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Nutshell

by

Alice in Chains



Songfacts®:  You can leave comments about the song at the bottom of the page.

It's likely that this is about going through life's path: "We face the path of time," and believing things that aren't true at some point of our lives: "We chase misprinted lies." It is also saying that at one point or another, you could wind up without any friends: "And yet I fight, and yet I fight this battle all alone. No one to cry to, no place to call home." You will have to do some things in life without any guidance. (thanks, Billy Ross - Hagerstown, MD)
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Comments (79):

Bloodaxe......ur an idiot!!! By this stage in his songwriting he was so deep into drug addiction he damn sure wasn't thinking about our government or patriot act. All he knew by then was depression, addiction, fear and anxiety, pain & torment. He was just basically asking people to leave him alone and let him deal with his problems on his terms. Apparently you have no clue about heroin addiction. Let me explain. 1st its all about fun & partying (hate to feel lyric -, used to be curious, now the s--t's sustenance). 2nd...it becomes your wife and she's not happy, 3rd... now it's become your God and he demands you worship him all day every day, and finally if your lucky he will just take you before out of this world before you start to suffer long. If your unlucky he makes you hang around being haunted by tormenting demons for years and years(exactly what Layne went through). Its rare that any true heroin addict makes it out alive.
- Justin Case, Baltimore, MD
Sublime, haunting, incredible.
Layne's vocals are so tortured, and Jerry's guitar perfectly complements them.
- oldpink, Farmland, IN
You must understand current politics today to understand this song. Bloodaxe you are exactly correct. This song is about how the government is controlling every aspect of our lives.
- oscar, calexico, CA
This is real music ... there's just so much of emotion in this song its ineffable ... you can just forget this f--ked up world listening to this ...!!
RIP Layne ... wish i was born in his time ..!!
- Praneeth, Hyderabad, India
Jerry Cantrell played a short but very nice solo in this song. he also plays an extended version of solo which I like very much. it touches into me everytime I listen to that solo.
- al bundy, ankara, Turkey
it's like they reached inside my mind and said what I felt

I'm a girl so for me it's more like candle in the wind before the song became so popular
- kathy, hilton head, SC
I was under the impression that Jerry Cantrell (Lead Guitarist) was the one who wrote most of the lyrics.
- Kashif, Houston, TX
great comment mario - you're exactly right!
- wess, moorhead, MN
i dont normally post on any websites regarding anything where people are arguing aimlessly but i had to put this straight.. this is a comment from Layne Staley himself when asked "What is the meaning behind this song?" Layne said, "What a song means is entirely up to the listener. what you as a listener will get from a song is the true meaning"
- Mario, Seattle, WA
To one of the comments above about saying layne had so much emotion that he closed his eyes in unplugged, that's called nodding out, during that time he was really bad into his addiction and from what I know they had to redo some of the song sets. The song is about Heroine addiction and what hell it is. One day at a time, for any addicts out there. Amazing song.
- craig g, detroit, MI
This song is completly about drug addiction, "chasing misprinted lies" is about money. as a society we chase money-trying to find freedom, which is totally not the case. fighting the battle all alone-a feeling shared by most addicts, as anyone with an addiction can tell you.
- fredo, brazil, TX
This song is about the media labeling Layne a drug addict and how his privacy is violated and has lost his sense of self because of it. Despite his addiction being public he still must 'fight...This battle all alone'

