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Sober by Tool

Album: UndertowReleased: 1993
  • This was written about a guy the band knows who can only do great, inspired, stuff when he's high. The words "Jesus won't you F--king whistle, something but the past and gone" is actually referring to how this guy kept talking about the same old stuff over and over again, as in, "Christ almighty, can't we talk about something new???"
    Tool guitarist Adam Jones explained in an interview wtih Guitar School: "The song and video are based on a guy we know who is at his artistic best when he's loaded. A lot of people give him s--t for that. I don't tell people to do or not do drugs. You can do what you want, but you have to take responsibility for what happens. If you become addicted and a junkie, well, that's your fault." (thanks, Richard - Hamilton, New Zealand and Jorge - Pittsburgh, PA)
  • For radio play, the line, "Jesus, won't f--king whistle" was changed to, "Jesus, won't you try and whistle." (thanks, Nick - Paramus, NJ)
  • On August 18, 2006, Kirk Hammett from Metallica played this with Tool at a show in Hawaii. Hammett said it was "One of the most profound jamming experiences I have ever encountered."
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Comments: 90

I've loved this song since it came out in 1993. It is powerful. But of all these comments, I agree with GB of New York. It has made such an impact that it's still played on radio now & a newer generation of rockers know of it. It is raw, it is life, and it is powerful.Rotunda - Tulsa, Ok
yes, I see where you all are coming from. Addiction, religion. yes I think this is there. but there is another bend here. something unspeakable. This song is powerful and has spoken to me deeply. I cannot tell you how because it is about things which cannot be discussed. true things, that cannot be openly mentioned but when created in this song have such power to strike at my heart. things only i know are true and real. overwhelming. Perhaps it is art just understood in an individual way but I will never believe that. I know what this is and I cannot ever say it. I know that i cannot stop the song in my head once it starts, if i hear it. weeks go by and i am forced to consider it. i know it touches darkness inside of me that i will not illuminate for anyone. Jesus and Mary take it from me. It is beyond words to explain but i feel it so strongly and have from the time i saw it on videos when it came out. im afraid that as art it has been set free to push into and out of a multitude of different filters with x consequences out the other side of the facets.Van - Douglasville, Ga
I am just an alcoholic. I am just an avid drinker. I will always hate religion, but thats what the song's about......As an alcoholic and also an atheist, I always interpereted the song as that of a religious view rather than the suggested, "addiction" point of veiw. But, then maybe I wouldn't, lmao!Novus Ordo Seclorum - Hutchinson, Ks
This song is not about religion or addiction. It is obviously about a homosexual struggling to come to grips with his own sexual identity and come out of the closet.

I am now off to post this exact same interpretation of the lyrics for Motley Crue's Girls, Girls, Girls. And every other song ever.

But on a serious note -- the "Jesus" and "Mother Mary" in the lyrics, to me, only make sense as interjections. Like "Dammit! Won't you talk about anything but the past?" But I think it's about addiction, how addiction makes you do terrible and selfish things... if someone interprets religion as a form of addiction, go for it.
John - Louisville, Ky, Ky
OK, so first off, I wouldn't put much of any weight in guitarist Adam Jones off-the-cuff quote since he didn't write the lyrics. I think he was either clueless about what Maynard wrote or said that to f-ck with (dumb) people as a joke, which Tool is known to do.

Second, it is not about redemption through Christianity or 12-step programs. Anyone who knows about Maynard knows that he is a scathing critic of organized religion, Christianity in particular, and is not a fan of regimented programs for self-improvement.

So what is it about? Can't ever know for sure, but as a few others pointed out, it seems to be about the parallels
between addiction to alcohol and following Christianity. Both can stalk you, in the sense of taking over your thoughts. They both seem to be helpful at first, but for some they always poison you in end. Regarding the verse "I am just a worthless liar. I am just an imbecile...", I doubt the "I" here refers to an alcoholic or someone depressed. The "I" in this verse is Jesus (i.e. alcohol).

My opinion is that the song is about Christianity more than it is about alcoholism. If you have a negative background with Christianity as Maynard did and as an adult don't believe in its core tenets, you nonetheless still struggle with it in your mind. I personally have found that the Christian teachings never have left my superego. I still feel the guilt, still feel condemned, still feel stalked by the embodiment of the angry judgmental people who taught me religion as a child. Then at times I am tempted to return to Christianity because of the positive aspects. In the end, I can't accept Christianity because of the many aspects that I do not believe in and the aspects that I don't agree with.

