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Lateralus by Tool

Album: LateralusReleased: 2001
  • There are many interpretations of this song, but it was written to examine life in general. The album projects a very spiritual aura, enticing people to let go of their hate, grudges, discord and limiting beliefs. (thanks, Zipper - Phoenix, AZ)
  • This runs 9:22. Radio stations usually play a shortened version of the song that has a shortened intro and the quiet part after the solo taken out. (thanks, Nick - Paramus, NJ)
  • All of the art work done on the album cover, the CD itself and even the background screen at the concert are the works of Mr. Alex Grey. He is an artist that attempts to capture what humans look like without their outside flesh. Many of his drawings are of human bodies that lack all exterior features such as hair, skin, nails, etc. Grey has found a way to not only draw humans in this state but has drawn their "energy" surrounding them and in them.
  • Before this, the last album Tool released (not counting box set Salival) was Aenima, which came out in 1996. In 2000 lead singer James Keenan released an album with his band A Perfect Circle, and it appeared that Tool had broken up. This proved otherwise, and the album went over very well with Tool fans.
  • The line "Black then white are all I see in my infancy, red and yellow then came to be" has to do the the Aborigines from Australia who at first did art work only with black and white paints then later discovered how to make red and yellow, which they incorporated in their art. The "Spiral" would probably be either the earth twisting on its axis or its rotation around the sun. (thanks, Jake - New Jersey, NJ)
  • The beginning lyrics of the song use the Fibonacci number sequence, where each number is the total of the two before it....
    Black (1)
    then (1)
    white are (2)
    all I see (3)
    in my infancy (5)
    red and yellow then came to be (8)
    reaching out to me (5)
    lets me see' (3)
    Their drummer is also known to use several other mathematical sequences in his playing. (thanks, Keri - Los Lunas, NM)
  • The saying "as below, so above and beyond, I imagine" probably has to do with the principle of the saying "as above, so below" used by Neo-Pagans while opening the Magic Circle. (thanks, Raistlin - Middletown, OH)
  • According to an All-Tool issue of Revolver magazine, this song was originally called "987" because it the time signature changes in a repeating sequence of 9/8, 4/4, then 7/8. Justin Chancellor, Tool's bassist, had this to say about the song: "For me, the song 'Lateralus' was the turning point. I wrote a bar of nine, a bar of eight, a bar of seven, and we originally called the song '987'. I saw it as something that kept getting shorter and shorter and, like a spiral, it kind of folds in on itself." (thanks, Jamin King - Puyallup, WA)
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Comments: 110

This is without a doubt one of the greatest songs of all time. The theme, the lyrics, the progression, the visuals in the video.
The magnum opus of a band which never ceases to amaze. To me the album itself delivers epic after epic which only a few artists have ever been able to dole out and is definitely my favorite album of all time followed closely by Houses of the Holy, Back in Black , Machine Head and 10,000 Days.
I feel the song is about expanding your mind and always wanting to be better and do better and feel better("spiral out, keep going"), not in the capitalist sense but to always expand and explore and reach for the stars. Its about evolution and divinity and every thing that we think of when we have five minutes alone.
I cannot wait for their next album and it is my lifelong dream to see them live.
Ashwath - Chennai, India
i love looking up comments about tool songs. i learn a buttload. about things like chakra, vitruvian man, fibonacci, phi. all that. even definitions of words like mantra and vicarious and of course lateralis. tool fans really are very smart. as for this song i believe that tool doesnt want it to be interpreted. overthinking, overanalyzing. this song was meant to be enjoyed in its entirety. by taking talents from four seperate humans and meshing them together to make an enjoyable experience. but thats my opinion. different experiences and interests of one person of course will send them in a totally different tangent than my own.Drew - North Branch, Mn
I just recently came to an awakening about what is out there. It was true what someone said earlier that as time goes on and you experience new things you tend to understand Tool's songs more. I believe there is many meanings behind the song. It may be because life and its meaning is so complex so this being an important song for the intellectuals it must be complex in meaning as well. I had a dream where there was a spiral of blue and white things swirling around in a tornado-like object in space. There were stars around it so I knew it was outer space. I didn't understand it when I had the dream but now it makes perfect sense to me. I believe when our spiritual life has ended its last physical life (the physical life where we come to the crucial epiphany) our souls are transcended to this tornado of souls and we become one with the other souls who have made it to this beautiful end and we all become one with god. When I listened to this song again after coming to this epiphany I was about floored. He repeats "swing on the spiral" He says "I embrace my desire to swing on the spiral of our divinity and still be a human." I'm embracing my desire to reach the end where my soul will be at peace where I can swing on the spiral. If he repeats this statement it's obviously an integral part of the song. Of course, everyone will interpret their music differently but I truly believe that Maynard and possibly the other band members believe the same thing as I do. And maybe Maynard like a lot of us is attached to his physical life that he still wants to be human. I'm not saying this is the real meaning behind the song or that this is what they believe. I'm just giving a different perspective since it's actually pretty radical compared to everyone elses. It's just something to ponder. I think, they, like us other intellectuals are closer to the truth about our existence. Parabola is another favorite of mine where he states "we are eternal, all this pain is an illusion." We really are eternal. All of this pain we experience in our physical life won't even matter in the end. The end is far more beautiful than we could ever fathom. He says "we barely remember who or what came before this precious moment." It seems important to point out that he says we barely remember. I think when we're born into new physical lives our souls still hold past information, it just takes using our minds to obtain this information again. This is a precious moment. Use your minds and see what you find.Brandi - Melbourne, Fl
For all of you who THINK you know what Lateralus is, Lateralus is actually an offshoot of the word Lateralis, which is a medical term for which is "a term denoting a structure situated farther from the median plane of the body or the midline of an organ. " To switch out "is" for "us" infers that it is us that is cut in half. Put that together with the mini-book in the Lateralus it also infers that within all of us is GOD. Lateralis has another cameo in the Parabola video when the small man is cut in half by the spikey head guy.Kevin - Yucaipa, Ca
To me this song is about living with harmony, harboring positive energy, and embracing the unknown. However, what is great about tool is that their lyrics are so open ended and somewhat obscure that you can take the lyrics and how the music makes you feel and interpret that anyway you want. Whether it be spiritual, hopeful, religious, euphoric, or just drugs haha. Tool is absolutely amazing!Kevan - San Diego, Ca
I'm not even going to delve into deciphering the lyrics. Just get blazed and enjoy the beauty to it. Make it mean what you want it to. btw Tool is like the government. They know way more than we do. Just let it be.Matt - Eville, Il
so, i found the true holy gift order, people who spiraled the songs forgot that a fibonacci spiral is a spacific ratio, so using that and, for reason i believe to be obvious, keeping songs 2 and 3 together labeled as A and songs 10,11,12 together labeled as B, it goes 6,7,5,8,A,13, now fib spiral backward through reflection 13,B,1,9,4 and if you go one more time in the sequence it go's back to 6 at the same time it hit 13, oh yea, and i had to put the songs in repeating order, ex:1,A,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,B,13,1,A,2,3,4,5,6,ect.
use some editing to overlap a couple intros and it sounds amazing, especialy grudge into lateralus, mantra is nice at the end to after 76 straight minutes. and i think it was ed up there who tied black white red yellow to race, but....to me... black and white is a representation of immaturity, the belief that you can read everything you're seeing, red and yellow are colors that stimulate the body involuntarily, like 2 big ol titties. and titties can be used to the holders advantage, hence the mc donalds colors and wendy's, carls, it has to do with aesthetics just like the fibonacci spiral,

a heightened state or consciousness is about self control.

but to agree with justin, you can smash all the pieces and glue them back how you want, got to love tool for that.

