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Stinkfist by Tool

Album: AenimaReleased: 1996
  • The title refers to a sexual act. In the chorus, you will notice that he says at first, "Finger deep within the borderline," then on the second, "Knuckle deep inside the borderline," and on the third, "Elbow deep inside the borderline... Shoulder deep within the borderline." Clearly, he's talking about putting his arm in something. He may be using this act of constant sexuality as a metaphor - possibly looking at how people will find something they like and then do it over and over again and eventually go on farther and farther until they can't turn back. Depending on your perspective of this song, it may or may not have sexual meaning. (thanks, Alex - Salina, KS)
  • The song deals with how modern technology tends to desensitize people and keeps them from really feeling. It states that only way to really feel true emotions is by experiencing things with other people; really connecting and stripping them of all their outer layers and really penetrating the person underneath that, hence the fisting metaphor. It also states how addictive and primal this is. (thanks, Tom - Melbourne, Australia)
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Comments: 76

This song is about a person wanting more than what they need. they want more things to feel alive, to fit in.Kristine - Weslaco, Tx
After looking up the lyrics to this song, I realized I'm an idiot. The part where he says turn around and take my hand - I never heard the word hand. I always thought he said relax, turn around and take my..... and then the guitar comes in. I thought the guitar represented his fist while speaking to a woman. But after finally looking up the lyrics my total interpretation of this song has changed entirely. Funny how that happens.Drew - North Branch, Mn
Wow! Call me old fashioned, but I don't need overt "stink" to appreciate covert meaning. Regardless of what Keenan says (he might actually be capable of lying, or of "hiding" what he means in an interview as well), the meaning of this song is right in the lyrics. "Desensitized to everything. What became of subtlety?" Keenan's point is driven home by the sheer number of viewers of the video. He can publicly ram his fist up your ass (after he pulls your head out) and you'll pay him to do it. Then, just to make sure your servitude is complete, he tells you to "chupa minha pica." And do you know how he feels about you? Disgustipated! Does he care? No, he's laughing his ass off at you! Your public humiliation has made him rich.Chris - Chizavane, Mozambique
From a different point of view I take the lyrics as describing Borderline Personality Disorder.Insecurespike - Herts, United Kingdom
Most definitely Drug Addiction, Maynard said it himself alot of the album written in perspective of drugs and recovery
can be any drug/addiction though HEROIN fits it best

It's not enough.
I need more.
Nothing seems to satisfy.
I don't want it.
I just need it.
To feel, to breathe, to know I'm alive.

*Addicts after awhile, especially heroin addicts who experience withdrawal, get to a point where they don't want to do the drug anymore they have to just to not be sick, to live life daily.


Finger deep within the borderline.
Show me that you love me and that we belong together.
Relax, turn around and take my hand.

Already crossed the line to addiction. Yet there is still a slight chance to turn back. Friends/loved ones notice his addiction now. Show me you love me and give up the drug for me, if it was only that easy. Or commit to the drug and make that your only love, seeking love it is incapable of satisfying.

I can help you change
Tired moments into pleasure.
Say the word and we'll be
Well upon our way

*the drug responds with a typical addict feeling: every moment is just a bit better, a bit easier, less inhibited, less painful, life is easier to face while high.


Knuckle deep inside the borderline.
This may hurt a little but it's something you'll get used to.
Relax. Slip away

*Further into his addiction, he starts shooting the drug. As an addict I clearly remember my first time shooting, the person who did it for me told me it will just be a quick pain you'll barely feel it it will only hurt for a second then no worries you'll feel great. Same thing here: this (the needle prick) may hurt a little You never go back once you've shot up it, the pin prick you were so afraid of becomes nothing, you do it multiple times a day-totally "used to" it. "Relax slip away" is exactly the rush of shooting you close your eyes and it sends this warmth of relaxation over your whole body. Maynard spells it all out in this verse.

Something kinda sad about
the way that things have come to be.
Desensitized to everything.
What became of subtlety?

