.

    Year Zeroon May 14, 2007   Link

Add your thoughts

Log in now to tell us what you think this song means.

Don’t have an account? Create an account with SongMeanings to post comments, submit lyrics, and more. It’s super easy, we promise!

More Featured Meanings

Album art
Fast Car
Tracy Chapman
"Fast car" is kind of a continuation of Bruce Springsteen's "Born to Run." It has all the clawing your way to a better life, but in this case the protagonist never makes it with her love; in fact she is dragged back down by him. There is still an amazing amount of hope and will in the lyrics; and the lyrics themselve rank and easy five. If only music was stronger it would be one of those great radio songs that you hear once a week 20 years after it was released. The imagery is almost tear-jerking ("City lights lay out before us", "Speeds so fast felt like I was drunk"), and the idea of starting from nothing and just driving and working and denigrating yourself for a chance at being just above poverty, then losing in the end is just painful and inspiring at the same time.
Album art
The Night We Met
Lord Huron
This is a hauntingly beautiful song about introspection, specifically about looking back at a relationship that started bad and ended so poorly, that the narrator wants to go back to the very beginning and tell himself to not even travel down that road. I believe that the relationship started poorly because of the lines: "Take me back to the night we met:When the night was full of terrors: And your eyes were filled with tears: When you had not touched me yet" So, the first night was not a great start, but the narrator pursued the relationship and eventually both overcame the rough start to fall in love with each other: "I had all and then most of you" Like many relationships that turn sour, it was not a quick decline, but a gradual one where the narrator and their partner fall out of love and gradually grow apart "Some and now none of you" Losing someone who was once everything in your world, who you could confide in, tell your secrets to, share all the most intimate parts of your life, to being strangers with that person is probably one of the most painful experiences a person can go through. So Painful, the narrator wants to go back in time and tell himself to not even pursue the relationship. This was the perfect song for "13 Reasons Why"
Album art
Son Şansın - Şarkı Sözleri
Hayalperest
This song seemingly tackles the methods of deception those who manipulate others use to get victims to follow their demands, as well as diverting attention away from important issues. They'll also use it as a means to convince people to hate or kill others by pretending acts of terrorism were committed by the enemy when the acts themselves were done by the masters of control to promote discrimination and hate. It also reinforces the idea that these manipulative forces operate in various locations, infiltrating everyday life without detection, and propagate any and everywhere. In general, it highlights the danger of hidden agendas, manipulation, and distraction, serving as a critique of those who exploit chaos and confusion to control and gain power, depicting a cautionary tale against falling into their traps. It encourages us to question the narratives presented to us and remain vigilant against manipulation in various parts of society.
Album art
Magical
Ed Sheeran
How would you describe the feeling of being in love? For Ed Sheeran, the word is “Magical.” in HIS three-minute album opener, he makes an attempt to capture the beauty and delicacy of true love with words. He describes the magic of it all over a bright Pop song produced by Aaron Dessner.
Album art
Page
Ed Sheeran
There aren’t many things that’ll hurt more than giving love a chance against your better judgement only to have your heart crushed yet again. Ed Sheeran tells such a story on “Page.” On this track, he is devastated to have lost his lover and even more saddened by the feeling that he may never move on from this.