Guitarist Jerry Cantrell wrote this about the love of his life, Courtney Clarke. This song encompasses all of the insecurities and self-doubt inherent in a relationship.
With singer Layne Staley singing the lyrics, this could be seen as a foreshadowing of his death from a drug overdose. He had been fighting his addiction for years, and this song can be read as part of his struggle with that.
In the liner notes of 1999's Music Bank box set, Jerry Cantrell dedicated the song to Courtney Clarke, his "long-time love." He wrote: "It's the reality of my life, the path I've chosen and in a weird way it kind of foretold where we are right now. It's hard for us to both understand... that this life is not conducive to much success with long-term relationships."
This was released as a single with "Rooster," another song similar to it in style, in that they both feature harmonizing between Staley and Cantrell - the softer acoustic side of the band.
On most versions of the album, this is fourth on the track list. However, there are some versions on which it appears 12th, right before the album closer "Would?"
A version of this also appears on the Unplugged album that was recorded and released in 1996, after Alice In Chains' three-year absence from live performances.
The song reached #10 on the Billboard Mainstream Rock chart.
Snufftherooster from UkGrew up with this. Got me through some dark times then and helps me with them now. As a kid in the 90s I liked other bands too - Faith No More, Soundgarden, Pearl Jam, Nirvana, Smashing Pumpkins, Dinosar Jnr, Hole, Sonic Youth etc etc but none have stayed with me like this band - in particular, this guy. His gnarl, his tone - so unique especially when listening to the vanilla s--t these days. Layne Staley is so underappreciated because people get hung up on the heroin thing but you can't sing about this stuff and be a clean living sports freak. The more I read about Layne the more I like the guy and being down in a hole, his music is still a source of comfort.
Brandi Pooler from South DakotaI have read through many of the comments on this song and Alice in Chains in general, particularly comments on Layne Staley. Today is the 23rd anniversary of the release if Down in a Hole. I have a lot of respect for this song as I do pretty much all of their songs. However, I have spoken to many people that this song has been soothing in tough times; whether it be depression, a bad break up, feeling in a rut, and actually just being human. Like Layne said, "When you listen to our songs, whatever you think it's about...that's what it's about". Yes, they had reasons for writing each song personally, but the lyrics are meant to be loose enough to interpret and use for your own situations. I feel sorry for all the people who have to automatically go to drugs anytime Layne is brought up. First, if you don't like the music then why even be on here? Second, I have had the privilege of knowing his family in a close level and I can with 100% confidence say that Layne was a kind, empathetic, amazing human being until the end--despite any faults. It would be so nice not to have everyone assume that every song is about drugs. No, that's incorrect. Every song is about being human. Anyway, happy 23rd anniversary Down in a Hole and of course Happy 50th Birthday Layne (8/22) we miss you being a part of AIC, your incredible voice, and your charisma. Always loving Layne.
Branden from Orange Park, FlI love how so many people get so evincive over someone's opinion. Like it's just music.. yeah people have problems but no need to go off on someone's opinion.. like don't like it then don't respond :D just saying.. it is a great song and will always loved Alice in Chains and seen them live in Metro Park ,FL great time! w/
Kellie from TexasHmmmmm. Both my brothers are talented musicians. I lost a brother who had fought addiction but eventually overcame the Heroin/IV drug addiction. I thank God he never made it big. Just because you become famous and wealthy doesn't solve your inner demons therefore all the sudden you drop the habit. Becoming rich and famous on top of a drug addiction leads to death quicker. Everyone wants to get you high, give you free s--t. SPOILED.... NOT!!! A drug addict with an endless supply, YES! There is nothing beautiful about heroin, NOTHING!!!!! The song was written by Jerry to the love of his life named Courtney, not heroin. The songs are deep and make you feel. A lot of people don't like songs that make them feel uncomfortable feelings but other people, in touch with their feelings and at peace that yeah, life sucks sometimes and you feel sad and move on. This song came out when my brother was using. I know he related to it in his life though it wasn't written about drug abuse. I felt he was down in a hole. So Buttox-Gangcaster STFU
