Saturday, November 13, 2010

Jukebox Throwdown: The Deftones "One Weak" from the album "Adrenaline"

It seems as though many posts lately have been born from conversations between Shannon and The Dead Guy, and this one is no exception. Over the course of the past few weeks, we have been tossing around the idea of writing posts which are based on our interpretation and impressions of song lyrics. We decided to go ahead and try it after our facebook pals told us they liked the idea, so here it is. With no further ado, we give you Jukebox Throwdown. Let us know what you think.

One Weak

by: the Deftones

Nerve - Here I born, feeding on his lung
Verve - Is his curse, because he wanted to meet Christ alone
Bitch - you're no good, we could be so flown
Misunderstood - we could be your God
There in my bones, we could be so flown
Misunderstood - because he wanted to meet Christ alone
But you will...

Ah you'll never find me - breach unborn
Never, come here watch me burn
Never, bitch cause your scars show
Never, will I burn

Under, beneath the floor
Before, his face 'cause your no good
We could have been like one
Fuck it!

Bitch, you feel sore, we could be so flown
Misunderstood - because he wanted to meet Christ alone
But you will...

Ah you'll never find me - breach unborn
Never, sit and watch me burn
Never, bitch cause your scars show
Never, will I burn, will I burn, will I burn, will I burn

Try won't you'll never, Beg don't (3x)
Even waste your time!!!

The song “One Weak” by the Deftones is a song that has always resonated with me personally. One of the great thing about the Deftones is Chino's ability to write song that are lyrically ambiguous but saliently powerful when personally interpreted, much like a Rorschach test. To me this song is about a creative person, such as a poet or painter, and their view of the spiritual trappings of organized religion. Verve, simply means, “enthusiasm or vigor, as in literary or artistic work”. So the line, “Verve- is his curse” could be expressing how some artists, like myself, see their inspiration as something that originates from within but is trans-personal, and maybe afford a deeper understanding of this energy, which dogmatic religions personify as God. The lyrics also suggest that organized religion has attempted to fill the void, a residual effect of a child losing their innocence which once connected them to this energy, by becoming God to it followers, “Misunderstood - we could be your God.”.

In this song the word “bitch” seems to delineating organized religion or specifically the Catholic Church. The lyrics “Bitch - you're no good, we could be so flown”, may refer to the feeling that if religious leaders and artists worked together humanity could be taken to new heights. Just look at Renaissance art, and think of the possibilities if those artists where given full artistic freedom. If that was the case, the Renaissance could have been the ultimate paradigm shift in human consciousness and unity, “We could have been like one... Fuck it!”. Chino proceeds to write, “Ah you'll never find me - breach unborn. Never, sit and watch me burn. Never, bitch cause your scars show?”, this seems to refer to religious fervor, for example when it comes to a topic like abortion, or as he ambiguously refers to it the “breach” of the “unborn”. It sheds light on the tenancy of the pious to criticize others decisions, and suggests that this is not a divine path toward this energy that the holier-than-thou call God. The line, “your scare show.” may also refer to the hideous acts of violence and ignorance perpetrated by an institution that presents itself as infallibly righteous.

You could make the argument that the title of the song, “One Weak”, refers to an idea that a spiritual path of one, may appear “weak” to the pious follower, even though mentally the artists may have a leg up on the establishment. The problem may lie with the masses of public life, who when confronted by an artist, might fail to see beyond the ideal of just an individual that creates aesthetically pleasing images, “Misunderstood - because he wanted to meet Christ alone”. It is the artists who attempts to bring to the surface the inner worlds of suppressed turmoil as something to learn form, not to feel guilty about. As Alan Watts once said, “Christianity has made guilt into a virtue.” The artists experiments with, communes, and channels the unconditional love of the universe out toward humanity on an attempt to guide toward a more spiritually connected toward all the energies of the universe. It may be interesting to point out that the album was originally titled “Communion” before it was change to Adrenaline, and that the cover art uses a baby aspirator, a device used to remove mucus and other and other “obstructions” from the respiratory system.


While I do not directly disagree with DG’s interpretation of this song as a commentary on religion, I would like to offer another interpretation. If we take the lyrics as they come, we can see a certain personal anguish which I believe is working in conjunction with the religious imagery to obscure itself.

The theme of betrayal and loss of love is fairly apparent to me as in the lyrics “We could have been as one.” And “Don’t try, you’ll never beg, don’t even waste your time.”

I agree that there is a sense of this song being about the loss of life, but I am not sure that it is a direct reference to abortion. It seems more likely to me that the image of a breach birth, which is a very difficult way to create a life, is being used metaphorically as a way to express the author’s anguish over someone giving up on something difficult such as a lover betraying him. This interpretation is further supported by the lyrics:

“Under, beneath the floor,

Before, his face 'cause you’re no good

We could have been like one,

Fuck it!

Bitch, you feel sore, we could be so flown.”

When looking at these lyrics, I think a case could be made that the author is lamenting having been abandoned by someone he loved. “Under”, “Beneath” and “Before his face, cause you’re no good” all seem to indicate that the subject of the lyrics, if we take it to be about a lover or ex-lover, has been sleeping with someone other than the author, and that the author is a great deal of pain over this.

Additionally, the author repeatedly makes reference to being unfindable to the subject, as though they are afraid that the subject will someday want to find them again. The references to showing scars could be taken as another metaphorical reference to lifting of a veil that occurs when one is so hurt by someone about whom they care that they then become able to see that person’s flaws in a way that they were unable to before.

Of course, this interpretation runs into a bit of trouble when we are faced with the line “he wanted to meet Christ alone”, but perhaps these words are not as troublesome as they appear. One could safely argue that, when taken within the context of the larger work, they may refer to the subject’s new lover leaving them to be alone, or even dying. This makes more sense when you consider that the rest of the song could be taken to indicate a desire to lose contact with an ex-lover.

Finally, to address the title, “One Weak”, that in and of itself is a play in words which could be taken to either delineate a period of time, or a personal weakness. Both possibilities can be made to work with my preceding interpretation. If we look at the title to be a length of time, it can be taken to measure the amount of time the author spent with the subject, the amount time they have been away from the subject, or the amount of time the subject spent betraying the author. If we take it to indicate personal weakness, it can be taken as a statement about either the subject or author’s state of being. Perhaps the author sees the subject as being weak when they once appeared strong or perhaps the author sees themselves as being weak in the face of betrayal.


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