I imagine the song is called 'Nutshell' as a metaphor for how the media isn't really interested in exploring anyone or anything in depth, they are just looking to explain everything in as simple a way as possible. Thus labeling people simply as - 'Addict' or 'whatever labels the media puts on people. Essentially saying - "Here's so and so in a nutshell - That's all there is to them - Keep reading!"
- Bill, Toronto, ON
detoxing and listening to this song on repeat. fo 2 days! i'm cold. tired. and there are definitely wolves chasing me.
- Mel!ssa, Pittsburgh, PA
This song is probably not meant to be but its words are dark and touches the bottom of my soul, layne is obviously in pain and couldn't help his addiction that made the pain and the media didnt care they just wanted a good story which probably made the pain more horrifying
- Nobody\'s Business, Nobody\\\'s Concern, OH
This is one of the greatest songs of all time, bar none.
- James, Hamilton, ON
Any time i watch the unplugged live of AiC I cry. It is one of the most moving things to watch entirely. It is amazing to see how much passion Layne Staley had behind his vocals and his lyrics. If you notice in all of their unplugged acoustic, he rarely opens his eyes. Not like he tells why, but being a musician, I also put a lot behind everything I can give so I can sense and see all the passion and faithfulness to his music. R.I.P.
- Alexandra, Dillon, MT
this song is about layne's battle with heroin addiction. the line we chase misprinted lies refers to magazine articles stating that he was dead, that his arm was amputed...due to alice in chains long hiatus. layne felt trapped by his addiction hence the title nutshell.
- jeremy, kingman, AZ
sounds like you let your politics get in the way of your objectivity, bloodaxe. this song is about life the way layne staley saw it and lived it. bottom line.
- Emily, Indianapolis, IN
this is THE most beautiful song ever, and Alice In Chains is THE most beautiful band ever.
- Jacob, Rocky Mount, NC
I think this song speaks to homelessness and the depression of it. I can speak from personal experience: We chase lies of better lives, yet we have to face life everyday. Yet we continue to fight to exist. But we are alone in the battle, no one to cry to or to care for us, no where to go home to. You have no gift of self or privacy when you are homeless. I know I really got caught up in the feeling of ending my life if I could not live one.
- Lloyd, Denver, CO
This is like the best song ever it gives me goosbumps just hearing it "if i cant be my own id feel better dead",hell yah!
- rozie, Laredo, TX
I had the chance to see Alice in Chains a few times in Chicago. And I must say they where one of the best band I had ever seen. Being 38 years old now, they were one of the bands I grew up with. I have a whole playlist of just them on my project playlist alone.
- eric, Chicagoland, IL
I think the song is about depression
- Ryan, st. albert, AB
it has a personal punch for everyone. ive even got "if i cant be my own, id feel better dead" tattooed on me. i think that sums up the meaning.
- Whitney, Memphis, TN
This has nothing to do w/ this song but if u get a chance--download "Layne" by Staind. Aaron Lewis (lead singer i think)wrote a tribute song for him once he heard about his death--it's really great and sad :(


"so to me u'll nvr fade, your life u gave!
my life u saved, your name was LAYNE!!"
- Nicole, North Syracuse, United States
By the way--i am probably wrong as usual but I think the name "nutshell" kinda sums it up. Like your life in a nutshell. How you develop and grow and how we all have obstacles to oversome and decisions to make and depression, guilt, fear, addiction, etc in all of our lives. It's kinda all encompassing. It's just beautiful. The acoustic version makes me want to weep- as I listen to it right now :(
- Nicole, North Syracuse, United States
This song makes me cry-- I love the Unplugged version--and I have to say I'm very stupid cuz i have been singing the wrong lyrics for a while. I always thought he said "We chase this pretty light"... and "my gift of selfish rage...i'd rather see his rage"--i knew that sounded funky--but whatever. I still love this song very VERY much ;)
- Nicole, North Syracuse, United States
I believe this song is about his addiction and I think almost all of them were. That is not to say that his life was limited to his addiction, but more so I think it just became a part of him. Like his music becomes a part of you when you listen to it. That was the intention, to take what most would consider an inner demon and actually use it to create something brilliant that would be carried throughout time and remembered as something positive, rather than just another addicted artist. It was probably the only weapon he had to fight it. "If I can't be my own, I'd feel better dead" Maybe he's talking about the point you reach when it totally takes over you and replaces you with this thing that can no longer be controlled by the real you. You become a watcher and any memory of a desire to actually live has long since past. "No one to cry to, No place to call home" The body has been taken over, the people that were there are gone, you are gone. Literally the "gift of self is raped" I detoxed off H. to this song and many other songs by AIC for about 7 days straight in an intense spiritual experience that totally changed my life. I believe, this song was written about the things we subject ourselves to in life, in an effort to fulfill what we truly believe to be our purpose for living, in a nutshell. This band truly gave me a reason to fight, to run from the wolves through the darkness to find that chilling music on the otherside calling me, telling me to run for my life and never look back. Maybe that's just what I felt listening to it. Whatever it was, it was burnt into my memory, beyond the end time. Then again, maybe I'm totally off, I guess it could have really been about lollypops and sunshine:)THANK YOU Layne, mission accomplished and enough gratitude to fill up the universe!
- beyondbliss, New Orleans, LA
This song is called NUTSHELL because:

Layne is telling all of us we all are being led by "misprinted lies". Notice that he doesn't say "printed lies", he says "misprinted". In other words, he's discussing the Bible. How the Bible has been interpreted today has been "misprinted" from how God and Jesus and the prophets wanted it to appear. Christians and politicians "chase" these "misprinted lies".

Then Layne talks about the fight we each have with good and evil, and we do it all alone. Whether we engage in our vices, and they negatively affect others, or break the law, these are each of our choices. He is saying his "gift of self is raped", and his "privacy is raked", which refers to the government tracking everything we do, and regulating our morals, our decisions, and how our choices can bring bad consequences from the government.

His final lines are his complaint that Americans have always embraced: Give me Liberty or Give me Death. "If I can't be my own, I'd feel better dead." Layne was already warning us of the Patriot Act coming, and our loss of personal freedoms. He was amazed at Americans giving up their Spirit and rights to freedom and privacy to an incompetent government selling us "fear" in exchange for "big brother protection... just give big brother all your info".

Layne was a genius.
- bloodaxe, Lincoln, NE
I love this song. it makes me think of a lot of thing in life u have to do on ur own and how reality really is. i love alice in chains theyre so true to who they are: a grunge band and that is what makes them so awesome. this song is true just like most of their other songs, i have so much respect for alice in chains and layne stanley i cant put it in words
- Bryanna, Ridgewood, NY
RIP layne staley! i love this song and i can listen to this song over and over again. beautiful music and lyrics. if only staley is alive today...
- Stink, Male', -
Layne said somewhere that the song was in part about the media and how it treated him as an addict.
- Kevin, Seattle, WA
nutshell is a very sensitive and attractive song especially for heroin users in this song layne talks about his life WE CHASE MISPRINTED LIES WE FACE THE PATH OF TIME yeah he was really facing the time of he's life NO ONE TO CRY TO NO PLACE TO CALL HOME he was so lonely and there were even no one to trust cos the world nowadays is full of jives IF I CANT BE MY OWN ID FEEL BETTER DEAD he was suffering from heroin addiction and the personality in him that grew up from heroin is not the real him so he wished to prefered to be dead rather than living with a fake personality.I understand this song cos i've been facing heroin troubles for 6 years that's y i can understand what he meant.
- Elie, antelias, Lebanon
Wow!! Tons of comments!! Glad to see all the young kids into AIC. They were truly an original band. They were lumped in with Nirvana and Pearl Jam just because of where they were from, but I always liked them alot better. I still listen to their CDs all the time.
- Jeff, Austin, TX
the lines "my privacy is raped, and yet i find repeating in my head, if i cant bemy own, i'd feel better dead" gives me chils everytime i hear it,
it is such a bold and deep statement,
- zak, syracuse, NY
Bryan in Philly - Aaron Lewis in the Staind version says the "tracks of time" line but Layne didn't on the studio or Unplugged tracks. Turned down low I hear what you are saying, but turned up you hear "face the path of time"

