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The Nurse Who Loved Me by A Perfect Circle

Album: Thirteenth StepReleased: 2003
  • Some possibilities as to the meaning of this song:
    The lyrics are viewed through the perspective of a soldier who has been wounded and hospitalized. He sways in and out of consciousness, dreams of this nurse who he is attracted to, sees how nice she is is to him and "acts just like a nurse with all the other guys." He believes that she is attracted to him as well. This helps him get through the injury and recover. The atmosphere of this song is really white and dreamy. The scene is like a perfect morning, light sun-rays flowing slowly in the room from the windows. (thanks, Kristjan - Tallinn, Finland)

    It could be referring to a drug such as ecstasy: "I'm taking her home with me all dressed in white." The white could be a reference to a white pill, and the lyrics describe someone reacting to it. They may not react to it like other people, but the drug is taking effect and the person can feel this happening: "Say hello to the shrinking in your head. You can't see it but you know its there so don't neglect it." (thanks, Ben - Lincoln, England)
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Comments: 15

One of my favorite APC songs. Its beautiful, light but has a dark side. I think what the man is talking about is actually happening. This nurse is in love with him, and he sees that but doesn't love her. He uses her for the pills, pharmacy keys and anything really. She's wrapped around his finger and he uses that to his advantage.Skylar - Victoria, Bc
I honestly think this song is a fantasy with a mentally ill patient and his infatuation with a nurse.Corey - Eau Claire, Wi
My interpretation of this song deconstructed is:
He is serenading the nurse in the song
The music is dreamy, meditative and soothing thus reinforcing the surreal feeling and fantasy

"Say hello to the rugs topography" - Staring at the rug and noticing every shape and crevice, being mentally ill and talking to it
"It holds quite a lot of interest with your face down on it" - He attacks the nurse and is interested how she and the rug look on the floor
"Say hello to the shrinking in your head" - Medical / security staff has given him a sedative to calm him down
"You can't see it but you'll know it's there so don't neglect it" - He is woozy and know unconsciousness comes soon after, possibly fighting the effects of the sedative
"I'm taking her home with me" - He has fallen in love with her and is determined to have / take her
"All dressed in white" - Her nurses uniform
"She's got everything I need
Pharmacy keys" - He wants to break into the pharmacy cabinet and get the drugs that make him feel better
"She's fallen hard for me" - Either he believes she is in love with him or this can be taken literally to him knocking her on the floor
"I can see it in her eyes" - Not listening to verbal communication when she tells him she is not in love with him and instead rather believes he sees love in her eyes
"She acts just like a nurse
With all the other guys" - She is just doing her job looking after people and he believes he is special or is receiving special treatment
- I believe he is fantasising this verse….imagining it
"Say hello to all the apples on the ground" - Drops of blood, a rather large amount with pools the size of apples
"They were once in your eyes but you sneezed them out while sleeping" - Could be a reference to her being "the apple of my eye" from his perspective or just simply because the red pools looks like apples. Now they are out of her body and on the ground from coming out of her nose while being either unconscious or dead
"Say hello to everything you've left behind" - Referencing the loss of her life and everything she was or had
"It's even more a part of your life now that you can't touch it" - Its more beautiful and more important now it is gone and everything that made her exist has been left behind out of her reach
"I'm taking her home with me
All dressed in white" - He snaps back to reality and sees her alive and wants to take her home with him
"She's got everything I need" - She has an understanding of him and knows exactly what he needs, like a carer having intimate knowledge of what their patient needs
"Some pills in a little cup"
He fantasised or dreamed killing her and now she gives him his medication to stop the episodes
"She's fallen hard for me
I can see it in her eyes
She acts just like a nurse
With all the other guys" - He is in a euphoric state from feeling special from the care he receives from her and believes she loves him and just does her job as a nurse with the other guys
"She's got everything I need
Pharmacy keys" – He wants access to his medication so he can tell the difference between fantasy and reality, he is dependent and can't do it without pharmaceutical aid.
"She acts just like a nurse
With all the other guys" - He is repeating himself, he can't get her out of his mind and starting to lose his grip on reality
"Say hello to the rugs topography" - The pills have kicked in and its back to staring / talking to the rug again
Simone - Australia, Australia
To add more

" I'm taking her home with me all dressed in white " is pretty self explanatory . He wants to keep her kinda like marry her..
"Dressed in white" means a Nurse uniform..

