The Noose

Album: Thirteenth Step (2003)
Play Video


  • This is about what drugs do to you and how you perceive them. This song is about someone who has had a drug or drinking problem and went through the steps to get rid of it. Once free of the addiction this person denies he ever even had a problem. The song is a wake-up call to people like that, reminding them that they did have a problem and they shouldn't just erase it from their memory.
  • Maynard Keenan got the idea for the song from a friend who said something along the lines of "Don't let your halo choke you." After hearing that, Maynard ran to Billy Howerdel and told him he had an idea for a song. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Jon - merrimack, NH, for above 2
  • All of the songs on the album correspond, though sometimes loosely, with one of the steps in the 12 Step Program. The 8th step is "Try to make a concerted effort to reach out to those you have harmed." Making amends. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Sydney - Lewiston, ME

Comments: 38

  • Gonzo46n2 from JustaheadofyouFirst let's clarify the meaning of the 13th step. Step 13 is simply relapse for all of you non aa individuals. Yes I'm aware that people trying to sleep with or take advantage of newcomers is referred to as "13th stepping" and that's because they're being lead right back out the door to continue on their path of self destruction by somebody that should know better. As far as the meaning of "halo" if you've ever sat through a 1.5 hour aa meeting (and I've sat through thousands) you'll hear people being condescending line they're high above all others on their spiritual hilltop. Many experience the "pink cloud" effect where they become overwhelmed with joy, happiness, and sense of accomplishment as their brain chemistry is attempting to re-balance and this can be to a fault when the individual loses sight of where they came from and who they truly are. When we forget that we're no better or worse than others we sit atop our cloud wearing our pride (halo) which can be blinding or, in this case, choke us to death. When I see people acting like this I know exactly what Maynard means by wanting to tug that self righteous assclown off of his cloud by his halo (foolish pride) and choke the life from him, but i can't because then I'm imposing my will and judgement on them which is basically the same offense that upset me to begin with by saying "I know better than you so therefore I'm intelligent and you're stupid". John from wheeling, WV pretty much nailed it in his synopsis and really there is no way to make amends to the dead. They're dead. it's quite possible that mister high and mighty in the song has a trail of destruction behind him that may warrant strangulation, but apparently he's too blinded by his halo to pull his head out of his ass and find some humility.
  • Jon from Wheeling, WvThe "drug" is the false entitlement and comfort of absolute religious certainty: This song is another of Maynerd's wake-up calls to the droves of evangelical delusionists who flippantly speak of imaginary afterlives as more valuable than the real one we live. In fact, there is no making amends with the dead- Because they're dead- forever; and the halo of self-righteousness the "faithful" claim to posses is ultimately just a noose that hangs them with when reality hits.
  • Kitten from ButtI always assumed this song was about a person who decides to commit suicide, being spoken to by the noose, I guess. It sounds weird, but I feel like the noose would be some sort of reasoning serpent-of-eden, who greets him in the beginning. "So glad to see you well". As in, I see you're finding your solution now...but...

    "I'm more than just a little curious, how you're planning on going about making your amends, to the dead"

    In this case, the dead wouldn't be the suicidal person after he's passed, but those around him. Because he is no longer alive, they are literally dead to him. They are as dead to him, as he is to them.

    He solved his problems,"casting his demons out", through death, or "heaven's help".

    He's playing the victim. He feels alone. But now he's dead. And now he's someone elses depression. In solving his problem, he's created new ones, and the noose is questioning, almost passive-aggressively, how he plans to fix it.

    I guess, In short, he's ignoring his conscience to solve his problems. And His conscience is passive-Aggressively calling him selfish, and questioning whether or not he realizes what he's doing.

    And then in the end, he's most likely done it anyway. The noose has slipped. And it's over.

    But then there's the twelve-step explanation, which makes more sense.
  • Marie from Allentown, PaThe album is called 13th step which is when people in a 12th step group do things they should not do, 13th stepping is technically considered hitting on newcomers (picking up people under a year sober).
    the song is about a persons hypocrisy and arrogance that has accepted god and so to speak, at peace with themselves, and has the nerve to even think that he/she owes someone amends that has left the relationship a long time ago and really doesn't care any longer.