happy reflections!
Jonathan - Yuba City, Ca
This song is about human evolution. The spiral is a reference to human DNA, as well as the mechanism of Kundalini; often portreyed as twin cobras that ascend from the root to crown chakra, bringing illumination. (Hindu concept)Jason - North Ridgevill, Oh
I think the song is about embracing yourself and not to care if others think it's wright or not.Kali - Martinsburg, Wv
The band has actually said quite a bit about this song, if you look it up. I think Maynard wants us to be open minded and ready for whatever may come. Not thinking in the black and white box. The truth has more colors than we can imagine and it is looking us right in the face.Eric - Saskatoon, Sk
This songs timing follows the fibonacci sequence which is a math sequence were u add 1+0=1 use the answer ad ure second variable and use re answerto the 2nd problem behind it as ure 1st variable but u just go 0,1 till the solution can use the second one 987 is a number I'll get if u go far in this sequence so is 789 which it goes and goes backward after u reach tht nine so it goes thought the numbers in the sequenceAdam - Lawrence Kansas, Ks
every piece of tool/apc is connected in some wayTorrey - Florissant, Mo
My interpretation of Lateralus as an album is about the 12 steps of recovery. Lateralus, the song, takes place in step 9 (track 9), where a spiritual awakening has begun to happen full force. Where once you saw life in terms of black and white, wrong and right, now you begin to see life in a way that is beyond just your interpretation. The world is now open to you and has transcended just your narrow view of life. By making amends, which is what step 9 requires, you have begun to feel other peoples emotions regarding the harms you have caused and allows you to become a part of their world; not just the part of the world that you have "created" with your GOD complex. Over thinking/over analyzing is what put you in the position to have to make an amends. Selfish thinking and actions. Leaving opportunities behind. Burning bridges. Feed my will to feel this moment urging me to cross the line. Asking GOD for strength to make the amends and to step out of yourself to right a past wrong.Ray - San Jose, Ca
Totally agree with Judas... think for yourself, choose your own way, in my opinion that's the big message from ToolMonkeycs - Ms Stx, France
The thing is i believe u are all right, mostly. lateralus is not only a song and album that can be interpeted many different ways as well as rearranged. the thing that i can honestly say, through studying this album in my musical theory class, is that everyting can be taken on more then one plane. whatever you seek can be found, and thats the beauty of it as an album. of course they had an ideal of what the album, and song meant to them, when they wrote it, but i believe, after reading countless interviews, is that they, having intellect, and foresight, they thought of every way that this album could interpeted. then having knowledge of many different planes of thought, wether through drugs, philosophy, or mathmatics, they put a way to decipher it through whatever u think. to me this is something that anyone can find out through the many different ways the album can be rearranged. if you listen to three tracks arranged as one you can see a spirutal development through life. another way to look at it is mathmatically and see a search for knowledge and and how the next step can be random, no matter how precise the thought is from the previous step. as for drug referrences, we all know members of tool use drugs, and to me personally, no matter how many times i've rearranged it there was always the reference to drugs to achieve this state of reasoning. i dont neccisarily condone drug use, but i can percieve how they could come to conclusions like this, especially when you let your mind go on hallucinagenics and random thoughts become reality and achievable goals. i want to conclude by saying this, tool has always been a band that takes thoughts to many levels, if you see it one way does not mean the next thought could not relate, while at the same time having a different meaning totally. remember they want you to think about the meaning of their music and are totally willing to put anything to make your mind ponder. could it be that tool thought of the many ways the album could make you think. remember the members of tool are capable of a thought process, and probably a very obscure one, from what ive been able to see. although, no one but the musicians know for sure.Judas - Undisclosed, Fl
Lets get beyond the lyrics. Amazing yes but they cause too much argument. Can't we all agree that the music itself is just beautiful. Easily the greatest masterpiece in the metal genre. I saw this performed live in Los Angeles back in 2006 and it literally caused me to weep. it was just so perfect. And as a lifelong Led Zeppelin fan, not even Stairway To Heaven has made me do that. The absolute power and beauty of Lateralus still to this day can choke me up. To all the critics of Metal and Tool, who have preconceived notions of what they sound like, please take a few minutes (9 actually) and be amazed. yes Tool was great before this album but this song makes them immortal. Kudos to Jones, Keenan, Carey and Chancellor. This is the one of the greatest songs ever recorded, no doubt about it. Keep up the good work guys.Mike - Riverside, Ca
one of my of favorite tool song..whoa!!!!!almost 9 minutes...i love the lyrics of the song with maynard james keenan's moody vocals with adam jones friendly guitar but theres a hidden anger in the end with a little help from justin chancellor groovy bsaa lines...Aldrin - Manila, Philippines
Well damn it, I meant to write take acid and/or meditate to this song. Don't you just hate the way one word can through the meaning off entirely! heh... that's actually pretty funny;D Bret, I commend you man for taking the time to lay it down like that!Beyondbliss - New Orleans, La
I love this band they are my favorite so forgive me if I go off this @%*! for a minute. First and foremost I have to start by saying, one nifty little thing I noticed about this album and this song is the title... LATERALUS, witch I immediately noticed resembled (Later al us) If you still don't see where I'm going with this... LATER ALL US and that in itself is just one example of the "Tom Foolery" that is TOOL. Every single song they have ever written came from an elevated state of consciousness and trying to decipher each one is like trying to interpret the ideal behind someone else's meditation. I have been to three TOOL concerts and heard great music by them but never a speech about positivity at any of them. I think if they could see this page they would probably tell us all... AGAIN..that over thinking and over analyzing separate the body from the mind. So whether it is about being "positive" or taking acid or the most far out UNIVERSAL you can wrap your head around, only they know! But I am absolutely sure of one thing.... If you eat acid and meditate to this song, you will positively go as far below and so high above and beyond your imagination, that you find yourself drawn beyond the lines of reason... and you still will not know the true meaning of this song! But you will have one hell of a time:) And everyone should check out "The Fibonacci Seq." in this song on Youtube and you can count em' down yourself, spiral out keep going....Beyondbliss - New Orleans, La
Black and white is all i see in my infancy, red and yellow then came to be. I don't he's think he's talking about infancy at all but infancy of the mind; Innocence and ignorance. " Over thinking, over analyzing separates the body from the mind. Withering my intuition, missing opportunities and I must
Feed my will to feel my moment drawing way outside the lines." Love these few lines. Talking about the arrogancy of youth. Since you don't know anything farther then you've lived, you can only know what you've experienced. But then as you wander into the real world everything you know and live by is challenged.
Nitish - Huntsville, Al
No Chris, this is my favorite song of all time. It's just not that simple. Though drugs can be used to reach areas in your mind you may not have known existed, relying on them becomes pathetic and predictable. Drugs should be a scaffolding tool, to be disregarded once their purposes have been achieved. I agree with Jonathan when he quotes "reaching out to embrace the random...whatever may come". There is nothing random about taking drugs, it is a calculating move. A preparation of sorts. The state described in lateralus exists within the naked human being, naked in mind, body, and spirit. Armed with just him/herself. This state is achieved though suffering, sacrifice, elation,etc...living, experience. Do not expect to understand what the song is about if you haven't lived hard.Nina - Beaumont, Tx
No, the line, "Black then white are all I see in my infancy, red and yellow then came to be" refers to the occult. An apprentice, a patient, entering the mysteries of the occult, alchemy, kabbala, etc, begins with the colors red and yellow. According to Jung, red and yellow are the colors of the occult, while black and white are the colors of dogma. Google it, if you don't believe me or disagree with me.Ramiro - Upland, Ca
In my personal opinion the lines, "Black and white are all I see. In my infancy. Red and yellow..." are referring to the fact that he is starting to perceive the world in a different light because when a baby is born (referring to it's infancy) it doesn't see color but see's the world as black and white. Around the age of 4 months is when the child starts to see colors develop. Whether it's necessarily red and yellow that follows I'm not quite sure.Mike - Boston, Ma
When I first heard this song I didn't think much of it. I thought it was too long and a waste of time. But after I finally listened to the whole song I found that I loved it. I definently feel something whenever I hear it. I love the simplicity of the first minute and a half of the song. The song, I think, talks about energy. And when I hear it I definently feel something. I love this song.Kyle - Canton, Oh
One of my all time favorite songs, I love it dearly.Steve - Boise, Id
I think some people are looking way into this. when you are first born all you can see is black and white, then your other cones develop.Shawn - Rincno, Ga
A lot of people talk about maynard as if he is a god for using sacried geometry in the song.People cry when they hear this mans lyrics and clam that they have the ability to feel how spiritual he is.The mans music is indeed good I shall admitt.They can be creative at times(The band name for example;lifes a perfect circle and music is just a tool very smart).But remember he is only human and gets paid for what he does.You might say his music is spiritual but keep in mind that maynard doesnt believe in organized religion.Maynard nows that captiving his liseners and audince spiritually;and mentally will pay.Many of you take this sh*t to far.I cant even imagine seeing someone sitting down and trying to decode a song by numbers(especialy since that person could not find out anyway.Maynard does not give out the meaning or intentions of his songs.Only by talking to the creater of the music can you find the answer).sacried geometry could be used in any frequnce of words.Remember what Maynard said music is ONLY a tool but life is indeed a perfect circleMax - Long Beach, Ny
The title of the song from what I understand is to think on a level plane. A lot of the tool that came before focused on an abnormal plane.

Moving on the song describes infantcy. The descovery of the world, its borders.

