"Lateralus" by TOOL (Song of the Week)

(This is a re-post from my old MySpace blog)

lateralusimagesWhile visiting the east coast a week or so ago, and listening to music on the long journey there and back, I started thinking about the songs on my discman (yes I still have one of thsoe and no MP3 player or iPod yet) and all the different meanings they have for me, the memories, the thoughts on the lyrics, the favorite lines, and somehow out of that I had the idea to do a weekly blog about a song, any song. Music is already so woven into my writing, and it’s like I always want to isolate the most meaninful lyrics, somehow convey to other people what it means to me as if could just sort of import it somehow. That isn’t exactly possible, but I thought doing this might help expand it.

So, the song on my iTunes at this minute, and the first Song of the Week is:

Song: Lateralus
Band: Tool
Album: Lateralus

“Black then white are all I see in my infancy.
red and yellow then came to be, reaching out to me.
lets me see.
As below, so above and beyond, I imagine
drawn beyond the lines of reason.
Push the envelope. Watch it bend.

Over thinking, over analyzing separates the body from the mind.
Withering my intuition, missing opportunities and I must
Feed my will to feel my moment drawing way outside the lines.

Black then white are all I see in my infancy.
red and yellow then came to be, reaching out to me.
lets me see there is so much more
and beckons me to look through to these infinite possibilities.
As below, so above and beyond, I imagine
drawn outside the lines of reason.
Push the envelope. Watch it bend.

Over thinking, over analyzing separates the body from the mind.
Withering my intuition leaving all these opportunities behind.

Feed my will to feel this moment urging me to cross the line.
Reaching out to embrace the random.
Reaching out to embrace whatever may come.

I embrace my desire to
feel the rhythm, to feel connected
enough to step aside and weep like a widow
to feel inspired, to fathom the power,
to witness the beauty, to bathe in the fountain,
to swing on the spiral
of our divinity and still be a human.

With my feet upon the ground I lose myself
between the sounds and open wide to suck it in,
I feel it move across my skin.
I’m reaching up and reaching out,
I’m reaching for the random or what ever will bewilder me.
And following our will and wind we may just go where no one’s been.
We’ll ride the spiral to the end and may just go where no one’s been.

Spiral out. Keep going”

This song is actually a bit of a mantra. Especially during the last year, I constantly find myself tapping the rhythm of the drumbeat right before he goes into “Over thinking, over analyzing separates the body from the mind.” I absently drum that rhythm all over the place, usually without even noticing it right away – while sitting at the computer trying to think of a word or what to write next, sitting in bed writing, sitting in my big recliner chair watching TV, on the kitchen counter and just about anywhere. I don’t usually believe in coincidence, so as a chronic, obsessive, borderline neurotic over-thinker and over-analyzer, I always think of it as my gut instinct’s way to give me a little reminder, like a tap on the shoulder.

It’s funny. This is definitely the Tool album I took longest to get into, even though it was the first one I ever owned. My friend Stargazer gave it to me five years ago as an early X-mas present, but it wasn’t until years later that I really delved into the band. And for some reason, maybe because (in my own very humble opinion of course) this album is more evolved, more cerebral, more spiritual and ethereal while their other albums are rawer, louder, less complicated, though still deep. WIth the others I had an immediate gut-love of the songs, this one took more time and listening.

What really sealed the deal for me and this album, and particularly this song, was boy trouble. That’ll get ya every time, won’t it? I liked this boy very much and we hung out a lot and I constantly obsessed and analyzed and was like what does this mean, did I do the right thing, omg this or that or whatever. I didn’t know how to talk about any of it with him either. I asked for advice on my favorite online music forum (which no longer exists), and a friend who knows I love Tool said something like, “Maynard got it right,” and then posted that lyric. Before then, I’d never noticed the words to the song much. But it was so clear, so pointed, so exactly what I needed to hear. And so it became a mantra. I tried to remind myself of it whenever I got into that thinking too much brain spinning phase. Because it’s totally true. If you think too much, you lose the lightening, the nerve, the juice of something, and you do lose touch with your intuition. There is such a thing as thinking a situation (or anything) to death.

Recently I had a freind who, as a freshman in college now, had some boy trouble in the same way, and I passed the line on to her. That’s the beautiful thing about music, the way you can pass it on, make it your own, get your lessons from it and use it as a reminder. I’ve seen Tool three times this year, and every time they’ve played this song. Every time I hear it live, I yell along, as if I’m singing to myself too.

Another weird thing about this song is that somehow, one day awhile ago while walking home it was stuck in my head, and I walked along, kinda singing it in my head in time with my steps, especially the end, where it goes “spiral out, keep going” over and over, and I started thinking about sex and somehow got it in my head that I wanted to lose my virginity while listening to this album, lol. I’d also recently had a dream that linked listening to the album and hanging out with my favorite boy, a very vivid dream, so maybe the walking was just a further cementing of themes in the dream. After that, among some friends, the phrase, “I’m listening to Lateralus” was code for “I had sex last night.” So for that alone, the song makes me smile.

Aside from the personal links, I just love the lyrics, the whole “As below so above and beyond I imagine. Push the envelope. Watch it bend.” And I love that he says “weep like a widow.” I love the sort of out there spiritual nature of the song, almost urging you to go beyond your limits, embrace the random, push your comfort zone, encounter the divine. In a lot of ways I think it’s about courage, about living in the moment, about not letting things hold you back, about taking life head on with all its different phases. As a person who teeters between “chicken shit” and “courageous animal” I usually feel I could use a dose of that.

~Emilia J

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