As an adult, I am a free thinker and my spiritual views mostly line up with Buddhism. So please, all you Christians: I don't want to be saved.
Gb - New York, Ny
Listen Children. Karl Marx said that Religion is "opiate for the masses" This is a theme and metaphor in many songs and albums by tool. The LP is called Opiate and has a priest on the cover. The song is taking about giving up religion which is like a drug upon our minds. Clouding everything in self doubt and self loathing. Maynard is lamenting in this song why people can't give up the "Junk" and be sober. I really believe this is the motivation behind the song. I am an artist and I know the power of leaving the meanings of the art to the viewer/listener but i see through his game.Tim - Bc, Bc
im 14 n i smoke marijuana religiously it helps me to stop n think i have also found tht im more creative wen i have used it then wen im off of it i just cant explain it i write better short storries n everything im mean its jus weird do u guys have ne idea wh it does this to me?Dillon - Orlando, Fl
Hi my name is Tara, I am from Indiana and well this song really gets to me cause my entire family are druggies and alcoholics, and to them its like a religion so I see how it relates. Cause if you seek God to help and you can overcome your addictions. But if your an addict then its your life... Like God is some peoples life their drugs are theirs. And really this song reminds me of my father who is a major drug addict and is severely ill because of it. So when I hear it I want to cry but I put him in the hands of God. But thats why this is one of my favorite songs and its cause it has more meaning to me. Ya know. And I mean I have overcome my addictions as well. I use to be a bad drinker, pill popper, and crack/cocaine head. And now I turn to God...Tara - Bloomington , In
I think this song is about drugs and adicts addictions to drugs but is still like this songDustin - Nebraska, Ne
I can't really see the religious angle, in spite of the obvious references to Jesus and Mary. I went through a very severe depression when I was younger, and I can fully identify with the feelings. I understand the self-loathing and desire for things to be different than they are. The hostility you feel is that of trapped animal. You long for escape from your life, from what you know, from reality as you've experienced it, not to mention how none of the answers others seem to have found in their own lives seem to have any value in your life, including religion, which only leads to more self-loathing and self defeating behavior. Maybe it's a metaphor, but I recognize all too well the feelings in this song. They're not that far from Pink Floyd's darker moments.Jombi - San Marcos, Tx
Hey i'm sorry for all you guys who think it is but this song is not about religion at all,I know about drugs and what they do, this sounds like the feelings of a drug addict who is trying to break the habbit and avoid getting another fix...Jacob - Lakeland, Fl
Mike from Oakhurst new jersey, I actually took the time to read your huge response and it was actually one of the best responses i read here. The theme of the song is addiction, one of maynards friends. But maynard always puts his own views into the song as well, as you explained so very nicely in your paragraph. Good job!Andrew - Orlando, Fl
definitly about religion and why we it even exists. big subject matter for tool. much like opiateCody - St Joe, Mo
This song is obviously about religion and its hold on humanity.

There's a shadow just behind me,
Shrouding every step i take,
making every promise empty,
pointing every finger at me.
Waiting like a stalking butler
who upon the finger rests.
Murder now the path called "must we"
just before the son has come.
Jesus, won't you f--king whistle
something but the past and done?

this it talking about how religion shadows every choice we make and when we step of the beaten path religion points its fingers at us and how if you don't follow the crowd of religion they condemn you to a hypothetical death.

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

this is talking about how all these people are so "drunk" in their religions and he wonders why we can't be "sober" and see the world as it is.

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

He is talking about the affect of religion on your life and how it grasps you, pulls you in, and decays you from the inside.

Trust me.

Mother Mary won't you whisper
something but what's past and done.

Trust me.

I want what I want.

he's asking if the world will give up their foolishness and open their blind eyes, but regardless he will see with open eyes whether the world does or not.
Dj - Port Saint Lucie, Fl
As someone who has lived among alcoholics my entire life, this song to me is the great song about alcoholism ever written. The broken promises, the unrealized dreams, the disappointment, the shadow cast over every word and deed, the self torment and blame, the wish to start all over again; it is all right here. Brilliant and incredibly powerful.Shawn - Green Bay, Wi
"I am just a worthless liar, I am just an imbecile.... I will find a center in you..." to me is about addiction. As a ex-user of heroin, I would be it is about how you will say whatever you think the other person wants to hear to get off your back, how you hate yourself for your actions and cannot stop them, how you will find the good in a person and use it to manipulate them to obtain drugs, and it warns how we will destroy anything we touch. We are the devils children now and even if Jesus were to whistle we wouldn't take heed.Sam - Chicago, Il
Ok, you realy don't understand that maynard uses some things that happen in his life, or with his friends to write of a completely diferent subject. For example, in lateralus the "black white" and "red and yellow" were taken from comboy storys or something like that, and I don't think the song is about that, lolCarlos - Coimbra, Portugal
The story I'm familiar with regarding this song is that it was written about a friend of the band, who was only creative when he was messed up. All these other misinterpretations of the lyrics to mean something anti-Christian are simply the fantasies of those who are writing them. Those of you who are stuck on the "religion will twist your mind" BS, need to remember one thing:

"The wise ones who had it all figured out
will be exposed as fools.
The smart people who thought they knew everything
will turn out to know nothing."