    "Your halo falling down" is referring to that fact that this person is so confused and self important - "halo falling" referring to the persons ultimate demise because of their own delusion.
    The song is a power statement saying "you didn't kill me, I killed you by not giving you power over me" and acknowledging the truth in life and having humility instead of arrogance, and how people ultimately will pay for their actions.

    watch the live version of the noose on carson daly. its a real piece of art.
  • Christoph from Grand Rapids, MiThis song definitely isn't about drugs. It's about a person who made mistakes in their past which resulted in the death of someone else who was later reformed, and how we are "glad to see them well" but yet we wonder how they can ever makes amends to the dead which is what causes their halo to slip down and become a noose. Brilliant metaphor for a song.
  • Houston from Dawsonville, GaThe song has absolutely nothing to do with drugs...its the people. I know drug addicts that are like this, but i also know ones that arent. I know alot of sober people that fit this songs description better than most of the people i know that arent sober. Its all inside peoples minds. Greed and selfishness overcome us, and we dont see how much we take advantage of people until its too my opinion, the song is to someone who thinks or says their doing alot better than they were, but reminding them that
    there was someone they did something horrible to..and maybe this person is dead or unreachable.
  • Brian from Middletown, CtWell, having family in recovery, I've learned that the 13th step, is actually a verb so to speak. to 13th step someone is to take advantage of someone new to the program, and use them as your own selfish, self-fulfilling needs.

    Now to me, the noose is a song about about how many people in the program become sober and surround themselves with the program much like a religion, and by doing 'good' to others and trying to help people it is more in a self-serving way, rather then the good of others much like religion, where people keep up a facade of, well I've had this many benefits to raise awareness for the homeless when its really about their own stature and self importance.

    and soon enough they fool them selves into thinking they aren't the who they used to be, thus making whatever harm they caused meaningless as if it was never them.

    So back to the step program. as someone has mentioned before. about the actually following of the steps, to make an concerned effort to reach out to those you harmed. this is likely about those who are to weak, but self-diluted enough to believe by doing this instead is making up for that...

    Sorry I stole from your family, but I gave money to charity last year, and went to confession, all is well. I feel great!
  • Gilbert from Laredo, TxI've heard about the album being called the 13th step because of the 12th step drug rehabilitation program that some members of the band may have experienced. However, this all seems like speculation.

    This album, and the content within every song, seems to be more about political & corporate corruption, which led to A Perfect Circle's 3rd album--eMotives.

    I think the 13th step is actually the 13th step on the unfinished pyramid from the Eye of Providence, which you can find on the back of a U.S. dollar bill. This is said to actually be a symbol adopted by the Illuminati organization, to represent it's hierarchy of power & their admiration with some egyptian religion (the elite of the elite sit at the top of the pyramid with the eye).

    I believe Maynard is actually trying to warn us.

    Google search "Bilderberg group" & the "Georgia Guidestones".

    I believe "A Perfect Circle" is actually Maynard's way of referring to "A Perfect World", which is round like a circle (duh!)

    Depopulation - "counting bodies like sheep to the rhythm of a war drum"