In a certain dream state the body has been known to spearate from the spirit. Thers the idea that we could wake up in someone elses body.
That's a whole different discussion. Now the final element is the song encourages to take in the randomness of the world. Implicating a free spirited existance.

Withetring intuition. That's a catchy line/
After all intuition is often described as a good thing. Then again perhaps such a thing isolates us from experiencing the world.

What I see from the song is maynard holding his child as an infant, and wanting him to be free from people and feeling that brought maynard down in life. At the same time at the peak of his intellect he wants to imagine the state of mind of the infant.

Haha. How do you like them apples..
Mc - Birmingham, Al
I wonder if anyone else ever did this, let me know at www.webaries.comAdam - Baltimore, Md
As much as i like the reordered album as the holy gift, the band did not plan it this way, at least not initially.

Remember the Dark Side of the Rainbow?

Bear with me here, as I don't want to be accused of simply having an overactive imagination.

Grab your original copy of Lateralus (pauses between tracks on the cd as compared to a rip) and go rent yourself a copy of Disney's Fantasia 2000.

They both have the same running time, and Lateralus begins and ends at the same time as The Sorceror's Apprentice

In fact, just watch The Sorceror's Apprentice and listen to the song Lateralus if you are skeptical of watching the whole movie this way.

There are many more things in the movie that match up, you'll see for yourself.

Here's how to do it.

Start the album immediately as the Disney logo becomes complete (the rainbow makes it from the left side of the castle to the right side)

You will have confirmation that you have got the timing right in the second scene with the whales during the 30 second scream of The Grudge which begins when the whales begin to fly.

Now as for The Holy Gift, I do prefer this order for the music, especially as it allows me to listen to the album as a refreshing difference from the Fanteralus 2000 combo.
Adam - Baltimore, Md
Heya. I agree with so many comments and concepts on this page. Love Lateralus, a spiritual journey for me.
Something that I would like to convey is what I believe to be growing yet still limited spiritual teachings.
Not that spirituality is not referred to,but I believe it has been confined and restricted to a limited view.
Which brings me to segue into an example I live in my own life.
My wife claims to be spiritual and we had gotten into a conversation most heated one night. This is with me attempting to convey my thoughts , experiences and values I have learned from Tool's music.
I hope I can convey the meaning and gist of this next statement from my wife.
While speaking she gave up this statement.
" You claim to be spiritual.( I claim to be)but all I hear you listen to is that "Tool" music, and I don't see how that is spiritual."
Welllllllllllllll.
Umm that did not go over so well with me.
I do not see Maynard,Carrey or anyone for that matter as God .(Just to clarify before I get jumped on in that respect) If there is any divinity for me,it is within ourselves as humans.
But when she said that, damn. It just hurt.
The breath seeped out of me , my heart sank.
I've started to question wether this is the woman for me.
I know I should not condemn in this manner and have not , I move on and do not hold her to embrace my ideas or beliefs.
Although it seems to me , my own wife parallels
Maynard's in the respect that,I resent the Christian based religion for what I believe is restricting the evolution of the human species.
I believe I have these things in common with Tool, and Maynard.
I cant speak for him, and I don't know.
But living personal experiences.Hearing the constant drum of religion related to Christ,going on in my ear,while I lived through events that were consistently justified and painful. Just caused huge amounts of resentment toward the church.(any based on Christ particularly)
If the Christ based religion and philosophies thereof have the answers,then why so many inconsistencies in remedying the atrocities that continue on?
I am going to ask please that my post not inspire defense or posturing for the Christ based ideology or religion. I do respect peoples rights to practice and believe in their own ideas.
For my point is not to claim what Maynard believes , nor Tool.But to address a simplified structure to life, a view if you will. A view that sees the unseen,the intangible as non existent.
A materialistic view, a self proclaiming,self perpetuating very disrespectful view of others
as needing to be fixed, to be converted.
I do realize that this particular thread here is about Lateralus.
And to come full circle, heh.
Lateralus inspires me and to me is spiritual.
I will always wish to grow, as a man, spiritually,and as a human.
I gave the long detailed info due to the impact and thanks I have for Tool in making and being able to distribute art that,even if we cannot claim to know the exact meaning of.Does to me promote and "teach" the growth of the individual in a spiritual sense. As a spiritual being.
Of all anyone can say about the album Lateralus,
I believe all Tool listeners can agree to its spiritual nature.
What Tool creates is most welcome in what I feel is a very limited time of spiritual growth.
If you read this entire post ,I commend you and Thank you .
Truly and from the most inner depths of my soul.
Gunghomojo - Parma, Mi
If not for this song, I might not have developed the courage to leave my life in England behind and fly out to the US where I eventually married the woman I love. I'll be eternally greatful to Maynard for that.

(What I won't mention is that the song Sleeping Beauty by Maynard in APC almost convined me it was a bad idea. My wife, at the time, was just out of a very abusive relationship and she seemed to have a few man issues. Ooops, I guess I did mention it.)

To me, this song is about overcoming your inhibitions and taking the beauty that life has to offer.
Mark - Mason City, Ia
sometimes when i listen to this song, the beauty of it makes me want to cry...maynard is the most inspiring lyricist i have ever come across and this song is almost like a healing process for me...stop overthinking and overanalyzing, separate the body from the mind...thankyou maynard for writing something that many of us feel but never say.Brian - Altoona, Pa
Danny Carey has amongst the greatest technical repututation of any drummer. DigitalDreamDoor credited "Lateralus" as possessing the greatest drumming performances of any album,with "Ticks and Leeches", "Reflection", "The Grudge", "Lateralus", "Parabola", "The Patient", "Schism" ranked as the 3rd, 28th, 46th, 72nd, 152nd, 155th, 160th greatest drumming performance ever.Dude - Pine Blizzy, Ar
Lateralus is actually a new word in the dictionary which means being extremely high. Weird.Kyle - Kings Mountain, Nc
i dont know if its been mentioned, but the spiral part could be about DNA, the big genetic spiral thing you always see.John - Glasgow, Scotland
I agree with most people on this page that this song has a limitless number of interpretations. The song can functions on a bunch of different levels, and each can easily be justified. The fact that Tool as a band are so cryptic about the meanings of their work doesn't help things either.

My idea of this song has always been that it's about the awakening of man (as cheesy as it may sound). The beggining is simply filled with black and white people, but slowly as people begin to progress that narrator expands his horizons. He sees red and yellow, (a representation of asia and america) and he sees the future ie /infinite possibilities/. The spiral is a metaphor for progress.
Steve - Cedar Grove, Nj
I really like a lot of the explanations/takes on this song. Lateralus, like many of Tool's songs you can dissect them on so many levels. I thought the belief that spirals transcend one, static plane and can lead to another dimension is fasinating. I would be interested to know if this is something that Rod Serling believed, and if the guys from Tool watched a lot of the "Twilight Zone". The theme of that show implies that the black and white spiral at the beginning of each episode leads us to another dimension.Jeffrey - Dowagiac, Mi
Why should you be shocked that you've found intelligent people on the Lateralus page? Its no coincodence that the smartest and brightest wound up here. The theoretical possibilities about a song like this are endless, although its fair to conclude that it's about the general appreciation and realisation of our existance and where we stand as a collective entity. Learning to not consider what we take for granted as something that we'll always be able to experience, feel, see, hear and taste. And yes, theres a lot of drug use generating this knowledge.Lucas - Melbourne, Australia
dude danny carey is INSANE on this song. 9/8, 8/8, 7/8 time signatures and he transfers SEAMLESSLY. that stuff is almsot impossible to do! he's the greatest drummer ever!Josh - New York, Ny
A few weeks after I first got the album, I read a short book about Tool
which was published in PDF format, and can be found at
www.vanillacircus.net/book/tool_book.pdf. It said that Lateralus,
Disposition, and Reflection were originally written and performed as
one song, but were broken into parts for easier digestiblity on the
album. Keeping this in mind, I listened to the song in in it's
entirety, and was blown away. Taken together, the songs act as a diary
of one man's(it doesn't matter who) spiritual journey.

In the first part (Lateralus) the man has an incredible spiritual
epiphany, which climaxes as he rides the spiral to the end. (On a side
note, the spiral in the song comes from Danny's belief in sacred
geometry. Basically The Golden Spiral is one of the most critical
aspects of sacred geometry, and it's believed that as the spiral
approaches closer and closer to zero, it actually transcends planes,
and can be used as a door to another dimension. The Merkaba also plays
a key role in this.)

After the passionate hights of reality, the listener is brought down to
earth by Disposition. In Lateralus, the man was overjoyed by his
supposed spiritual ascendence, but in Disposition he finds that he is
unable to make any further progress toward those ends, and waits the
whole song to be shown something more.