I think this is why he's in a hospital . It's a hospital for mentally not well people. Maybe his problem is that he fantasize/dream about things. ( The soothing fancy music confirms that).
Japjit - New Delhi , India
The song is about, the person's fantasy & imaginations. You can tell it by the soothing nostalgic music that plays in the background.
He loves a nurse, whose looking after him. He thinks that the Nurse loves him too (acts just like a nurse with all the other guys)
But at the same time, He also wants to get together with the nurse, since she has the "pharmacy keys". That means he could get loads of drugs from her. (someone above said it, quoting the exact he wrote)

I cant really say if he truly loves her, or just in infatuation since she has the "pharmacy keys".

At 2:59, along with Maynard's voice..There's a second weird voice whispering
"She's got everything I need
Pharmacy keys
She acts just like a nurse
With all the other guys"
It's his inside voice speaking the main purpose (Pharmacy keys)

And the song as a whole based on imagination. It's not really happening outside but inside his mind. Maybe he's in a hospital of mentally ill people..Maybe that's his problem that he thinks on hoping something good...This is a great and deep song..It's cheerful outside but full of loneliness inside ... <3
Japjit - New Delhi , India
It seems to me that everyone is missing the dark side of this song. The singer has attacked the nurse. She's face down on the floor, the "apples" being blood. Whatever has landed him in the loony bin prevents him from seeing any wrongdoing in his actions, kind of like a "Of Mice and Men" kind of thing. And now he's taking her home with him. Very creepy...Hooha - New Orleans, La
I suppose the whole infatuation with a nurse that an ivalid, painkiller addicted patient can develop is pretty much the subject of this song, so the most obvious answer in this case is the right one. But the instrumentals, geez, so eerie and soothing at the same time. I saw this band play in Montreal in 2003, and they finished with this song. I was still standing there speechless when the lights had gone on and the band was long gone off the stage. Beautiful stuff, one of my favourite concert moments ever!!Nicolas - Montreal, Qc
i saw this as a creepy yet soothing song like a drug twisted dream. I think that the song is being sung from the perspective of a mental patient who thinks that he is being treated special by the nurse when in fact he is just dilusional. I like the song but it also creeps me out by the conviction of the mental patient as he "sings" the song.Alfredo - Cranston, Ri
I definitely see the connections to drugs and stuff. Personally this song reminds me immensely of Hemmingway's "A Farewell to Arms" The theme of the song is very dream like and just seems to give off a wildly romantic vibe to me, which is why it reminds me of it so much.Ryan - Weed, Ca
its obvious its about ectasyNick - Knoxville, Tn
Rofl, I must have been on something myself, so think of my theory but in terms of Failure being the original composer/writer.Michael - Heers, Belgium
I've always thought that it was a something madman could sing. 'She acts just like a nurse to all the other guys.' Meaning the patient feels special and thinking the nurse loves him. In a way he might Tool might be critising the way they always drug people with mental problems. 'It's even more a part of your life now that you can't touch it.' In which I undestand the main character is being drugged and he can't help it anyway, it's become a part of him, but the character still feels unique. Then again, who am I to try to get through Maynard's thoughts :-pMichael - Heers, Belgium
Raf is right, yes. He also wants to get together with that nurse, since she has the "pharmacy keys". That means he could get loads of drugs from her.Kris - Tallinn, --
This is a cover of Failure's 1996 song from the album Fantastic Planet.Chris - Chitown,
Since most of "The Thriteenth Step" is about drug use and dependence on such, this song is about how it was convenient for the narrator to love a nurse who could help him get the drugs he wanted.Raf - Pasadena, Tx