-Isaiah 29:13
Stacey - Winchester, Va
The meaning of this song is in the begining. If you read well the lyrics, you'll see it refers the the way religion manipulates people minds, just by using preconceit as their weapon: "Pointing every finguer at me, wainting like a stalking buttler, who upon the finguer rests, murder now the path called "must we", just because the son(Jesus) has come".
Then, all the rest makes sense:
In the lines: "Jesus wont you f-cking wistle" and "Mother Mary wont you whisper" Maynard wants to tell us that Jesus and Mary wont agree with the way catolicism is and was after they died.
The part of "I'm just a worthless liar, I'm just an imbecil, I will only complicate you..." is refering to how religion manipulates and makes you thrust and uses your faith.
Then in the lines: "why can't we not be sober, I just want to start this over..." he expresses his indignation and frustration to how the world has become and how religion continues retard our minds, and the he expresses his will to start the world over again, but he can't so he drinks and takes drugs to live in a world where many people are sobre, but blind...
Of course it is also inspired in Maynard's mother and her church, how she as manipulated and how they tried to manipulate him...
Carlos - Coimbra, Portugal
For the music junkies the chord progression is similar to other songs such as Cypress Hill's "Rock Superstar" and Eminem's "Lose Yourself"Austin - Smallsville,new England, --
whoever said that stained did a better job is a (non nice person).. im sorry but you cant do better then maynard he is the master. and stained is a buncha winey little emo babiesJoe - Noomn, Bangladesh
Whoah!
This one stands up next to any Sabbath song for one of the darkest songs ever.
Simply vicious guitars.
The video is also one of the most disturbing.
Killer song, but definitely not one for broad smiles and giggling!
Oldpink - New Castle, In
I actually agree that the song is about a depressed man full of self-loathing. I had a brief affair with a man who sent me the "I am just a worthless liar. I am just an imbecile. I will only complicate you. Trust in me and fall as well. I will find a center in you.I will chew it up and leave, I will work to elevate you, just enough to bring you down" lyrics in an e mail when I asked him to describe what it was he felt for me. Evidently, it was that he wasn't good enough. In general, that is the tone to the whole song.Lauren - Gainesville, Fl
This song is just two chords the whole time. They are D and D sharp. It was up to Adam Jones to keep the song interesting by playing the two chords as many different ways as he could.Austin - Smallsville,new England, --
Duh..are you serious? It is obviously about addiction and how the addicted person treats their loved ones. And how the addict wants to be sober but feels that they cannot.
Sara
Calhoun GA
Sara - Calhoun, Ga
Staind pulled off the cover quite well. And unlike Tool, you can buy their songs on iTunes!Mel!ssa - Pittsburgh, Pa
I know people say its about a guy who only writes good when hes drunk but I think its about how hes not good enough for a girl hence "I am just a worthless liar. I am just an imbecile. I will only complicate you. Trust in me and fall as well. I will find a center in you.I will chew it up and leave, I will work to elevate you, just enough to bring you down." and he wants to forget her but cant hence "Mother Mary won't you whisper
something but what's past and done?" Thats what I think atleast and, like alot of other people, I believe , in tools songs, you can get different means out of them.
Cj - Vermont, Vt
There's a shadow just behind me,
shrouding every step I take,
making every promise empty,
pointing every finger at me.
Waiting like a stalking butler who upon the finger rests...Makes me think it is about someone who realizes they will not be allowed to change, because their past haunts them, keeps them chained to their mistakes...possibly keeps making the same mistakes, until they have no faith in themselves...maybe drinks to escape the truth of what their actions have caused them. Being sober leaves them too open to their feelings...whistle something but the past and done, meaning they don't want to keep thinking of the past and the mistakes they've made? and facing the truth of what they do to others with their behaviors, trying to keep others at a distance, because they know what consequence will bring.....just an idea.
Shelly - Torrington, Ct
This is a great song can anybody tell me where u can buy Tool Cd's u cant get them on Itunes Wal-mart ect and i just started listing to them this yearChristopher - Taylorsville, Nc
Not to criticize but I don't think you people understand that Tool writes their lyrics to be comprehendable by any means. Tool is your 'tool' to yourself. Maynard writes lyrics that you can take and draw comparison to your own life. Of course their is some theme but just because some one thinks differently than you on the meaning of the song doesn't mean it's completely wrong, especially with the information I've just given you.Age - C-ville, Pa
Maynard is a huge Snoop Dogg fan and I am too!!! Snoop used to listen to Tool to pump himself up before concerts.Geeker - Snickers, Wi
Geeker, Just like my first Tool show, it's been a blast.Mike - Falmouth, Ma
Come on Mike, do you actually believe that Hootie and the Blowfish covered 'Sober'? If they did it would be a parody plus I don't think the "blowfish" would be able to play the odd meter time signatures. For your information Snickers happens to be a beautiful little town with many flowers, plus I'm a native of Colombia so I'll kill you!Geeker - Snickers, Wi
Hey, GEEKster. Get this. "Sober" is a very deep, dark, meaningful song and unless played the way it was written, recorded, and performed the way it was originally by TOOL it's literally a different song. If a POP Rock band like Hootie and the Blowfish give Sober what you call "a different light" it's basically a whole new song and MJK's creative masterpiece is nowhere to be heard or felt. If their gonna keep coverin' it than Darius REEker will have to give it a new name. Huh, hootie and the blowfish. Not such a great argument there GEEK. By the way, Falmouth, MA is a wonderful town on Cape Cod. As a native New Yorker and huge GIANTS fan, I've got a question for ya. How 'bout Brett Favre and them Packers Cheesehead?Mike - Falmouth, Ma