Reflection provides a decided change in mood. In the music and the
lyrics, it's clear that the man has become decidedly frustrated by his
lack of spiritual movement. He finally resigns himself to the fact that
there is nothing else to experience, other than his current pitiful
existence, and that he must find comfort there. But then at the depths
of his depression, he stares out the window, and the moon acts as the
most powerful spiritual guide he's ever met. He realizes, just as the
moon reflects the light from the sun, so does he, and so does
everything else. In learning that, he realizes that we are not alone,
but rather, all a million different manifestations of the same light,
the same energy that is everything. And since we, and everything around
us are the same, we can accomplish anything imaginable. The climax of
the song is incredibly moving, and I've been unable to find any piece
of music as spiritually hopeful and emotional.

As for Triad, I don't know if it makes up a part of Lateralus. I
typically tend to think it provides a relaxing break from spiritual
drama, and allows you to experience music, without words, and without
meaning. Just the essence of what music is.

If you haven't listened to Lateralus, Disposition, and Reflection, I
would strongly recommend it, as it's far and away the most beautiful
song I've ever heard.
Nick - Denver, Co
one word...well.. like five, but anyway
this band is crazy...
everything can be ripped to shreds, glued back together, and still make perfect sence.
dont know how they do it
Justin - Cleveland, Oh
Well after reading all of the posts I am intrigued and exhausted, but I think I am better because of it. I have just recently started to imagine the possibility of things and the Phi ratio really impressed me because of its mysticism. I am a huge fan of Tool and I knew about the phi ratio being intertwined in the song Lateralus but never took it as far as a secret code to realign the songs of the Lateralus album, which is an enormous accomplishment i have to say. But as to its meaning or whether it's wrong or right, who is to say? Personally I think the incorporation of the Phi ratio in Lateralus is the answer in itself. Simply, it sparks the mind. I'm sure Brett of New Zealand didn't have this realization all in one sitting, or see it plain as day. He had to work at it and think about different circumstances that he came across. Lateralus is an example of the Phi ratio. It is there to intrigue, so you can witness it's beauty and feel inspired.John - Bend, Or
where in the song is the F sequence in the drums?Geo - Worcester, Ma
Ok so My friend showed me this whole thing whoever wrote about that and i wa simpressed and very excited but guess what guys its been a while and that order bugs me theres soemthing off about it so look to Maynard's own words over thinking over analyzing seperates the body from the mind


Try this combo and tell me what you think because lining up the numbers and not excluding fiap de oiad and go in the spiral sequence NOT leaving any track out you get this ABSOLUTELY INCREDIBLE sequence i could not believe it

13
1
12
2
11
3
10
4
9
5
8
6
7

It is absolutely i mean perfect really start with fiap de oiad into the grudge this time FINALLY EACH TRACK HAS A PERFECT TRANSITION its consistent with



1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13
Draw a spiral from 13 to 10 and keep going in order its so d**n simple i loved it
G - Chi, Il
Tool music goes deep... it examines reality and addresses things like "why are we here?", "what's going on?" and the answer is almost magicalEd - Philadelphia, Pa
Ed - I'm speechless, you are very in tune. People with a true idea do exist today... You really seem to have grasped the true essence of Tool's music. I am gonna look up more on these Mayans.Elysia - Hamilton, New Zealand
The albums 'Aenima' and 'Lateralus' are about mind expansion... through drug use, music, and spirituality.
The song Lateralus is the culmination of these two albums.
There are many layers, references, and hidden meanings in all songs of the two albums.
For instance, the references to black, white, red, and yellow refer to African, European, Native American, and Asian skin colors...
representative of the increasing self-awareness of the human race. Coupled with the song 46+2, the suggestion seems to be that the next step in human evolution is spiritual rather than physical.
Red and yellow also refer to anger and jealousy... referring to Schism, which on one level is about the heart-break of a single couple. It is also about the separation between man and woman, man and nature, and man and God.
There are references to second coming prophecies... like 'the dangers of a second guessing' in Schism, 'with my feet upon the ground' (the buddhist messiah is depicted with 'both feet on the ground' when he is crowned (wear the grudge like a crown)), and Eulogy refers to the messiah.
There is also drug component... namely hallucinogens such as LSD and especially DXM. 'weep like a widow' could refer to smoking White Widow while on DXM, which produces very trippy swirling visuals.
altogeter, lateralus is about testing individual limitations and pushing the race to their peak... part of Ritual Magik. There is not a goal of spiritual enlightenment, but walking as far out on the path as you can go... into the darkness and beyond. To spiral out.
The closed formula for the nth Fibonacci number is given by a formula involving the golden ratio constant, which is used to construct the spiral of a nautilus shell. Also, the Mayans believed time was not linear or circular, but a spiral rather, and the end of the world occurs soon in the Mayan calender.

The music of Tool is to be used as a tool for mind expasion, and there are a lot of suggestions of ways to achieve this. It is interactive... you don't just listen to it, read about it, or feel it on drugs, you meditate on it then live it.
Ed - Philadelphia, Pa
The albums 'Aenima' and 'Lateralus' are about mind expansion... through drug use, music, and spirituality.
The song Lateralus is the culmination of these two albums.
There are many layers, references, and hidden meanings in all songs of the two albums.
For instance, the references to black, white, red, and yellow refer to African, European, Native American, and Asian skin colors...
representative of the increasing self-awareness of the human race. Coupled with the song 46+2, the suggestion seems to be that the next step in human evolution is spiritual rather than physical.
Red and yellow also refer to anger and jealousy... referring to Schism, which on one level is about the heart-break of a single couple. It is also about the separation between man and woman, man and nature, and man and God.
There are references to second coming prophecies... like 'the dangers of a second guessing' in Schism, 'with my feet upon the ground' (the buddhist messiah is depicted with 'both feet on the ground' when he is crowned (wear the grudge like a crown)), and Eulogy refers to the messiah.
There is also drug component... namely hallucinogens such as LSD and especially DXM. 'weep like a widow' could refer to smoking White Widow while on DXM, which produces very trippy swirling visuals.
altogeter, lateralus is about testing individual limitations and pushing the race to their peak... part of Ritual Magik. There is not a goal of spiritual enlightenment, but walking as far out on the path as you can go... into the darkness and beyond. To spiral out.
The closed formula for the nth Fibonacci number is given by a formula involving the golden ratio constant, which is used to construct the spiral of a nautilus shell. Also, the Mayans believed time was not linear or circular, but a spiral rather, and the end of the world occurs soon in the Mayan calender.

The music of Tool is to be used as a tool for mind expasion, and there a lot of suggestions of ways to achieve this. It is interactive... you don't just listen to it, read about it, or feel it on drugs, you meditate on it then live it.
Ed - Philadelphia, Pa
This one page restores my faith in the intelligence of humans today. Sometimes I really do think that I am the only one to think like I do. I am so thankful for Tool bringing forth the call to people today to think for ourselves. I don't think this song is "about drugs" but evolution. We start at the point in life where it is all just black and white, then new elements reach out to us. The reference to drugs is probably because those people have experienced the likes of LSD. The experience on LSD takes you on that spiral to a point where you evolve even higher on the spiral. The cool thing is if you take it and listen to this song, it will be the highlight of your trip, your mind will definitely push the envelope. Brett, my fellow Kiwi, you have a beautiful, genius mind and it's so refreshing. Matt from Nutley, I think the picture with God written on the brain refers to our control and divinity - but also this is a book written by Timothy Leary, "Your brain is God". Another genius, who was the amabassador for the wonders of LSD. This entire album is an amazing peice of art, no wonder it took them two years to make. Every time I hear it I notice new bits I haven't heard OR SEEN before.
Please, if any of you are planning to take a trip in the near future play this song while in a dark place and you will SEE IT ALL unfold in front of you. Live long Tool fans, Over and Out.
Elysia - Hamilton, New Zealand
a lot of people have said it's about drugs. a lot of people have said it's not about drugs. i think it's about both, and about neither. i believe it's about the infinite possibilities that life has to offer. a lot of the states that he is describing can be experienced to an extent with the help of psychedelic drugs, but i feel that this song is trying to show that everybody has the ability to transcend these states even without drugs. If you think about the miracle that life is and how beautiful every natural thing is you're probably on the right path. also, all that stuff about sacred geometry feeds into the idea in a big way. it's awesome.Fred - Philly, Pa
Brett from Auckland has a fairly good explanation. He hasn't yet uncovered the whole meaning(truth) but for now it will have to suffice. Human brain is a very fragile thing. Even simple things, such as the truth, can brake it...

