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Jambi

by

Tool



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

"Jambi" is an Indonesian Province in Sumatra, which was once part of a powerful kingdom with a rich sultan who lived an opulent lifestyle. The setting reinforces the message that family and friends are more important than wealth... which is a great interpretation, but it turns out that this song was inspired by the kid's TV show Pee Wee's Playhouse, which had a genie character named Jambi (see him in Song Images). At a drum clinic in Kansas, Tool Drummer Danny Carey explained that when Justin Chancellor came up with the bass part, Carey thought it sounded like Jambi's chant on the show: "Mekka-lekka hi mekka hiney ho." Lead singer Maynard James Keenan wrote lyrics about a genie and making wishes, and the song was born. While it could appear to have deeper meaning, Carey claims it was simply a joke. (thanks, Ashley - Kansas City, MO)
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Comments (47):

It sounds like he's saying, "Silence Leeches, save your praise and Silence Legion stay out of my way."
Are they the Leeches from Ticks and Leeches? Are they the ones fawning all over him that he now wants to be silent? Or am I just wrong and it's "Silence Legion save your Poison?"
- Jim, Corpus Christi, TX
I'm fairly certain that Tool's lyrics are diverse. Being in the same addictive situation once that Maynard was, there is no doubt that some lyrics are based on addiction and recovery. Reflected in A Perfect Circle's "13th Step" and Puscifer's "Momma Sed". You can watch the video for Momma Sed on You Tube and there will be no doubt what the lyrics as well as the basic message is. I believe their lyrics through the years have changed and evolved with their own personal lives and personal struggles. Trying to figue out their lyrics can be feutal because many are meant almost on a comical level and can be a bit whimsical. I'm certain they don't want people to figure them out and frankly don't care if people do or not. All I know is collectively they are the best band that has come along in my long lifetime and I have total respect for their uniqueness. I think Maynard loves to play games with peoples minds with his lyrics. That's my opinion.
- Avita, Erie, CO
This song relates to Maynard's custody over his son. He lost custody due to drugs, tried to resist and quit because he would give it all away for him.
- Bubba, Reno, NV
it does say "silent legions" i checked it with a voice recognition software
- Sean, Norfolk, VA
I took the "lyrics" as the Sultan fell in love with one of the 'temptations' i.e 'collections' which did not wish to be labeled as such.. So all the rest he would 'wish away.'
- chuck, pueblo, CO
This is a song about someone who is stuck in the middle. He has amassed an empire yet holds a candle for someone. As he is pulled in the one direction, he damns his eyes. His lifestyle is swallowing him whole.
- Karl, Syracuse, NY
Everything is part of everything else. I've read so many theories reg. tools music and I find it inconceivable that no one really embraces all philosophies inclusively. From sacred geometry to our present day perverted version of Christianity and EVERYthing inbetween.....its all part of it. each lends its own fundamental truths to life....find ur own peace of mind, ur home, ur center and that's that.
~smokahontas
- smokahontas, bc,nc, FL
"Here from a kings mountain view,
Here from the wild dream come true"

He is introducing the song by speaking from the perspective of someone who "has it all" in a material sense.

"Feast like a sultan, I do
On treasures and flesh never few"

This person is only concerned about piling up materialistic idols and putting themselves over others.

"But I would wish it all, away
If I thought I'd lose you just one day"

Although he has everything worldly, he would throw it all away if it meant getting rid of "you." (He is about to define "you")

"The devil and his had me down
In love with the dark side I'd found"

He is relating this materialistic mentality of the world to the "dark side" or work of the devil.

"Dabblin' all the way down
Up to my neck, soon to drown."

He uses the word Dabblin' to describe someone that is digging into this materialistic lifestyle almost as if he is searching for something but the lifestyle is taking over him too much and he is about to 'drown'.

"But you changed that all for me
Lifted me up, turned me round
So I, I would wish this all away"

But "you" changed that all for me. Here is that reference to "you" again and it is positive. It is the reason he would wish away the fleshy outlook of the world.


"Prayed like a martyr dusk to dawn
Begged like a hooker all night long"

Half of the time this person acts very christ-like or pious but the other half of the time this person begs for this "dark side".

"Tempted the devil with my song
And got what I wanted all along"

Although this person acts as if they are a noble and good person he is actually getting all of the materialistic and evil lifestyle he craved.