Actually Mike from Falmouth, wherever the hell that is, Hootie and the Blowfish covered 'Sober' and it gave it a different light that was very refreshing and rewarding. Depending on one's mood, it was better than Tool's version.Geeker - Snickers, Wi
More Importantly however, everything about this song is totally unbelievable! The riffs, bass, and the drums alone can really touch the darker side of the human spirit. The lyrics are very powerful and put you in deep thought over just how powerful a force alchohol has been on all aspects of society in the past half century. As a drummer, this is one of my absolute favorite songs to play live. It's one of the best to both begin and end a show with. And once again, noby, nobody does it better than the masters themselves:TOOL.Mike - Falmouth, Ma
Listen Erik. No band can pull this masterpiece off other than TOOL. Especially Staind. Aaron Lewis is NOTHING compared to MJK. I wonder if TOOL actually named their band after you....Mike - Falmouth, Ma
I thought it goes ' jesus blows his f***ing whistle' which I seem to be constantly dealing with.. an ass whose always there to point out your faults, while remaining imune ( sp)to critisism his or herself...what do I know...I'll keep my interpretation cous I like it...it fits my world, and thats the beauty of real music as opposed to that pop crap. ok so I can't spell.Maz - Los Angeles, Ca
Hello, my name is "countess" and I AM an alcoholic. i beleive this song is about 1 person, the alcoholic and all that entails with alcoholism. too simple a theory ? perhaps, but to the alcoholic, we identify all too clearly. but also to the non-alcoholic, the words can be identified with many realms of life. we all have our own interpretation of MJKs lyrics and we all want and do connect in some way, but as a recovered alcoholic, for me, its simple and self-centered --Ah cool, this song is about "us". when really, this song is about everyone_countessCountess - Austin, Tx
Maynard James Keenan's stepfather was a raging alcoholic and an abuser. "Sober" is about his stepfather. Believe it or not. It is one of the few songs that is pretty straight forward. Like "Hush." He's singing about why his stepfather can't stay sober. How every promise he makes is broken. How all he wants is to be loved but the alcohol prevents the two from having a relationship. He's singing not only from his perspective but also that of his stepfather's. "I will find a center in you. I will chew it up and leave" is typical of the selfishness of an alcoholic wrapped up in their addiction. Hurting all those around them without care or remorse. Every verse between each chorus, Maynard "vents" a bit more. Starting quietly, almost gently whispering the lyrics until the end when he's screaming, in a sense, pleading to understand why this is happening to him. He's gone from accepting to being fed up with the situation over the course of the song. As the child of an alcoholic, That's what the song means to me.Ray - San Jose, Ca
well uh.. Layne in 2001 right? cause Sober was produced in 1993 so.. im doubting the songs about him.. i have to go with its about the asking jesus to help with a certain situation and putting all your trust in that where really that doesnt solve much of anything.. so then MJK moves on to mother maryJeff - Houston , Tx
The funny thing is that everyone wishes to find that hidden meaning that doesnt exist. He creates his art to help him reflect his life and heal. No one will ever figure out what that may be so take his advice and focus your emphasis on how his art can help you, or help u create your own cos god knows we need less dense ppl around here. gag me. now, everyone learn to swim.Melissa - Austin, Tx
Consider this a good source. This song IS about 1 person.John - Detroit, Mi
Now that I think about it. If the author is homosexual his shadow would be extremely hurfull in American culture. Repressing all those sexual feeling would eventually depress a person. Then masked by anger, and expressed aggressively. Too much repression and you see a paranoia develop, despiration and sadly something such as the Viginia tech insident could occur. Homosexuals have the highest rate of suicide by the way. So help them to not repress it so much and don't beat them to death when they do come out. K? lol like thats going to change the collective conciousness one tit.Fred - Chicogo, Id
The shadow is most likely a Carl Jung's "shadow". The persona is the 'mask' which the person presents the world, while the shadow holds the parts of the self which the person feels ashamed and guilty about. In men, the anima represents the feminine aspects of the psyche, while the animus represents the masculine aspects of the psyche in women. The whole of the archetypal organization. The author of the song must read what Jung has wrote about cognitive behavior. Mike from oakhurst seems to lean towars this way also. i like to masturbate.Fred - Chicogo, Id
this song isnt about jesus and it isnt about religion. its about letting your past having such a grip over you that it is like a shadow "shrouding every step i (you) take." its about letting someone or something screw with you so bad that every promise you make to change is just empty words. constant conviction ("pointing every finger at me"). the question asked is "why can we not be sober, just want to start this over" or why cant we just get wasted all the time so that we can forget the past. we want to change but we feel that our lives are so far gone that there is no other option but to forget with the help of drugs and alcohol. it is also about realizing your flaws. most people who got really hurt at one time want badly to connect and trust someone but when they start getting to close it is time to end it "i will work to elevate you just enough to bring you down" anyways i've rambled on enough for now.Axl - Kilgore, Tx
I do believe this song has some direction towards Layne Staley, the lead singer of Alice in Chains. I've read that Maynard was close friends with Layne, and Layne was a gifted singer but was also a heroin addict and eventually died of an overdose.Quinn - Wichita, Ks
this song is askin for an answer to addiction and the struggle people face with it and hes asking jesus and mother mary to show him because what jesuses reputation is he asks for a savior but of course there is noneJoshua - Ocean City, Nj
the staind cover of sober live is much better then tools versionErik - Brownwood , Tx
