By Nate Thomas
People love music. A lot of people listen to music to escape thinking about everything going on in their lives. Unfortunately, sometimes that lack of thinking carries over into the actual interpretation of the music. The following list includes songs (some very popular, some not so much) that a lot of people seem to misinterpret, whereas if they actually paid attention to the song, the meaning would be extremely clear.
Song: “Stay With Me”
Artist: Sam Smith
A lot of people (at least my Facebook friends) use this one as a romantic song or think it has a romantic message. The real meaning behind the song is pretty clear when you find out what the lyrics are. It is about a man (Sam Smith) who wants to love and be loved but doesn’t really know how to go about it. So instead, he tries to have random hookups and sleep around. When everything is at an end, he asks the person to stay with him and basically pretend that what they have is indeed real, and not a one night stand. Also, Sam Smith is openly gay, so he is singing to a male lover.
Key Lyrics: “Guess it’s true I’m not good at a one night stand.”
“This ain’t love it’s clear to see, but darling stay with me.”
Song: “Born in The USA”
Artist: Bruce Springsteen
This song is often used as a patriotic rallying cry, often seen as being about how proud Bruce Springsteen is to be an American citizen. However, when paying attention to the lyrics, it becomes pretty obvious that it isn’t positive at all. In fact, it is about a Vietnam veteran returning from the war, only to be forgotten by his country and frowned upon for trying to fight for his country. He tries to return to his old life but quickly realizes that it is impossible.
Key Lyrics: “Sent me off to a foreign land to go and kill the yellow man.”
“Come back home to the refinery. Hiring man says, ‘son if it was up to me.’”
Song: “Every Breath You Take”
Artist: The Police
People tend to think of this song as romantic and sweet. In all actuality, it is about a guy not trusting his girl in the slightest, so he follows her everywhere and watches her every move. I heard a story once that when people tell Sting, the frontman of The Police, that this song was their wedding song, and he tells them “Good Luck”.
Key Lyrics: “Every breath you take, every move you make, every bond you break, every step you take, I’ll be watching you.”
“Oh can’t you see, you belong to me.”
Song: “Closing Time”
This song is widely used as an “End of the Night” theme song. People are leaving the bars and it is time to go home. True, the song is about a bar. Kind of. In an interview with americansongwriter.com, Dan Wilson, lead singer and songwriter, confirmed that “Closing Time” is about the birth of his child and that the bar is just a metaphor.
Key Lyrics: “Time for you to go out to the places you will be from. This room won’t be open ‘til your brothers and sisters come.”
Song: “Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds”
Artist: The Beatles
A widely believed opinion is that this song is about LSD. I can see the point. The acronym LSD (Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds), the clearly psychedelic lyrics (“The girl with kaleidoscope eyes”), and the fact that it was released in 1967 (just 2 years before Woodstock) make it a very believable theory. However, in an interview about the song, John Lennon said that the song wasn’t about the drug at all. The song’s title is based on a drawing by John’s son Julian of his classmate, Lucy. Julian titled the drawing “Lucy in The Sky With Diamonds.”
Song: “Bohemian Rhapsody”
It is common knowledge that Freddie Mercury, the frontman of Queen, was killed by AIDS. Many people think that this song, Bohemian Rhapsody, is about his struggle with AIDS and his acceptance of his death. That would make this song even more interesting than it already is, but the problem with that theory is that the song came before the AIDS epidemic. There is no chance that Freddie Mercury was diagnosed with AIDS when writing this song. No one really knows what the song is about, but one theory is that the music was written first, and then lyrics were added to create a melody.
Key Lyric(s): There aren’t any. The song is almost gibberish.
Song: “Harder To Breath”
Artist: Maroon 5
Summary: This is a song about really graphic and intimate sex, right? Of course, because one of the lyrics even says, “Clutching your pillow writhing in a naked sweat”. Well unfortunately, for some listeners that love hearing Adam Levine sing about sex, it isn’t. The song is about how Maroon 5’s record label was pressuring the band to write more songs for this album. They didn’t want to and, as the artists, wanted to keep the album as it was. After constant pressure, Adam wrote this song as a bit of a middle finger to the record label.
Key Lyrics: “So condescending unnecessarily critical.”
“You drain me dry and make me wonder why I’m even here”.
Song: “Follow Me”
Artist: Uncle Kracker
Summary: Sorry folks, but I’ve got to ruin one more “romantic” song for you. This is one of those songs that if you pay attention to the lyrics, it becomes very clear what this song is about. Unfortunately a lot of us, myself included, didn’t really pay all that much attention. If we did, we would have realized that this song is clearly about a guy singing to the married woman that he is “with.” It is somewhat romantic (I guess), but she is still married.
Key Lyrics: “I’m not worried ‘bout the ring you wear ‘cuz as long as no one knows then nobody can care.”
“I’m not the reason that you go astray.”