Pool Shark

Album: Robbin' The Hood (1994)
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  • This is widely known as singer Bradley Nowell's "suicide note." It talks of his struggle with heroin, and how "One day (he's) gonna lose the war." Nowell died of a heroin overdose in 1996. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Jules - W Bloomfield, MI
  • While this song does make specific references to heroin ("Now I've got the needle, and I can shake"), Nowell wrote it about a specific girl. In our interview with Sublime bass player Eric Wilson, he explained that the "Pool Shark" was his girlfriend at the time. "She was really good at pool - it turns out she was hanging out with some guys and she got good at pool," he said. "They broke up shortly after that, but that's what he wrote that about."

Comments: 31

  • Delacruz from Dallas, TxI always thought the plastic bed meant something along the lines of he’s depending on a manmade drug, instead of marijuana (the Rastafarian community calls drugs like LSD or Heroin “plastic”)
  • J from MarylandOk. The line lying in my plastic bed refers to rehab. If you ever been you would know all the beds are covered in plastic. Unfortunately I know this. I suffer from the same addiction. I may not win the war. But I'll continue to win each battle as it comes till I die when I'm like 85 or so. Hopefully. 35 right now.... and obviously the rest of the song is self explanatory
  • Mike from Toronto, OnTheres no way Michelle has a copy of the last show, even though she stated that it was shot a week before. Theres only one tape of it and it was filmed by a Albino Brown. He showed the tape it the Nowell family then sold bits and pieces to vh1. No body has ever seen the full tape other then part of "Work that we do" and the part where Brads showing the flyer
  • Gstamp from San Diego, CaI had the great fortune to run into bradley in a little bar/lounge at the foot of the slopes in Aspen, CO. Think it was Jan or Feb of 1995, maybe Dec '94 - a bit hazy... Sublime played a show the night before with No Doubt (oh..No Doubt opened for them...). Brad was supposed to be snowboarding, but seemed to be comfortably imbibing too much to worry about riding. I was only 19, so he let me partake of his rum and cokes along with another "kid" who recognized him and pulled up a chair. We were chatting about all sorts of things, but mostly music. I mentioned I had run into Gwen a few minutes earlier and she said she couldn't afford to snow board. Bradley chuckled and said although he loved No Doubt, they had it all wrong. Touring with an entourage and all is quite expensive. That's when things turned to drugs. He said all he and the band needed to play a show was a couple hundred bucks for drugs, food, and gas to get to the next gig. No Doubt on the other hand needed to support a full support crew. Around this time he was rocking back and forth in his chair, ocassionally belting out part of a tune or humming under his breath. I noticed he was grabbing his hand and digging it a bit and then looking at it. After a bit, I asked him what was up. He grinned and said, rather excitedly, "A new vein!" I knew then that one day he most certainly would lose that war. My only regret is that I didn't share with him my uncle's plight - death by heroin OD only a few years earlier. But my guess is he had heard it all from many people who knew and loved him personally. Who was I? Just another punk kid fan from San Diego who stumbled upon my musical hero in a bar...
  • Cody from St Joe, Mowe love ya brad. miss you alot. i enjoy these songs but i always get sad that such a great person who influenced so much and so many had to pass so soon. there's nothing more i would love than getting to see brad on stage and doing well.
  • Dave from Hoffman Estates, IlMike from Lansdale, when Bradly says "My baby likes to shoot pool" he's referring to shooting heroin. This entire song (and most other Sublime material) is filled with cryptic lyrics about heroin. Sweet, sweet heroin...
  • Justin from Petaluma, CaMan I Used to live in petaluma and i didnt know about any ofthis but i was only 4 so
  • Ed from Port Saint Lucie, Flthe line "I can shake, but I can't breathe" could also refer to over-dosing and your circulatory/respiratory systems shutting down, as opposed to just withdrawl.

