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Favorite misunderstood song
Ok, this isn't about misheard lyrics like "Kissed this guy" instead of "Kiss the sky". This is about your favorite song that many people know but few people understand.

Example: Faith No More's "Epic" ("You want it all but you can't have it..."), a song about masturbation.

Another one: Outkast's "Hey Ya", which is about cheating and alienation in relationships, but which sounds like a happy happy dance song.

My favorite is Neil Young's "Rockin in the Free World", a song about how fucked up the world is. But most people just hear it and think "Yeah! Keep on rockin! Woo hoo!"

posted by Zach Beane on Jan 03, 2006 04:21PM

Zach,
This is a great bboard idea - I'm going to have to do some real thinking to beat your "free world" misunderstood meaning. I will scour the annals of rock/pop songmongerdom to come up with a great example - soon...
posted by Cody Phipps on Jan 03, 2006 07:17PM

Easily topped. Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds. Lennon claims his son drew a pic of a lady name Lucy in the sky with diamonds, but everyone thinks its about LSD.

by ada pickle, visit my band page at
www.freewebs.com/ftballrulz

posted by pickle style on Jan 03, 2006 11:59PM

John Lennon also has a bridge in Brooklyn to sell you.
posted by Zach Beane on Jan 04, 2006 07:41AM

No no, that's true! And "Ticket to Ride" is really about donkeys too. Baby donkeys.
posted by Clint Phipps on Jan 04, 2006 01:25PM

"Born in the U.S.A." - Happy patriotic song? Hell no! Its about being pissed off at the system of american government. I don't know how many people have told me they love that song becuase its patriotic - well, they're wrong!!
posted by Cody Phipps on Jan 07, 2006 06:27PM

"Puff the magic dragon" - Most people will try to tell you that this is a drug reference to Mary Jane: It is simply a children's song written about growing up and eventually losing your childhood and imaginary friends, an occurance that happens to most people (I don't have any imaginary friends anymore, at least)...
posted by Cody Phipps on Jan 07, 2006 06:31PM

What are you talking about man?-- I'm imaginary.
Speaking of, how bout "Imagine"? Obviously a song about imaginary friends: "Imagine all the people..."
posted by Clint Phipps on Jan 09, 2006 12:15AM

Cody's google skills came up with some great examples:

"Born in the USA"

"Every Breath You Take"

posted by Zach Beane on Jan 10, 2006 10:15AM

Takin' Care of Business
posted by Clint Phipps on Jan 17, 2006 06:45PM

"Come Out and Play" -- The Offspring.
Everybody thinks it's an ode to wonderful violence: Come Out and Play BIATCH!!!
But no: "One goes to the morgue and the other to jail, one guy's wasted and the others a waste."
posted by Clint Phipps on Jan 17, 2006 06:53PM

"The other night, dear, as I lay sleeping, I dreamed I held you in my arms. But when I awoke, dear, I was mistaken, and I hung my head and I cried.

You are my sunshine, my only sunshine. You make me happy when skies are gray. You'll never know, dear, how much I love you. Please don't take my sunshine away.

I'll always love you and make you happy, if you will only say the same. But if you leave me and love another, you'll regret it all some day.

You are my sunshine, my only sunshine. You make me happy when skies are gray. You'll never know, dear, how much I love you. Please don't take my sunshine away.

You told me once, dear, you really loved me and no one could come between. But now you've left me to love another. You have shattered all of my dreams.

You are my sunshine, my only sunshine. You make me happy when skies are gray. You'll never know, dear, how much I love you. Please don't take my sunshine away.

In all my dreams, dear, you seem to leave me. When I awake, my poor heart pains. So won't you come back and make me happy? I'll forgive, dear, I'll take all the blame.

You are my sunshine, my only sunshine. You make me happy when skies are gray. You'll never know, dear, how much I love you. Please don't take my sunshine away."

This song was first sung to me by a three year old child I had the pleasure of watching every day for the entire summer when I turned 19. His name was James, and he would sing the chorus to me on the way up the stairs for his nap. I would sit with him in his room while he sang himself to sleep, singing the chorus of "You Are My Sunshine" over and over again.
I thought, "What a beautiful song. What a sweet sentiment. How adorable that he knows something so light and so innocently expressive." Then "Oh Brother, Where Art Thou" came out and I bought the soundtrack. The whole song is the third track on that cd, and wow, what a heavy song it is. The weight of the love of the person that wrote it must have been unbearable for someone. Someone very loved, and very burdened. I'm sure this is a song that many people know AND understand. But I wanted to contribute it as an example anyway because the tone and even the words (especially of the chorus) nearly belie the desperation expressed.

posted by Piper -- on Feb 27, 2006 03:25AM

"Momma's got a squeeze box, Daddy can't sleep at night."
A squeezebox is a musical instrument. To interpolate Freud: Sometimes a squeezebox is just a squeezebox. ...Sometimes.
posted by Clint Phipps on Mar 16, 2006 10:27AM

Here's a slight twist: songs whose content is completely inappropriate for the commercial in which they are used. I found a nice list here. My favorites:

Royal Caribbean's use of Iggy Pop's song about getting high on smack, "Lust for Life"

Wrangler Jeans use of CCR's "Fortunate Son" over flagwaving happy patriotic images

posted by Zach Beane on Mar 16, 2006 10:43AM

"Every Breath You Take" a song about an obsession with someone, and they use it for a wedding song??? that one has always been a head scratcher for me. :)
posted by Laura Woodman on Mar 23, 2006 06:43PM

The Who's Baba O'Riley (aka teenage wasteland) it's not about getting drunk, messed up or wasted, believe it or not... its about the wasteland society has created (and still is) by being neglectful, and the fact that future generations will have to suffer the consequences.
posted by Cody Phipps on Mar 25, 2006 08:13PM

I know we said no "'scuse me while I kiss the sky" lyrics, but seriously, what the hell DOES "Purple Haze" mean anyway? I think it was written about a picture by John Lennon's son...
posted by Clint Phipps on Mar 29, 2006 10:24PM

No, I think "Purple Haze" is a legitimate contribution. I read the lyrics and they didn't seem to actually have much substance. This is not a knock to Jimi, because I think the beauty and significance of the song is primarily in it's SOUND, the way the guitar sounds, the way it moves us. It's a song I never tire of hearing, and until now had never really considered the meaning of the lyrics. It seems to be about some kind of disorientation, some kind of confusion-- perhaps drug or love induced. Or both.
A song that always irritated me because it seemed to lack meaning and is extraordinarily repetitive is that one by Sixpence None the Richer (a band I never really got to know except for what had radio play) where she sings OVER and OVER again "There she goes, running through my brain..."
Is there more to that? It seems like songs should do more than that. Like, why is she running through your brain? Who is she? What happened??? Too many questions. Maybe someone knows.
posted by Piper -- on Apr 04, 2006 03:43PM

Maybe she's running to spend the sixpence and that's why she no richer? Then again, perhaps it's about vitamins. Like Wilma in the flintstones vitamins... "Pulsing through my veins..."
posted by Clint Phipps on Apr 05, 2006 03:43PM

That one is yet another song about doing heroin. What is it with musicians and heroin, anyway?
posted by Zach Beane on Apr 05, 2006 03:46PM