I think that Nico is more on the right track, though it doesn't say why can't we just be sober, it actually says why can we NOT be sober. I think that "being sober" is actually seeing through religion. I think that the line "I will work to elevate you just enough to bring you down" is refering to explaining the wholes in religion that make you feel informed until you actually understand that everything else that you learned is a lie. Once you have that information that changed your point of view, you cannot go back.Evan - Amarillo, Tx
ok. i was stoned the one day and i hear this song on the radio and out of nowhere i get this idea that "maybe this song is about heroine withdrawal". so i followed the idea to try to see if it fit. ok listen, i almost sh*t myself when i realized this...does everyone know how a butler waits for people, like stalks you even? watch any show with a butler in it to see what i mean. like "yes sir how can i help you?" almost, yeah? well, the line "waiting like a stalking butler" could very well mean a syringe ie. the butler stalking the heroine withdrawn person. it's like "come on use me, sir". next, the line "who upon the finger rests" is a needle. THE FINGER IS THE NEEDLE THAT THE BUTLER (SYRINGE) RESTS ON!Brent - Mountain Top, Pa
"Jesus won't you f*cking whistle" is referring to the scene at the end of Monty Python's Life of Brian where they are hanging on the crucifixes whistling for "Bright side of life"Mxstreet - Anytown, United States
I love the rhythm and vocals and only rated it a 3 for the words. After reading the words and pondering, I reviewed everyone?s comments about the song and think that the fact statement of the song is the real reason why it was produced. Having said that; I feel that a lot of people identify with the song for the reason of the helplessness to their addictions, be it drug, drinking etc.
I believe that the Manyard is not portraying himself as Jesus, but is stating if you look to him as your idol that he will fail you. Manyard is stating that he is a man that will fail as all men do. His statement of Jesus wont you f*cking whistle? and Mother Mary etc? are his frustrations with salvation and deliverance that Manyard wants another way out, but why salvation and deliverance was implemented was set in the past it and cannot be changed. It is my opinion.
Michael - Gilbert , Az
Ok, I've been thinking a lot about this one lately. This song is not about a single person who has a drug problem from what I can tell. Yes maybe the band based it off of thoughts about a friend who had a drug problem, but thats not what its about. If you listen carefully he dosn't ask "Why can we not be sober" its "why can't we not be sober". Not a big difference but it seriously affected the way I see the song. What hes asking is why do we have to go along with the norms. Why can't we do these things that various establishments wont allow.Dave - Bloomington, Mn
maynard is never straightforward enough to make a song about somebody and actually incorporate them in the song... hes too creative... its not about jesus....Raven - Reedley, Ca
This song is about JUDAS'S betrayal of Jesus.John - Burbank, Ca
This song is all about Jesus. Not only the part Jesus wont you f*cking whistle something but the past is done. You need to listen to the whole song not only that one bit. There is also the part where its says: I am just a worthless liar, i am just an imbecile, i will only complicate you trust in me and fall as well. You need to really listen to the song to get it. Maynards obviously talking as if he was Jesus. When he says "trust in me and fall as well" hes talking about the falling of christ.Sophie - Auckland, New Zealand
*Sober*is a song that could somehow contradict itself, it is not necesarily an urge to quit
addiction, it is also a questioning of faith, facts, behavior and personality.
In tool songs they had been through a transitionfrom extreme darkness to enlightment songs like *Reflections*,*the *Patient*,*Parabol*,* Parabola*,*Schism*,...
are songs which lyrics and music fussions concepts and rhythms from very sacred cultures as Buddaism,and Zen for instance.
Tool lyrics are wide views of Philosophy and existencialism with a deeper meaning in Tool's music.
Dina - Alexandria, Egypt
IDk but dave wrote "This song is actually specifically about a single person " well in sober he writes "i will find a center in you" he is refering to a single person if you listen to it.I think this song is about a guy who is scared of commitment and thats why he says "i will find a center in you i will chew it up and leave i will only elevate you long enough to bring you down".You know like hes saying i will get close to you only to leave you in the end.Hugo - Glendale, Az
Look at the song metaphoricly. Verse One: About a drug or alcohol problem. Chourus One: Asking Jesus to help him with it. Verse Two: Saying that Jesus won't help you and he couldn't help you to begin with. Chourus Two: Asking Mary, the mother of Jesus, to help Jesus to help him. That's my take on it.I love this song.Ben - Gilbert, Az
I agree with those who say it's related to drug use and how everything is different when you are high. Again though, I think the songs are there and each listener takes from it what they will. For me, it relates very strongly to a comedown experience I had the other weekend, how perfect everything was when we were high, coming off, sharing the same consciousness, or so we thought. The next day, I did NOT want to be sober again, our problems came back. Yes, for me the lyrics relate perfectly to my experience, therefore one facet of its meaning is evident to me.Ellen - Brisbane, Australia
Well i think its a two person conversation u know,like in the first verse he`s describing the state he`s in and how`s he`s haunted by something wheather its an addiction or whatever its not the point,and he`s mad coz he needs help so he pleads for help (Jesus, won't you fu**ing whistle and Mother Mary won't you whisper).
and in the seconed verse its the thing that is haunting him maybe the devil or the addiction talking about itself through the whole verse .
Rash - Cairo, Egypt
Ian from new york was right. Adam made the video, look it up if u dont believe us. Who the hell are the brothers Quay anyways? But yeah, your an idiot Adam made the video, its really common knowledge.Kevin - Independence, Mo
"I fear that if i explain the lyrics all will realize i have absolutly no idea what i am talking about, and everything i say will be used to commit me." -Maynard James Keenan

