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Tools That Get Me Through Life

How Several Tool Songs Changed My Life

By Emily Marie ConcannonPublished about a month ago 9 min read
Tools That Get Me Through Life
Photo by Austin Schmid on Unsplash

Tool is an amazing band that's been playing music for well over three decades. Founded in 1990, the band consists of lead singer Maynard James Keenan, drummer Danny Carrey, Guitarist Adam Jones, and bassist Justin Chancellor. Although the original bassist was Paul D'Amour who reportedly left the band to pursue his guitar talents elsewhere.

This band holds a very special place in my heart. The lead singer was raised in a Catholic household where he felt stifled and controlled by his stepfather. This early frustration and later "peace-making" with his faith and the faith of his forefathers is evident throughout his music.

In fact, as many an enthusiast has pointed out, Maynard's musical lyrics seem to change with time as his sentiments toward religion and the Church gradually shift. From my perspective, you can hear the voice of a confused and spiritually frustrated young man in his early music which slowly shifts to a man who has gone through Hell and knows the light on the other side.

Tool is not a band for everyone. They're notorious for their staunchly committed fan base who are willing to wait years for each album's release. Their music discusses some very dark, disturbing, and chaotic themes which may be offensive to most people. However, I never found their music offensive or morally troublesome.

I'll discuss each of my favorite songs and their many elements below, but I want to add a little disclaimer to all my readers before they start listening to their music. Tool is a hard alternative rock band (or, as I like to put it, a psychedelic rock band). Their music heavily reflects the many states of altered consciousness and openly discusses the multitude of emotions and sensations felt by the user.

If you're a fan of Pink Floyd and heavy rock music, then you'll probably love this band. But, if you're a fan of pop music, you might not. Or, you might! I mean, I love Rhianna, but I also love Tool!

1: Wings For Marie (Parts 1&2, AKA "10,000 days.")

Wings for Marie, or 10,000 Days, (which is in two parts) is my absolute favorite Tool song and the first one I ever heard. I still remember the night I listened to this amazing song while driving my Pontiac Grand Prix down Route 18.

My best friend at the time asked me if I wanted to hear a song that he felt I needed to hear. I shrugged and said to go for it. The wave-like sound of the opening immediately hit me as breathtaking. It awakened so many feelings inside my body that I shut down.

The first part is calmer, almost like hearing a lullaby while not in the right frame of mind. My favorite line is, "You who prayed for me, oh, what have I done? To be worthy?"

This first part of the song is the young Maynard grappling with his mother's debilitating disease as an 11-year-old. Her steadfast commitment to her faith, her belief that God was good and loved her, was too much for the young man to accept.

He ends the first part by stating, "I'm alright now; it's time for us to let you go." But in reality, the young man was not ready nor okay with his mother's passing. These feelings, these frustrations with the Church, and the constant plaguing feelings of her death and suffering made him angry.

Part two opens with a faster-paced sound, leading to the climactic finish of the saga he created when he first penned Judith (I'll discuss Judith later). In part two, he beautifully and accurately calls out the Church for its hypocrisy. Some of the lines I found most powerful include:

Listen to the tales as we all rationalize

Our way into the arms of the savior

Feigning all the trials and the tribulations

None of us have actually been there

Not like you

These lines speak volumes about a Church that praises God for giving them a Prius, new clothes, a healthy marriage, or a million other absolutely absurd things, yet don't have faith. They claim to have faith and they'll wave their Bible around in your face, condemning and vilifying you for all your sinful ways. And yet, where is their faith? Most are not like Job. They aren't willing nor capable of withstanding the fire and coming out purged and ready for heaven. No, they use their religion to justify their lavish and self-indulgent lifestyles and claim "everyone could have these amazing things if they only turned to Christ."

I'm sorry, any God who's concerned about little Becky having the wedding of a lifetime but seems utterly unconcerned with the millions of faithful Haitians who die from starvation is not a God worthy of worship.

His mother, Judith Marie, suffered a series of strokes at a young age which paralyzed her permanently. You can hear him reference this event in Wings Part 1:

A light in your eyes, dim, immobilized

Vacant, broken

Fell at the hands of those movements that I wouldn't see

'Cause it was you who prayed for me so

What have I done to be a son to an angel?

What have I done to be worthy?

Here he's expressing his amazement that despite her debilitation, her prayers were for him, not for herself. This immensely selfless act struck him as foolish when he was younger, but as he grew up, he came to see it as her purest expression of faith.

Yet, despite her faithfulness to God, the Church condemned her. Surely she'd be better off if she was well-behaved. This must be God's way of telling her she's a no-good sinner. She remained steadfast and told her son that her God has not forsaken her.

He cries out:

Ignorant siblings at the congregation

Gather around spewing sympathy

Spare me

None of them can even hold a candle up to you

Blinded by choice, these hypocrites won't see

But enough about the collective Judas

Who could deny you were the one who illuminated

Your little piece of the divine!

Maynard is not a Christian, nor do I believe he'll ever set foot in Church again. But he brings to light some of the most important aspects of the Christian faith and how it's severely lacking in the people professing the faith.