We chase misprinted lines - A flippin incredible line, probably why it's the first one on Unplugged.
Peace Layne, we're snappin twigs for ya, I know I snapped mine
- Enoch, Macon, GA
Yo Theo in South Africa...I think he shouts out Neil Diamond
- Teed, Tyler, TX
this song is so relaxing.....love it. Layne was one of the most talented singer/songwriters.
- Hunter, Greensburg, LA
i (bleep) it...i was trying to say that i thing, when i hear "nutshell" on his short live.
- Patricija, SOD, Croatia
I think that the song called NUTSHELL because his live was relativ short! Nutshell means something short, if im not wrong.:) Well i just love AIC and Layne Staley! And the nutshell song is sow beautiful that i just cant believe it. It was the first song that i learned to play it on guitar. :D its sad that he died so early. i really wish that i could hear him to sing alive.
Sorry for my mistakes in writing , im from Slovenia and i dont know it very well.
- Patricija, SOD, Croatia
bryan from Philly, you are wrong, the lyrics "face the path of time" are correct. anyway, i believe in the first two lines( ....misprinted lies, .....path of time, Layne is generalizing people, so to speak, to illustrate how we are all connected, despite this he remains alone in his battle. what battle he speaks of is unknown to all but him. however, i do not believe this song to have anything to do with drugs. Many claim that nearly all of Layne's lyrics were about drugs, this i imagine would have been news to Staley himself, to find out he had nothing going on in his life outside of heroin use. If you'll look at Layne's lyrics in "Facelift"(which was written before Staley's heroin usage), you'll find them to coincide with the next four albums, as far as darkness( so to speak), depression, and a certain disdain with God.
- tom, harlingen, TX
The song is saying that he his alone, and trying to fight his addiction
- zack, zavalla, TX
I believe that this song IS Alice in chains.I think it is Layne's life "in a nutshell" and it is short sad and beautiful.
- spring, Fort Worth, TX
I think the song is call nutshell because it sums up the times in our life. They times when we feel outcast or alone...or even the times where we just have a fight and struggle to keep ourself happy. I think its about finding freedom ("if i cant be my own, I'll feel better dead") and just enduring the struggle that is everyday life.
- Dortez, Mesa, AZ
"The songs are about things that we were thinking and we wrote 'em down, and when you listen to 'em, whatever you think it's about...THAT'S what it's about!"

Layne Staley, 1995
- Jeremy, York, PA
I'm surprised so many people like Alice In Chains. I think their fanbase is better now than it was fifteen years ago when Facelift was released. I hope they come to Des Moines with Velvet Revolver.
- danny, Des Moines, IA
ditto to what renee said. i always have thought this was kind of laynes life story..what he did in his life, and his consequences of being famous, such as "chasing misprinted lies" like how the life was good being famous- and then winding up alone when he thought hed never be that way. and the media intruding on his life- "my gift of self raped, my privacy raked" and how he hates not having his own life anymore.

however, its just my view on it. even layne said himself that it differs all the time, and "whatever you think its about at that moment...THATS what its about!"
- erin, tulsa, OK
no one can truely know what it's about except Layne. I have my own meaning.. but it's different for everyone. Every single time i listen to it, i get chills. By far one of my favorite songs in the world. reminds me everytime i listen to it, how short life really is.
- Renee, kennesaw, GA
I think nutshell is his message overall. That he's alone on his journey through life, that we are driven by "misprinted lies" (religion, news, ect.) and that he'd rather die than live like that. Of course those things were probably mostly excuses to keep using smack. Still love you, Layne!!!