Truth is that no one really knows what his songs are about but him. So open your minds a little more to what others believe. Because unless u can quote him on it, you are probably wrong. So stop believing that u are right all the time, and let others get a word in.
Kevin - Indepence, Mo
I honestly love this song, the sound, the lyrics, his voice, but...I wish there weren't so many different interpretations of songs by Tool, Maynard is a clever guy to hide behind a cape all this time, and have so many loyal fans...my boyfriend told me this song hadn't nothing to do with a drinking problem, Maynard wouldn't make it that blunt for a title to be "Sober"...the way, I'm taking this is, something with...religion, something with a love...I can't say that I know...Polish - Crap-hole, Poland
AAHhh... the whole song is about someone struggleing with alcoholism. "why cant we not be sober" is something that is asked when you wake up after a night of drinking, go to work and go through the hell of life, from being happiest drunk.Dan - Santa Clarita, Ca
When I heard sober 4 the first time I must have been little because I've felt like I heard It before...then the chorus just hit me, cuz It wasn't till about a week ago that I heard It again. The lyrics are crazy...when the song finishes... you start to see things differently. If you've gotten high, you can relate. There were times I got high and thought reality would never come again. Like the state I was In was eternal.
The perspective the song gives Is amazing though..especially If you see the video... There are times when you want to agree with Tool and just close your eyes and sleep forever. The part about Jesus... I feel like thats taboo to say things in vain like that...thats just my opinion. I've never done it, but then again I didn't have a reason to. Don't want to become a hypocrite.
Sinew - Houston, Tx
My father, my sibling and i had the untertow album, and always litened to this song, the bad thing is, everytime we would go anywhere, my little brother and sister would always scream "jesus wont you f--king wistle, Something but the past and done". My father always laughed along with me.Mike - Anaheim, Ca
Interesting!!! So many views, so little progress!
Maynard will never discuss song meanings so it's all a waste of time debating this subject. His songs are personal to him and meant for you (the listener) to draw your own meaning. Maynard love to play mind games, he even calls himself The Puppet Master...........