"But I
I would
If I could
I would
Wish it away
Wish it away
Wish it all away
Wanna wish it all away

No prize that could hold sway
Or justify my giving away my center"

This is a key lyric of the song, Maynard defines the "you" that "lifted me up, turned me round." It is his center. Tool is a very spiritual band and I can assure that the center referred to here is not a God, it is the center of himself. It his balance within Nature and this experience, his connection to "oneness" or the divine.

"So if I could I'd wish it all away
If I thought tomorrow would take you away."

He would wish anything away that swayed him away from his center. He holds his center to a higher respect than his entire external experience.

"You, my piece of mind, my all, my center,
just trying to hold on one more day."

Here he clearly defines "you." He's trying to hold onto his center and not be caught up in "treasures and flesh."

"Damn my eyes!
Damn my eyes!
If they should compromise the fulcrum"

If his eyes should take him away from his fulcrum (a reference to balance), then Damn them. Take away his ability to see in order to restore balance within himself.

"(If) wants and needs divide me
Then I might as well be gone..."

He defines what could take him off balance and that is his own "wants and needs." If this does take off his balance, he might as well be dead (gone).

"Shine on forever
Shine on benevolent sun"

This reference to "you" and "center" is related to the sun. Like a sun, shine on forever (beyond space and time). Let balance be larger than your current experience.

"Shine down upon the broken"

Some people have lost their way. In order to fix the broken from their dark side, let their center awaken in them and fix the problem. Remember, the sun is a reference to the center. He's not actually saying let the sun shine light on us and somehow be fixed. The sun is within.

"Shine until the two become one"

"Two become one" can mean many things, but the short version is to say that the sunlight is the answer and will fix the broken. "Two become one" is also a trinity (father, son, holy spirit). Son (you), holy spirit (the light within), father (god state - oneness).
"Two become one" can also be seen as duality and oneness. Everything in this world is either a 1 or a 0 just like in the Matrix movie, it's duality (day-night, up-down, good-bad,) without it we would not have this experience. In the Matrix Neo gives up fighting his enemy and instead, lets his body merge with his enemy's. He gives up trying to make duality fight its other part, and instead lets the "two become one."

"Shine on forever
Shine on benevolent sun"

Ironic that Maynard references your balance to the sun again because right after the scene I just described in the Matrix where Neo becomes his enemy, Neo appears as a sun in the final scene.

"Shine down upon the severed
Shine until the two become one
Divided, I'll wither away
Shine down upon the many.
Light our way, benevolent sun.

Breathe in union
So, as one, survive
Another day and season"

Breathe is a key word here. Breath is the whole focus of meditation and yoga which are two great techniques to finding your center and balance within duality. If everyone is following their center, we all act as one, and we survive to move forward.

"Silence, legion. Save your poison.
Silence, legion. Stay out of my way."

