The lyrics to Tool’s “Sober” tell the story of a man struggling with addiction. The drug seems to stalk him, preventing him from achieving his goals and causing his relationship with a loved one to crumble. He begs Jesus and Mother Mary to help him get sober and move on.
The music video for the song features stop motion figures in a mansion-like environment. It was directed by Adam Jones, who would also work on videos for Green Jelly’s Three Little Pigs and Danzig’s Can’t Speak, among others. Jones has a background as both a classically trained musician and sculptor. He’s also a specialist in special effects, and contributed to the filmography of Nightmare on Elm Street 5 and other horror movies.
In a recent interview, Maynard James Keenan stated that the song was about a friend of his who was a visual artist. He created his art based on the images that came to him in his mind. However, he began using drugs in order to enhance these visions and his ability to find them. Once this friend got sober, he realized that his artistic ability was gone. He begged for help (“Jesus won’t you f---in whistle, and mother Mary won’t you whisper”).
This is just one of many interpretations of the lyrics to Tool’s “Sober.” It’s important that you remember that every song can have different meanings for each individual listener. That’s what makes Tool such a unique band – they write songs to make you think.