  • Mike from Lansdale, Paim a huge fan of this song, and it obviously is about drugs. sublime are my favorite band and i have covered many of their songs (including this one). i have a few questions about the lyrics. what does the line "my baby likes to shoot pool" refer to. one would guess its about his wife (or girlfriend at the time this song was written), but i can not find any connection there. thats all. thanks
  • Pedro from Chula Vista, Cahey michelle, the last concert was actually the night before he died in Petaluma. And wendie, he didn't die naked on his bed...he died naked on a San Francisco hotel room bed. He was found lying naked on the bed with his feet on the floor by Bud Gaugh.
  • Wendie from Houston, TxBtw, when he died he was lying naked on his bed.
  • Wendie from Houston, TxI don't think he lost the war...
  • Sean from Knoxville, TnOne of the saddest songs ever written in retrospect. It showed that not only did Brad realized how serious his addiction was, he knew that it would kill him one day if he didn't give it up. As any Sublime fan is well aware, any reference having to do with other drugs like marijuana or alcohol, and even cocaine and meth ("tweaking" as Brad calls it) were taken light-heartedly, however Brad always took his heroin addiction extremely seriously (see "Badfish", "Poolshark", etc.). As a former heroin addict myself, I have a greater emotional attachment to this song than any other ever written. Just to show you how f-cked up that world is, I would literally put this song on every time I would shoot-up. Everyone thats an addict, including Brad, knows they don't want to be in that world, so even if you get your fix, deep down you know its killing you. This song isn't a "suicide note", because Brad was trying desperately to be free. He went to rehab over a dozen times, but quickly relapsed afterwards every time. This song was simply Brad's way of explaining that he understood what would happen to him if he keep using heroin, which as we all know it did only two years later.