Buttox from GangcasterYea, a little note to you Brian, ya really don't know what you're even talking about. Spoiled, not...really a musician that had a suburb talent and could fill a room with the emotion he carried on his back. Once you get involved in the mighty heroin your life becomes evolved around one thing...heroin. There's nothing more important, not fame, not family, not life itself. Only heroin and the next fix can never come soon enough. And if I may say, not only Layne, but the other 3 members also heavily tarnished by that golden brown junk'''head. In my personal opinion unless you were a heroin addict, you have no clue as to how his life was. Layne gives me chills, brings me right back to that ritual that we all put our life down to have. That ritual of dropping it in the metal container, adding the water, stirring vigorously heating, watching the junk stick on the sides, tying off, and lift off. Its all down in the hole from there. That beautiful warming of the soul, that curling back of the eyes as every last muscle in your body thanks you for the awesome job you just did on scoring some killer f--king heroin. Oh is the joy. Either it kills you, imprisons you, or sobers you the f--k up. Thankfully I chose the last, unfortunately Layne and Mike never got the chance to chose the last of the 3. They let that lovely brown godly stuff ruin them to the death. I still struggle, not spoiled....but a musician nevertheless, and I love heroin, heroin loves me as it did Layne. So Brian, unless you can even relate ya don't even have a voice to peel back. Maybe just keep quiet and feel like a moron for commenting such garbage. You really don't know until you go thru that beautiful ritual.
Sean from Boxford, Ma@ brian, boston, MA
So you dont like Layne Staley because he's a "spoiled brat". You dont like listening to heroin addicts sing. You dont like the "droaning guitars". And you dont like how all their songs are depressing. You basically hate everything about the band. But you felt it was necessary to search out the SongFacts page for "Down in a Hole" and tell all the AIC fans why YOU think they suck?!? Thank you so much. I'm so glad that I know why Brian from Boston thinks AIC sucks. Maybe I'll contemplate all the complaints you have with the band....and maybe after I think long and hard about what you posted, you'll get me to change my mind about the band. I mean, I'm not really sure if I like them or not, so your feeling on the band might get me to hate them too.
Or maybe I'll just think your a moron who obviously has was too much free time on his hands. Your life is so exciting, that you actually have the time to list all the reasons why you hate a band....even though nobody asked for your opinion. If you hate whiny heroin addicts, why do you spend any time thinking about this band?
You see Brian, not everyone has a perfect life like you. Its obvious that you know very little about heroin addiction (which is a good thing). But what you consider to be a "whiny, spoiled, miserable brat who sings about how s--tty his life is", might actually be a person who's life is s--tty. He was a man who's life was consumed by his heroin & crack addiction. Do you think people who are trapped in this vicious cycle of addiction know anything about being happy? Do you expect him to sing about how great life is? He was a very sick man, so thats what he sang about. Just becuase he was famous and wealthy doesnt mean he was a spoiled brat.
Michael from Melbourne, AustraliaThis song should be played in Jarhead, when he gets the letter from his gf saying that she meet some guy and is starring into the mirror Would be awesome
Charles from Allentown, Pabeautiful song about lost love, regret and a hint of losing a battle with heroin addiction as a lot of AIC songs are. Great song to listen to when you're feeling down. No need to start shooting heroin of course, but might make you want to pick up a guitar and play. ... " down in a hole and I dont know if i can be saved, see my heart I decorate it like a grave" - interesting line
Brian from Boston, MaI find Alice in Chains music to be depressing.I am not one of those that has to listen to happy go lucky upbeat music all the time. I have no problem with songs that deal with dark or unpleasant subjects.I do however have a problem with whiny spoiled brat artists that are miserable and are constantly complaining about their lives. I realize that drugs are a big part of the music industry. I just hate listening to heroine addicts singing about how s--tty life is.I realize that as musicians the members of Alice in chains are talented and good guitar players. I don't however like listening to the constant droning guitars.Why must every song be dark and miserable.Obviously most people reading this are fans of Alice in Chains so to them I say I mean you no disrespect but come on life isn't that bad.
Frisky from Milwaukee, WiOh, and let's not forget, Jerry's CD Degredation Trip.....
