The song, written by Dave Mustaine, deals with the theme of a failed suicide attempt, similar to the origin of the phrase skin of my teeth, where the commentator narrowly escapes death. The song has often been (incorrectly, according to Mustaine) thought to promote suicide. He talked about the meaning of "Skin o' My Teeth" several times, as shown below.
MTV flipped when they saw the lyrics to 'Skin O' My Teeth' because they thought I was promoting committing suicide. It has taken us a long enough time to get our relationship politically correct with MTV. So I don't want to go out and film a video about a song that they are going to look at and say, 'You're nuts.' and if they say, 'Hey Dave, we're going to play your song, as radical as it is, but you have to go on there and say the song is not about suicide,' I'll say it. 'Hey, this song is not about suicide'
This is a song about how many times I tried to kill myself and just couldn't get the fucking job done. This is 'Skin O'My Teeth!
That's about people who want to end it and just can't get it together. You know, they cut their wrist; it's just not deep enough. Or they decide to get hit by a car and it just breaks their leg or something.
This song in no way condones suicide. Life sucks that's why people get fat and lazy; this is Skin O' My Teeth.
This was a fun video to make. We played live at this raging little club in Chicago called the Metro. The video crew were a bunch of maniacs running around the stage like little rodents. It was hard not to laugh as these crazy guys kept getting in our way. —Marty Friedman
I had wrists donning slits Flowing constantly My broken body in a wreck Wrapped around a tree A crosswalk hit-and-run The finish line for me People clutter in the gutter Take a look and see No escaping pain You belong to me Clinging on to life By the skin of my teeth My blood flows through the streets Deluge from the wounds Empty jars of sleeping pills On the dresser of my room My wet-brained neighbor cranes His neck to see In time the white light's a train Bearing down on me No escaping pain You belong to me Clinging on to life By the skin of my teeth I won't feel the hurt I'm not trash any longer That, that doesn't kill me Only makes me stronger I need a ride to the morgue That's what 911 is for So tag my toe and don't forget To close the drawer No escaping pain You belong to me Clinging on to life By the skin of my teeth