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Watch: Licensed Therapist Analyzes The Depths Of TOOL’s "Pneuma"

“The gift of this song is this reminder that even if you feel that your life is dark, you still have light and your pain does not disqualify you from having light."


Taylor Palmby is a licensed therapist and a key member of the HeartSupport organization, and she has become a prominent figure on YouTube, garnering significant attention for her insightful analysis of tracks from the likes of Avenged Sevenfold, System Of A Down, Rob Zombie, Judas Priest, and Nine Inch Nails, to name a few.

In one of her latest videos, she took again left turn from the heavy material and delved into the profound themes of Tool's song "Pneuma”. This is not the first time Palmby has dissected Tool's material, "Schism", "The Grudge", "Sober", "The Pot" and "Forty-Six & 2" have been among the band's songs she's reacted to previously.

Reaction videos often captivate audiences by showcasing genuine responses to music. Early in Palmby’s video, she is visibly absorbed by the complex musicality of Tool, describing the song as "vibey" and akin to a "lullaby." She even suggests it could serve as a perfect backdrop for meditation.

When Maynard James Keenan's vocals emerge, Palmby provides an analysis of the song’s title: "I think Pneuma, I think breath, because I think pneumonia and that is a disease of the breath," she says. Further exploring the term, she defines "pneuma" as the "vital spirit or soul for the force of a person."

The lyrics resonate deeply with Palmby, she expresses admiration for how Tool incorporates spiritual and metaphysical elements into their music. "I like how they're taking a lot of spiritual and metaphysical and infusing it in their lyrics. It just has such a deep meaning. Even using the word 'Pneuma' I think is really cool. I have a lot of respect for Tool and I think that they have such a wide range of messaging that is very deep."

Palmby highlights a core message of the song: the inherent light within everyone. "What I really like about this song is the idea that we are all one spark. Sun becoming. We all have a spark of light within us and it's this call, 'Child, release your light. Release your spark. Let your light shine. Let the pneuma in your shine. Let your soul shine.'"

Addressing the universality of this light, Palmby adds: "If you have breath, and we all have breath, then you have a shiny spirit. You have a soul. And I think when people are struggling, they feel like they're disqualified from having or shining their light. This song shows that it's fundamentally a part of being human to have light within you in the same way that it is to breathe and that it is a universal part of the experience. Another part is that we all have this universal spark of light within us, which I think is really beautiful."

Sharing her personal struggles with depression, suicidal thoughts, and trauma, Palmby emphasizes the song's significance for those battling mental health issues: "I think this song is so important for people that are struggling because when we are struggling with mental health, we often feel like our light has completely gone and been extinguished. It's not. It's just been forgotten," she says. “So we need to remember our light and remember that light has so many different frequencies and so many different colors and so many different ways it can shine. So being a person who is experiencing pain doesn't disqualify you from having light. It informs you about the type of light that you can shine.”

Palmby elaborates on how the song's music bolsters its message. She notes the impact of Danny Carey's drumming, which she describes as tribal and essential to the song's theme. "It's like this light has always existed in us generationally from the beginning of time," she explains. Furthermore, she comments on the song’s dynamic progression, likening it to the growth of light. She visualizes "the light shooting out of me" during these building moments.

Palmby sums up her thoughts with a powerful message: "I just love this reminder that even if your light feels dark that does not mean that you do not have light. Having light, having a spark within you is as fundamentally true to your being as having breath in your lungs. I think that the gift of this song is this reminder that even if you feel that your life is dark, you still have light and your pain does not disqualify you from having light, from having purpose in your life. It informs the type of light that you can shine. It literally shines a light on the path of your purpose. You still have it, even when life is hard. Even when it's dark, you still have light to shine. You still have something that other people around you need. Going through something does not take that away. It just informs the type of light."

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