Frisky from Milwaukee, WiI know I'm right. Everyone has wrote about things that us fans have found out way after this song was first made;no one knew about Layne's huge heroine junky and about that time Jerry was "probably" still with that Courtney Clarke, because Boggy Depot says it right in the jacket, "Thanks for Courtney for helping me grow up a little." THINK ABOUT IT! Do the timeline.
Frisky from Milwaukee, WiI think some of you Alice in Chains "Fans" may want to consider the video of this song and it's contents. Usually Alice's videos depict what the song is trying to say. Wouldn't you think it has to do with that poor family living way out in nowhere and how they live, very poor and desolate, in a place you'd want to fly away from if it were you there dreaming of a different life? have something to do with this song? Hum all you people into the "lost love thing" (Jerry was still going out with Courtney Clarke then), or the "drug thing" (now that we all know that Layne was doing heroine and Jerry into some hard drugs? I think you're all wrong!
Sahil from Delhi, IndiaThe best aic song ever ....love it,hate it no other words to describe it ...R.I.P layne stayley the most amazing voice ever ......
Tara from Tucson, AzI think this song is about fear of vulnerability in a relationship. Being caught in a place where you're closed off from being hurt too many times. Wanting so badly to give his heart to another but having self-doubt to the point where he feels if he were to fail somehow...it has the power to take him under. Down In a Hole. He'd like to fly, (would like to trust it and let himself be vulnerable), but has failed before and that pain is unbearable (my wings have been so denied). "I have been guilty of kicking myself in the teeth...I will speak no more of my feelings beneath"...To me that says maybe he's allowed himself to expose his vulnerabilities before, only for them to be used against him or he was left standing bare after it fell apart. Listening to it with Staley in mind one day, I heard the words change...I know it sounds weird...but I heard; "Holding red flowers in a tube" (like those tiny tubes found in some convenience stores often used to smoke crack)...and "I'd like to fly, but my wings have been sewn and I....I....I....bury me softly in this womb". It made me a little sad. It could've been me projecting my own feelings though...I've struggled with an addiction to opiates and cocaine for over 8 years.
Robert from Lawton, OkNot EVERY AIC song is about drug addiction, but this one sure as hell is. I've been there and lived it - and this song epitomizes opiate addiction.
Justin from Windsor, Oni think the song is about eminem and d12
Michael Kennedy from Chattanooga, TnSuch a beautiful, powerful song. To me the hurt in this song is obvious and if you think about it it can really relate to the fact that lane really was down in a hole with his heroin addiction. If you think about it this song screams heroin addiction. Lane went too early and he will never be forgotten
Aditya from Hyderabad, IndiaThis is a fantastic song. My fav AIC song. I feel its basically about being depressed in general. I can relate this song more to Staley than to Cantrell. When he sings it, the song emphasizes his pathetic condition and his fight with life.
Adam from Indy, InWhy was this song left off the greatest hits list? It's one of their best.
Jimmy from Sydney, Australiathis song is way to deep.excellent
Sara from Union City, TnBeautiful beautiful song! Staley's voice is in a league forever of his own. I cry every time I hear the unplugged version it is so beautiful.
Kimberly from New Braunfels, TxA lot of AIC's songs have war inuendo. This song reminds me of my cousin Dusti's husband that died in Iraq a few years ago. Any time she hears it she cries. It reminds her that while he was over there in the trenches fighting for our country he was thinking of her and missing his family. These songs could be about a lot of different things dependant on how you look at them and your mood at the time. AIC will always be one of the greatest bands of all time as far as I'm concerned. For whatever reasons they wrote thses songs, I'm glad they did.
Joey from Westville, NyMy favorite AIC song. I always thought is was just about being depressed in general, but found incredible connection with this song after losing the first love of my life. Hence Cantrel's original expression.
Jim from Chicago, Ilyour an idiot its not jerry cantrels fault, they were all addicted. and nothing could have stopped layne staley from using drugs and he has admitted it before that he wouldnt ever stop.