"I will find a center in you....I will chew it up and leave"
Dirge - New York, Ny
Wrong. The video was made by Adam of Tool, and man is it weird. If you want to find a good place to discuss the video or find out stuff about it check out www.toolshed.down.netIan - New York, Ny
The video was made by the brothers Quay.Chantel - Traverse City, Mi
As far as I can tell, the video isn't about anything in particular. I think a lot of their videos are just a chance for Adam to show his art.Luke - Martin, Tn
Hey...
Am sure u all might have seen the video. Can anyone tell me what is implied out there.. I simply couldnt get it

-Rajesh,Chiacgo,IL
Rajesh - Chicago, Il
Aren't any of you alcoholics?
It is how I really feel about drinking. I have been looking over my shoulder for 14 years and stay just in front of the shadow. I have ruined others lives and my own, as well. I will bring you down with me...Spiritually, emotionally, and mentally. Calling to a higher power as you see him to help you deal with sins of the past is part of the 12 step program.
Tom - Londonderry, Nh
just becasue it is a tool song dosent mean it has anything to do with anti-religion, this song is about drrug abuse, i dont know the specific substance or person but it is about not being soberBryan - Ft. Worth, Tx
In a 1994 interview in BAM magazine, Maynard had this to say. It sums the whole thing up pretty well:
BAM: What's wrong with that little man?
MJK: What's wrong with him?
BAM: Yeah. What's he looking for?
MJK: That...place, I guess.
BAM: Will he ever find that place?
[Silence]
BAM: Maybe yes? Maybe no? Crapshoot?
MJK: Crapshoot.
Brian - Mayfield Heights, Oh
In a 1994 interview in BAM magazine, Maynard had this to say. It sums the whole thing up pretty well:
BAM: What's wrong with that little man?
MJK: What's wrong with him?
BAM: Yeah. What's he looking for?
MJK: That...place, I guess.
BAM: Will he ever find that place?
[Silence]
BAM: Maybe yes? Maybe no? Crapshoot?
MJK: Crapshoot.