    @Eric from FW, TX - I'm with you, man.
  • Laura from St. Louis, MoI love this song and I personally see it as someone having gotten sober and needs to work the 9th step (not 8th, 8th is just the list, 9th is making the actual amends). Also, I don't believe the album itself is about "13th Stepping". 13th Sepping (at least in AA) is a term for "hitting on" newcomers. It is pretty sick to do that and soooo not recommended. Telling your story is part of the 12th Step. Again, the step info is from AA, not any other 12 Step Programs as I am not familiar with any other. Love the song!!
  • Austin from Glendale, AzIt seems (on the surface, at least) to be about restitution within one's life. The person in question has to repent to those he has hurt, but making amends might not be possible with those whom he has pushed beyond the point of forgiveness.
  • Adam from Atttleboro, MaI think it could be about a person who overcame something as small as a drug addiction or even that of killing someone and doing time and being released back into society now that they have been freed and according to our society done there time how can they really make amends to the ones that they have killed? "But I'm more than just a little curious How you're planning to go about Making your amends to the dead To the dead" How can you really pay your do's to the people that you have killed is just doing your time really enough.
  • Rt from Honolulu, Hii think it's about someone like Bush, or Baltar on BSG. They try to hide behind a facade of Good, but they're fakes and don't even acknowledge the evil they've done
  • Shannon from Hamilton, Ohlol. "Recieved a hanging". lmao.
    I've seriously been laughing at your comment for like 20 minutes. haha.
  • Patrick from Halifax, NsA noose is a loop with a knot that tightens when it's pulled, like on ropes that people use to hang themselves. I think that when he says "your halo is slipping down to choke you now", he's referring to the noose's knot sliding down to tighten the loop to choke you.
  • Gabriele from Sydney, AustraliaThis Song would go awesome on Dexter!!

    I think too many people are taking their own experiences in apc and tools music for themselves. which is awesome cause it is art, but its also deeper than that..

    to me this song is about me being the karma that someone has called for by doing the things they did..
  • Dhruv from Delhi, IndiaI percieved this song to be of a person who has caused alot of harm to the people around him.
    He now feels so guilty that he pulls the noose towards himself and lets it tug him away, thinking it will make everything better
  • Lorraine Davis from Greeley, CoI interpreted this song literally. I thought it was about someone who did atrocious things and recieved a hanging. But I wasn't surprised to find out he wrote the song about drug and alcohol addiction, as many of his songa are about that topic. I love this song. It is like a lullaby to me.
    A perfect circle is great.
  • Jas from Nashvill,the beauty of maynard's lyrics are that they can be interperted in multiple ways. there's never quite just one interpretation of any of his songs. they are so layered that one person could have one idea about the song that makes total and complete sense and suddenly someone else will come along and give a completely different idea about the song and it too will sound as if it could be totally true. it all just depends on how you choose to interpret it.
  • Aldrin from Manila, Philippinesa dark song from a perfect circle...i love mood of the song dreamy guitars and accompanied by a gloomy keyboard tune w/c is perfectly fit to the song...
  • Andrew from Evansville, InOn the aMOTION commentary, Maynard says that this is about what he heard at a speech. The speaker said something to the effect of "Don't let your halo choke you to death when it's hanging there around your neck". He said this is about when people feel high and mighty because they beat their addiction. He is trying to let them know that even though they beat the addiction, they still can't forget all of the hardships they put themselves and other through. Beautiful song and one of Maynard's favorites. Check out the aMOTION DVD for more insightful commentary from Maynard and Billy.
  • Geeker from Snickers, WiObviously about Manynard's adverse childhood when he was addicted to crack.
  • Jesse from Fayettevilly, Nci figure this is about not letting the things that make you a good person the "halo" consume your life and "tug ou off your cloud", and how we need to keep focus on our original good intentions and not be sidetracked into poorer ones. thats just me though.
  • Mike from West Bend, WiI agree with Eric in Ft. Worth. Not every song has to be about addiction. In fact, what makes music art is that everyone interprets it differently.

    My interpretation is way different than most I've seen here...At first this song affected me because my brother died when he was 22 and I was 19. One of the reasons he committed suicide was that he was looking at a long jail sentence for drug trafficking. The charge came about because his "good friend" Travis narced him out. I always thought when I heard this song, how the hell is he going to make amends now that my brother is dead?

    Then, there's the story of my dad. He died last year after 14 days of hell in ICU after a motorcycle accident. This is when I really saw the underlying "religious" part of the song. His second wife didn't honor his wishes, he wanted to be cremated and have his ashes spread in the creek with my brother. She did so because she "prayed about it, and God said it was ok." She buried him and bought a plot next to him.

