|Single by Tool|
|from the album Lateralus|
|Genre||Progressive metal, math rock|
9:24 (album version)5:47 (radio edit)
|Label||Volcano II, Tool Dissectional|
|Tool singles chronology|
Overview and background
The song is known for its distinct time signatures and corresponding lyrical patterns. The time signatures of the chorus of the song change from 9/8 to 8/8 to 7/8; as drummer Danny Carey says, "It was originally titled 9-8-7. For the time signatures. Then it turned out that 987 was the 16th number of the Fibonacci sequence. So that was cool." It is also apparent that the lyrics are arranged in ascending then descending order of the Fibonacci sequence, which is 1,1,2,3,5,8, based on their syllables. For instance, the first line is "Black. Then. White are. All I see. In my infancy. Red and Yellow then came to be. Reaching out to me. Lets me see." and further examples below.
In a 2001 interview, singer Maynard James Keenan commented on the lyric mentioning black, white, red and yellow: "I use the archetype stories of North American aboriginals and the themes or colours which appear over and over again in the oral stories handed down through generations. Black, white, red, and yellow play very heavily in aboriginal stories of creation."
The song could also be about the order of colors seen while under the influence of LSD. Alex Grey (the spiritualistic artist who did the album artwork for Lateralus) stated that when he closed his eyes on an LSD trip, he saw a black and white spiral, and when he tried it a few more times it became a red and yellow spiral.
An interesting side note, in alchemy "The Great Work" begins with the Nigredo (black), then moves to the Albedo (white), then the Citrinitas (yellow), then the Rubedo (Red).
- (1) Black,
- (1) then,
- (2) white are,
- (3) all I see,
- (5) in my in·fan·cy,
- (8) red and yel·low then came to be,
- (5) rea·ching out to me,
- (3) lets me see.
- (2) There is,
- (1) so,
- (1) much,
- (2) more and
- (3) beck·ons me,
- (5) to look through to these,
- (8) in·fi·nite pos·si·bil·i·ties.
- (13) As be·low so a·bove and be·yond I im·ag·ine,
- (8) drawn out·side the lines of rea·son.
- (5) Push the en·ve·lope.
- (3) Watch it bend.
The Fibonacci sequence shares a relationship with the Golden spiral, which might be what the 'spiral' mentioned several times later in the lyrics is referring to. In fact, the syllables length itself spirals-in and spirals-out on the sequence: 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 5, 3, 2, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 8, 5, 3.
A combination of these references can be found in the line "to swing on the spiral of our divinity", as the golden ratio is also often referred to as the divine proportion.
- Norris, Chris (2001). "Hammer Of The Gods". Retrieved 2007-04-25.
- Toolshed. "Lyrics to "Lateralis"". Retrieved 2011-05-06.
- diCarlo, Christopher (2001). "Interview with Maynard James Keenan". Retrieved 2007-04-22.
- Maititab. "Lateralus Tab". Retrieved 2010-01-06.
- Lewis Goldberg (2006-06-01). "Finnegans Shake". New Times Broward-Palm Beach. Retrieved 2008-01-27.
- Hartmann, Graham. "No. 1: Tool, ‘Lateralus’ – Top 21st Century Metal Songs", Loudwire. Retrieved on 05 September 2012.