Go to toolshed.down.net for more tool-related stuff
Brian - Mayfield Heights, Oh
i think this song is not so much about drug abuse or being creative on drugs but just being able to do something on the spot,no phsyce up no getting readey, and obviously no drugs, none of the before activity rituals you might take just doing it, thats how maynard writes,i think he was just giving us a little insight to his workKarl - Auckland, New Zealand
I think the message is rather simple on this song actually. Tool's very adamant about sending a message to question authority. What bigger authority is there then God? Basically this song says haven't we as a civilization paid our dues by now? That so long ago when when Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit or Christ was crucified, why are we having to labor in life? I've oftened wondered this myself while listening to this song. Why do we have to work and suffer and go through pain in order for self achievement in life? Why can't we just sleep, drink, and just sit around doing nothing and still be happy and successful. It's as if life was made for us to labor through.Jack - Bloomington, Il
this is perhaps the scariest song ive heard in my life based on the lyrical value. this one's mean is beyond me but i still think its just about a nightmare.
yet still this has a great musical value. i think danney carey held no stops in making this song quite complicated and adam jones im pretty sure was literally offf in his own little world(like all the others in the band when they right) but gah . . .
Ben - Clemmons, Nd
Like all other TOOL songs, this song has a specific concrete reference that the band based the song off of, as well as a number of more subtle,layered meanings. Sober is indeed about a fellow musician with a heroin problem, but this is used as a platform for maynard to express his feelings on other topics. One is the inexplicable link between consciousness, religion, reality, and mind-altered states. Maynard, not a supporter of organized religion in anyway or form, begs the question, "Why do we conform to the suppressive demands of organized brain-washing? Is it really that bad if we indulge in something considered to be 'taboo' by the masses? Does their opinion really matter at all in our reality? Do we always have to be guilt-tripped into trying to be something we're not...which is trying to be perfect, sinless? Is trying to escape a sign of weakness, or is it just nature? And if its natural to try to escape, why then should we feel guilty for doing so? Are the drugs making us bad or is it society making us bad--driving us to the brink where drugs are used as an abusive dependent, a psychological comfort zone--rather than their originial responsible intent (in many cultures) as a means of spiritual enlightenment through the heightening of sensory perception or altering of perception altogether?" And perhaps, Maynard may be using sober as a satirical metaphor, equating sobriety with conformity to idealisms which would make you considered by others to be "normal" or in a "normal state of mind". Thinking outside of the box, or differently, would make you intoxicated or unbalanced psychologically. This underlying theme is expressed throughout the whole album, not only this song. In fact, this is a major underlying theme of nearly all of TOOL's, and even A Perfect Cirlce's, songs. Take Judith for example. Now as far as the infamous line "Jesus won't you f--king whistle something but the past and done?", this is Maynard trying to open people's eyes to how undynamic, depressing, and backwards many guilt-tripping religious (in his experience, Christian--specifically baptist) messages can be. Fire and brimstone for example or Divine Predestination.He is pointing out that the Christian message is negative in the sense that it is repressive and restrictive and doesn't encourage self expression or branching out from the norm. And in this sense being utterly sober isn't being sober at all. Religion, to maynard, is the drug, the dogma of the mindless masses. It's not even forward-thinking or subject to change, as nature is (nature is dynamic, always changing). How could what is past and done mean anything to us today? It is past and done. Do we need to lament about it forever? Why can't we live now? Are our lives that meaningless and insignificant that we always need to live either for something in the future (as in the case of our life after death) or for somthing in the past (as in jesus saving us because we are sooooo inherently evil and powerless to change that)? Maynard calls to attention all of these important things and nontheless, in a beautifully, paradoxical fashion.Mike - Oakhurst, Nj
The song's about an artist who could only work well when he's lit up.. and he's sick of people talking aobut it (the "Jesus" line). He's eventually coming to terms with it, but still can't stop... but he wants to hold on to it ( why cant we drink forever) because that's how he works best.Brian - Mayfield Heights, Oh
As far as I am concerned, Sober is about making mistakes, or bad decisions, and not being able to fix them;
Take the first verse as implying that (whomever) has become very self-conscious because of something they did, and they're going f--king mad because of it. Perhaps, they are coming so close to the point of insanity that they think that in prayer Jesus is prosecuting them for their sins, and they are trying to forget it ever happened. (ref: five stages of acceptance). The chorus delves into the "bargaining" phase, and realization of the fact that it happened. The second verse advances into depression; I take it as the chorus meaning that, why can't we (ref: sleep forever) live in a dream state where none of this ever happened. I don't know, I'm just giving my opinion.
Nik - Halifax, Canada
This song has been taken in so many different directions, so many different meanings. Many of them valid and very deep. I take it as a song on depression. It is a common stereotype that many people turn to drugs/alcohol for some kind of help through a difficult time. The lines "I am just a worthless liar, I am just an imbecile" etc sort of describe how you feel when you are depressed. And the line "Jesus won't you f--king whistle, something but the past and done" shows that nobody wants to hear more about what's bringing them down, they just want out.Tom - Calgary, Canada
This song is about the heroin user like dave said but, it also has a wider meaning. It says that if everyone were to be drunk or high no one could be persecuted and everyone would be happier. The line that says "Jesus won't you f---in' whistle, something but the past in done," has nothing to do with the angel of death. the word "jesus" is used in the song as an expletive, for instance imagine the line this way: "Good Lord, can't you talk about something new?".None - Savannah, Ga
Quite simply the best use of a bass as not only a rythym but a lead instrument, and probably one of the most recognizable bass lines ever. The loud pounding bass lines that drive most Tool songs, help give that unique dark image all Tool fans love.Brian - Paoli, In
In the bible the angel of the death was kicked out for being drunk. thats what the whole point of "Jesus won't you f--king whistle something but the past and done?" and the song is about what it says "why can't we not be sober"Crystal - Newark, Ny
There is a part in this song, it's almost the same time as the loud guitar wail, right after it starts you can hear banging in the background and someone yelling "Turn that s--t down!"Nick - Paramus, Nj
The song is about religion and how it twists your mind using the analogy or metaphor of drugs and alcohol.
why can't we all just be sober? is the question of why can't we open our eyes and stand up for ourselves. but maynard's constant fight between theories of reliogions and himself, he asks, "why can't we drink forever" meaning why can't he accept the niave and be happy with his ignorance.
Nico - Bay St Lawrence, Canada
Ok. This song is actually specifically about a single person which tool doesnt often do. This person was an artist who put out decent work but wasnt respected because he was a heroine user. Thats what i've heard somewhere cant remeber where or when thoughDave - Wilmington, Ma