Grungeluver from Dease Lake, BcOne of the more hopeless and emotional songs of Alice In Chains. In reality i dont tend to listen to this song very much because to tell you the truth it usually makes me quite sad. It deals with deep depression and anxiety and the feeling of cralwing into a hole. But lets get one thing strait- Jerry was and is a complete a**hole to let one of his close friends and bandmates to die like that, so dont even start to feel bad for him. Also you cant really justify some of Laynes pro drug songs either. Anyhow i dont think anyone really deserves to die like that. RIP LAYNE STALEY
John from Wilton, CtSlow, soft, yet so hard and struggling. A great song by Grunge's best band to ever live. One thing that really pisses me off is the extreme unappreciation that this album and all other Alice In Chains albums receive. People say that its just a drug-infested, morbid album. You have to listen to the music and listen to the lyrics, but more importantly realize the music behind Layne, and the way he is singing the words, and what words he says at certain times. This is the one band where you have to listen to the entire song, from singer to guitar to bass to drums, to get the message that a song offers. They express it in such a way that its either you dont get the message at all or you feel the message with full emotion.
Kari from Tempe, AzR.I.P. Layne Staley! One of my favorite AIC songs!
Robert from La Libertad, El SalvadorThe best song to listen when you're young, drunk and heartbroken. listened to it everyday when i was 18
Alice in Chains was a band unlike any other. Listen to all the song from all the albums from we die yuoung (first recorded song) to Killer is Me without stopping and you will feel different
Randy from Colerain Twp., OhI highly doubt that Kurt Cobain had actually 'killed' himself. There were simply too many discrepancies in the police investigation. I had read this on a website that also included a copy of the police report obtained by the Seattle Police Dept. The diagram of the crime scene was inconsistent to an actual suicide. Also, there were too many clues pointing to Courtney Love's possible involvement, as well as the timing of such. And if my memory serves me correctly, the incident did occur on April 20, 1994. But that date may have been planned to make it appear as a drug-related death. Remember, the terrorist attacks were planned for a specific date, as well- September 11, 2001- (9-11).
Elayne from Vancouver, BcLayne Died on April 5th 2002, his body wasn't discovered until April 19th, and news broke about it on April 20th. Eddie Vedder wrote the song 4/20/02 in tribute to Layne because that is the day he heard about Layne's death and he wrote it on that day.
Ben from Cincinnati, Ohstaley died on april 20. that's the reason why pearl jam made the song "4/20/02"
Lexi from Lansing, KsLetty from IN, Cobain "killed" himself on April 8th. But you are right, Staley died on April 5th.
Ben from Chino, CaIn my opinion this is the best Alice in Chains song
Vincent from Braintr, MaIn my opinion, this is a song about a man so saddled by depression, he can't think of anywhere to go, anyone to talk to or anything to save himself.
"See my heart, I decorate it like a grave." - he can't even express his anger or sadness, his only emotion is that of loss and sadness.
"You don't understand who they thought I was supposed to be." - He never imagined himself being in this state, where he questions very existence.
"Down in a hole, feeling so small..." Depression can make someone feel so worthless to the point of non-existence.
"Down in a hole, losing my soul..." - Depression has removed everything from his humanity, from his inability to express himself, to his all-encompassing feeling of helplessness.
"I'd like to fly, but my wings have been so denied..." - He can remember when life was so promising, with unlimited potential...but he's been dragged down by depression.
"I have been guilty of kicking myself in the teeth..." - the depression has gripped him so tightly that he's mentally torn himself apart, second guessing everything he does, everything he thinks, everything he feels.
"I will speak no more of my feelings beneath..." - again, with the feeling that even expressing his sadness is useless.
This is a fantastic song...just thinking about the self-inflicted torment this man has gone through, especially when you consider Staly's ultimate fate.
Zack from Zavalla, TxJerry Cantrell was laynes best friend, and i am thinkin that he was trying to send a message to layne.
Joe from Hobart, AustraliaAlthough Layne did not write the song himself, it is possible Cantrell, obviously aware of Staley's addiction, put himself in Layne's shoes while penning this song. The lines "You don't understand who they thought I was supposed to be" could be referring to how famous personalities are percieved through their image, when infact they are very different when that layer is stripped down. "Look at me now I'm a man who won't let himself be" could be a reference to Laynes using as a vice to deal with sucsess. Just a thought.