Legion is a reference to the group of people still dabbling in the materialistic dark side. The people who seem to be holding onto everything but still can't find what they are looking for. Their poison won't effect the speaker.
- Eddie, Loganville, GA
Yah...I kinda just got into this album but realized that it, like other significant recording efforts throughout modern music, requires an investment by the listener to fully appreciate the musical, as well as the lyrical statement being submitted. I fully endorse the musical aspect of this album, which is next to pure genius, in my humble opinion. I do however, question the motivation of some of the lyrics, within! I don't mean that in a judgmental or harsh way...just that music this thoughtful requires complimentary prose. I have considered MJK's lyrics for Jambi and felt an overwhelming sense of spirit and conviction. Thus, without over indulging it's particular intentions, found it gratifying and fulfilling as a self interpreting spiritual statement respecting others beliefs. (Geez...can you tell I'm Canadian with that statement?). Cheers...Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
- Mike, Ottawa, ON
wow! so many interpretations!! First, if Maynard is in Recovery then how is he a wine maker? Does he not partake in his own magnificent creation? My guess with the analysis is we split ourselves, ego vs. true self. We bring ego into consciousness, into light and become one. I think Jambi is an awesome analogy for the message. Just my personal thoughts... Ego is all that indulges and participates in extremes including mind addiction, drama etc.
- Melissa, st. louis, MO
Does anyone know if there is any cooralation between Jambi the song and Jambi the place? Jambi is an indonesian provence that was, as ledend says, was ruled by a rich 'sultan'. like in the lyrics, 'Feast like a sultan, I do,' If you have any insite on this, please, do tell.
- Rachel Rogers, lowell, AR
I think its about a personal battle with the dark side of yourself. "In love with the dark side ive found" To me its a love song. About loosing someone becuase of your own personal habits or behaviors, or in this case, a whole other side of you. In this song he gets lost in his own darkness and wants to take it away so he wont loose someone he loves
- Mariah, Colorado Springs, CO
He is singing the song through his mother. she is talking (praying/thinking) to Jesus before her death.
-divide and I wither away
-shine down upon the many
light our way benevolent son
-breathe in union
Legion was a demon that Jesus encountered.. that part is easy to look up. The whole song is taking place moments before her death.
Personally I think the way that the song ends.. the way he sings "way" (stay out of my waaaaayyyyyyyy) has a psychedelic trail off.. this is the point of her death (her soul leaving her body). The next song is Wings Pt one. This is the beginning of her funeral. The song (wings one) ends with a "thump".. the closing of her casket.
Listen to the three songs together.. Jambi.. wings one and two. The CD plays like a movie. It makes more sense when you look at it this way.
- diablo, minneapolis, MN
Specifically this song is about how family, love, and spiritual well being are far more important that material things.
- Dave, Latham , NY
This song is open to interpretation as most of Tool's songs are, not to mention the fact that the lyrics aren't neccessarilly even from Maynard's perspective, but this is basically what I get from it. He lived the dream obtaining all the material possessions and women he could have wanted. But if he had to make a choice between material prosperity and losing his spiritual well-being,or his son, or whatever YOU think he might not want to lose, he would do away with the material world. He did a lot of things such as drugs that were unhealthy but was so wrapped up in these "immoral" or unhealthy things he couldn't see just how bad they were for him or what they were causing him to lose. That all changed when he either A. Lost custody of his son because of his behavior; B. Found "himself" through religious ideas found in Hinduism and Buddhism + most likely many more including parts of Christianity; or C. Whatever you think. I'll stop here because Tool songs are extremely well written allowing each individual viewer a different interpretation, and are meant for each person to derive their own meaning from the lyrics. I tend to see the lyrics with a "spiritual" tilt but I'm sure that's just a reflection of me and where I am in my life, just as others see completely different subjects. Plus, one of the reaccurring themes themes in Maynard's lyrics is how he wants people to think for themselves. If you truly want to know what this song is about: 1. Read the lyrics while you listen to the song; 2. Use Dictionary.com for any words you're not sure of, or to get a better idea of confusing words and those with several meanings; 3. THINK; 4. ??? Profit
- Mark, Redding, CA
In an interview, Maynard clearly stated that this song is dedicated to his only son, who's estranged mother will try anything in her power to keep Maynard from seeing or spending time with.
He claims that he would walk away from everything if he had to in order to keep joint custody of his son. He admits to indulging in illegal drug use which caused him to temporarily lose custody of his child, and was subject to court appointed supervised visits with his son.


His Mother is already dead, so why would he write this about her? If you don't know what a song is about, you shouldn't just make stuff up.
- JMV, Hackensack, NJ
Not adding to the meaning of the song, but... read all this and wanted to say...TOOL opened with this song in San Antonio and it rocked the f*ck out!!!
- Nick, Houston Area, TX
This song is not about George Bush, Christianity or any religon. & i don;t think anyone really knows. I doubt its about his mother he wishes were still alive or an actuall son. i think its about Him defeating the dark side of himself. the devil of himself. shine on Belevolent son idk know what that means but maybe it refers to being able to c the way for him to go the good side idk if all that is right or makes any since but thats a short version of what i think.
- Christopher, Taylorsville, NC
the words could be applied to so many situations or be about any one person or people, but it is a wonderful piece of writing
- joanna, FL
Im a analyst, untill something bores and i move on. This song has some very intresting meanings, or influences. "Shine on forever, Shine on benevolent son" always seemed to me like something of christian or religious lyric, relating to jesus. Benevolence of giving himself for humanity, and living forever, taking to heaven not by death, but by resurection. (Pardon my awful spelling and punctuation) Im not christian, and the 'convenience' of a religion disgusts me, people are so controlled, freedom of thought is fine but hardly anybody has it, i know few who decide how to worship a greater entity or spirituality. I think a good interpretation of this song is about humanity giving themselves away, giving away everything to not have to think for themselves, if the guideing hand was removed. "justify my giving away,
my center" "But I, I would wish it all away.
If I thought I'd Lose you just one day" YOU being control in general. "You're my peace of mind, my home, my center.
I'm just trying to hold on,
One more day."