By Jr Korpa on Unsplash

2: Jambi

The devil and his had me down

In love with the dark side I'd found

Dabblin' all the way down

Up to my neck, soon to drown

But you changed that all for me

Lifted me up, turned me round...

These are my favorite lines from this absolutely stunning song, which actually comes before Wings for Marie on the Album "10,000 Days." While I never sought to research the history of this song, I am going to express to the reader what it means to me.

Jambi means "strong pull." The song references the overwhelming urges that plague humanity (Maynard was speaking primarily to the male population, but it applies to all). Particularly, the overwhelming sexual urges we grapple with which can take us down pathways we may never get back out of alive.

He also channels the spiritual aspects of sex. There is that sex that bonds two beings together in a beautiful, majestic, mystical sexual union. However, sex can also be a dark, gross, and polluting aspect of humanity because the desire can consume us and cause us to do things we can never undo.

But, the song isn't only about sex. In fact, I argue that the singer is using sex to illustrate a much bigger aspect of life and the universe.

Shine on forever

Shine on benevolent sun

Shine down upon the severed

Shine until the two become one...

The main theme of the song is union and those illusions which tear us apart. The singer is using the two very different types of sex to illustrate our union with one another and the ways we tear ourselves and the world around us apart. The ultimate goal of a true sexual union is spiritual intimacy. The ultimate goal of life is to repair the many broken fragments of our psyche so we can be whole again.

He closes this trippy, psychedelic song with:

Silence Legion! Save your poison!

Silence Legion! Stay out of my way!

As you may recall from Mark 5:9 when Jesus asks the man possessed by demons:

And he asked him, What is thy name? And he answered, saying, My name is Legion: for we are many

Tool uses this illustration to show how we're all just like Legion. Possessed by passions we can't control unless we're able to rise above them and conquer them.

3: Judith

It's not like you killed someone

It's not like you drove a hateful spear into his side

Praise the one who left you

Broken down and paralyzed

He did it all for you

He did it all for you

You might have noticed that this song isn't by Tool. It's performed by A Perfect Circle, but the lead singer is still Maynard James Keenan. He has several bands where he performs different types of music, but the song is considered a precursor to Wings Parts 1&2!

Basically, this song is the singer's rage and animosity towards his mother and her God. He asks her, why does she worship a Lord who would cause her to suffer this way?

Your Lord and your Christ

He did this

Took all you had and

Left you this way

Still you pray, you never stray

Never taste of the fruit

You never thought to question why...

He uses the imagery of the forbidden fruit to represent forbidden knowledge. The forbidden knowledge he's referring to is the knowledge of why her God lets her suffer the way he does.

Why doesn't he heal you? he asks her. It's not like you're a murderer. It's not like you were the one who drove the spear into his side on Calvary? Why doesn't your God torment one of the many Judases at your Church?

But, in her mind, to ask these questions is to question the will of God. She would never do that. She'll never taste that fruit. He reconciles that while he respects her decision, he'll never choose to walk in the darkness like that.

You're such an inspiration for the ways

That I'll never ever choose to be

Oh so many ways for me to show you

How your savior has abandoned you

Fuck your God

Your Lord and your Christ

Later, as you can see from the lyrics, he comes to understand her belief better. But he never chooses to follow her path. He paved his own pathway, which I truly admire. I admire his mother and I admire Maynard.


I find Maynard James Keenan to be a truly remarkable vocalist and poet. Like Eminem, he has a way of evoking brutally honest emotions in a way we all resonate with. Even if we don't want to think about death and suffering, it's all around us every single day. The better we understand it, the better we can overcome it.

You can listen to this brilliant mind communicate to the slightly less brilliant mind of Joe Rogan here!

Thank you so much for reading :) Much love to you!

By Daria Durand on Unsplash

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About the Creator

Emily Marie Concannon

I am a world nomad with a passion for vegan food, history, coffee, and equality.

You can find my first novel on Kindle Vella here: :) I appreciate all your support and engagement! :)

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Comments (6)

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  • Jazzy Gonçalves about a month ago

    I LOVE TOOL. H. Is my fav song. And Sober. And a perfect circle was like my SHIT in high school

  • The Invisible Writerabout a month ago

    I loved this I have been a Tool fan since there first album back when I was in High school. This was very informative and well done especially the way you layered in the lyrics. I also really like a Perfect Circle

  • Babs Iversonabout a month ago

    Emily, I remember Tool from the 90s!!! Loving your story!!!❤️❤️💕

  • Mark Gagnonabout a month ago

    You appear to be a dedicated fan, Emily. I've never heard of them, but that's not surprising. I'm more of a Blues, Jazz, and early Rock fan. It's a shame Tool can't read this and give you a shout-out.

  • KJ Aartilaabout a month ago

    Nice! Love me some Tool and Perfect Circle - my husband & I were just listening to both & discussing it the other day. 😍

  • Thanks for this, I am aware of Tool but don't really follow but will check out some of these and love the images

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