DeLux Fender
Delux Fender - Zagreb, Croatia
Recognize this as a holy gift = Open Mind, pry open your third eye and take a lateral step aside to view the same in a different scope. Open your mind to anything that may come that could bewilder you.William - West Valley, Ut
Egor, Moscow!! You took the words right out of my mouth(not literally..hehe). I couldn't agree with you more!!Sascha - Fresno, Ca
So in effect, from what I've read, Lateralus is a concept album, only all the songs are in the wrong order and ingeneous clues have been left for the listener to unlock the 'true'order. I don't know about you but that blows my mind, after reading what Brett posted I was in a state of shock, I came on here to see if Lateralus was worth getting, now it's almost like I can't live without it.James - Harrogate, England
Here's my take:

Black is ignorance, white is knowledge acquired through logical means. Red is creativity, passion, art (the right-brain way to create information) and yellow is cosmic energy, the infinite well of information/inspiration that comes from above. The main message of the song is to open one's mind to use irrational, illogical sources of information ("I'm reaching for the RANDOM or whatever will BEWILDER me", i.e. things that can't be predicted or calculated, but just come to you from above intuitively). Inability to see these sources is compared to infancy and missed opportunities. Maynard wants to be connected with the cosmos, higher powers, God ("I embrace my desire to feel the rhythm, to feel connected enough to step aside and weep like a widow, to feel inspired, to fathom the power, to witness the beauty, to bathe in the fountain") because that allows one to get out of the lines and limitations of pragmatical thinking, to "push the envelope" (i.e. to create or discover something new, to go on a new level).
"As below, so above and beyond, I imagine", I think, refers to the power of human beliefs/will (i.e. whatever you imagine and believe in on your personal scale actually comes to life in the universe outside; this is the idea of Drunvalo Melchizedek and Bob Frissell [i.e. "you create your own reality"], whose works the band surely like). This song has a very inspirational and bold charge, as Maynard urges us (and Tool actually do with their music! :) )to "spiral out, keep going" (constantly break the limits, create new things/ideas, evolve and develop) so that we "may just go where no one's been".
Egor - Moscow, Europe
When the song Schism is reverse played, during the part which would forward be heard "between supposed lovers, between supposed brothers" in reverse play sounds all too much like: "who of us feels damned? yes. who of us feels damned?"Todd Johnston - Mckinney, Tx
I'm amazed people fell for that one. Wow, I think it would actually be pretty cool to see what maynard would do with his career if he converted.Ian - New York, Ny
I would have to say one of tool's best creation. the begenning part, with the guitar is so soft, yet its rhythem is actually pretty catchy and strong.Hassan - Nyc, Ny
TOOL IS NOT BREAKING UP AND MAYNARD ISNT LEAVING. IT WAS ALL AN APRIL FOOLS JOKE. maynard saw a bum as he was coming home from a party and he told him he was god so give him change.Trevor - Parker, Co
i think the song´s about takeing a different view on things...life, what comes after.. and being open minded...The colours (and also the title lateralis) come from the SIX HATS "theory" by Edward de Bono and it´s from his Lateral-and Paralel ways to think and build your views on all things...The spiral out -part...Everything is on constant move. Even when your standing still for hours...The universe is expanding...and you are thinking(so your mind is movig too,you are growing)In few words:EVERY SECOND YOUR POSITION IS CHANGING!!!!and you will never, ever be in the same spot again!!!!!SO question every thing the so called "wise men" feed you!! Because you are the centre or YOUR universe, in the end you only answer to yourself.So buckle up!!! Push the envelope and spiral out!!!.....ps. it might also be about drugs!!!? but i don´t think so. -LATERAL I, FinlandC - 8, Finland
Love this song, awesome, love the part where Maynard sings "with my feet upon the ground I move myself between the sounds and open wide to suck it in I feel it move across my skin..." have you ever heard it live? Beyond awesome, even better. Peace.Janie - Portland, Or
OMG have you guys heard yet that maynard has left tool!!! hes "found jesus" if u dont believe me check out toolband.com THIS IS THE WORST DAY OF MY LIFEMel - Sydney, Australia
brett is an absolute miracle worker. mad props to a fellow drummer. i never would have thought of tabbing danny onto graph paperBrian - Mayfield Heights, Oh
now that I saw that in this song you can see the Fibonacci number sequence. I checkt when maynard starts to sing and that is on 1min 37sec or 1,618 min this can't be a coincidence.
greets
Kristof - Moerbeke, Belgium
Lateralus means "hidden", any idea about any tool song is just opinion unless you talk to Maynard about it, but its fun to argue about. I think this song is about searching for the answers to the unknown, looking for bewilderment and the disconect from the physical, he is trying to find the exit from his body while still alive, for in death you find the disconnect but imagine if you could before you diedPaul - Midland, Tx
After reading uncountable texts on the Holy Gift in Tool's latest album 'lateralus' I hope to have finally reached a point where I can judge more or less objectively about it.
The holy gift theory basically affirms that the order of the songs in the album is erroneous, and should be re-positioned in order to listen to it correctly. If correctly positioned, we will be enlightened with some kind of hidden message that contains nothing less that the meaning of life and the reason of our existence. One of the possible orders are '6,7,5,8,4,9,3,10,2,11,1,12,13' (the holy gift) '6,7,5,8,4,9,13,1,12,2,11,3,10' (The laterlus prophecy) or '1,2,3,5,8,13,2,4,6,7,9,10,11,12' (I think this one is the most convincing)
Well, there is a clear influence in the lateralus album by the Fibonacci sequence (0,1,1,2,3,5,8,13,21,34'.) and the Aurous Proportion or Phi (1,618'.) These are two very famous number sequences that are very very common in nature, and appear in places like flower petals, proportions of bodies, seashells etc etc. Many people, knowing Danney Carey's fondness to geometry, mathematics and other sciences have displayed the order in the songs according to these sequences. I don't know which of these sequences is right, but if you want to know my opinion, THERE IS NO REAL ORDER.
It is absurd! The real key is in the lyrics to the songs. Maynard (and not only him, but also the rest of the group) have always insisted in mystical phenomena to be true and how it is very important to find yourself. And this is what you will find in Lateralus. You wont find a message saying that we are the centre of the universe, sons of god or anything like it. In Lateralus you'll find melodies and rhythms written and composed following canons used since long ago that express the simplicity and perfection in natural things. You'll find lyrics with a certain number of syllables which may look strange at first glance, but have sense after some time. What Tool want to express in this album is that we are not alone, and that nature is the most perfect thing in the universe. And we human beings are partially perfect because we are part of it. Spirals represent nature, and spirals are traced on paper using what? yes, number Phi!! Maynard also said in an interview that everyone should take drugs at least once in their life to get to their best mental state and then be able to get to this state without the help of these drugs. This sort of reminds me of the Nirvana state of meditation, where the monks acquire the eternal peace and their mind goes totally blanc. Justin Chancellor says that while playing the guitar for Tool gets to this state. My personal opinion is that Lateralus is thought to help people to get to this state by listening to the music. And to 'ride the spiral' and be 'eternal' well, this means to me that there is something more to life, or maybe more to death? To 'be where noone has been before' is of course, once getting to this state, it's a product of your own mind, so it's a unique experience. The last song in the album, Faaip the Oiad, seems a bit strange, but, if you listen to what the man is saying, things get clearer' It's the recording of a phone call to a radio station of a man who worked at a plant of UFO investigation, which makes us think of what Tool members think about life in outer space. There are uncountable little details in the album which are simply fantastic. Investigate about everything that you think can be special, because its really worth it. I don't really believe in these things and I don't think that my soul will be saved if I listen to Lateralus, nor do I consider Maynard a religious icon. But its queer, very queer, and therefore interesting. That's my opinion. I could not be right, but mainly I think that the aim of this 'enigma' is to make people wonder about things that are supernatural and queer, and not to be so superficial and ingenuous. If you have any questions or comments, please email me at lpmaniac@hotmail.com
Im sorry about grammar mistakes, my English is not perfect! And remember, we are eternal. All this pain is an illusion.
Msdopa - Vigo, Spain
there is simply no one explaination for this song. you read every lyric and within that lyric another idea or meaning arises...the possabilities are endless which is why all tool songs are so fantastic, you find a way to relate to them in any shape or form even if your interpretation is not the 'intended' one...whos to say there's an intended meaning, it could be about endless possibilitiesMel - Sydney, Australia
Brett is correct in everything he said about the song, and it took me just as long to figure all of it out, with help from the internet. To add to what he says, it is also important to understand the number phi (not to be confused with pi). The number phi is 1.6180339... and is based on what is known as the golden ratio. This is related to the Fibonacci Sequence in many mathematical ways, one of them being because it is the remainder of every number in the sequence divided by the number before it.(13/8=1.625, but when you go further into the sequence, 610/377=1.61803, it gets closer) This ratio, 1:1.61803.., is without a doubt the most amazing number and is connected with many things in life and in nature. It is found everywhere in nature such as in the lengths of your bones( the length of your entire arm vs. the length from you elbow to the tip of you finger) as well as the ratio of female bees vs. the number of male bees in a colony. Many artists in history have drawn in respect to the shapes that can be formed using the number such as Da Vinci, and I was amazed when I realized Tool had done it. Another intriguing aspect is that Tool related the lyrics to the number too. Spirals grow at the Phi ratio. Also the last lines of the song, 'We'll ride the spiral to the end and may just go where no one's been. Spiral out. Keep going' also relate to the number because it is a terminating decimal, it never ends. The beginning of the song talks about growing spiritually and becoming completely conscience, and the end speaks about riding a spiral to the end, even though they are mathematically endless. This entire song is amazing in every aspect, to the mathematical rhythm of the instruments, and the state of being described in the lyrics. Definitely one of the best songs ever written.Armand - Baton Rouge, La
Dear brett i got only one word for you. WOW!!! thank you so much for this code, i'm going to use it as soon as i can. I got only one comment. A huge tool fan to an other.
The song isn't called Lateralus its called Lateralis.
Matthias - The Hague, Netherlands
this song is not about drugs. maynard said in an interview that its about Aboriginal artwork that was original done only in black and white w/ red and yellow being the next colors to get integrated. you can read the article here http://www.elloyd.net/mjkinterview.phpMark - Montvale, Nj
maybe not so directly about drougs. try reading this:

Being a huge fan of Tool, I wanted to know if anyone else knew about this. It's just ...so.....awesome. It's worth the read, trust me. I tried finding out who the original author was, but I couldn't. The first site it popped up on didn't even know.

Tool's Lateralus is the most amazing piece of music ever composed. I think Tool deliberately wanted to give their fans something truly amazing, but wanted them to find it on their own. "Recognize this as a holy gift..." At first, I thought that the song Lateralus was about tripping acid - discovering true color by seperating the body from the mind. At first listen, I imagined the bending envelope as an intense visual. After becoming more familiar with the track, however, I had reformed my interpretation to something broader: think deeper. Lateralus, perhaps because it is the album's "title track", serves as the central clue for a puzzle that a friend of mine had read about somewhere on the internet. "All I know is that there is a different order for the songs - something about two spirals.

Oh yeah, and thirteen is in the middle." After scavenging through endless google search results, I gave up on finding more about this 'alternate order'. Intent to figure the album out, and very curious about the spirals - I put on the proverbial 'thinking cap'. I understood how the spirals could have a lot of significance, in that the album's title track offers the inspiring, "swing on the spiral of our divinity and still be a human..........And following our will and wind we may just go where no one's been. We'll ride the spiral to the end and may just go where no one's been." In my internet scavenging, I had read one review, written by a drummer, who mentioned that Danny Carey's drum beat formed a fibonacci sequence during the song Lateralus. A drummer myself, I decided to get out the graph paper and follow Danny. I can't play like he can, but at least I can hear everything he's doing, and thus was able to construct the drum tabulature.

Sure enough, Danny repeats a Fibonacci sequence through the number 13: 1,1,2,3,5,8,13. After 13, he starts again with 1. Bringing in my Algebra 2 knowledge of the Fibonacci sequence, when the equation for the Fibonacci sequence (which I don't actually know) is graphed, it forms a sprial whose vertex depends on the number at which the sequence begins. Coincidence? I began to think not. I had already known of Danny's obsession with sacred geometry and am familiar with Bob Frissell's book, Nothing in This Book Is True, But It's Exactly How Things Are , so the significance of what I had stumbled upon had actually begun to settle in. This is where I just had to play with Lateralus. I had doodled a few spirals in the corners of my graph paper, and in doing so made the first important connection to Lateralus. I knew that if the tracks were in fact intended to be heard in a different order, "Parabol" and "Parabola" would have to go together. In drawing my spirals, I had begun with a vertex and 'spiraled' outwards.

After writing the numbers 1 through 13 linearly, I could immediately see that Parabol and Parabola would have to be the middle of my spiral (in that 13 / 2 = 6.5). I drew a simple arrow between 6 and 7 and then pondered the next pair. At first, I actually drew a spiral connecting pairs of numbers whose sum equaled 13 (the number of songs on the album). This, however, left the last track in the same position and without anything to connect to. At this time,

I had used my copy of Lateralus and Cool Edit Pro to take out the silences between tracks and put the songs in the following order: 6,7,5,8,4,9,3,10,2,11,1,12,13. The transition from Parabola into Schism blew my mind, as the plucks, probably dismissed by listeners as a drawn out rant of an ending, perfectly transition into the beginning of Schism. When you count out beats as the strings are plucked, Schism resumes with the same time signature and tempo - mirroring the progression of notes. The transition from Schism into Ticks & Leeches is equally intriguing. Schism ends with strong double-kick bass and tom smacks, and Ticks & Leeches begins with what many would call a 'tribal' drum beat. The beat at the very start of Ticks & Leeches is slightly different every subsequent time it is repeated - the measures are two beats longer. Yup - you guessed it - those two beats are ACTUALLY the last two beats of Schism.

I can honestly say that I never understood the album's fourth track, Mantra until reordering the album's songs. What I had originally heard as whale calls now had begun to resemble the worst imaginable dry heaves - or a stylized choking. Fitting, seeing as how the last line in Ticks & Leeches is "I hope you choke." After this transition, none of those following it really seemed to make much sense. I certainly didn't like that Disposition and Reflection had been seperated - as they sound quite good when played sequentially on the album. This was the only real roadblock in my disciphering of the Holy Gift. Then I had remembered what my friend had told me - 13 was in the middle. At the time, probably just wanting to believe that there was more to this cd, I had equated this to the positioning of the song "Intermission" on the previous release, Ã?nema.

For the song to be in the 'middle' of the album it would have to be the seventh track in sequence, here having six tracks on either side of it. So I inserted Faaip de Oiad after Lateralus, and almost peed my pants when I discovered that (ever-so-faintly) the fading tone of the last note of Lateralus could be heard in beginning of Faaip de Oiad, and how the distortion of the guitars at the tail end of Lateralus resembled, and later transitioned seamlessly into, the static at the beginning of Faaip de Oiad. The lyrics of Lateralus justify this break in the spiral, almost instructing: "spiral out, keep going, spiral out, keep going." I went back to Lateralus to find the next clue. In Danny Carey's amazingly competent Fibonacci sequence, he had stopped at 13 and gone back to 1. This is what I chose to do to finish the sequence. A second spiral was now constucted, and the order for the Holy Gift now became 6,7,5,8,4,9,13,1,12,2,11,3,10. Already many of you are probably fascinated at what I have revealed to you, but I can not even begin to tell you what this new order has opened up for me.

The beauty of Lateralus is very, very fragile and has to be viewed with a very open mind. It can also be different when looked at from different points of view. Aside from the fact that the new order of the songs places them in an order where they flow together nicely - often ending and resuming on the same notes or within the same progression, and some times - in the case of Lateralus into Faaip de Oiad and The Grudge into Triad - even overlapping (though admittadly sound much better when actually electronically overlapped, this is kind of cheating. Consider this a hint, however, if you plan on doing this yourself), the two spirals help to tell a story that every Tool fan should hear. In the interest of not boring the only casually intrigued, I will try to keep this very brief. I would also recommend familiarizing yourselves with Frissell's book (yeah - the one I mentioned earlier). I consider Parabol and Parabola to be quite expository. Maynard wants us to know that no matter what happens, we must all know that this is not our only existance. Our very minds and the contents of our subconscious are intended to be immortal, and if we accept this into our lives (be it because of personal or religious reasons), it will be so. As such, pain is an illusion. At first, I called it "The Lateralus Prophecy" (for reasons you will soon understand), but I have since decided to call the 'reordered' version of Lateralus "The Holy Gift". As Maynard says, "Recognize this as a holy gift and celebrate this chance to be alive and breathing," I take the word "this" to mean much more than just his simple cautioning.