Beautiful peice of music none-the-less.
- Gregor, Auckland, New Zealand
Wow, I have read the posts following the accepted interpretation of this song. Let no one say that TOOL fans are not heavy thinkers. From Political, to religious it is interesting to see the mixed view points. While I don't think that anyone but Keenan can truly answer this question. I have listened over and over to everything that I can find TOOL has done. Most of their songs require some thought and could be explained in a million different ways while others are simplistic and self-explanitory in nature. This song is like that for me. While not try to assume what was going on in Keenans mind while writing this, my take is quite simple. It's about Love and what happens when you get a chance to see what your actions have done to another persons life. Not being able to tell them what they mean until its too late to go back and fix the things that you've done wrong. Putting importance on something that in the end will mean nothing all the while fighting the demons that everyone has inside. But its also about the hope that once you've seen the error of your ways you can be redeemed. Once again being accepted by the person you long to be beside.
- Boudicca, Mission, BC
this song is about my palis running into battle in a ferocious calvary charge and caining but aslo sustaining heavy casualties
- Defy, wellington, New Zealand
This song does mean alot to Maynard. I didn't expect everyone to know where Jambi was and its rich history. Good talk in here. Everything that needed to be said has pretty much been said. So it's all good.
- Ian, Larksville, PA
this forum has a nice discussion. i like that people are thinking hard about this song. sounds like there is a consensus about the beginning of the song but i have a couple of quick points you might consider about the rest of the song:

ryan is correct that the lyric is "silence legion." Legion is the name of a demon talked about in the New Testament of the Bible. there is a famous story where Jesus asks the demon inside a possessed man to identify itself and it replies "my name is legion, for we are many" indicating that the man was occupied by multiple demons. Knowing that i think the meaning becomes obvious. He is commanding Legion to be silent and stay out his way as if the demon/demons are tormenting him with evil temptations (poison). He is ending the song with another affirmation that he will resist these temptations that took him over in his past. to illustrate this he ends with a rebuke of a biblical demon.

the lyric is "damn my eyes if they should compromise our fulcrum." he immediately follows with "if want and need divide me then i might as well be gone" taken together these lines are saying that seeing all of the temptations of his past tip the balance towards his want of sinful pleasures making his spiritual need to be a good man harder to reach. if he cant reconcile his actual desires with the man he wants to be he might as well be gone. ill pose a question from my own thoughts on this matter: do truly good men even have these temptations or are they godly without the constant struggle to resist sin? you are at peace when evil does not tempt you.

it seems the song may be to another person who gives him the strength to resist evil temptations.
- clone-13, nowhere, AL
TOOL is definately into spirituality and the song jambi and its meaning are discussed in an interview, july 2006 on toolband.com site. MJK is in recovery and the 1st thing in recovery is always GOD or a HIGHER POWER. A Perfect Circle, all recovery related. If you are like MJK and myself, u know all too well what he sings of, and the lyrics and meaning are 2 easy to NOT "get it". _countess
- countess, austin, TX
Hello Everyone. I just wanted to make a suggestion. I have been studying and listening to Maynard's lyrics since TOOL was established and the one thing I can say confidently is that many of Maynard's writings pertain to more than one meaning thats the uniqueness of such a gifted individual.
- Jonathan, St. Louis, MO
Mike from Columbus....
said "Many people mistakenly think that because of some of the things that Maynard says that he is against religion "

