"My opinion on this song is that Greg wrote about the effect of seeing poverty and apathy while walking on the streets and the such. That seems to be a recurring topic on this album. Kerosene for example, about homeless. But anyway, back to Struck a Nerve, the lines: 'there's an infant clinging to his overweight mother as they go to shop for cigarettes, and she spends her last dollar for a bottle of vodka for tonight' signify the lack of caring by the mother for her infant child, she doesn't care if he/she has to eat, she'll just get drunk and smoke, basically killing the child with second-hand smoke. Apathy right there. The lines: 'there's an old man on a city bus holding a candy cane, and it isn't even Christmas, he sees a note in the obituary that his last friend has died' show faithlessness in the old man. He's holding a candy cane, waiting for Christmas, and he finds out his last friend dies, leaving him with nothing to live for. 'And I guess it struck a nerve, like I had to squint my eyes, you can never get out of the line of sight' shows that no matter where you go, you see poverty and apathy, especially on city streets in good ol' U.S.of A. But there is one question I have: who sings back-up for the last verse??? I can't figure it out!!!"
"That would be Johnette Napolitano from Concrete Blonde singing backup vocals at the end. Eddie Vedder is on 'American Jesus' and 'Watch It Die'."
-Amish Rake Fighter
"The first verse of this song (old man, infant, overweight, mother) is about the sadness and hopelessness of people (not just the poor) in the world and the lack of meaning in our lives. Greg (and/or Brett) mentions that he 'looks to tomorrow for salvation' and then he 'a wave of overwhelming doubt' turns him to stone, meaning no way, there is no hope for tomorrow, it will be just like the present. At the end, all of the hurt and suffering doesn't allow Greg (and or Brett) to close his (their) eyes. The writer (GG/Brett) obviously don't have an answer as is said: 'if there is purpose for us all, it remains a secret to me' They don't even know what they are living for: 'don't ask me to justify my life' This is a song of seeing and realizing and then searching and coming empty handed with no answer just like many other things we question. Thank you."
"I think that last lyric actually goes "if theres a purpose for our sorrow it remains a secret for me." It does kinda change that part of the interpretation, so just clearing that up."