m - Idaho
- m, Beverly Hills, CA
This is one of the most beutiful songs I've heard throughout my entire life. Alice In Chains are true musical artists. This Song sounds great whether you're listening to the Album Version off of "Jar of Flies" or the version from their performance on MTV's Unplugged. It's an unbelievable tune.
- Mike, Falmouth, MA
can anyone please help me? staind did a brilliant live cover of this song(featured on their greatest hits),and b4 the song AL says that this song "was written by a fallen hero"(LS from AIC).someone in the audience shouts a name out, AL pauses and says "a different fallen hero. the audience laughs at this.does anyone know what that audience member shouted out?its driving me crazy!!!
- Theo, Johannesburg, South Africa
I think the song is about a guy who had a conflict with a crimeboss, so he packed up his things and fled the area. He lived in hotels and used rental cars to stay hidden. When the crimeboss's goones caught up to him, he found that their attack was not violent like murder, but something else. They would follow him around using tracking devices, and do various pranks and gags while recording everything using spy and regular cameras. They would even get into his hotel rooms at night while he slept, drugged him and did various things for their footage, in which they would compile creatively to make a humorous website for their selected people to view. One prank done in the hotel room while asleep and drugged, even involved a malicious gay man. -No, that's not what I think the song is about, but that's my f'd up situation, and one of the reasons I like the song a lot.
- rob, portland, OR
i think that this is the most best song aic has ever made! its a song that will make you cry to, relate to and listen to all day. R.I.P. LAYNE STALEY we all love, miss you, and wish you were still here!<333
- heather, new york, NY
This is a wonderfull kick ass song. Beautiful vocals and music. Alice in Chains is one of those bands that will be around for a long long time kinda like elvis hah
- Kelsey, Evansville, IN
yeah andrew you hit the nail on the head. damn beautiful song. i wish he could have got the help he needed. one of the best voices i have ever heard. hell of a loss.
- joseph, Canton, GA
yeah, i love it when forums like this, where a whole bunch of people tell everyone else that they know the "real meaning" of song lyrics.
The reason why music transends beyond the individual who creates it; the reason so many people love, admire, cling to someone elses music is Because it's relative to your own expirences and sub consious. The real meaning to any song is personal and unique to you, based on your own view of reality. what's cool about this is that we are all no doubt AIC fans, and they still can bring people together to express something, and share a piece of our lives with people we would otherwise never knew existed. pretty damn cool.
- andrew, NY
It's not about layne's addictions, it is about life's paths and I think everyone should listen to this song and look at the lyrics, everyone can relate to this song
- tyler, Holden, MA
No where in the song does he say face the path of time. "We chase misprinted lies, We chase the tarcks of time are the lyrics." Let's fix this page because this is one of the greatest emotionally driven songs ever written and people need to hear it right. RIP Layne.
- Bryan, Philly, PA
Perhaps one of the emotional songs ever recorded.
- Chris, Yuba City, CA
Really this song talks of Layne wishes everyone would leave him alone hints the title "Nutshell". In last years of AIC Layne had became very removed from the band due to his drug problems. It was hard for the other members of the band to get Layne into the studio and most of the last songs where sent to Layne via mail to Layne's home for the lyrics to be laid down. This is my favorite song of all times. Jar of Flies is a bad ass record that I can pop in and let it play all the way through.
- Brian, Rockwall, TX
this is my song. i think about life all the time and i dont seem to find as answer to this question, "where is my home?". this song talks life, its paths, destiny and frustration. i just love this song. not just the music, but especially the poetry in it. RIP, Layne Staley. wish u were here now!
- Stink, Male'
I think layne is singing about going through life alone and being invaded because of his fame... Feels as though he has an image to live up to but he doesn't want to ACT like someone he is not.
- Christine, Belmont, NH
Nutshell is a beautiful, sad song. I think Layne's talking about how the his privacy was invaded by the media. The famous Rolling Stone article about his heroin addiction was extremely disturbing for Layne. And the rumors that were floating around back then . . . Layne is dead, Layne is dying of Aids, Layne had his arm amputated from an infection that came from a heroin needle, etc. "We chase misprinted lies" also implies the people in general (including the fans) are to blame as well. For years, all AIC fans, members of the media, etc. wanted to know was the status of Layne's addiction. That obviously bothered him. He was quoted one time when asked that question as saying (& I'm summerizing) "That's a personal question . . . you don't ask those questions to people you don't know . . . why should I have to answer these questions in a public manor?" Lyrics like "My privacy is raked", "If I can't be my own, I'd feel better dead" tell you how he was feeling about all of these people he didn't know personally butting in his personal business. It's a catch-22. Layne's lyrics put much of his personal life on display, and were a big part of his/the bands success. But I don't think he ever expected the consequences of that. And the responsibilities. He also hated how he was pinned as a musician who condoned drug use. He thought it was just the opposite. Very troubled guy.
- Kevin, Portland , OR
Wow,what a wonderful song. The lyrics seem like they were written about my life. I hope I don't sound like I am trying to take the true meaning away from it. It just seems like it describes me.
- becca, hamilton, Canada
This has got to be one of the saddest songs ever, yet so beautiful at the same time.
- Jaime, Londonderry, OH
this song is not about layne's addictions its about the media and how people believe alot of what they read (misprinted lies)and how the media can ruin the lifes of people in the lime light tabloids, magazines, even news papers. There was a time in the 90s when it was printed that Layne had died when infact he was still alive.