* Heroin makes you numb. One addict described it as "I no longer felt pain, but I didn't feel love either." Once an addict is really into the addiction they don't try to hide it anymore, there is no subtlety it is thrown into the mix of everyone and everything in that addicts life. there is no time to get high(friday night etc) and a time to for everyday life the two are 100% meshed.

How can it mean anything to me
If I really don't feel anything at all?
I'll keep digging till
I feel something

the paradox a drug that makes you feel nothing but you feel so strongly for the drug, addicts get drawn into this downward spiral of in trying to numb the pain they create more pain for themselves losing everyone/thing this greater pain they try to numb bringing more heartache due to the addiction. it gets the point that they use the drug to numb the fact that they are using the drug. the addiction in part becomes a way to deal with the fact of what their life has become due to the addiction. what their life has become becomes so hard to face that they continue to use till all that they are left with is just themself and their addiction totally running in circles. use to not face that they are using


Elbow deep inside the borderline.
Show me that you love me and that we belong together.
Shoulder deep within the borderline.
Relax. Turn around and take my hand.

*fully emeshed in his addiction trying to find love from a substance that will never give the love one wants, the true love will comes from the ones who have continually tried to pull the addict out of the addiction. Its the dilemma: do i stay or go, will the drug promise to love me forever (he knows deep down it cant) or do i take the hand of those who have love to give and have not fully turned their backs on me yet.
it becomes easier to use then face the enormous task of getting ones life back, this could also be seen as the way addicts turn to god as a way to face the enormous task, relax and god will help you, his love is unending the hand of god.
Kimberly - Long Island, Ny
The meaning will become apparent to those who are open and ready enough to receive it from the Tool, and some peoples' interpretation will deter them from moving deeper into the experience that the Tool offer, should they not be ready and open enough for it. As is the case with all of the Tools' songs.

Through the use and linking of Geometric patterns and other mathematics, musical time signatures. Old school magic, hypnotism, prophecies, psychology and much, much more, they are the Tool, and whatever is using them, I believe at least, is trying to do great things in this world. (This is not the meaning, just trying to set the scene up for the meaning)
Brendon - Brisbane, Australia
I always took this song to mean, as deep as you get into the dark alternative way to think eg. the song aenema or 46 & 2. you still need to come back to the reality of how the world supposedly is. Him implying butt sex is just a way to say that when he divulges in material pleasures it's like he's letting everything that he sees as wrong with the world put its fist up there.Tay - Christchurch, New Zealand
Well apparently some here are not familiar with Maynard's statement about the song: "...if [you] really look at it and really look at us and who we are, [you'll] understand that we go a little deeper than some write-off song about fist-f--king." The lyrics are obviously metaphorical.

