If this song sounds bitter its because it is and I am – Maynard James Keenan

When the music genre called Nu Metal was popularized in the late 90’s a band called A Perfect Circle emerged as a sound unequal among the rest. As the name suggests, it consisted of a group very popular in the alternative scene that they were branded as a “rock supergroup”. Their sound was so eclectic, so thematic that one will be able to visualize or even journey to their songs straight up. 

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From left to right: Maynard James Keenan (Tool), Paz Lenchantin (Pixies), Billy Howerdel (Ashes Divide), Troy Van Leeuwen (Queens of the Stone Age), Josh Freese (Nine Inch Nails)

 Mer de Noms or Sea of names was the title of the record of the debut album of A Perfect Circle released in 2000. Indeed, it stood up to the whole album packaging as the tracks were entitled as Judith, Breña, Magdalena etc. But aside from the name oriented tracks, there are few that are not, including the hit song 3 Libras. Apart from the the heavy sounding instrumentation and progressive rock elements in the album, 3 Libras was acoustic guitar and violin driven. It was very eerie, melodic and most of all, hypnotic. I remember just hearing the song, being serenaded by it, yet I didn’t know the meaning of it. The music video was even a greater mystery. What was that I just saw? What the hell is going on? What was the meaning of it? But as the perplexity of the song goes along, the more I got deeper into it. I got so deep that I myself experienced what it really meant. The song came into life.

Libras are said to look for balance and harmony in their relationships. They are ideal friends, partners and family members. Thus, they are social beings who relies happiness on the success or failure of their relationships.

It was the day after Christmas of 2007 that my then beloved, without any warning, called it quits. Apparently, she was dating someone else two weeks prior. It was at this moment that I felt that I was not invincible. I felt frail and hopeless.

We agreed to see each other three days after the big revelation with me trying to save the relationship. I bought her a cheap bag and a cake in preparation for our meeting. And finally when the day of reckoning came, I headed out early going to their home to finally see her. When I was about to arrive, a few blocks from their home, she suddenly texted me: can we postpone our meet up in the afternoon? Me and my family will be out somewhere. Since I was playing the good guy, I said sure I can wait. So I went to a friend’s house, 3 kilometers away from her home, to hold up my emotions. I knew something was wrong. So I was already disarrayed by the time I came to my friend’s home since it was strangely raining at that time. I never received any texts or calls from her during the day so around 5 pm I asked if I can come already. She said no. I’m still out. Can we postpone this on another day? My world crumbled. I wept like a child. I begged recklessly like there’d be no tomorrow. I told her about the cheap bag and the cake. It melted her. She broke down and told me that she was home all along. She gave me the green signal so I hurried even if I was drenched and stunned by the whole scenario. And like a movie I just waited at her gate ’til she came out, handed her my gifts, kissed her in the pouring rain and with both of us crying we said our goodbyes.

It was a nightmare for almost a year. A hellish moment in my life. Apparently she was a Libra. Not only that, I got into a two straight failed relationships with a Libra. But the first Libra hurt the most.

I could identify myself with what Maynard James Keenan wrote in his song. Though he usually writes cryptically this is how the song made an impact to me.

The whole breakup is too painful to bear but I learned to understand that other people’s actions are just their nature and that it doesn’t hold any meaning. They do not intend to hurt but it does and so one will feel overlooked or taken for granted. The line:

“I threw you the obvious to see what occurs behind the eyes of a fallen angel…eyes of a tragedy . Oh well, oh well, apparently nothing”.

He offers help to the girl seemingly suffering or sees themselves as such but to no avail.

Artist Direct editor in chief Rick Florino described 3 Libras as “a tender moment of longing encased in a beatutiful, blissful melody”

This vaguely points to those who are dense, craving to receive but never willing to give. The mood of the song also feels wary and hesitant. Trying to discern a despairing relationship but apparently there is none. Expecting to be the special one who will be able to mend the wounds but are there any? The line:

“Here I am expecting just a little bit too much from the wounded”

Also, the woman in the song is possibly hurting and this complication is the weight that pulls him towards her even more. The more that she resists the more he feels obliged to bring her out of her misery but again to no avail. In the line:

“Oh well, oh well
Apparently nothing,
Apparently nothing at all”

And finally, the denial of being rejected.

“Difficult not to feel a little bit disappointed and passed over”

My Libra was not a perfect person and so am I. For all I know, I am the one who is flawed. I am the one wanting to save something not worth saving. I tried blaming others and myself but there is no reason to accuse. I thought everything I did was in vain not realizing that it was necessary to happen.  I felt empty only because I wanted more. I felt ignored only because I brought meaning to her actions. I was hurt and bitter simply because I loved. Nothing more nothing less.

The Donnas preform at Lollapalooza 2003
Keenan said that he wrote the song for about 9 people in his life that have birthdays around the same time. He titled it so the Libra people will figure out who’s the song for.

The video, however, tells a different story. We see a boy sharing his boat to three young women while Keenan indulged into a sexual act with three prostitutes. Both of them were seen falling into the water and eventually inside a womb-like structure

.Music is about listening, the more you play, the more the magic spreads.

This seemingly mirrors how some people gets tricked because of their innocence and some are mislead to their cravings and hang-ups. This will ultimately lead to a continuous cycle being reborn over and over ’til that person finds out how to deal with it. It is only through self discovery and purification (thus the significance of water in the video) that a person will be able to arise from being drowned in superficiality and walk an obscured but hollistic individual (the scene where Keenan walks shamelessly in the masquerade ball).

3 Libras is definitely a song with multiple meanings. It may differ from one person to another. Though one thing is for certain, that this song carries a message so strong that it will stand to the test of time.

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