Tool is probably one of the most heavily religiously influenced bands around. Obviously not your Sunday church-goers. But anyone who thinks they aren't dabbling with spirituality really ought to take a closer look at their music.
- Harold, carlisle, PA
First off, (Steve) "Judith" is not a "slam" against his mother. It is about him questioning why such a good person (his mother) who in his eyes never lied, never killed, basically did everything right in her life was still struck down by "God" when she was paralyzed from a stroke roughly "10,000" days before she died. Three songs on 10,000 days refer to his relationship with his mother. Jambi, 10,000 days and Wings for Marie. In Jambi, he is using the metaphor of being the king who had everything ala a nice home mountain view and pleasures of the flesh basically everything a rock star could want including the "wild dream coming true", "having a band make it big". He is saying that even with all that he would give it up in a second if he could spend just one more day with his mom before she passed away. This is further backed up by the line "The devil and his had me down In love with the dark side I've found
Dabblin' all the way down Up to my neck soon to drown". He is stating that his mom in his eyes has saved him from all the bad things that he was doing. Many people mistakenly think that because of some of the things that Maynard says that he is against religion but if you read his interview on http://toolshed.down.net/opinion/ he is more against the control of religion and people not thinking for themselves. Previous Tool albums were a lot harder to decipher the meanings to the lyrics. With 10,000 days I think it is really evident how much losing his mother impacted his life. Most of the other songs on this album are pretty straight forward too. Later
- mike, columbus, OH
I always believed this song was about his son but there are things that don't match, mostly the last part. "Breathe in union. So as one survive. Another day and season.
Silence leech, and save your poison. Silence leech, and stay out of my way."
This seems to imply working together against something that will surely destroy. I then read Ben's post about it being about Bush and his father. Which makes sense considering he mentions Jambi a place ruled by a king whom was selected from a royal family and was corrupted by greed. Sounds like someone undeserving getting the throne cause of his heritage. And then there's the line Silence leech. Maybe it means that Bush is a puppet thats hurting us by living the good life himself while doing little for the people in actual need of help. So it would seem like the start of the song is from Bush's perspective and how he feels he has changed for the better while the last part shows that he's more dangerous now. I don't think I'm right about this but the last passage has always confused me but was my favorite part of the song and seemed to carry the most power full message and this explains it better to me than any way I've seen it before. I also don't mean to be offensive to Bush but where I live there is a hugely negative view on his politics.
- Altus, Cape Town, South Africa
First of all, there is absolutley no way this song is about his mother. Have you heard the song Judith? Another slam on his mother appears on his Puscifer song the Undertaker, not to mention lots of other references to her. Anyways, this song is clearly about someone he loves deeply. It may be his son, I guess the only person that knows is Maynard himself. I think it goes along the same lines as the Grudge and the Patient. I think it's safe to say something horrible happened to a loved one and he wanted to convey feelings while keeping it private.
- steve, olathe, KS
-I would wish it all away,
if I THOUGHT I'd lose you just one day-
Keenan would have given all his fame away if he had thought that he would have lost her one day. He probably hadn't thought or been prepared for her death, thus not giving him time to do everything in his power to keep her with him. Either way, weither the song is about his mom, his son, or anything completly different, it's one of my favorite songs. Keenan is one of the best singers of today, along with James of Metallica.
- Lauren, Boynton Beach, FL
Am I the only one who thinks it sounds like "silently just say your prayers and silently just stay out of my way"?
- steven, orlando, FL
I agree with the guy below me it has to be about his son because he doesn't say he would give all his fame away to get his mother back but it states that "i would give it all away i thought i would lose YOU just one day"
- joel, Carrollton, GA
Listening to the song/lyrics, being about his mother doesnt really make sense. I think this song is about his son. I think the lyrics are saying he was a much angrier/darker person before his son was born, and after he was, he had to change for him to set an example. His son saved him from drowning in the dark side, so therefore, he would wish all his fame/fortune away so he doesnt lose him.

just my 2 cents
- Addy, Toledo, OH
I think that in the song Jambi his mother dies and he is torn in two and has kind of two sides a dark side and a newer side that involves being loyal towards god and he is trying to silence the bad side and become one and he is trying to become whole again. A dealth can be very detrimental to someone especially when the dealth was a result of the ongoing suffering of that person. His mother was suffering for a long time. To see someone suffering so bad and you cant do a thing about makes you go mad. Its a very good album
- denise, tucson, AZ
I think the 10000 days album is a very good album and jambi is awesomw. People when listening to this cd should be aware that he is dealing with his mothers death and he obviously thought very highly of her. Yes this cd is going to be different and yes he is going to be a little different after this death.
- denise, tucson, AZ
I absolutely love this song, and I think I understand the meaning pretty well, but I want to break it down and see what other people think. (And also, the comment saying that this is about GW is rediculous.)---

