"Nothing To Say" as written by Ian Anderson...
Everyday there's someone asking "What is there to do?"
Should I love or should I fight, is it all the same to you?
No I say I have the answer proven to be true,
But if I were to share it with you,
You would stand to gain and I to lose.
Oh I couldn't bear it so I've got nothing to say.
Nothing to say.

Every morning pressure forming all around my eyes.
Ceilings crash, the walls collapse, broken by the lies
That your misfortune brought upon us and I won't disguise them.

So don't ask me will I explain, I won't even begin to tell you why.
No, just because I have a name well I've got nothing to say.
Nothing to say.
Climb a tower of freedom, paint your own deceiving sign.
It's not my power to criticize or to ask you to be blind
To your own pressing problem and the hate you must unwind.
So ask of me no answer there is none that I could give you wouldn't find.
I went your way ten years ago and I've got nothing to say.
Nothing to say


Lyrics submitted by knate15

"Nothing to Say" as written by Ian Anderson

Lyrics © BMG Rights Management

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Nothing To Say song meanings
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  • +4
    General CommentThoughtful post, rainwalk. However, I think the song is simply Anderson's annoyance with worshiping fans who look to him for answers, instead of believing in themselves. Lennon expressed similar sentiments.
    offhandon June 12, 2007   Link
  • +2
    General CommentThis song is about something that all travellers on spiritual paths eventually come to realize. Esoteric traditions all keep a secret of their highest redeeming knowledge about the nature of life and the human condition. This includes secret societies, religions, governments, gurus, etc. etc. It's all enshrouded in mysticism and symbols. But for the masses yearning for enlightenment, they've got 'nothing to say'.

    This is for several reasons. One (evil) is for control - if the masses understood how to control and take part in their lives fully, the power structures and economic engines would fall apart ("but if I share it with you, you would stand to gain and I to lose"). Verse 1.

    Another (good) is that those who are unready or immature spiritually (i.e. almost everyone) would not understand (at best) and would misuse (at worst) such knowledge. So again the enlightened have 'nothing to say', despite having great wisdom.

    The masses generally feel resentment toward these 'enlightened ones' because of their lack of help in a hard life. (verse 2) Some even find their own enlightenment and then for the "good" reason above, don't feel the need to try to correct the secret institutions or even explain to their loved ones. ("so don't ask me will I explain, I won't even begin to tell you why").

    When seekers eventually find spiritual enlightenment and understand the symbols and mysticism and gain personal freedom, they are now beyond being able to explain it, and understand why it's a secret - the unenlightened can't understand until they travel the path. (Verse 3) So they invariably practice the same secrecy and don't see the possibility of explaining to others ("Climb a tower of freedom, paint your own deceiving sign. It's not my power to criticize or to ask you to be blind To your own pressing problem and the hate you must unwind.") Each person must travel the path and 'unwind their hate' on their own. In this way each person is indeed an island. "So ask of me no answer, there is none that I could give you wouldn't find."

    "I went your way ten years ago" means that the enlightened were all where we're at now, and we all need to get there on our own. Kind of encouraging.

    After thinking about it, this may be the most profound Tull song of all. I'm 37, and it took me 20 of those years to come to this understanding after being immersed in every spiritual tradition I could find all that time. They all say the same thing, despite your unwillingness to hear it - selfless love is the answer to unwinding yourself. It's essentially so simple that there's nothing anyone can 'say' that will get you there. The riddles and mysticism can get 'trick' or 'hypnotizing' you into understanding it, but don't ask for them to be explained. Experience is the only key.

    Hope this makes sense to SOMEONE.
    rainwalkon March 21, 2007   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI agree with offhand. Cross-reference this song with Ozzy's "I Don't Know." Same meaning, I think.

    Ian's basically saying that he doesn't want to be some sort of guru telling people everything. He wants people to find their own truths, not to just blindly follow him.
    Krendall2006on April 24, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General Commentoh you guys suck donkey balls I mean how can no one comment on this unbelievable song by Tull!?!?
    floydian18on July 15, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General Commentit's fantastic this one. "So ask of me no answer
    there is none that I could give
    you wouldn't find." Straightforward. This is one of the best to sing along with.

    "No I say I have the answer proven to be true,
    But if I were to share it with you,
    you would stand to gain and I to lose.
    Oh I couldn't bear it so I've got nothing to say."

    by the way, you didn't comment either...
    orphan_yachtson September 28, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentWhoops
    inpraiseoffollyon September 30, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentAnd then again, I'm wrong.
    inpraiseoffollyon September 30, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI understand what you wrote rainwalk, and found your post insightful and inspiring. I think the meaning you found in the song is indeed in there, but I also find truth in your interpretation, offhand, about worshiping fans. Interestingly, I think these lyrics kind of loop back and comment on themselves: What do they really mean? Well Ian has nothing to say about that - your existential freedom means you have to climb the tower yourself and come up with your own answers I can apply this to him talking about the meaning of all his songs, and also to larger questions like the meaning of life, how to live in an enlightened way, should I love or should I fight, etc.
    The most mysterious part of this song to me are the lines ", broken by the lies
    That your misfortune brought upon us and I won't disguise them."
    Perhaps they mean that the unfortunate phenomenon of people refusing to take responsibility for finding their own answers creates great trouble in society, and this should be stated clearly, not disguised. We need to face how much trouble is caused by people believing in dogma and following leaders blindly,
    What do you all think about that?
    zorbheadon May 10, 2014   Link
  • 0
    General CommentRainwalk and Offhand are not contradictory. People like Lennon and Ian were asked about spiritual meaning-of-life questions - particularly back in the 1960s, when that was a big topic of discussion. So, Offhand is talking about the impetus of the questioning - and why Ian would be asked, and Rainwalk is talking about the specific topics he was asked ("Should I love or should I fight, is it all the same to you?"), and what his response was - and why ?
    There is a good illustration of Offhand's comment in a documentary about Lennon, where some obsessed fan is hanging around outside Lennon's home, and Lennon finally invites him in. The fan then starts asking about tiny subtleties of meaning in lyrics and Lennon replies that the fan has thought about the lyrics more than Lennon has !
    BTW, Rainwalk (7 1/2 years after your comment) - you did very good to get to your very correct conclusions by 37 !
    hep1000014on November 12, 2014   Link
  • 0
    Song MeaningI take a simpler approach to the meaning of this song - which by the way is my favorite Tull song. I agree it relates to one's spiritual path. However, listen to the first two lines of the song - "Every day there's someone asking, what is there to do ? Should I love or should I fight, is it all the same to you ? I take those two questions literally as to the meaning of this song. Plain or simple - should one love or should one fight ? To love or to fight also relates to the comment "Climb a tower of freedom paint your own deceiving sign. It's not my part to criticize or to ask you to be blind to your own pressing problem and the hate you must unwind". (A tower of freedom representing being free from the burdens of negative emotions or hate so that one may love). In other words, it's tough to truly love someone until you have unwound hate or other negative emotions). So the answer is to find a way to unwind your hate and then you can love.
    antiquepaperon December 29, 2015   Link

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