Four Degrees
by Tool

  • According to lead singer Maynard Keenan, the song title comes from the fact that the anal cavity is four degrees warmer than the vaginal. The song, however, is not sexual but about emotionally opening up.

Comments: 32

  • Don from Vancouver, BcOh, and Maynard explicitly states that it is about anal sex at the beginning of the song on the 'Live at the Pepsi Arena, Denver, CO' recording.
  • Don from Vancouver, BcIt appears that there is no difference in temperature. Perhaps this is more about the angle? Or built from the wives tale that it is warmer. Proof: a scientific study by Abrams RM, Royston JP:
    Some properties of rectum and vagina as sites for basal body temperature measurement.
    The choice of site for body temperature measurement and consistency in positioning the thermometer are important in achieving reliable and interpretable basal body temperature graphs in women. The distribution of temperatures in vagina (TV) and rectum (TR) were measured in women upon awakening. There were no significant differences between TR and TV at insertion depths of 5, 9, or 13 cm. Estimation of deep body temperature was not improved by inserting a thermojunction beyond 5 cm in vagina or rectum. Rates of change in TV following ingestion of a 300-ml iced drink were significantly greater than rates of change in TR.
    The early morning temperatures of 10 healthy nurses aged 21 to 34 were evaluated to determine temperature distribution in vagina and rectum. Measurements of rectal and vaginal temperature were made continuously for 15 to 25 minutes. Each subject was given approximately 300 ml of an iced orange drink to swallow within 1 minute after the measurements. Statistical analysis (paired Student's T-test) revealed no significant differences between corresponding rectal and vaginal temperatures at each insertion depth (13, 9, and 5 cm) and no overall differences between the 3 insertion depths. There was no improvement in the estimation of body core temperature following insertion of a thermojunction beyond 5 cm from the anus or vulva. After ingestion of an iced drink, the vagina exhibited a higher rate of change than did the rectum.
  • Joseph from Missouri"It has nothing to do with anal sex. It's clearly about drug use, probably heroin or some type of opiate. It's about how life's too short to not experience the effects of drugs. "Take it up higher. Four degress warmer", is referring to the warm rush that heroin users feel when they inject.
    Like the lyrics say, it's about freeing yourself from yourself." - Samantha

    I'd say this is a good interpretation of it, other than one thing. Maynard isn't promoting drug use, he promotes sobriety, you could almost say that much of his music is a guide to completing the steps of AA and sobering up (I mean he did write an album called 13th Step and one of the biggest hits on the same album of this is about the mind of a drug addict, doesn't exactly scream LIFE IS SHORT SHOOT SOME HEROIN.) It states "Lay back and let me show you another way", so if you combine Samantha's interpretation here with other interpretations saying it's about opening up, this is essentially a song about opening up to other people in order to overcome addiction and grow spiritually... If you really think someone who wrote a song about addiction which states "I am just a worthless liar, I am but am imbecile" is telling you to free yourself by using drugs, I don't envy you. Free yourself from yourself by overcoming that voice in the back of your head that says you need to shoot up heroin to experience life. My opinion there may be a bit biased though, Maynard's music was a source of inspiration for me when I was overcoming meth addiction and alcoholism. Imo that just helps me see where he's coming from a bit better because I hated who I'd become as an addict and wanted to "feel the metamorphosis and cleansing I've endured in my shadow" which is "just behind me, shrouding every step I take" and did so by opening up to others about it, follow the breadcrumbs and it all starts to tie together
  • Matthew from OregonI think that this song can be about many different things but is primarily yet another song about rape.

    When the song begins with "Locked up inside you like the calm beneath castles a cavern of treasures that no one has been to." I believe that this is saying that a rape tends to bring out emotions and meanings of their life very suddenly and very violently- thus a persons feelings are sort of a cavern of treasures hidden deep within them which are often brought about by the act of rape. "Let's go digging." is in a way the rapist looking to unearth those feelings from within. "You won't do what you'd like to do. You won't feel what you'd like to feel." - I think that this is another feeling commonly felt by rapists, which is that their victims may not know what they want from love until they have undergone the trauma of rape, where their feelings about love become much more apparent, and yet much more confused.

    While the tone of the song tends to be very violent and seemingly aggressive or forceful, as if Maynard is forcing something upon the listener, not all of the song is as aggressive and many parts tend to seem very subtle, romantic or sublime. There is a common theme in the lyrics which resemble acts of sex and or rape- "Bring it out and take it back in. Lay back and let me show you another way. Take it all in, all the way in. Let it go in. Let me in! You'll like this in."