rita think of it this way.. we the people sometimes close our selfs off to what is real therefore we are all living in a nutshell. We believe alot of the stuff we hear/read. So many people are close minded
- sarah, elyria, OH
i think it is a wonderfull song, i just discovered it about an hour ago, and i am in love with it....
- ashley, some hick town, IN
Layne is quoted as saying "I write songs about drugs. Why are people still taking them?"

I think that says enough.
- John, Manhattan, NY
Adema has a cover of this song on their slbum Insomniac's Dream. Its very good.
- Zach, Middle of nowhere, IL
This song is about being trapped in constant sadness with no way to feel fulfilled. It is about false hopes that lead you to believe you will be happy, but let you down everytime. the nutshell has two meanings. Being trapped in a shell of sadness and lies, and that these lyrics are "life in a nutshell."
- ben, weymouth, MA
This song is by no means about heroin or any sort of drug addiction. It's simply a song about misunderstanding and loneliness, and even by using a lyrical concept that simple, it's my favourite song on the album.
- Kiddo, Curramulka, Iceland
I think it's about how society wants everyone to fit into something and everyone then tries to then to do it, like sheep. He seems to refuse to want to be a part of it, that's why he "fights this battle all alone". He also says if I can't be my own, I'd feel better dead. I think nutshell is describing how he feels confined by the systematic surroundings in his life.
- xxnirvanaxx, N/A, IN
Beautiful song!! wow encredible!
- Cynthia, Oxnard, CA
this song gives me goosebumps every time i hear it...
- Reed, Hagerstown, IN
"...stop being so damn critical about what it might have meant to the people who wrote it and focus on what it means to the listener. that is who they wrote it for, is it not? (rip layne, we love you still)..." If you are under the impression that artists write lyrics and music to cater to their intended audience, then you are sorely mistaken. While it must be granted that an audience is intended (hence the release of the album), the lyrics that are penned are extremely personal in nature. Obviously, the reason that many AIC songs are drug/addiction related refutes what you have posited - more specifically - the admission of the fact that "...most of (the) songs layne helped write (were) about his addiction..." (parentheses mine) is a case in point of errant thinking. In essence, my post suggests that the beauty and the appeal of the music of AIC comes from the basal nature of the poorly-concealed lyrics. I feel that their music, especially because of its introduction to a mainstream audience, seeks to suggest the addiction-prone nature of all.
- Pedantic Wit, Madison, WI
besides, aren't most of songs layne helped write about his addiction? c'mon people.
- kate, billings, MT
i just think that everyone should stop being so damn critical about what it might have meant to the people who wrote it and focus on what it means to the listener. that is who they wrote it for, is it not? (rip layne, we love you still.)
- kate, billings, MT
This song is called nutshell as his attempts to fight addiction made him fell like he was in a nutshell
- craig, dublin, Ireland
why is the song called nutshell?
- Rita, sudbury, MA
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