Maynard introduced the song during the Ænima tour saying that it was "about choosing compassion over fear." I've always interpreted the song as reflecting the concept of spiritual ascension through sexual acts but also substituting sexual acts for personal fulfillment. Connection, sex and orgasms mentally and psychologically put us in touch with a higher plateau. Sex unfortunately is often used as a quick, unemotional method to personally feel better in some way, either to feel loved, more fulfilled, useful, needed, powerful, etc. However, if we take the time to tap into connection and the spiritual lines between us in order to meld with someone us, it's ultimately a more fulfilling and awakening experience. I believe that is compassion over fear, taking the time to reach out and know someone rather than running from pain and using cheap methods to cover it up. Sex is a tool for both which is also what I believe the band's name refers to since they have so many spiritual and sexual-themed songs.
Rem - Dayton, Oh
The song is two people having a conversation. This song is similar to Schism in that it's about the relationship between two lovers. Maynard plays the feminine and the masculine role by changing his voice in between the voice and the chorus, the feminine (verse) complains of not being able to feel anything, feeling like she is a burden on her lover and that something needs to change although she feels that it's not the mans fault, she likes him as he is. The man says he will keep reaching deeper within the woman until he finds something, it is mixing the emotional and sexual aspects of a relationship that is dying.Mike - Calgary, Ab
I think this song is about how people will listen to anything - even a song about fisting someone in the a**. It is not just about fisting someone but it's about how he can write a song about it and people will listen to it.Rachael - Gillette, Wy
To me this song is what heroin would say if it could speak to its victim. Addiction to dope seems like a theme of this album. I don't know if its Maynard's personnel experience with heroin use or someone he was close to. I shot dope for ten years and I can tell you that the lyrics in this song describe the progression of the drug. in the first verse he talks about boredom and the dilemma that it poses,in my experience most people star experimenting with booze and drugs because its a good way to pass the boredom and monotony of school and adolescence. In the next verse he talks about over doing it but that becomes the only way you want to do it. Then in the chorus he explains plainly the mantra of any addict I want more ones to many and a thousand is never enough. In the second part of the chorus he uses the metaphor finger deep inside the border line which to me means your just getting started the next line is saying are you willing to give up everything for dope if so turn around and give me your hand. In the next verse he explains he can change any moment into pleasure just say the word and we'll be on our way. I think the next verse speaks to the change from sniffing heroin to shooting it. he states pain ad comfort the sting of the needle the the comfort of the drug. I can tell you that once you shoot dope you don't want it any other way. then he changes finger to knuckle representing your decent into deeper addiction. This may hurt a little but its something you'll get used to refers to you will learn to accept the consequences that taking my hand will bring,but relax and slip away. the deeper you get into herion the less you care who knows about it. there is something sad about the way things turned out, heroin has desensitized you to everything and you don't care who knows it what ever happened to subtlety. The next two lines refer to how can dope mean so much to you when nothing else means anything to you anymore, but ill keep doing it till I find the meaning in it all. The end refers to elbow and shoulder deep basically you are shoulder deep in s--t and you better find a way out because the only hand I'm gonna give you is to take you deeper into despair. sorry i was so long winded, that's my take on this song.David - Boston, Ma
This is the first song where I realized TooL likes putting multiple meanings in the song. The Line shoulder deep in border line,Could possibly be referring to a sexual act but Maynard wants you to take that in different meaning or look at it a different way. When you look at it a different way you could maybe find another meaning or teaching behind the songSean - Ontario, On
It would be just like Maynard to joke about it in such a way. The song has more to do with the things people want and the measures we would go through to get them. If you want something you know you're not supposed to get you would put your hand deep within the borderline, while begging that person to turn around and take your hand instead of walking away.Partiallyinsane - San Fernando, Trinidad And Tobago
During an interview, Keenan stated that the song is titled after a friend of drummer Danny Carey who "isn't afraid of getting his hands dirty."Tomislav Obucina - Rijeka, Croatia
The song is about anal fisting, and getting addicted with that. This is a fact you can't deny. But of course the way he talks about that addiction can be applied to all other addictions. Maynard's intention is also to help breaking one of the greatest preconceits in sexuality.
You are right brain he talks in Brazilian way of Portuguese. "chupa a minha pica pichu, chupa a minha pica pinto" means something like "suck my dick little one (gender: male)" This is a gay way of talking that is usually used when someone wants want to moke someone or just kid... Brazilians take that more offensive than Portugueses.
Carlos - Coimbra, Portugal
I'm not sure if you guys noticed, but Maynard actually posted the meaning of the song already. If you want to know the meaning behind this song, scroll down.Bubba - Reno, Nv
I believe this song is about how we are as a society and nothing seem to do it for us anymore. Nothing is fresh shocking or new everything is the same. And it become numbing.Kayla - Alamogordo, Nm
I think it's definitely about drug use but that's just what it means to me. That's how I relate to it.Michelle - San Diego , Ca
You can't literally get shoulder deep in someone like that without a little hemmoraging and more than likely a little death.Aaron - Wadesville, In
Most songs are metaphors for something, and a lot of them can have different meaning depending on how you perceive it. Personally I agree with the drug use theory about the song but that's just me. So just relax, turn around and take my hand...Aaron - Wadesville, In
I see a lot of people talking about how it could be related to sex or drugs (such as heroin). I personally think it could very well be about an addict and a lover. It can be interpreted in a call response style. It starts off with a person stating they are bored and they need change. He does a drug and starts doing it more and more. The other lover states he is "finger deep within the borderline" (to addiction) and that they want them to show they love them "relax, turn around (from the drug) and take their hand. He responds about how he doesn't want it "I just need it.
To breathe, to feel, to know I'm alive." I may be incorrect, however, I think its a good interpretation.
Travis - La Verne, Ca
Based on the song lyrics as well as video imagery My opinion is the following:

In my opinion Maynard speaks from the point of someone in regret. Someone that has decided to change themselves in order to conform and find what they consider happiness without consideration of how it might negatively effect them. This someone is looking for excitement. This someone can see themselves changing but cannot find the person the originally were and allow themselves to be controlled by their surroundings or "friends" or status. This song ,in my opinion, is about pursuing happiness and losing yourself in the process and ultimately looking for another outlet of happiness in order to feel comfortable in a current situation.

To me its about knowing you are unhappy and living in denial. That's where addiction pops in. I think this song is purely about addiction. People with addictive personalities cure addiction by being addicted to something else finding them selves further down a hole of unhappiness and regret. So they abuse their addiction more and more to make the pain go away until they grow tired of what they are doing and look for something else to keep them sane.

This can be any addiction whether it be sex, drugs, food, etc... The song is written to cover a broad number of situations, however the message pertains to the same basic root situation of the pursuit of happiness and mistakes made in that pursuit by looking for a quick way out of your current situation.
Robert - Las Vegas, Nv
My interpretation of this song is simple; intravenous drug use. If you look at the symbolism in the lyrics, you'll notice it "I'll keep digging till I feel something", could be searching for the vein. But also, "Lay back, turn around and take my hand," I know a person who shoots up, and that lyric is very significant to that type of thing. If you're using a drug by putting it into your vein, you don't tend to do it around anyone else because when you start putting said drug in your arm, you know that that's all you will ever be. "Constant overstimulation numbs me, but I would not want you any other way" that's almost a direct jab at heroin; when you're on it, you get that pins and needles feeling that makes you realize your body is basically as numb as it can possibly get. "Not enough, I need more, nothing seems to satisfy; I don't want it, I just need it, to breathe, to feel, to know I'm alive." Once again, addiction. Maynard was very close friends with Layne Staley, the lead singer in Alice in Chains, who in his last years, and in an interview, stated that he had gone beyond shooting up just to get high, and was now shooting up just so that he could function. So to me, this signifies shooting up a drug, especially heroin. That's just my interpretation though, Maynard himself said that there are so many different interpretations for this song. Could be anything. But that's my guess.Kami - New York, Ny
I simply think it is about a man taking his girlfriends or a girl's virginity and then after all he wants to do is have sex with her but she is not too sure about everything. In the song she is feeling the pain of losing her virginity and but the man is telling her it is something she will get used to. And that she needs to do it in order to prove she loves him. And I also think its about fooling around until the point your comfortable... call me crazy but that's what I get out of it.Raeley - Saskatchewan, Canada
Let's use some logic here. The "sexual act" progresses from a finger to the elbow all the way to the shoulder. The shoulder?!? The "sexual act" is a metaphor for something else, anything that you find relevant to your own life. That is how Tool lyrics operate. Look within yourself and find how the music relates to your own life. Unless your name is Maynard, none of us knows the true meaning of the song. And that's the beauty of it all. There is no one answer.Ray - San Jose, Ca
The "odd subject" is a metaphor. "(Whatever) deep inside the borderline...This may hurt at first but it's something you'll grow used to." Its about acclimating to things that are at first viewed as terrible, but it becomes so common that soon it's just like everything else. For example, the dance known as "The Twist" was considered super sexual back in the day. What about now? We have all sorts of dances that make the twist look like a Seasame Street routine.Justin - Ft. Luaderdale, Fl
Why must everyone think the songs are in some secret code? They wrote a song about a sexual act and that's it. A catchy one at that.Cisco M.f. - Andover, Nj
I totally agree with Mike. My interpretation is more sexual, because that is my personal addiction though! ;P Again, Maynard looks at humanity's addictions in general and everyone sees these references to addictions as specifically this or that. The addiction becomes self reflexive when you listen this song. He forces us to make our own meaning. I love Maynard!Maggie - New Orleans, La
I love this song, clearly about how our society has become "desensitized to everything" and how our society jumps from one addiction to another, abusing something until something new grabs our attention.Ben - Chicago, Il
I read all the interpretations, and I firmly believe the song is about boredom.