Since Parabola is the second track of the Holy Gift, it can be considered at the beginning (esp. considering the context of it's duality with Parabol), and as such, I interpret Maynard's words as more than just clever lyrics in a song. They are a plead for his listeners to listen to everything he has to say and truly celebrate the chance of immortality offered throughout. I would be lying if I said that each song has a specific translation. On the contrary, Tool's music is designed to make you think, not say something specific. It must be treated like great literature - much is hidden contextually. I will elude to Geometric-Drumming's previous post, where he explains the time signatures of Schism: "It represents the title...it's arranged in 12/8 time which is SPLIT into 5/8 and 7/8 - which only really FITS as you PUT THE PIECES BACK TOGETHER." Where Geometric-Drumming claims Schism as his favorite Tool song, I have heard some fans say that it was a retched pick for the album's only single - but I think it was brilliant. Not to downplay the interpretations of those who have posted before me (in fact, I agree with much of what %BlueSoulRobot% has to say), but I think that to the casual listener who knows nothing of Tool, it can be a powerful invitation.

Think about it - a lot of dingbats with MTV and a radio would walk around with the words "I know the pieces fit" in their heads. I wonder how many of them took the time to put the pieces back together to (re)discover what is trying to be communicated

There's a Fibonacci in Maynard's lyrics, specifically the syllables:

black [1]

then [1]

white are [2]

all I see [3]

in my infancy [5]

red and yellow then came to be [8]

reaching out to me [5]

lets me see [3]

there is [2]

so [1]

much [1]

more and [2]

beckons me [3]

to look through to these [5]

infinite possibilities [8]

as below so above and beyond I imagine [13]

drawn outside the lines of reason [8]

push the envelope [5]

watch it bend [3]

I suppose it's not actually a true Fibonacci, since it does reverse itself.
Brett - Auckland, New Zealand
Listen, this song is NOT about drugs. In fact, Keenan has written several songs about drugs (examples: H., Undertow, etc). What seems to deal with drugs on the outside is more about human curiousity. Just like Third Eye, Maynard is describing how humans need to expand their knowledge of the world and use their natural curious minds to reach knew heights of intelligence. I actually think of lateralus as Third Eye II, because of the link of seeing past the boundaries of our minds. In Third Eye, Maynard is trying to pry open his "third eye" to let him see more and the truth. In Lateralus, Maynard is using his curiousity to find this third eye and trying to reach knowledge. He accepts that if men keep following the same path that ancestors before them have paved, that they will achieve nothing. They need to jump away from the spiral and find this knowledge. He states that as he is riding the spiral, he feels the goal move across skin and just barely missing him. He needs to broaden his mind and reach out for knowledge.Dan - Chester, Va
http://www.elloyd.net/mjkinterview.php

Interview with the esteemed Reverend Maynard Keenan

They touch on a few points of this song, along with others, and I think it pretty-much defines the entire philosophy of the band. You all should check it out.
Randall - Dallas, Tx
I love this song, I listen to it at least once a day. It is by far one of my favorite Tool songs. I also like Schism, H., Parabola, The Patient, 46&2, Prison sex, and etc.

I think Lateralus has something to do with life infact, alot about life and being or trying to be connected to what is has to offer, the good and the bad and the part where Maynard sings

"With my feet upon the ground I move myeslf between the sounds and open wide to suck it in.
I feel it move across my skin" it seems it might have something to do with a drug or drugs and or life.... anyways it can be a bit hard to interpet this song as well as songs in general because we all have our opinions and we view the world differently. But this song is by far awesome and deep, I love it and I love Maynard's voice.....

Also when he sings "I embrace my desire to...."
that embrace stuff and desire is a part of life and it seems that it might be time to embrace and accept sadness and happiness.... well anyways I must admit I do not know the meaning but I think it has to do with LIFE. If I think of anything else to ramble about this amazing song I will.

Peace.
Janie - Medford, Or
Also, in the song schism(for the mathematical part of TooL's songs), there is "I know the pieces fit". IF you play the bass guitar, you will notice that the bass part does fit mathematically in the song by addition. This must've been on purpose. By the way, The bass is amazing in schism and all of TooL. IF you haven't noticed.Justine - Montreal, Canada
When Listening to this song and reading the lyrics, it appears to me that it is about drugs. To me, when he says,
"Black then white are all I see in my infancy.
red and yellow then came to be, reaching out to me."
it makes me think that befor the drug, he was black and white, and boreing, and after taking the drug, he was able to expand his mind and see the world in color.
"lets me see.
As below, so above and beyond, I imagine
drawn beyond the lines of reason.
Push the envelope. Watch it bend."
this says that while on the drug he is able to expand his mind and see the world "beyond the lines of reason". "the lines of reason" are the lines that you live with and that you can not pass without drugs.
"Over thinking, over analyzing separates the body from the mind.
Withering my intuition, missing opportunities and I must
Feed my will to feel my moment drawing way outside the lines."
This sounds to me like he is makeing a drug reference because why you are tripping on LSD you start to think more, hence "Over thinking, over analyzing".
"I embrace my desire to
feel the rhythm, to feel connected"
this is saying that when your high you "feel the rhythm" of the music that you are listening to, and become connected to it.
"With my feet upon the ground I lose myself
between the sounds and open wide to suck it in,
I feel it move across my skin.
I'm reaching up and reaching out,"
He is talking about that when your on a drug you become separated from the world around you and lose yourself. While on drugs you tend to expereince more than how you experience them when not on drugs, like breathing, and you can get a tingly feeling that can move across your skin.
"And following our will and wind we may just go where no one's been.
We'll ride the spiral to the end and may just go where no one's been."
rideing the spiral is relating to the feeling that you have while on drugs.
I could be wrong with the meaning of the song, but this is the meaning that stands out to me.
Scott - Somewhere In, Pa
Black and white, than red and yellow
John lennon did that in Merry Christmas War is Over
George - Hell, Pa
Well sorry to double post but I had an interesting experiance while listening to this song. One day I was playing this song on my speaker system and this squrill attacked my window. It was just cwralling all over the window like it was trying to get closer to the music or something. Oh and the "Black and White are all I see" part is preety easy to explain. I think that he is useing those colors because the represent the simple, right and wrong, good and evil. Then when he sees the other colers he sees that things are not as simple as they orginally appear. Sorry for any spelling mistakes, and feel free to prove my interpratations wrong.Ian - New York, Ny
Wow listening to tool is like taking philosophy class. Exepct you can headbang to this and you don't need to take notes.Ian - New York, Ny
I think the song is just about living and experiencing life to it's fullest. Not believing everything we're told. "Push the envelope, watch it bend" I believe is a metaphor for testing limits or stepping beyond boundaries. When we test those limits or step beyond those boundaries "we may just go where no one's been". Just a thought.Denise - Long Beach, Ca
What the song means is he's on the drug LSD.

"Black then white are all I see in my infancy.
red and yellow then came to be, reaching out to me.
lets me see there is so much more
and beckons me to look through to these infinite possibilities."

He's talking about how LSD you begin to realize so much more about things around you and you hallucinate and the possiblities are endless.

"I embrace my desire to
feel the rhythm, to feel connected
enough to step aside and weep like a widow
to feel inspired, to fathom the power,
to witness the beauty, to bathe in the fountain,
to swing on the spiral
of our divinity and still be a human."

A commen thing expeirienced on LSD is a rhythm and so is seeing "The Spiral.


"With my feet upon the ground I lose myself
between the sounds and open wide to suck it in.
I feel it move across my skin.
I'm reaching up and reaching out.
I'm reaching for the random or what ever will bewilder me.
And following our will and wind we may just go where no one's been.
We'll ride the spiral to the end and may just go where no one's been."

He's talking about losing himself within the hallucination but he's still down on earth. "Between the rhythms." I think means his heart pounding which could also contirbute to the hallucination. "i feel it move across my skin." As I hope you know, the human body has more than one area that you can find your pulse.
"I'm reaching for the random or whatever will bewilder me." LSD you hallucinate which could be what he's saying about "bewildering me" or "reaching for random."
"And following our will and wind we may just go where no one's been.
We'll ride the spiral to the end and may just go where no one's been." I think, this means that he's hallucinating and it's in his own mind so there for he is going into a state of mind in which only he can be in, and riding the spirals has to do with "the spiral" vision.