    The lyrics are fairly straight forward - "plastic bed" definitely refers to the beds withdrawaling addicts sleep in. The beds are covered in plastic because of the endless amount of sweat that would otherwise soak into it while the addict lies awake in bed and thinks about "how things aren't so cool to me", because trust me, you don't sleep and things definitely aren't cool.
    One lyric that oddly hasn't been discussed at all is the very title of the song. "My baby likes to shoot pool", more than likely is not a reference to another person, but rather to himself or his needle (which would be his "baby"). "Shooting pool" is slang for injecting something (i.e. "I was in the bathroom shooting pool.") I used to use to term a lot, even before I'd heard the song.
    "Tyin' off that dinosaur" unquestionably means putting on a tourniquet. "Tying off" is the action of putting it on, and "dinosaur" is slang for the tourniquet itself.
    "Used to be so cool", any addict will tell you, no one uses heroin looking to get addicted, but with this line Brad shows that he knows that its not fun and games anymore, its a serious problem.
    "I can shake, but I can't breathe", obviously a reference to intense withdrawals. "The shakes" are a very common symptom for heroin withdrawals. "I can't breathe" is probably just a methaphor for how unbearable heroin withdrawals really are.
    "One day I'm gonna loose the war", definitely Brad's understanding of the ways his addiction will end, either quit or die. However, this didn't mean that he had stopped fighting and was writing his "suicide note", he was in rehab only a few months before his death.
    RIP Brad Nowell - the greatest waste of potential in the history of rock and roll.
    Say NO to needles, they kill!
  • Jesse from Pittsburgh, PaFrom unfortunate firsthand experience, I'm pretty sure that "lying in my plastic bed" refers to the highly unpleasant plastic-covered mattresses that they have in detoxes. And the number one thing I thought about while lying in that plastic bed was how things weren't so cool to me.
  • Jp from Boston, MaI don't consider this a suicide note, but rather a self realization that Brad had a serious problem with addiction. Many of Sublime's song reference marijuana usage and alcohol consumption, which are obviously much less serious than heroine addiction, however these references do show that Brad enjoyed getting f--ked up. Also, his wife was actually an addiction counselor and Brad had tried to overcome his addiction many times, but as the song shows he must have known that his addiction was going to be a very serious problem. If anything, young kids who like to smoke weed and get drunk should use this song as an antithesis to some of Sublime's more fun loving songs about getting high and drunk. If anything, the fact that Brad died like he said he would in the song, is very scary... it shows how serious addiction gets. It sucks that Brad is gone, I think everyone who has written on this board knows he had a lot of good music left to share.
  • Nate from Germantown, TnThis song is definitely about Bradley's struggle with heroine. "Dinosaur" is even a slang term for a makeshift tourniquet. It isn't really a suicide note because he didn't technically intentionally kill himself, but he knew that his struggle with heroine would eventually lead to his death. It's really sad because it almost seems like a cry for help. I love this song, though.
  • Sarah from Norman, Oki think the reference to it being " a suicide note" , to me, means that he did not intentionally commit suicide, but he did, however recognise his growing addiction, and probably knew his fate, we he says " ... take it away but i want more and more, one day im gonna lose the war" he is saying that he knows that if he does not stop going down this path, he will lose the war. but his addiction is so strong that he knows he cannot stop. he is simply portraying his accepted fate.
  • AnonymousLying in my plastic Bed is more of a metaphor than a lyric. The Plastic refers to the coldness he felt when off the drug, which was Heroin. Tying off that "Dinosaur", would be referring to Heroin, hence the comparison to a large and dangerous entity. Tying off again refers to the drug use. But what i dont understand is why you are held up on that one chorus when there are many other songs.
  • Jayme from Waipio, Hithis is one of the most deepest yet simplest songs ive ever heard. i just got in to sublime last year and finding out all this stuff about the lead singer was really sad. but this song really showed how much he was hurting and how he still wanted more and more...
  • Mikey from Honolulu, HiI guess Michelle knows her way around smack.
  • Michelle from Davie, FlOh yeah and it's not bag...it's bed still an amazing song I have a bootleg from his last concert (less than a week before his death) and I got really emotional hearing him sing this song for the last time....rip brad you're very much missed
  • Michelle from Davie, FlThe lyrics here are wrong...it's "tying OFF that dinosaur".....you "tie your arm off" (put a temporary tourniquet on) to cut the circulation so you can find your vein easier...to then shoot up.
  • Mike from Cape Elizabeth, Metying on the dinasaur is him tying his arm so he can shoot heroin, lying in my plastic bag, is a bag they would put him in if he was dead
  • Natalie from Toronto, United StatesWhat does the lyric "I like lying naked in my bedroom, tying on the dinosaur tonight" mean? I'm not getting the Dinosaur reference
  • Liz from The Town That Never Sleeps, Nvthis was like the first Sublime song...next to Santeria that i really liked. i mean something that deep and with that much knoledge of what the future held was like... Music.
  • Michelle from Salem, OrI like the way he sings two versions of the song on Robbin' the Hood. It seems to express the emotional highs and lows of a drug addiction.
  • Emarson from Sa, Cathis song... frosted flakes is GGGGRRRRRate.... His emotions sings through when he sings.
  • Tessa from Ottawa, CanadaMy boyfriend is dealing with a heroin addiction right now, and this song makes me cry everytime. It makes me think about him, and his fate.
  • Michael from Tega Cay, Scit wasnt like a suicide note he basically knew what was coming because of how bad his addiction to heroin had become
  • Jules from W Bloomfield, MiThe fact is that this song gives the most foreshadowing to Brad's fate. It is considered to be his "suicide note" (notice the quotations)because it's all about his addiction, how he can't resist [take it away but I want more and more]. The fact that he took stronger heroin after a period of being clean has nothing to do with the validity of the statement- Pool Shark is clearly Brad's outlet about his addiction and how it would end.
  • Mike from La Mirada, Cai dont se how it would be seen as his "suicide note" seing as how it was written (estimating) roundabout 1992, and that bradley nowell did not commit suicide, he overdoced many times on heroin wen he was (for the most part) in california. but the brown mexican tar in southern cali was way less potent then the puerified canadian heroin he used (and underestimated) as a last harra! with another band member, matt vargas, witch was given to them (along with a breifcase full of other drugs) by a promoter just befor (about a week) the release of their album sublime sublime.
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