Each chorus is him stating that he's bored again, and he goes further into something, whether it be sex, drugs, or just anything. Then the next chorus, he says he's bored again, so he repeats.
Dillon - Franklin, Ky
This is one of the few early Tool songs that is pretty straightforward. Does anyone actually read the songs lyrics before they post? This song is not about any one act or perversion in particular. It is about feeling the need to always want more. The "more" being open to the listeners discretion. If you notice in the lyrics he starts out with the "finger deep in the borderline" then progresses to knuckle, elbow and finally shoulder. This could be construed as pertaining to the sexual act of "fisting" but in the context of the song its just a metaphor for the constant need to get more. The most telling lyric in this song is the stanza "Something kinda sad about the way that things have come to be. Desensitized to everything. What became of subtlety?" He's stating that overindulgence in anything is not good, that it's better to have slight changes than massive ones. Again the "more" is anything the listener reads into it. It could be drugs, sex, gambling ect... ect... LaterMike - Columbus, Oh
If you think this is actually about fisting you are a bit weird. I think its more of a love song going bad. Saying boredom is an undeniable dilemma kinda sounds like a relationship going stale, where one person always wants to do something and the other is comfortable doing nothing. I also think the reference to the "finger deep within the border line" refers to someone in a relationship starting to stray away like the thought of leaving has crossed their mind." I can help you change
Tired moments into pleasure. Say the word and we'll be Well upon our way" is another reference to ones spontaneity to just picking up and leaving on a whim. If you just look beyond the obvious perverted title of the song and look at the lyrics its pretty clear.
Roc - Cp, In
I personally think it depends on the person's perspective of the song. It is truly about Maynards feelings towards sex/sexual acts.

Others like myself think of drug use. When he says "not enough, I need more" and later on he says, "I don't want it I just need it... to breathe to feel... to know I'm alive" makes it seem as though he's addicted to drugs. which would make perfect sense, if you listen to TOOL'S other songs. Maynard is very optimistic, and with most of the songs there views on life are so different from most others so this song may have a thousand meanings.

it just depends on your mental capacity and whether or not you're a stoner. ;]
Rayne - Sacramento, Ca
I thought Stinkfist was about putting your trust into someone. The lyrics "show me that you love me and that we belong together. relax, turn around and take my hand" remind me of a love song.Jessica - Arlington, Wa
I think Maynard is taking about a drug addiction that keeps growing... till the point of no return. Hence finger deep, elbow deep, shoulder deep, from the borderline... just a thought.Christian - Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
I think this song might mean that perhaps people sometimes feel like life gets so boring and at first something small can help them overcome this boredom but eventually they need more and more. It can refer to drugs, sex, religion.. whatever. To me it's just a song about how boredom truly feels, how people very often say they are bored but have they ever really felt the boredom of life. It's a great song whatever its meaning is.Mnm - Fresno, Ca
Maybe Maynard's lyrics are to make people do what you and I are all doing now: wasting time. Listen to the music and interpret it in your own way.The1 - Nelson, New Zealand
What I love about tool songs is the soulbearing truth in every song. Going by the chorus, it is about selfish sex. In layman's terms; "This is what I need to do to you. Show me that you love me by letting me do it. I know that this will hurt you but I need it. Let me violate you for my pleasure. I need you to give me your whole self for my pleasure." Pushing your partner to the limit for your own selfish perverted pleasure. Less about the numbness of society, more the numbness of the human. Awesome song. If you like these lyrics try Ghost by Live on Secret Semhadi.Matt - Sydney, Australia
I think this song has a more sexual meaning than anything else but who knows I could be wrong.Al - Taylor, Mi
Some people have to learn to separate the literal from the symbolic and the abstract. The song's theme is desensitization. Maynard conveys that theme through the topic of sex, each time going deeper and deeper seeking to feed his appetite, the topic and theme go hand in hand. Furthermore, I like this song.Manuel - Puerto Rico, United States
I know everyone has different theories about this song... does anyone know what Maynard is singing about when he says, "tell me that you love me and that we belong together."? I don't get this part if you guys are correct on what the rest of the song is about.Brian - Altoona, Pa
I hate to break this to yall, I really do, but this song is not about heroin addiction. Especially one that Maynard experienced himself. Maynard has and was never been "addicted" to heroin, or any other drug for that manor. He said it himself in an interview with Kurt Loder.Andy - Lineville, Al
I've always loved tool, one of my favorite bands of all time. This song and perhaps Ticks And Leeches are my favorites.Casey - Lovell, Wy
I think its more about digging/looking for something. i.e. heroin. Maynard James Keenan is getting over the experiencing withdrawls from his recent addiction for the drug. He probably had a stash he's reaching into hence borderline.John - Seattle, Wa
One of my favorite Tool songs. Blows me away everytime I hear it.Kristina - Sioux City , Ia
"i just need it! to breathe!" don't take breathe as a metaphor it can be very hard to breathe when you don't have that fix or nicotine whatever. I say it's about addiction with a touch on sex.Jesterbob - Jackson, Tn
This song has obviously a deeper meaning. The song title "sells" the song as just a metaphorical (if not literal) description, the need to climb "deeper" not to get bored etc.
But the actual meaning(s) of the song go further than just a sexual act. It's talking about desires and addictions in general as a way to describe how society has come to not be satisfied by anything and we just have to got further and further to the point everything becomes pointless ("something's kinda sad about the ways things have come to be...and so on").

