She nursed him there
Ooh, over a night
Wasn't so sure she wanted him to stay
What to say, what to say
But soon she was down, soon he was low

At a quarter past a holy no
She had to turn around

When she couldn't hold, oh, she folded
A dissident is here
Escape is never the safest path
Oh, a dissident, a dissident is here

And to this day, she's glided on
Always home but so far away
Like a word misplaced
Nothing to say, what a waste

When she had contact with the conflict
There was meanin', but she sold him to the state
She had to turn around

When she couldn't hold, she folded
A dissident is here
Escape is never the safest path
Oh, a dissident, a dissident is here, oh

She gave him away
When she couldn't hold, no, she folded
A dissident is here
Escape is never the safest path
Oh, a dissident, a dissident is here, oh

Couldn't hold on
She couldn't hold, no, she folded
A dissident is here
Escape is never the safest place, oh
A dissident is here

Lyrics submitted by Trent

"Dissident" as written by Eddie Vedder David Abbruzzese

Lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group, Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Warner Chappell Music, Inc.

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Dissident song meanings
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  • +8
    General CommentBased around the story of a political fugitive who’s taken in by a woman. She can’t handle the responsibility and so turns him in, changing her life to one of unbearable guilt. After betraying the one person who gave the meaning to her life, she cracks.
    edon May 10, 2002   Link
  • +6
    General CommentI think the song is definitley about a woman giving her child up for adoption. She probably wanted an abortion, but her religon was against it. (A Holy NO)
    She nursed the baby over one night. She wasnt so sure she wanted him to stay. (She didnt want a baby to start with, so she didnt want to stay and nurse him.) Then I think she is thinking about what happened. Soon she was down, soon he was low. Soon she laid down and the doctor was low, deliviring the baby. She had to turn around references how she had to leave the baby and walk away.
    To this day shes glided on always home but (The baby) is so far away. Then when she did have contact with the Child, there was some meaning, but she had sold him to the state. Gave him/her up for adoption. Once again, she had to turn and leave her Child. The references in the song to her folding is how her whole life folded away after this, and I believe Ed is trying to point out that because of Religon and the State women should have the right to choose not to have a child as opposed to ruining their entire life. So many people think abortion is wrong when you can just as easily have the child and give it up, when that is not true, which this song is attempting to point out. AWESOME song!
    Benplaceon June 20, 2003   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI think it's about a one night stand that resulted in an unwanted child. Here's the breakdown:

    dissident as per merrian webster dictionary
    : disagreeing especially with an established religious or political system, organization, or belief
    - pre marital sex

    She nursed him there, ooh, over a night.
    I wasn't so sure she wanted him to stay.
    What to say? What to say?
    But soon she was down. Soon he was low.
    At a quarter past. A holy no.
    She had to turn around.
    ---they came back to her place, 'nursing' also relates to drinking, she didnt know if she wanted him to spend the nite-one night stand, soon she was down soon he was low at a quarter past a holy no- she ended up laying on the bed, 'he was low' - sorry to be a bit graphic- on top of her, the holy no refers to the premarital sex they had that nite

    When she couldn't hold, oh, she folded. A dissident is here.
    Escape is never the safest path.
    Oh, a dissidence. A dissident is here
    ---- this makes reference to her having an abortion she couldnt deal with the thought of being a mother, escape is never the safest path- death is never the answer, she did something not agreed to by society

    And to this day she's glided on.
    Always home but so far away.
    Like a word misplaced. Nothing said, what a waste.
    But when she had contact with the conflict.
    There was meaning but she sold him to the state.
    She had to turn around.
    ------ she went on thru the next year(s)in a daze, not really living ,just doing, she was there physically but always thinking about what she had done, like a word misplaced, nothing said what a waste- the word (or child) could have been the greatest thing to say (be born) but wasnt given the chance, i think the last of this line and the rest of the song allude to her having some sort of break down and getting help so she can get on with life (she had to turn around)

    just my thoughts could be wrong , but all seems to make sense
    jslateon August 02, 2002   Link
  • +1
    General Commentim not calling anyone wrong, but i think the frist interpretation here (the one 'ed' wrote) is the meaning that eddie vedder intended for it. ive pretty sure ive read that before but i dont remember where so you'll just have to take my word for it ;-)
    PJ10on March 03, 2003   Link
  • +1
    General CommentIt's about date rape.

    "A woman’s word is sacred and the no means no and that’s what a ‘holy no’ is."

    At Pearl Jam’s March 17, 1994 concert in West Lafayette, Indiana at Purdue University’s Elliot Hall, Eddie Vedder said that the “holy no” in the song, Dissident refers to date rape.

    found on:…
    dudebromanon January 29, 2013   Link
  • +1
    General CommentMore vague pop culture. A lack of intellect veiled by ambiguous, confused poetry.
    Resist844on February 20, 2019   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI disagree about it being about an unwanted baby. Dissisdent is a synonym for Heretic, so it has to be about someone who disagrees with a widely held belief...
    bdubon July 12, 2002   Link
  • 0
    General Commenti think it is about a person who falls in love with a rebel/outcast. (referring to definition of 'dissident' as one separated from widesread belief.) the person is intrigued by the other's danger and brazen attitude, and continues to see them despite protest or disapproval. But due to outside pressure from source: the accepted views of society and what she is doing is "wrong" in the eyes of others, she decides to end the relationship despite whatever feelings she may have. (She gave him away when she couldn't hold on). She regrets her decision and distances herself from others. (always home but so far away). She thinks that she should have stood up for him/her feelings, and feels bad that she didn't. (nothing said, what a waste). the line "when she had contact with the conflict, there was meaning...but she sold him to the state, she had to turn around" laments that when she first met the person she found meaning for herself with him instead of becoming a slave to society. But she cracks under the pressure of not being accepted by society and so she "sold him to the state" which i think means that she placed the values of society above their friendship/relationship, and sold him out when she dumped him. She realizes that escaping from such rebelliousness and conflict is not a solution, and that sometimes being callous to the viewpoints of others is necessary.

    by the way, this song got me hooked on pearl jam. They kick ass and are my favorite band. very underappreciated, but not by the fans. screw their critics.
    hardrockrulzon April 30, 2003   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI always thought it was about a woman's newborn, but what 'ed' said sounds right.
    MtterOFctItsAllDrkon October 05, 2004   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI haven't really thought about the lyrics to this very much but looking at it now and reading what others have wrote, I'm brought to thinking of the Magdalene Laundreys that we had here in Ireland until about 20 years ago. Unmarried women who got pregnant, if they weren't wanted by their family or the father, were put into homes - many of these women had been raped before and during their time in these 'homes'. When the baby was born, they could nurse them until it's new family came for it. I doubt this was Eddies intention while writing it but the more I read the lyrics, the more it seems it WAS written for those poor women.
    Heineken Helenon December 02, 2004   Link

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