Metal Music

Dream Theater – The Glass Prison

The Glass Prison is the opening track on Dream Theater’s 6th album Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence, and marks the beginning of The Twelve-Step Suite. Like the rest of the suite, and The Mirror (which deals with similar themes and is considered an unofficial prequel), it is dedicated to Bill W, the founder of Alcoholics Anonymous.

This song also continues the meta album cycle, beginning with the same white noise that Scenes from a Memory ended with. Originally, the song ended with a long drum solo, but it was edited out after the vocals were added, as it felt inappropriate.

John Petrucci recorded this song using a 7-string guitar in standard tuning (B-E-A-D-G-B-E).

The Glass Prison outlines the first three steps of the 12 steps to recovery in Alcoholics Anonymous. Mike Portnoy explained, “It’s about battling addiction and recovery and those were some things that I have dealt with in my personal life over the past few years. All three of the movements are written directly about the first three steps in twelve step recovery of Alcoholics Anonymous. So the first step in the first section of the song is admitting being powerless, the second step is needing the help of others, came to believe a power greater than ourselves to restore sanity. The third section is being willing to turn your life over to a higher power and handing over your will. So the three sections are directly out of the first three steps in AA.”

Many of the lyrics in the Glass Prison are taken directly from the AA book, for example, “Remember we deal with alcohol – cunning, baffling, powerful.” There are also a few references to lyrics in The Mirror: “Chasing a long lost friend”, which could refer to the line, “look in the mirror my friend”, meaning his friend is the alcoholism.



Cunning, baffling, powerful
Been beaten to a pulp
Vigorous, irresistible
Sick and tired and laid low
Dominating, invincible
Black-out, loss of control
Overwhelming, unquenchable
I’m powerless, have to let go

I can’t escape it
It leaves me frail and worn
Can no longer take it
Senses tattered and torn
Hopeless surrender
Obsession’s got me beat
Losing the will to live
Admitting complete defeat

Fatal descent
Spinning around
I’ve gone too far
To turn back round

Desperate attempt
Stop the progression
At any length
Lift this obsession

Crawling to my glass prison
A place where no one knows
My secret lonely world begins

So much safer here
A place where I can go
To forget about my daily sins

Life here in my glass prison
A place I once called home
Fall in nocturnal bliss again

Chasing a long lost friend
I no longer can control
Just waiting for this hopelessness to end


Fast from the wreckage of the past
A shattered glass prison wall behind me
Past walking through the ash
A distant oasis before me

Desperate, crawling on my knees
Begging God to please stop the insanity
Help me
I’m trying to believe
Stop wallowing in my self pity

“We’ve been waiting for you my friend
The writing’s been on the wall
All it takes is a little faith
You know you’re the same as us all”

Help me
I can’t break out this prison all alone
Save me
I’m drowning and I’m hopeless on my own
Heal me
I can’t restore my sanity alone

Enter the door
Fighting no more
Help me restore
To my sanity
At this temple of hope

I need to learn
Teach me how
Sorrow to burn
Help me return
To humanity
I’ll be fearless and thorough
To enter this temple of hope

Transcend the pain
Living the life
Opened my eyes
This new odyssey
Of rigorous honesty

That I never knew
Soundness of mind
Help me to find
Courage to change
All the things that I can

“We’ll help you perform this miracle
But you must set your past free
You dug the hole, but you can’t bury your soul
Open your mind and you’ll see”

Help me
I can’t break out this prison all alone
Save me
I’m drowning and I’m hopeless on my own
Heal me
I can’t restore my sanity alone


Way off in the distance I saw a door
I tried to open
I tried forcing with all of my will but still
The door wouldn’t open

Unable to trust in my faith
I turned and walked away
I looked around, felt a chill in the air
Took my will and turned it over

The glass prison which once held me is gone
A long lost fortress
Armed only with liberty
And the key of my willingness

Fell down on my knees and prayed
“Thy will be done”
I turned around, saw a light shining through
The door was wide open

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