You might think: ok, this guy is using words like going inside the borderline to "mask" something as trivial as putting you fist into some arse and make it look like he's philosofying about real psychological issues and THAT is the trick Tool usually apply to their songs. It's like they're fooling you at some point.

Stinkfist IS talking about anal fisting, but that is just a medium to describe much deeper issues that go from loneliness, meanings of human existence, purposes and goals in life, even love. In a way, it's pure philosophy, and I think Maynard has this very clear in his mind when writing a song.

Tool lyrics often refer to religion, sex and self-existence questions to describe a state of mind, that can be applied to either an individual or society as a whole. Don't let the clear sexual connotations reject you, just try and dive deeper into the whole world of meanings these guys are trying to communicate with their music.
Guille - Buenos Aires, Argentina
I can totally relate to this song and i agree that he is singing about how people find addictions in many things for me it was cutting my self, the feeling that i was alive, the burn and knowledge that pain is living because with out it i felt nothing at all, dead, cold....somthing has to change undenible delimma, bordom not a burden anyone should bear, constant overstimlation numbs me, but i would'nt want it any other way, i don't want it, i just need it, to breathe, to feel, to know i'm alive....Ashley - Fresno, Ca
Wow, I love the song. I think the video for this song is really cool too. I love the ferocity of the chorus in this song, it's very moving. Wow, just listening to this song really makes me excited about their next album.Brad - Gainesville, Fl
Hmmm....I always interpreted this song to be about how ridiculous human beings act at times. The title defintely implies "fisting", as do the various lines regarding entering further and further as the song progresses. But the lines "something kind of sad about the way that things have come to be, desensitized to everthing, what became of subtlty?" always came across to me as "where do you go next"? You see a lot of people who get so hung up on weird fetishes and whatnot that they can no longer enjoy normal sex.....just one of many symptoms of people overindulging themselves too much. I always saw this song as a mirror of sorts for the ridiculous situations that people get themselves into in modern society. Furthermore, the next line is "how can this mean anything to me if I really don't feel anything at all?", implying that the experiance has become so normal to the characer singing that he's become numb to it. So in a way, it's almost like it's a comment on how so many people's lives revolve around instant gratification that they are constantly pushing their boundaries to ridiculous lengths. It's an extreme example, but quite a good parable as far as I'm concerned. But that's just my opinion....Shawn - Lansing, Mi
Totally drug related. Look at the lines. I can see his addiction talking to him.

"Show me that you love me and that we belong together."

"This may hurt a little but it's something you'll get used to"

With Maynard screaming back at his addiction ...