    The lines "It brings us closer than dying and cancer and crying." really sparks images of rape to me- this part very much reminds me of feelings sung about in the song Prison Sex. I think that this is Maynard expressing the sentiments of a rapist who often if not always commits their act of rape in the pursuit of connection. Because Maynard has compared the subject matter that he's speaking upon to these three other things we can reasonably omit them from the meaning of the song- and I think that what this line is saying is essentially that rape brings 'us' closer than dying and cancer and crying. That is to say that rape becomes a very intimate part of a victims life.

    The lines, "Kill what you want to. Take what's left and eat it. Take all or nothing. Just too short to push it away." I tend to struggle with relating a meaning to- in a way I think that this is again speaking upon the mindset of a rapist by saying "Kill what you want to." reminiscent of Maynard's lyrics in The Package by A Perfect Circle. "Take what's left and eat it." could perhaps speak upon the emptiness that one feels after committing an act of rape- after having killed so much within yourself and in another then one's inner lust and hunger turns towards whatever is left. "Take all or nothing." could be speaking on the mentality going on behind a rapist who after committing to engage in the act of rape feels as if there is nothing keeping them from taking 'the rest' so to speak, while, "Just too short to push it away." has a similar message by saying, perhaps, that an offender has come up too short to push their sins away, or that the 'the rest' is just too little left to stop at.

    Other's have suggested that "Take it up higher, 4 degrees now." may be a reference to the warmth of the anal cavity in relation to the vaginal, while others have said that is not true. I'm not sure quite what this line means- I've thought perhaps that it could be related to global warming, however I don't think that was Maynard's core message in the day of this song. While I believe that this song is about many things (to Maynard) to me this whole song has become more and more about rape as I listen to it, as has much of Maynard's music.
  • Giselle from OregonGuys, the song was definitely made with anal sex in mind (and some of you guys are saying its with a man, but keep on mind women have anus's too and there are no clues given in the song about what the gender could be). At the end of the song, you can hear heavy breathing (sounds like sex) and then Maynard yells "Just like that!" and it sounds very climaxy. Anal sex is definitely a part of this song, but I dont think that's all there is to it. It could be metaphorical for learning to open yourself up. To what is open for lots of interpretation. Could be new ideas or different perspectives than your own, new experiences (anal sex is the new experience in the song), and it could be about letting people in emotionally. And then when you finally open yourself up, you find that its actually really amazing, whatever it was that you opened to.
  • Patrick from Hayden, IdEffects of DMT
    The effects of Dimethyltryptamine include physically, slightly elevated blood pressure, heart rate, pupil diameter, and rectal temperature. Mentally you go into a hallucinogenic state of mind where you feel you have entered into another world. Loss of understanding what is real and what is not.
  • Jorge from Katy , TxIn my view the song is how he feels as though there is someone who he strongly feels belongs with him. Unfortunately they don't feel the same way, so he asks them to go through some discomfort and not do what they would ordinarily do and give them a chance because he feels as though it was meant to be.
  • Jorge from Katy , TxDoes anyone know what time signature this song is in? I feel like it just switches around from 4/4 to 5/4 a lot.
  • Caleb Vogel from Van Nuys , Ca raping a man that is.
  • Caleb Vogel from Van Nuys , Cathis song is about raping person in west point.
  • James from Miami, FlLOL -- you are all correct. When did Maynard ever write a song that was only about one thing?
  • Greg from San Jose, CaHow can this song be about global warming?
    I don't think people were nearly as hyped about global warming in 1993, the year Undertow was released.

    It seems to be merely a metaphor for opening up, using the analogy of agreeing to anal sex to convey a message.