    I know we all make choices on our own accord, but the guilt complexes caused by unsettled business with someone who has passed to me solidifies my notion that some people are so full of guilt that they can't even make amends with the dead. I had a lot of "unsettled business" with my brother, and it took me a long time to grieve. I didn't make that mistake with my dad, our relationship was at its best when he went.
  • Ben from Lima, PeruI think this song has to do with Christians, perhaps even one in particular. Ive read in a number of places that Maynard was raised in a Baptist home, a Christian denomination that is often labeled, whether rightfuly so or not, as very judgemental and self righteous. I think it is pretty apparent that Keenan is not a religious person like his mother. To me it seems that he is making a point about the Christian being "re-born" and saying that cleaning up your life and following a higher power doesnt change what you've done in the past. He is exposeing the self-righteousness of this attitude. Like Eric said above, it could be referencing George Bush and the war in Iraq.
  • Andy from New York, NyThis song is absolutely perfect to put at the end of your playlist for sex... just try.
  • Kevin from Houston, TxThe blatently obvious overtone here, is that someone in his or her past, destroyed a number of lives, presumably through nefarious deeds, drunkenness, or drug dependency, but then becomes "born again".

    Maynard views this as arrogance and hypocrisy. "Jesus may forgive you, but what about all you've wronged. I don't mean to say I'm not happy that you turned your life around. Good for you, but what about those you had to hurt BEFORE you became a decent person?"
  • Rafael from Wildomar, Cathis song hits close to home ... and this is how i feel about it .. i had a friend killed by a drunk a driver .... its been a while and the person responsible is out .. and supposedly better . (and this is the part about the halo) but no matter how clean he gets .. or great he drives .. my friend is gone .. and while its great for him to be clean and sober .. my buddy is gone ..
  • Taylor from Tribune, KsMy friend told me about this and I totally loved it, anyways...

    This song is about the Thirteenth Step (also the CD title) where after you complete the Twelve Step program to free yourself from drug addiction, you are supposed to tell your story (the thirteenth step). The song talks about people who state the whole thing never happened. Basically, they need their asses kicked for denying the whole events ever happened.

    "And not to pull your halo down
    Around your neck and tug you to the ground
    But I'm more than just a little curious
    How you're planning to go about
    Making your amends to the dead
    To the dead"

    The person wants to remind the druggie about what he did. He is asking him how the friend will make his amends to the dead. Basically, since his friend didn't tell his story, people tried the drugs and eventually ended up dying whereas they could have been saved if they would of known about how dangerous the drug was.

    "With your halo slipping down
    Your halo slipping
    Your halo slipping down
    Your halo slipping down
    Your halo slipping down [repeated]

    Your halo slipping down to choke you now"

    This all refers to the punishment the person deserves.

