Metallica - Welcome Home Sanitarium - Lyrics Meaning

JohnJ By JohnJ, 11th Feb 2014 | Follow this author | RSS Feed | Short URL
Posted in Wikinut>Reviews>Music>Hard Rock & Metal

In this article I dissect the lyrics to the greatly written song, Welcome Home (Sanitarium) by Metallica, portraying the thoughts of a patient in a psychiatric hospital.

Metallica - Welcome Home (Sanitarium)

I love listening to music. But I also love going deeper then the simple superficial sound, and seeking deeper meaning in the lyrics that the artists have written. Sanitarium by Metallica is one of my favourite heavy metal tracks, with some brilliant lyrics to accompany it. Here's my take on what they mean.

Firstly, the name of the track, Welcome Home Sanitarium, can be interpreted as the lyrics are about a person suffering from a mental illness, as the word Sanitarium (deriving from Sanatorium) is often used as another word for a psychiatric hospital.

"Welcome to where time stands still
No one leaves and no one will
Moon is full, never seems to change
Just labelled mentally deranged"

The writer starts here by talking about how 'time stands still' and 'moon is full, never seems to change'. Here he indicates how life never changes. It is the same thing, day after day. 'No one leaves and no one will' introduces the theme that he, as well as his fellow patients, feel helpless and stuck with their lives. 'Just labelled mentally deranged' refers to how the doctors and staff don't seem to realize what is really going on inside the authors head. He is misunderstood, and is simply labelled mentally deranged.

"Dream the same thing every night
I see our freedom in my sight
No locked doors, no windows barred
No things to make my brain seem scarred"

Here the author is describing how his dreams are to escape the Sanitarium, and to reach 'freedom' alongside his fellow patients. 'No locked doors, no windows barred, no things to make my brain seem scarred'. This line may be interpreted in a literal sense, that perhaps the patient is kept against their will. Or, in a more metaphorical way, his feelings are locked away. His true thoughts are barred. Being back in the outside world, he believes, will stop his brain from feeling scarred.

"Sleep my friend and you will see
The dream is my reality
They keep me locked up in this cage
Can't they see it's why my brain says rage"

Here he seems to make it clear that he is addressing a friend of his, most likely someone inside the Sanitarium alongside him. He believes that his dream of freedom and of being able to escape, he will make come true, although he does not reveal yet how he plans to do this. Again, the idea is reinforced that he may be trapped inside the Sanitarium, as he says he is 'locked up in this cage'. The writer feels anger at this, and questions whether the people who work at the Sanitarium understand why he is full of rage.

"Sanitarium, leave me be
Sanitarium, just leave me alone"

This is the chorus, which is repeated several times. It seems clear that he wants nothing more to do with the Sanitarium in which he is being held.

"Build my fear of what's out there
Can I breathe the open air
Whisper things into my brain
Assuring me that I'm insane"

After his original dreams of escaping, he begins to look at his plans with more thought. He questions whether he will be able to breathe the open air, perhaps he wonders how life will be outside of the Sanitarium, and if he will be able to cope with it. The writer may at this point feel very doubtful at his plans, and begins to agree that he is mentally unstable.

"They think our heads are in their hands
But violent use brings violent plans
Keep him tied, it makes him well
He's getting better, can't you tell?"

The writer comments on how the staff and doctors at the Sanitarium believe that they are able to control the patients. Again, the idea that violence is used against patients in reinforced, and the writer makes it clear that the violence he has felt himself will also be used against those who where violent to him. He seems to end this section with a provocative statement against those he wants to escape, telling them to keep him in the Sanitarium, and that he is getting better.

"No more can they keep us in
Listen, damn it, we will win
They see it right, they see it well
But they think this saves us from our hell"

The writer returns to his dream of escaping. He is confident that they 'will win' and that those at the Sanitarium can longer keep them locked away. The author seems to agree at this point, that the doctors understand some of what he feels, however this does not help him at all, 'they think it saves us from our hell'.

"Fear of living on, natives getting restless now
Mutiny in the air, got some death to do
Mirror stares back hard, kill, it's such a friendly word
Seems the only way for reaching out again"

Here he seems to be preparing for his, most probably, violent escape from the Sanitarium. The writer describes is as a mutiny. 'Kill, it's such a friendly word', shows the writers desire to escape, and that killing to ensure his freedom is not a problem. He concludes with feeling that this violent plan is the only option of 'reaching out' again.

This is what my interpretation of this powerful song means. Feel free to post your own in the comments below.


Lyrics, Meaning, Metallica, Sanitarium

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author avatar JohnJ
Heavy metal and football. The rest are just details.

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author avatar Retired
12th Feb 2014 (#)

Love this song ... And Metallica :) Great article :)

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author avatar JohnJ
13th Feb 2014 (#)

Thanks! In my opinion, it's one of the most underrated songs on the Master of Puppets album.

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author avatar spidermix38
17th Mar 2014 (#)

Yeah,this is great song,but,i disagree with you that this is the most underrated song.For me ,the most underrated song remains "Disposable Heroes".

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author avatar Jonny
28th Apr 2014 (#)

Interesting interpretation - I always think of this song as a metaphor for being constrained by societal norms, and that the only way to 'break free' is to explore your inner creativity...but then again I may be wrong :)

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author avatar Jonny
28th Apr 2014 (#)

And yes Disposable Heroes is the most underrated song, rarely played live, but deserves more outings

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