Taylor from Boise, Idthis is just my personal point of opinion here.........some lyrics of this song remind me of the forbidden love between the famous "Romeo and Juliet". theres a few lines that remind me of the play, such as: "holding red flowers in her tomb" when Romeo goes to see Juliet in her tomb..."see my home now decorated like a grave" his new home will be Juliets tomb, once he kills himself......."you dont understand who they thought i was supposed to be, look at me now i'm a man who wont let himself be" Romeo was never supposed to be with Juliet, and he is obsessively in love with her.
those are just a few lines that reminded me of the famous play. i know thats not the real meaning, but i thought it was pretty neat.
P from Z, United States"With singer Layne Staley singing the lyrics, this could be seen as a foreshadowing of his death from a drug overdose. He had been fighting his addiction for years, and this song can be read as part of his struggle with that"??? that is bull and speculation. its not really a fact about the song, just an expresson of opinion
Jim from Stonerville, Cabeautiful song. i wrote a song with the exact same main riff before i ever heard this. then i heard it and went crap, someone else did it. thats happened to me many times. love this song though.
Jake from Lp, Inthis song is about abortion. hes singing it from a babies point of view. listen again and you'll agree. "Ive eaten the sun so my tongue has been burned of the taste, i have been guilty of kicking my self in the teeth" that decsribes when acid is put in the womb to kill the baby then the baby convulses. think about it
Ryan from Las Vegas, NvAbsolutely the most beautiful of all AIC songs, especially the unplugged version...
Erin from Tulsa, Okthis song is the best song ever written. RIP Layne. i swear he had the most amazing voice ever.
Gumby from Va Beach, VaAgree that this is the best AIC song ever and there sure are a lot of them. They are my favorite band of all time with such passionate lyrics and mesmorizing guitar riffs. This song maybe about a girl according to some, however I've always interpreted it as a parallel to Layne's life and everytime I hear it, I feel for how such an amazing human being suffered. Agree with some that it might not be about drug addiction, but could be interpreted as to someone with other problems, like depression.
Amber from Grants Pass, OrThis is by far my favorite AIC song. It displays Jerry's amazing guitar talent as well as his unmatchable song writing talent. Layne and Jerry harmonized as if their voices were made to go together. I could speculate what it is about, but if you listen to the music and let it move you, it will be about what it feels to you. RIP Layne, we love you forever.
Jeremy from Lafayette, LaI have this one picture of Jerry playing guitar. His veins are bulging, and his face is pale and depressed. Did Jerry try heroin? I think its the one when he's playing a blue Gibson.
James from Baton Rouge, LaMy favorite band of all time. Probably because they wrote the most hauntingly beautiful songs I've ever heard.
Kyle from Coventry, Ridoes anyone know what he means when he says "you don't understand who they thought i was supposed to be"
Mike from Sonora, CaSuch a beautiful song. I think every rock radio station should have an Alice in Chains hour. Just alice, once a day. ANd they should play rare stuff and not the popular radio edits. I mean the real ones like "Frogs" sludge factory, Head creeps! Love, Hate, Love! and a little bitter.!!!
Joe from Glendale, NyThere seems to be a lot of sexual innuendos in this song also. I'm not sure whether they're there on purpose or what but they are there.
Christine from Belmont, NhThis is one of my favorite alice in chains songs, not only because of the beautiful lyrics from Jerry C. But because it is a showcase of Layne's insanley amazing voice... I think the song is about a relashionship, the possability of loosing it, and the sacrifices that are willing to be made to keep it. It's about devotion... I relate to this song and it helps when theres hurt... thats for sure!!
Jason from Austin, TxIt's not about poverty, and it is not about drugs. In the box set, Jerry himslef says that it is about Courtney Clarke. He goes on to say there was a point where he had to choose between her and music, and he chose music, but was still in love with her. She is a running theme with him. There is at least one song on Degredation Trip about her, as well as others all over the other AIC albums.
What a lot of people don't know is that Dirt is more or less a concept album that runs the addiction cycle. Damn that River, Rooster, and Down in a Hole don't totally fit, but the rest is pretty linear. After talking about dying in Them Bones and Rain when I Die, the album picks through the initial fun and games phase (Sickman), justification (Junkhead), getting encompassed and down trodden (Dirt), remorse and regret (Godsmack, Hate to Feel, love the line "used to be curious, now the $h1ts substanance," and Angry Chair." Would? is about Andrew Wood, who died from herion. It is an interesting ride through becoming dependent.