    But this is just my interpretation =D
  • Alex from Irving, Txthis song is freaking the best, i cover it many-a-times, while driving in my car,
  • Peter from Ottawa, CanadaI think Yasas has mostly hit it here, but I'd add that it seems to be from the perspective of a friend who isn't worried and concerned about the friend relapsing, but rather upset by their post rehab behaviour. After kicking the habit they are now acting like they are some kind of saint, dissociating themselves from all the bad things they did while addicted and all the people he's hurt. While the singer is happy to see his friend better, he wants to bring them back down to reality and make them realize that they've hurt people and need to make reparations.
  • Yasas from Colombo, OtherMaynard says the song is about someone who's just got out of rehab in amotion, the APC dvd.
  • Hugo from Glendale, AzIdk but has anyone mad a connection between orestes and the noose ok i know that orestes is
    supposeto have this mytholigical story behind it but in orestes he says "cut away this (umbilical) reisdue keeping me from killing you" and in the noose he says "i wonder how ure going to go about making ure amends to the dead"meaning someone has died also in the noose he says "recall the deeds as if theyre all someone elses atrocious stories""like he is talking about an even that, that person caused well to me it sounds like he is talking about an abortion because he says that thing about making ure amends to the dead and he also mentions things in orestes...
  • Yasas from Colombo, OtherWell.. I'm not all that good when it comes to interpreting Maynard James Keenan's lyrics. As many of his fans will know, Maynard's songs are layered in meaning. So one can interpret the song in his or her own way.. The noose is by far one of the most scintillating tracks on 13th step. And what I feel is that going along with the flow and theme(which by the way, is drugs and rehabilitation in general..) of the whole album, the noose talks about a person who has overcome a drug problem. BUT, the person who is narrating is rather skeptical about his recovery. So begins my interpretation. The halo might be a symbol to signify total purity, enlightenment and or salvation from the drug. Maynard says 'and not to pull your halo down' because I think that Maynard feels that the person in reference might be on the verge of losing control over himself again. What I believe is that this person has lost all contact with everyone else because of drug abuse. He cannot go around making amends because everyone he knew then have broken all ties with him. Recalling his deeds as if they had nothing to do with him, I guess is is his way of remembering his problems without blaming himself for them. But, in the end all of his sins eventually catch up on him to finally bring his own halo to fasten itself over his neck and choke him to his death. Beautiful isn't it? Well... I guess thats what I feel about the noose. If there is anyone who might agree with what I say or anyone who is willing to fill any loopholes, email me at APC FOREVER!!!
  • Eric from Fort Worth, TxJust like almost every other song on the "Thirteenth Step" album, people are quick to associate this one strictly with a drug/alcohol problem. "Thirteenth Step" is a very loose reference to 12 step AA program, but just like everything else that Maynard has written, its not a direct comparison (for, instance,the song "Judith" is not a slam on christianity). "The Noose" can clearly be about the typical born-again christian who, after their "transformation", opts to parade around with an air of superiority while playing down their past indescretions as if they were nothing at all. It could also subtly reference George Bush (a proclaimed born-again christian) which wouldn't surprise me at all. A lot of the album has a political undertone and Maynard is a staunch opposer of the Bush administration. The line "I'm more than just a little curious how you're planning to go about making your ammends to the dead" tends to sway my opinion that Bush's war in Iraq is definitely one of many subtle inspiring flames for this song.
  • Billy Ross from Hagerstown, Mdthis is my depression song next to fade to black
  • Jim from Rogers, ArI feel like the song is clearly about a drinking problem somone had. Even the album "Thirteenth step" is reffering to the 12 AA program.
  • Dianna from Melbourne, Australiai really think this song is about a person who lives a completely diluted life and creates an image of perfection but behind their eyes they are breaking down and one minor slip up costs them the reputation they have spent their whole life creating. the words "your halo is slipping down to choke you now" create an image of an angel being choked by a noose under there own will; there's nothing to live for and they have been exposed for what they really are.
  • Jesse from Seattle, Wathis is one of the best songs on the album,it speaks of a lot of levels of the egos quickness to foget it's flaws and trials.
    one should overcome but never forget
see more comments

Editor's Picks

Charlie Benante of Anthrax

Charlie Benante of AnthraxSongwriter Interviews

The drummer for Anthrax is also a key songwriter. He explains how the group puts their songs together and tells the stories behind some of their classics.

Narada Michael Walden - "Freeway of Love"

Narada Michael Walden - "Freeway of Love"They're Playing My Song

As a songwriter and producer, Narada had hits with Aretha Franklin, Whitney Houston, Mariah Carey and Starship. But what song does he feel had the greatest impact on his career?

Mick Jones of Foreigner

Mick Jones of ForeignerSongwriter Interviews

Foreigner's songwriter/guitarist tells the stories behind the songs "Juke Box Hero," "I Want To Know What Love Is," and many more.

Marvin Gaye

Marvin GayeFact or Fiction

Did Marvin try out with the Detroit Lions? Did he fake crazy to get out of military service? And what about the cross-dressing?

Frankie Valli

Frankie ValliSong Writing

An interview with Frankie Valli, who talks about why his songs - both solo and with The Four Seasons - have endured, and reflects on his time as Rusty Millio on The Sopranos.

Artis the Spoonman

Artis the SpoonmanSong Writing

Even before Soundgarden wrote a song about him, Artis was the most famous spoon player of all time. So why has he always been broke?