    Of course, we all know those guys like to mess with us, so the song could be about anything. What's important is finding a personal meaning to it. That's what they'd want.
  • Joanna from Flthe global warming one is funny....anyway, anal sex is a great metaphor and an emotional opening, change, and outlet all in itself.
  • Daniel from Knoxville, TnThe 4 degrees is a reference to glogal warming and what effects a 4 degree rise in temperature would have on melting ice caps, thus raising sea levels, and forcing mankind to take his focus away from the trivial drivle he is forced to preoccupy himself with in everyday life right now. If we didn't have all this clutter and overstimulation in our lives we as a whole might be able to focus on personal, moral, and spiritual growth... the kind of evolution Maynard so frequently mentions.
  • Charles from Everywhere, TxThis song is about The United States Military Academy, West Point. The four degrees refers to the different class of cadets. Plebe, Yearling, Cow, and Firstie. Plebe being a freshman, Yearling>Sophomore, so on and so forth.
  • A from Fdsafds, AustraliaThe anal cavity isn't four degrees warmer than the vaginal. At most, it can be warmer by about half a degree Fahrenheit. Four degrees is a pretty big swing when it comes to body temperature. On the Celsius scale, it can be the difference between healthy and brain damaged. Anyway, if Maynard was quoted accurately, he was wrong by any standard.

    To the person who said the anal cavity is four degrees warmer than the rest of the body: rectal thermometers give us a very accurate reading of internal temperature. If Mr. Sphinky differed by as much as four degrees, no one would ask him for information.
  • Cvas from Ridgefield, CtI really think that the song and it's lyrics are used in a metaphorical sense. It discusses options in life and how what you're given isn't always the way that you have to go. Although this is my opinion, it is entirely possible that the song really is about the difference in body cavity temperatures.
  • Ian from Salt Lake City, UtPerhaps he is actually referring to all above subjects simultaneously... he is very careful with the words he chooses.
    Maybe prefers to let the music decide for him
    And merges all of the feelings into one topic, however different they may seem when discussed separately.
    Or he could be referring to something altogether different... I sense a bit of Crowley
    as well.
  • Ryan from Plano, Txthe "opening up without reserve" is the official interpretation from the band. to read about this and other song meanings from tool, visit the unofficial tool site (way better than if you ask me) which is home of the famous/infamous tool FAQ!!! its ownage powerz can not be mapped i tell you
  • Gijera from Slc, UtFor Peter to read:
  • Peter from Ottawa, CanadaJust as a quick response to Marc, while I haven't looked it up and it's possible that water does have some maximized property at 4 degrees celsius, it's certainly not at it's most compressed or concentrated. Water isn't a mixture, it doesn't have a concentration (other chemicals/ions in impure water do, but that's neither here nor there), and water can obviously be compressed far more in a gaseous state (> 100 degrees C) that as a liquid.
  • Kevin from Independence, Moi think that mel is right. as funny as it seems, but maynard really is that blunt even if your not able to accept it.
  • Mel from Sydney, AustraliaWhen TooL came to Sydney in 02, before this song Maynard said "Apparently the rectal cavity is 4 degrees warmer than the vagina"...from him saying that will open more interpretations for you. good luck
  • Jake from Miami, FlThe song isn't about anal sex but it is used as a metaphor for taking what comes to you and not only accepting one option, because theres always somthing different
  • Marc from Alameda, CaIn Kabbalah, the element water is associated with Understanding. As in on The Grudge, when he says "Let the waters kiss" it seems he could be saying "let's combine our separate understandings into one" like to combining of two lakes during a flood.

    Water itself is known to be at it's most compressed/concentrated state at 4 degrees celcius. That's 4 degrees above freezing. Perhaps this is a reference to a metaphor of highly concentrated understanding.
  • Ukash from Vratislavia, PolandSome people just see drugs everywhere... ;) The song is about opening and trusting the one you love.
  • Samantha from Youngstown, OhIt has nothing to do with anal sex. It's clearly about drug use, probably heroin or some type of opiate. It's about how life's too short to not experience the effects of drugs. "Take it up higher. Four degress warmer", is referring to the warm rush that heroin users feel when they inject.
    Like the lyrics say, it's about freeing yourself from yourself.
  • Brian from Mayfield Heights, OhGod i love this song!
  • Ben from Clemmons, Ndok i was wrong. but its not about anal sex
    it has to do with the fact that the anal cavity has 8 more functional muscels and is 4 degrees warmer then the rest of the body, but the song is just about opening up your mind and its not about "rear entry"
  • Ben from Clemmons, NdMaynrd went to west point and 4 degrees has to do with the cadets this website has the faq on tool.
  • Aimee from Auckland, New ZealandThe last time I saw Tool live, right before they played this song Maynard said "this song is not about anal sex" ;)
  • Zac from Drexel, MoThis song is partly about anal sex and partly about opening your mind up and taking whatever life gives you and try new things cuz "Lifes just to short to push it away"
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