Tool - Stinkfist (Lyrics and Meaning)





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Published on Sep 17, 2009

EDIT: This description has just been heavily revised (September 21 2014). I wrote the initial description when I was 15 or 16 - it lacked clarity, and it was sloppy.


This song uses anal fisting as a metaphor. Hueheuehe.

It uses fisting as a metaphor for desensitization - specifically, desensitization through overstimulation. Basically, doing too much of something you like, having the pleasure you take from it wear off, doing more of that thing, becoming more desensitized, etc. in a vicious cycle.

"I'll keep digging 'til I feel something". The chorus moves from "finger deep" to "knuckle deep" to "elbow deep" to "shoulder deep". What's a little curious about this is that "digging further" into this hole of tolerance and desensitization isn't going to solve the problem - so it seems the speaker's intent to "keep digging" could either be (1) the proclamation of a well-intented but misguided person, seeking to solve their problem by doing the thing that is causing them problems in the first place, or (2) irrelevant to the lyrics of "knuckle/finger/elbow deep" (that is, the intent to "keep digging" is not referring to the concept of building tolerance expressed in the song).

There's a narrative voice throughout the song. It says, "This may hurt a little, but it's something you'll get used to", "Relax; turn around and take my hand", etc. This would seem to be the voice of the addiction.

"Blend and balance pain and comfort deep within me 'til I would not want you any other way".
Using the example of drug addiction is helpful here. Many drug addicts reach a point at which they no longer experience the same positive effect from the drug that they used to - the use becomes necessary to simply not feel bad. The overstimulation over time becomes too much; connection with reality becomes hazy and weak; this, in turn, dulls emotions and reduces care for all things other than the drug being taken. "Blend and balance pain and comfort".

"Just not enough; I need more. Nothing seems to satisfy. I said, I don't want it; I just need it to breathe / to feel / to know I'm alive". In these lyrics, there is evidence of tolerance, addiction, and dependency. There's also some denial on the part of the speaker, and an attempt at justification of their actions - "It's just not enough. That's the problem." or "I don't want it! I just need it." Also apparent, in the line "nothing seems to satisfy", is a yearning for a satisfaction or feeling that is (apparent to us) not being attained through the means of whatever the speaker is overusing.

As far as I can tell, there isn't anything in the lyrics specifically referring to drug dependency/addiction. This song may have been written about dependency in general, or some specific dependency - the most common dependency that has this extreme negative connotation in our culture is drug dependency. In addition, considering the well-known drug use of Maynard and other band members, there's a very good chance this song was written with drug specificity.

A lot of the lyrics are pretty straight-forward, especially when you have an understanding of the general theme of the song. If you have any questions, though, feel free to ask!

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