By the way, I could be TOTALLY wrong. THis is just what I reflect to.
Eric - Madison, Wi
ok ... i'm from brazil and my english does not kick ass .... but I have an interpretation to "Black then white are all I see in my infancy, red and yellow then came to be" ......
maybe keenan is trying to express how he feels about his religious dicoveries ... black and white may lead to colour of a priest ( as you know maynard had a hard, religious education) and red and yellow is this education and censorship burning down to ashes( colours of fire ) ... infinite possibilities .... He finally sees that he doesn't need to believe in all the religious bull! an opinion only from a guy that loves tool !
Bruno Miotto - Sao Paulo, Brazil
In the CD art, the last page to show the person's brain has the word "GOD" clearly drawn in his brain. It could also be about letting yourself wander to a different perspective, hence the word "lateral" in the title.Matt - Nutley, Nj
I say this song is not about drugs but being reborn. "black then white are all i see in my infancy" then later on in life you start to see other colours. "red and yellow then came to be".
Being reborn gives you more prospective of the world, just to sit back and watch.
No to over think anythig people say.
Anthony - Tauranga, New Zealand
"lateralus" can roughly be translated to mind development as "lateral thinking" is using methods to solve problems you have developed in you mind rather than conventional logic, so the song i beleive is just about the way you progress through life and so does you mind, you can pretend to be a babt forever
"reaching out to embrace the random, reaching out to embrace whatever may come" sort of taking life by the horns
Karl - Auckland, New Zealand
"black/than/white are/all i see/in my infancy/red and yellow than came to me/reaching out to me/ lets me see."
black and white are the first colors you see when your born. then next ones that come are red and yellow. the song is most likley about becoming above human mentality. to still be human but to live totally without restraint. to try to know as much as possible. to go further than the last guy.
Mana - Kimberley, Canada
i feel that this song is refering to coming into a religion. Now hold on, i know what ur thinking. "tool hates all religion." right? well, look at alot of the lyrics on this album (The pateint). i Think that the colors part is refering to coming into that religion and realizing different aspects. "balck and white are all i see..." is when your eyes are shut to all logic and reasoning for religion. "red and yellow then came to be..." is when you are actually realizing that this religion is relitive. and the "spiral out, keep going is when u start into this religion and cant stop, and go deeper and deeper into it. anyways, this is just my opintion. disagree if u would like, i dont care, i just thought i'd give my 2 cents.Lindsey Goad - Toler, Ky
it like most other meaningful songs not turned out by the flotsam spewing teeny-pop mill means whatever you interpret it to mean that is what makes the song great.Will - Paragould, Ar
"Black then white are all I see in my infancy, red and yellow then came to be"

I think this line may POSSIBLY be a metaphor, referring how years and years ago people, technology, and the world in general were not very advanced ("black then white...") However, now everything is much more advanced and known, hence "red and yellow then came to be..," just simply referring to the fact that through time more has been developed.
Just a thought.
Unknown - La, Ca
just so you know aibas, envelope can also mean the farthest point that a peson can touch from a fixed point (i.e. standing still), so perhaps maynard means he's extending his reach in some wayBrian - Mayfield Heights, Oh
i think everyone here's been far too stressing the "black, white yellow etc"
i thought i might post something different
btw: what i post here is just opinion i believe there is no right answer for the interpretation of the song , i think that maynard rather wants us to think.

i think the song could be interpreted in a such way pointing out how people miss interpret by over thinking what we've been told by god or anyone "push the envelope watch it bend" ok what's in envelopes ?? letters ?? messages ? then if the envelope bends .. the message inside it would bend as well. its kinda saying you've given someone a certain message but they misinterpretted it and you can only watch them being miss interpreted or something along that line

also "black and white then red and yellow it came to be " could be taken as the backing point of MY INTERPRETATION of the song you were told black and white but then you pass the message on and on at the end its not balck and white but it was red and yellow (just like chinese whispers)

and "over thinking over anyalysing saperating your body from your mind" may be criticising how ppl take the wrong interpretation .. this happens alot with biblical interepretations

-Aibas, Sydney Australia
Aibas - Sydney, Australia
I think this song is related to some philosophical ideas based on the work of ken wilber and others. I believe it talks about realising how all the things in life most people are always thinking about like money etc. is not all there is and that there is a higher state which we can reach if we open our minds and realise how everything is connected and integral. The spiral I believe refers to the spiral dynamics integral which is based on the work of Clare W. Graves and Don Beck. This spiral represents the different states of life and as we go up the spiral we reach higher and more complex states of existence. a good explanation of this is provided at the following link http://integralnaked.org/faq-pdf.aspx?id=6Ahmed - Cairo, Egypt
I think that Lateralus means searching deep within the collective life of us all. And not just searching for answers to any specific questions, but to realize that the journey itself provides you with all the answers you need. In other words, don't depict Tool song meanings. Just listen to the art and think.Alex - Richmond, Ca
I think Lateralus is about discovering a new way to look at life.When he says "black then white are
all I see in my infancy red and yellow then came to be",I think what he means is that before,when his mind worked differently,everything was alot simpler and then when he changed things became more complex and more beautiful.It's about seeing the beauty in anything and everything,reaching for the random.I think the spiral is a metaphor for existence.When he says "spiral out.keep going"
,he means to keep on living.But that's just my interpretation of it.Nobody can really be sure of what any Tool songs really mean because they're all very deep.
Samantha - Youngstown, Oh
Before all of you bash Chris Maynard did say a comment that is something to this effect in an interview. He stated this:

A person should take a drug once in their life to reach that heightened state of consciousness. And then they should spend the next ten years of their life getting to that state naturally.

Some of us do not fit very easily into this world. There are beings on this planet that I believe are so much more then the flesh construct that binds them. Though I believe this song is getting to that heightened state naturally, some of us need a glimpse into the future to remind us exactly what kind of eternal beings we are.

That's my 2 cents.
Jack - Bloomington, Il
I think it's about the freedom of the soul, and being exposed to a richer plane of existence. The singer at first sees in black and white, then in colors, and finds out there are infinte possibiliies. Around the middle of the song, it sounds as though he's gathering courage to travel even higher bring his soul out of his lower form (i.e., his body) and swing on the spiral (a spiral being, as Matt said, cicles on circles, or since circles are infinity, a spiral is "repeated infinity"), or bring himself ever higherBrian - Mayfield Heights, Oh
The end of the song "Spiral out. Keep going." has to do with the The Fibonacci Numbers and Golden section in Nature.Richard - Syracuse, Ny
Jake from New Jersey may have a point about the black and white being the first colours (though i doubt it, clay in Australia tends to be red or brown rather than black or white....just a thought) but also the other problem with what he's saying is that he's combinnig 2 different racial groups from 2 different countries. maoris are from New Zealand.
and yeah the guy who said it's all positive and about not being narrow minded is right, maynard said that over here too
Emma - Sydney, Australia
honestly chris dont take this personally but analyze the song and take into consideration that bands arent all about or . Tool is one of those bands that represent a form of finding yourself and who you are. Don't go saying with one simple sentence "its about " and not even giving an example why you think it is so.Flavio - Miami, Fl
I'm not sure i understand the signifigance of the spiral in the song, but in a "perfect circle" interview, maynard said "A circle is the reflection of eternity. It has no beginning and it has no end - and if you put several circles over each other, then you get a spiral."Matt - Belfast, Ireland
I'm with Jake from NJRaistlin - Middletown, Oh
I believe it is about going from Innocence to Experience. 'Black and white' being of how simple things were back when he was his 'infancy' until other colours 'red and yellow' came,which represent experience. The choice of red and yellow is probably because they are firery colours to represent anger or passion.Zeroserj - Cambs, England
It very well IS about drugs. Psycadelics to be exact. Sure, it's one of those songs they wrote thinking about psycadelics but wanting people to belive otherwise, and yea, it can be interpreted in a few ways.Undisclosed - New York City, Ny
Im with Jonathan. This song i believe may be an example of his life really. When he was abused as a child it of course did damamge, but he doesnt let that pain blind him from the good things in life. He still manages to see the good things in life and we all should be able to do that!Julene - Glendale, Az
Chris from Dallas, this song is not about drugs in any way at all! It is about finding a special place inside you. A total state of open mindedness and take whatever life happens to bring you.Zac - Drexel, Mo
I just thought of something. Inspired by Lacie. Black, white, yellow, and red aren't the only colors, so the song suggests to me that, although the narrator has been opened up to 'infinite possibilities?, there may been another infinite or dimension of thought, that the one he has just been exposed to is just the first plane.Ilikepork - Witchita, Ks
yea i think that this song is about embracing life in a open minded way... not seeing it as one way or the other..... i think he was saying in the song that he used to be narrow minded ... but he went through some kind of positive experience that he embraced and now he has expanded his opinions and beliefs... " Black and White are all i see .. in my infancy .. red and yellow then came to be ... "Lacie - Mt.pleasant, Tx
it's not about drugs. it's about being positive. at live concerts maynard makes a speech on how to take something positive from the experience had at the concert and not to be narrow minded.

"Reaching out to embrace the random.
Reaching out to embrace whatever may come."
Jonathan - East Rutherford, Nj
its about drugsChris - Dallas, United States