'Its not enough, I need more!!"

"I don't want it! I just need it! To breathe! To feel!! To know that I'm alive!!

With the crescendo of his addiction taking over ...

"And I'll! Keep! Digging! 'Til I! Feel Something!"

Powerful stuff. Maynard follows the same scenario on Pets on the Perfect Circle CD Thirteen Steps
Rocco - Toronto, Canada
I figured it had a lot more to do with the numbing of our minds via TV and controlled media. The chorus itself is like the introduction of a idea that would normally be seen as evil or negative in to the realm of our society, finger at first then as the ideas past excepted (elbow) then it is so deep its meaningless and ok. Bill Hicks again can be seen felt in this if you watch his bit about Reagan "f--king us" in one of his stand up bits.

On a side note, why does every song, no matter who its by have to be about drugs or sex? Even those the farthest from those ideas are totally branded with "hidden" sex or drug meanings. In a lot of ways I think that is people did not react like 10 year olds with there fathers playboy each time the hear a dirty lyric that the music world would be a lot easier to understand (and to listen to).
Jesse - Seattle, Wa
Maynard never had a herion addiction here is a Quote from his interview with Kurt Loder:

Keenan: I don't think the album is specifically for people who are going through recovery, although that metaphor is absolutely present. Many of the songs are sung from the perspectives of recovery: from the perspective of a person who is in denial about a loved one, and from the drug perspective itself ' the perspective of a person who is starting to realize that there is an issue, and of a person who is ready to deal with it.

This was a very difficult task for me, because I don't know what [drug addiction] is like. I drew on the experiences of friends who have gone through recovery, and friends who will never go through recovery. Layne Staley, for example, who was an old friend.
Sean - Milwaukee, Wi
You are all wrong! If you slowly listen to this song you will all understand how it actually means for people to try new things and how people refuse to but they just might take the time to.Andarra - Bergenfield, Nj
Yeah it's a reference to kinky sex. The song suggests that the overly obsession to sex itself; the desire just to get more and more and more, is in itself kinky.Max - New York, Ny
I personally opt for the Drug theory, or the idea of having to keep doing more and more of whatever stimulates you until you've sort of stuck yourself in this hole. But whenever I don't know what a song means, Drugs always come to my mind, so I'm biased towards a Drug theory. Probably because it's such a common subject in songs and probably because my favorite song is about Ritalin haze, but it was months before I learned that.Kim - Rochester, Mn
It's funny how you children spend time and try to figure this out. Thank you. But Stinkfist is actually a picturesque story about a heroin addiction that nearly ruined my life. The terms are supposed to be interpreted by one's inner mind. Example: On the new album coming out in November 2005 the song Intoxic's lyrics state 'but it's okay, you'll be forgiven, when you look at the reflection, of someone you vaguely remember.' this is about my first love. She started sleeping with another guy and the song is dedicated to this man. It means When he looks at himself he will remember what he has done and regret it. -MaynardMaynard - Los Angeles, Co
I think this song is about drugs. Once you've gotten "board" with something then you keep moving on to harder stuff and so forth.Meagan Wilson - Afton, Ok
I always thought this song was about taking a girls virginity.Bones - New Plymouth, New Zealand
The meaning of this song can be summed up by this quote from Kevin Spaceys character in the movie Seven:

"Wanting people to listen, you can't just tap them on the shoulder anymore. You have to hit them with a sledgehammer, and then you'll notice you've got their strict attention."
Johno - Brisbane, Australia
One of our radio stations called up Maynard to tell him that 'Stinkfist' was number 1 on our charts. He replied with "wow a song about sticking your arm up someones arse got number 1." He was immediately cut off. Very funny though.Mel - Sydney, Australia
It's about watching too much TV... the video said so.Jake - O-town, Ca
It's about how we learn, it's how we gradually numb ourselves to being "fistf--ked" instead of loved, yet how we continue to ask for more, not knowing any better. Quite a few other ideas floating through my head while I listen to Stinkfist, most to do with plenty of artificial (and superficial) stimuli replacing the simple real thing...

