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Don McLean – American Pie Lyrics 15 years ago
Sorry the last entry came out as one big blob. I was trying to use HTML code to make an ordered list (1, 2, 3) and I either didn't do it right or the web page doesn't support that kind of code.

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Don McLean – American Pie Lyrics 15 years ago
Just a few points:


I think it's a mistake to try to find a "meaning" for every single syllable of the song. As McLean has said himself, it's poetry. I'm sure some lines were written just because the words sounded cool together or made interesting rhymes. One thing McLean has said about American Pie is that people have read a lot more into it than he ever intended to put in.
The song overall is a lament for the decline (in McLean's view) of rock music, from the '50s rock and roll that was just fun to listen to ("that music used to make me smile") to the music of the '60s that was increasingly political ("Lennon/Lenin read a book on Marx") and also took the place of religion in popular culture ("And do you have faith in God above / If the Bible tells you so / Do you believe in rock 'n roll / Can music save your mortal soul"). To McLean, these were separate categories; music wasn't intended to save your soul, but people were "worshipping" rock acts with religious devotion.
The "day the music died" is not a single day or event; it is a sequence of events that were all stepping stones in the decline of rock music: the Buddy Holly plane crash, (perhaps) a personal romantic disappointment for McLean at a sock hop, the Vietnam war, and the Altamont concert at which a fan was killed by the Hells Angels who were working security for the Rolling Stones.
I'm probably wrong, but the Jester referring to Dylan just never worked for me. The song is a lament against music becoming all serious and political, which Dylan was, but the figure of the Jester is basically positive. I always took the Jester to be Elvis, who was thought to be a clown when he first came on the scene, but later became known as King of Rock and Roll.
The final verse seems to have the most different interpretations. As I would read it, I don't think "a girl who sang the blues" is Janis Joplin or any person in particular; I think she just represents the rhythm and blues that McLean had been in love with, but was now neglected. I also don't think "the sacred store" is any particular music store or music publishing company; I think it's just music stores in general, which no longer carry the kind of music McLean loves. People are hurting ("the children screamed / The lovers cried"), but since music has taken the place of religion in society, there is no consolation ("the church bells all were broken"). I take the "three men" actually to represent God, who symbolically leaves because religion has been marginalized.

At any rate, it's lyrically one of the most fascinating songs ever written.

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The Beatles – Hey Jude Lyrics 15 years ago
FWIW

"Cold Turkey" was released 24th October 1969, a year and two months after "Hey Jude."

You enjoy the music too

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The Beatles – Hey Jude Lyrics 15 years ago
pt-

Certainly some of the Beatles' songs were inspired by drug usage. I still think "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" was describing an acid trip, regardless of John's protestations. Paul has acknowledged taking pills, pot, cocaine, and acid. He ticked off the other Beatles for talking to reporters about their LSD usage before any of the rest of them did. And yet, he describes himself (and is acknowledged by the others) as having been more reluctant than they were to get into the heavier drugs. He said somewhere that he drew the line at heroin (he was told, "It's only a problem if you run out of money, and that's no problem for you," and thought, no, I don't want any part of that).

The problem I have with "Hey Jude" being about heroin is that it makes the singer out not only to be a user but to be a pusher--and a pretty heavy-handed pusher at that. That's not Paul's MO. He had already seen the devastating effect that heroin usage had had on John back in '66 or '67. I just don't think that that was his drug of choice, or that he would write a song pushing it that hard. And there are other ways to interpret the song that make more sense.

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The Beatles – Hey Jude Lyrics 15 years ago
bamaman1488--

You think your point is made because that's all you can see. Haven't you ever heard of the expression, something "getting under your skin"? Besides a needle, that is? It means that something is getting to you; you're allowing it to affect you. Paul is telling Julian (and himself) that they can't just have a thick shell. They have to take the risk of being vulnerable.

(And I suspect that "Jude" became slang for heroin after this song was released and users took it to mean heroin.)

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The Beatles – Hey Jude Lyrics 15 years ago
People have the attitude that if it's *possible* to take song lyrics to be about drugs, then they *must* be about drugs, and anyone who thinks otherwise is a naive fool. That's an incredibly superficial outlook.

My guess is that Julian was hurt and angry over his parents' divorce, as well as his father's very open relationship with Yoko Ono. And Paul couldn't stand Yoko and empathized with Julian. So the song is partly for Julian (who was only about 5 at the time) and partly for Paul himself. The lyrics, "Let her into your heart...Let her under your skin" probably refer to Yoko: Julian may not like Yoko (as Paul doesn't) but she's the woman in John's life now and both of them have to learn to accept it. Only then can they "make it better."

The warning, "well you know that it's a fool / who plays it cool / by making his world a little colder" is probably a warning against the emotional coldness that hurt and anger often create. So he urges Julian (and himself) to "let it out and let it in," i.e., let the pain out and let the healing in. He can't put it on someone else to do that for him or with him ("someone to perform with"); he needs to do it himself ("the movement you need is on your shoulder").

Ultimately, it's by accepting the pain and the reality of the situation that it can ever get any better. The more I think about it, the more I think Paul was really writing about himself. He was furious at John for bringing Yoko into the Beatles recording sessions, but he had to get past that in order to keep the Beatles going at all. Too bad it didn't last much longer, anyway.

Just a personal note: this used to be my "work up the courage to ask a girl out" song. I used to play it in the background when I'd call her up. And if she said Yes, then I'd dance around the room during the "da da da da da da da" section. (Smirk all you want; I'm verrry happily married now!)

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Steve Taylor – Jung And The Restless Lyrics 15 years ago
This is a hysterical send-up of psychotherapy, especially of the shallow popular variety. "Gotham's got religion": psychology has replaced faith, and in the wonderful near-death-experience dream, the therapist has replaced God. Significantly, the therapist himself sees no problem in this. Despite the "noble intent," there's something fake about the whole thing.

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Steve Taylor – I Blew Up The Clinic Real Good Lyrics 15 years ago
I love the sarcastic send-up of abortion clinic bombers. Steve makes it clear that that kind of mentality doesn't "care if it's a baby or a tissue blob"; the narrator's strictly in it for selfish reasons. Moreover, he has a shallow view of the problems that beset our society: "Ain't nothing wrong with this country / That a few plastic explosives won't cure."

If more pro-life Christians were willing to join Steve in pillorying the wackos on the fringe, they wouldn't be so identified with that fringe.

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Elton John – Tiny Dancer Lyrics 15 years ago
I thought the meaning was perfectly clear. It's about masturbation. After all, it's the "tiny dancer in my hand." (Yes, I know Bernie denied it. Wouldn't you?) But it's more about the girl he's fantasizing about than his... you know. Other lyrics that support this idea are "Now she's in me, always with me"--she's not physically there, but permanently part of his imagination and memory. "Oh how it feels so real"--it's not real, it just feels that way. And I always thought the lyric went, "Lying here with no one near, only you, and you *can't* hear me." ("You *can* hear me" is too obvious; what's the point of saying that?) "Count the headlights on the highway"--could be happening at night in a bed on a tour bus. Anyway, I think part of the appeal of the song is that it straddles the line between a sweet romantic fantasy and a subject that was considered taboo at the time the song was written.

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