I personally don't care what exactly he meant. I think the beauty of a lot of the APC songs is that he leaves the interpretation so open that people are able to derive their own meaning on many different levels. It's very hard to do that in writing and he is able to master it quite well. Passive is a perfect example of that.
Literalist | Reviewer: Ketixrei | 11/4/09
A lot of the songs written by Maynard reflect events of his own life.
For example, the song Judith was a contribution towards his mother, who suffered from a stroke and was restricted to life in a wheelchair.
It wouldn't surprise me if Passive was yet another production of his feelings toward some sort of past event.
Cool song... | Reviewer: Mithila | 9/9/09
This is da soundtrack for Constantine..it's abt a doctor givin his patient da news tht he has very less time left in da world..it's da enraged reaction of a person who is not ready 2 accept his fate which is early death..it jus shows da total theme of da movie..trying 2 buy time & not accepting fate..
Passive | Reviewer: Anonymous | 9/8/09
I think it's about his dad he didn't have a good relationship with he was probley one of those dads who gets angry if you aren't perfect and become what he wants, and he would tell him how the artist "disappointed him" and his dad died and he never got to tell him how he felt. That's what I got out of it
maybe it is literal | Reviewer: Anonymous | 7/4/09
Maybe the song is a literal meaning. He's pissed off that the doctor told him someone close to him is dead. He's optimistic that they are just playing dead, sleeping, being passive aggressive trying to avoid confronting him. Inside he knows they are dead and maybe it's better off but sometimes when you are sad it is easier to ignore your sadness and instead be mad at the person for dying.
although it also sums up how what I'd like to say to the passive aggressive A-holes I work with.
I have lots of memories with this song. My cousin Soheal & I listened to this song in the car while we drove in Ramsar in the nights. It gives me a cold sense of life like a dead body and death Oh ... No JOy ...
awesome!! | Reviewer: kuri | 6/6/09
I just thought i would express my opinion that I think this song is absolutely AMAZING!! Every time you hear it don't you just want to play it again? OH! and I find it really interesting that everyone has such different ideas about the hidden meanings... I wont give it a go as I'm too tired XD
Atheist? | Reviewer: Enksy | 4/19/09
I always thought it was about god.
You know, "don't play dead" "why can't you turn and face me" it just sounded a bit like one of their popular atheist themes. The interpretation also sounds good, however, and I does mesh themes with the rest of the album.
Awesome song BTW.
I can relate to this song. I personally think this song deals with one-self. Yourself. Think of it as if your mind was talking to you. Reminding you of what you wanted to become. What you wanted out of life. And yet for whatever reason, you did not accomplish those goals. So now you have your mind talking to you about it. Your soul wants you to accomplish your goals! Yet alot of us get caught up in the hardships of life. "Maybe it's better of this way" is your mind telling you that maybe you weren't suppose to accomplish those goals. "Maybe you're better off this way" is again, your mind telling you that maybe, you don't have what it takes to accomplish them anyways. I personally use this song as fuel to my fire! To make sure I accomplish my goals in life. Because one day you may wake up & wonder what the fuck just happened? This is not where I was suppose to be! "Wake up, & face me, don't play dead..." Once more, it is yourself challenging yourself to go after those dreams you have since let go of years ago. But that is just what this song means to me! I could be wrong, but for some reason, I doubt it. I believe this song to be about a dead dream that is haunting you.
Uhhhhh | Reviewer: Anonymous | 1/5/09
I don't think that Maynard wrote this song, it came out of the song Vacant, by Tapeworm, the Trent Reznor/ Maynard/ others project. So don't try to justify it by his writing style or other songs on the album. Also, to anyone using any "passive" meanings, I think the title is just short for passive aggressive, which is very different.
amazing... | Reviewer: Anonymous | 12/28/08
In the midst of all these discussions about meaning of the song, I find that this song applies to myself (perfectly, pretty much) in a way that's completely unrelated to the topics being discussed, so here's another vote for different interpretations being the way to go.
You fucking dissapoint me... | Reviewer: dead man | 12/28/08
One way to analyze a lyric is considering the whole album.A Perfect Circle's "Emotive" is an anti-war album,I think. Songs such as "Annihilation", "Imagine" and "Counting Body Like Sheep[...]" show it obviously. Considering "Passive" in this way we can conclude this song is talking to us, to people around the world and also countries. We let our governments start wars. We let them do whatever they want and yet, we are passive! This is not the world we wanted:
"I catch a brief reflection
Of what you could and might have been"
However we have right to ask our governments why they are acting like this:
"It's your RIGHT and your ability
To become my perfect enemy"
This song can be also the words that world leaders may say:
"Leaning over you here
Cold and catatonic"
I think Mark is right about this. Maybe it's just America or Russia talking to the world today. Maybe it was Britain saying these words before World War II and Germany during the war. Maybe this is Napoleon in 17th century.
"Why can't you?"
From this point of view this lyric becomes humorous.
But it can also be just a Passive-Aggressive person and the trouble he has and how he feels and what he thinks.
This way it becomes so difficult to analyze it.
This lyric is not an easy one!
haha | Reviewer: jon
considering what you guys are saying i can understand why he wrote "reflection". you guys are talking about him like he's an obscure god. how would you feel if there were thousands of arguments and interpretations over your words? even his song about crucifying his ego is ironically another song which any normal person would use to boost their ego because people think its a beautiful song. fuck, even my comment is an attempt at boosting my ego because its useless to me considering i will never come back to this page.
My interpretation | Reviewer: Jenn
None of you are "right" or ever will be. Good songs arn't meant to have any specific meaning, the listener will make up their own meaning to fit their vision of the song. It's not a contest to see who's the best song interpreter it's a goddamn song! So stop worrying about it means and just enjoy it.
Multiple Layers of Meaning | Reviewer: Tim
Maynard James Keenan is known for writing lyrics that can be interpreted in many ways. Not only are many of his lyrics ambiguous, but is it often likely that he injects multiple themes into a single song, some of which may be completely unrelated. This is true of his work with both A Perfect Circle and Tool, and is one of the many defining characteristics of both bands. Tool, in particular, conveys meaning with a subtle scalpel instead of a blunt instrument, and the "obvious" meaning of a song is likely completely off.
Several interpretations mentioned already have merit, including the possibility that MJK is referring to suicide. Another APC song on 13th Step (The Outsider) also seems to be a reference to and condemnation of suicide. APC and Tool themes often seem to deal with internal struggle, so that is a likely interpretation as well. However, the inclusion of Passive on the Emotive disc makes the interpretation about US policy likely as well. The passive/agressive relationship, in my opinion, is the least likely interpretation, as it seems too obvious a reference.
However, it is possible that each of these interpretations reflect some aspect of MJKs intent. Or none of them. He may have been refering to a pet dog that likes to play dead. Herein lies one of the most powerful aspects of his music - interpretation is left up to the listener. Whether he is amused by our overly deep thoughts, or encouraged when we discover what what he really means, MJK rarely lets us know.
What the composer intended with a song is important, but so is what the song means to the listener.