Something kinda sad about
the way that things have come to be.
Desensitized to everything.
What became of subtlety?
Ana - Sarajevo, Bosnia
This could also be about the same topic as Lateralus. The past the boarder line thing could be about exploring the possibilities.Ian - New York, Ny
I think this song uses a metaphor with two meanings. One is the idea of how drug abuse desensitizes the user to the point where they NEED the drug, and the other describes how society is becoming desensitized to everything once deemed 'taboo.' The line "Constant over-stimulation numbs me and I wouldn't have it any other way" sums these ideas up completely.Reed - Hagerstown, In
The song, to me, is about being desensitized to everything so much that you have to go to such lengths just to be interested.Luke - Martin, Tn
I think this song is song with two people (all Maynard but two people), An Addict, an an Addiction or a Drug. The Addict is saying

It's not enough.
I need more.
Nothing seems to satisfy.
I don't want it.
I just need it.
To feel, to breathe, to know I'm alive.

He craves the drug, and is fairly committed, he doesn't want it but he needs it.

Finger deep within the borderline.
Show me that you love me and that we belong together.
Relax, turn around and take my hand.

That's the drug, possibly a voice in the back of the Addicts head. Finger deep within the border line means his slightly committed to the drug

I can help you change
Tired moments into pleasure.
Say the word and we'll be
Well upon our way

is still the drug, trying to persuade the Addict.

Knuckle deep inside the borderline.
This may hurt a little but it's something you'll get used to.
Relax. Slip away

He's becoming more committed.

Something kinda sad about
the way that things have come to be.
Desensitized to everything.
What became of subtlety?

How can it mean anything to me
If I really don't feel anything at all?
I'll keep digging till
I feel something

The song changes tone here, he's beginning to think that there are other possibilities, and it's all part of his imagination, and he's really not feeling the sensation of the drug.

Elbow deep inside the borderline.
Show me that you love me and that we belong together.
Shoulder deep within the borderline.
Relax. Turn around and take my hand.

He's too committed, and the Drug has won. This is my interpretation of the song and if fits quite well, anyway cheers
Clive - Rockhampton, Australia
I think that Maynard likes to mess with people and makes things harder to understand so they can be interpreted in many ways....yes to some people this song can be about anal fisting and to others it could have a deeper meaning. I think that's the way Tool likes things to be done, some songs could be about something funny and at the same time be the song saving someone's life because to them its dealing with the same problems they're having. But sometimes songs are just plainly different and don't have any metephorical meaning.Chantel - Traverse City, Mi
I LOVE this song if for nothing more than the first 8 or so verses. I have the disadvantage wherein to be bored to me is like someone in my brain SCREAMING for relief. It kills me. It's not a burden anyone should bear. Hell, the first few lines used to be in the Flash intro to my site. Great song, though.The Prynce - Dillon / Hamer, Sc
My interpretation of the song is mostly agreeing with Brian. I don't believe this song has a metaphorical meaning for reaching in something, but has a metaphorical meaning for what is stimulating to people. It can or can not be about sex (for example, people get bored from the same thing when done over and over, so you need something more.) It can also be used as a metaphor for a single person or all of society.Jake - Miami, Fl
Disgusting subject for a great song. Right or wrong, this is best very, very loud.Julie - Marquette, Mi
I believe the song is about reaching into someone to gain togetherness with them, because you are in effect reaching into the person.David - Wayne, Mi
Brian from OH is right on this one.Dae - Paraparaumu, New Zealand
To be straight up front about the song... This is a point blank song about a very odd subject.Chris - Indianapolis, In
At about 2:45 into the song, you can hear Maynard whispering "chupa minha pica pichu, chupa minha pinto" right as the drums hit in the bridge. The words are Portugeuse slang, and I think they mean something along the lines of "s--k my d--k, b--ch."...but I'm not that great at Portuguese yet, so I could be wrong.Brian - Mayfield Heights, Oh
It's about the desensitization of society, where like in the '50s, it didn't take much to shock people (the finger), but nowadays it takes a lot more, (elbow), until it will get to the point where you have to use the whole arm.Brian - Mayfield Heights, Oh