None-the-less, Down in a Hole = Jerry's Ex.
Jaime from Londonderry, OhI agree with Andrew and Tom, believe it or not folks, not EVERY Alice in Chains song was about drug addiction. It was about feeling as low as you can get, like people who live in poverty. Sometimes you feel so low you dig yourself a hole that keeps getting deeper. It doesnt necessarily mean from drugs.
Shannon from Dallas, Txoh to add on to that his mom dies and he gets into drugs and he cant get out of the "Hole".
Shannon from Dallas, TxI'm pretty sure this song is about his mom dying.
Wayne from LeetonI can actually see alot of drug references in this song. The title itself "Down in a hole" can be interpreted as being stuck in the deep abyss that is heroin addiction. "Bury me softly in this womb" could be describing the soothing, self-encompassing womb users feel they are in. Totally safe and secure from the dangers of the outside world."Holding rare flowers in a tomb" being opium poppies that are used to make heroin, and bracing them inside an inescapable, suffocating crypt. These are but two examples of Layne metaphorically speaking about his turmoil with addiction. Look again and the whole song flows to the misery of Laynes state of mind. I think the song is clearly about despair and helplessness with Laynes addiction, and is a sad cry for help.Very sad that this amazingly gifted artists cries were never answered. Does anyone else interpret this awesome song the same
Scott from Columbus, OhHaunting is certainly a great description of this song...To me it depicts the life of someone who has exhausted all resources for living , yet cannot find what most have that gives us the strength to keep going. "My wings have been so denied"... he screams as if if he were innately scarred or at the very least encountered something so tragic he lacks comprehension of happiness. What a powerful peice of music. Bravo!
Becca from Hamilton, CanadaI really don't care what this song is about. It is fantastic. I love Alice in Chains. Their music is amazing. They are all so brilliant.
Andrew from Harrisburg, Pai think i have to disagree with my original statement, it sounds like a lost love like it says up above, at least thats how i can relate to it
Andrew from Harrisburg, Pai think this is about poverty and depression not drug addiction, anyone agree?
Paul from Canton, Ilthe unplugged version of this song kicked ass it gave it a more heartfelt sound
Andrew from Harrisburg, Pai like the more acoustic side of alice in chains songs like this rooster, and no excuses are great
Tom from Scotch City, ScotlandThis song is about living in poverty or grief. anything else stated apart from this is a myth.
Alejandro from Mexico D.f., Mexicobeautiful song... the unplugged version is the best one.
Elisabeth from N/a, InI love this song, it is my faveorite, when i die i want it played at my furneal even if it's on a walkman!
Letty from Terre Haute, InLayne and Kurt Cobain were both from Seatel Kurt "killed" himself April 5, 1994 Layne OD 8 years later April 5, 2002. Sorry for spelling mistakes
Hillary from Seattle, WaThis song is the best AIC song. Its so beautiful!
Larry from Arlington, TxThis song is Jesus's last prayer to God before being crucified. Bury me softly in this womb refers to how he was placed in Mary's womb. Losing my soul refers to the fact that he knows his soul is going to hell to atone for the sins of man. If you look for yourself you can find all sorts of info that references the relationship between Jesus and God and Jesus's purpose.
Jake from Traverse City, MiThis song is absolutely beautiful and though i read it's about a girlfriend i want it played at my funeral.
Ben from Clemmons, Ndheres the low down on AIC between jerry and layne layne wrote the depressing songs about drugs and the atrophyor inspiration of drugs on his life. Jerry wrote the love or lack therof contained songs.
Eric from Newark, DeThis is by far my favorite all-time song. I seriously don't believe that there will ever be another song that takes it's spot on my list. It is about one of Jerry Cantrell's old gfs who he was in love with. However, I feel that it can be interpreted in many ways. I like to interpret "DIAH" as being depressed and stuck in a dark place and state of mind that you can't seem to find your way out of. My favorite line is: "I'd like to fly, but my wings have been so denied." It's a shame there will never be another AIC album. RIP Layne. There my fav all-time band as well.
Brian from Paoli, InI was really suprised that this song was not used on their Official greatest hits album. This is some of their best work ever, such beautiful haunting song.