Audioslave’s “Like a Stone” Lyrics Meaning
The general understanding the lyrics of “Like a Stone” is that they are being relayed from the perspective of an elder gentleman who is currently knocking on death’s door. But in general it can also be understood that the narrator is not necessarily being elderly. But probably, he acknowledges that his death is imminent. And the reality of such has him thinking about both to the past and the future.
Concerning the past, he is for the most part reflecting on his life’s journey. But the thoughts are still, in their own way, future-oriented. That is he is looking forward to meeting his old friends in the afterlife, as in those who have already passed away. But he is also remembering his own prior actions, both good and bad.
This leads us to the future, where he is wondering how he will be received into the hereafter. It is pretty clear that this individual does believe in life after death. However, he does not come off as a particularly religious individual. Rather he is “pray(ing) to the gods and the angels like a pagan”, i.e. someone who believes in the spiritual world yet not having subscribed to any specific monotheistic belief system.
Song’s title (“Like a Stone”) and Chorus
And that then brings us to the title and chorus, in which he states ‘he will be waiting’ in the addressee’s house “like a stone”. This section of the song is very ambiguous, as in it contains a couple of variables. For instance, who the addressee is exactly is not specified. But based on the overall wording of the tune, it would either be a deceased friend or the being he anticipates will judge him in the afterlife. And considering that who he is speaking to is never specified, that also raises questions as to where this entity’s “house” is actually situated. For example, it can be a physical location or a supernatural one in the spirit world.
But conclusively, if nothing else it can be deduced that the singer isn’t worried about dying per se. Rather his anxiety, if you will, is focused on how he will be received in the afterlife. And Chris Cornell, who is acknowledged as the primary writer of this song, intentionally did so in such a way where the subject was indeed anticipating meeting God, though not through the lenses of pervasive religions that tend to illustrate how such will transpire. Also according to Cornell there is an intended sarcasm, as in mocking the idea of good people being cast into hell.
Facts about “Like a Stone”
Interscope Records along with Epic Records released this song on 21 January 2003. The labels released it as the second single from Audioslave’s eponymous debut album.
The tune managed to top two Billboard charts – Alternative Songs and Mainstream Rock. Furthermore, it reached a peak position of 31 on the Hot 100.
Moreover “Like a Stone” charted in Australia, Brazil and New Zealand.
And back in the United States, in addition to being nominated for a Grammy Award the song has also achieved Gold certification via the RIAA.
Prolific director Meiert Avis handled the music video to “Like a Stone”. It was filmed in an old mansion in Los Angeles where music icon Jimi Hendrix once resided.
The individual members of Audioslave – which were Tim Commerford, Chris Cornell (1964-2017), Tom Morello and Brad Wilk – are credited as the writers of this song. And the track was produced by the iconic Rick Rubin.
A popular theory is that this song is actually centered on the premature death of Layne Staley (1967-2002). Staley was a notable member of Alice in Chains, a popular rock group. However, this is something which Chris Cornell vehemently denied. According to Cornell, the lyrics were written even before Staley’s demise.