The first verse is basically just saying that he's had a good life. King's mountain view, wild dream come true, treasures of flesh never few. He's saying he lives a good life, at least with respect to material possesions. Then he says he'd give it all up to stay with "you".---

The next verse says "the devil and his had me down". This is trying to say that he got tied up in the "dark side", or that his life had gotten on a track that he wasn't proud of. I think he means that he became greedy and focused on material happiness. He says that "you" changed that all for him. Saying that this "you" got him back on the right track.---

The third verse seems to be about him "praying" and "begging" to get out of the mess he was in. I don't understand this line though: "Tempted the devil with my song, and got what I wanted all along." It seems like he's saying he found a way out, or maybe that he found happiness (what he wanted all along, though in different forms?), but I don't know what he's implying that he tempted the devil with.---

Then he says what I think is the most important line in the whole song, and I think the lyrics here have it wrong. "Dim my eyes if they should compromise or fulcrum want and need. If I need this I might as well be gone." (What's written in the lyrics here just doesn't make sense grammatically.) With the first sentence, he's saying he wants to "dim his eyes" if they cause him to "compromise or fulcrum want and need". Basically, he's saying that there's a balance between want and need, and if his eyes (greed) unbalance them, he wants to ignore them to help him stay on track. Then he says "If I need this I might as well be gone." I think he means that if the material possesions become what he needs (instead of "you") then there's no point in living anymore.---

Also, to me it does sound like "Silence legion, save your poison. Silence legion, stay out of my way." Basically, I think he's speaking to the devil and demons saying that he doesn't need them anymore because he's found what's really important to him.---

The whole song seems to be about being willing to give up all possessions to keep what's really important near you. In this case, I think it's his mother, though that's really up for interpretation as it doesn't seem to be clearly stated.
- Ryan, Lansing, MI
One quick correction. I may be wrong about Maynard ridiculing Jesus on stage playing Sober in the early 90's. If it is indeed true that the song is about Judas betraying Jesus, then perhaps Maynard was recognizing that fact. The video clip on Google posted by "Some guy in the crowd" shows a man dressed a Jesus stand up behind Maynard for about 20 seconds in a crucified position. I've never heard report of Maynard speaking out directly against Jesus or God. Sorry, Dan.
- Daniel, Bridgeport, WV
To me it doesn't seem like he is saying "silent leech" but more of "silently".
- Chris, Monticello, KY
The song is written in iambic pentameter, hece the name jambi. If you think I'm wrong, go check out toolband.com's July newsletter. BTW jambi is finnish for iambic pentameter.
- Yasas, Colombo, Other
I heard Tool got the title of the song because the character, Jambi, on Pee Wee's Playhouse always grants wishes and in this song, Maynard talks about how he would "wish it all away." I think it's just kind of a cool play on words.
- Elaine, Spokane, WA
Yeah, the song title and Pee-wee's playhouse don't mix, and it's hard for me not to think of pee-wee when I hear Jambi.
- Ashley, Moncton, Canada
Interesting side note. Jambi was the name of the genie on pee wee's play house.
- Ryan, Sheridan, WY
if the song is truely in fact about his mother's death, then the silent leech would be about what was killing her. if its about politics, then it could be that whats been going on is killing him inside.
- Dan, Santa Clarita, CA
This song is about the relationship between George W. Bush and his father. W was in love with the darkside, drugs and alcohol, then his father pointed him toward politics where he gave it all up,prayed like a martar, begged like a hook and sang to the devil. He got to be president and all he wants is union. And his legions need to save there poison to create it and their is nothing they can only stay out of his way.
- Ben, Baton Rouge, LA
10,000 Days is probably one of Tool's best albums. It took a lot of listening for me to think that though. A lot of songs on the record talk about MJK's mother in a nice way, which give them more peaceful meanings and feelings. This is rather unusual for Tool, considering their topics are usually just the opposite... but still an amazing CD!
- Fremont, Concord, NH
I'm kind of confused by the silence leech part. Seems a bit wierd.
- George, Hell, PA
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