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The Weakerthans – Relative Surplus Value Lyrics 5 years ago
Does anyone have a theory about Jeremy -- who he was, how he died? A few people are speculating that the fallen business star is calling his dad, and it got me wondering if Jeremy was the less-successful, more lovable brother of the narrator. Sort of a "prodigal son" story, turned on its ear.

Neko Case – I'm an Animal Lyrics 6 years ago
@[persimmon:15495] I love both persimmon and bettyfelon's ideas. I also think coffee and jet fuel would have to be in there somewhere. There's nothing quite like coffee and jet fuel - the smell of potential energy everywhere.

Death Cab for Cutie – Title and Registration Lyrics 6 years ago
This song was ahead of its time. It perfectly describes that sucker-punch feeling when you get a Facebook notification saying "You have memories with Jane Doe and Joe Blow today" and then you absentmindedly click through to see a photo of someone who broke your heart.

Aimee Mann – Invisible Ink Lyrics 6 years ago
This song isn't about social media, but the verse about "a ghost who's trying to move your hands over some Ouija board" really made me think about it -- how many of our posts are we broadcasting to everyone, when deep down we're really just engineering them to get the attention of one person?

Neko Case – Local Girl Lyrics 6 years ago
Still working my way through understanding this, but here's what I've got so far:

The first two lines seem to be about feeling old and remembering with longing that carefree feeling of being young.

The bit about the "needle's repeat" suggests a broken record -- something she keeps feeling, or doing, or experiencing over and over, and it's driving her mad, a rut she can't get out of. This could be anything -- habit, addiction, not being able to get over someone...

"Sang my weight in metric trash" is harder to parse. Assuming this one is autobiographical, maybe she's dismissing her own work as a singer-songwriter. (She does this in "Night Still Comes" when she talks about "if I puked up some sonnets...") Metric could refer to the meter of the lyrics -- the rhythm of poetry, like iambic pentameter or trochaic tetrameter. Her weight is just her considerable body of work, which details so much of who she is and where she's been.

"Trip the light" is a reference to tripping the light fantastic, or dancing joyfully, but instead of "fantastic" it's in "Saturn's embrace" -- in the grip of sadness. Is she doing this, or telling someone else to do it?

"You'll give up some local girl, while our lights...blot out her face." Maybe she's talking again about the naive young people around her, losing themselves in show business (a spotlight can wash out a performer's face if it's too bright). Or maybe she's addressing an individual; maybe he's breaking the local girl's heart because he and the narrator bring out that "light" in each other.

"All of you lie..." sounds like a guilty conscience nagging in the back of your mind.

"God damn the time/miles that take me away from you/and change your face..."

She's definitely speaking to a partner here, maybe an ex or soon-to-be ex. Long distance and a long time apart are making her forget what he's like. "And change the way I love you" changes to "loved you." She's growing numb about the loss in spite of herself.

The Wallflowers – Three Marlenas Lyrics 6 years ago
I think the first verse implies she isn't a prostitute, but she sort of feels like one -- it "wasn't how she paid rent," but she slept with an unremarkable guy, because it was just easier to say yes than no -- "he would drive her home, then." I don't think he drove her home for dyeing her hair; I think that's another symbol of how she doesn't feel like her true self.

Neko Case – Vengeance is Sleeping Lyrics 6 years ago
So many great interps already, here, but I want to mention what stands out to me: not only is she realizing that she put this person on a pedestal, she's realizing BOTH of them had false impressions/expectations of each other ("not the man you think I am").

That should be enough to get her over him, but "you're the one that I still miss" means she's still in love even as the illusion crumbles ("ruthless that it comes as no surprise"). And because she's "not the man you think I am," she doubts he even knew how she felt, so the rest of her life she'll wonder what could have been.

It happens. I remember once, a friend told me the best way to get over an infatuation was to really get to know the person, and the idealized fiction you'd built up would disintegrate. What happens when you find out you're in love with the "real him" too, and then he disappears?

Semisonic – All Worked Out Lyrics 6 years ago
I always figured this was about a relationship in which the "she" was much more sure about the long term than the "you" the song is addressing. "You" just keep following her lead, drifting into the life she's planned for the pair of you. "She's" in charge, and she's fast-forwarding the relationship...pushing to move in together, or get married, or have kids. It's bizarre to you how much she's mapped out ahead.

Then the surprise, at the end -- none of this was "your" idea, but you're content to be a passenger in the least for now.

Three Dog Night – Pieces of April Lyrics 6 years ago
@[Sharonabio:9899] You were not alone.

Sloan – Take The Bench Lyrics 6 years ago
According to Murph, it's an agonizing piano recital and also an agonizing divorce. The kid is on the "bench" for both -- her parents have pushed her to perform onstage and in the courtroom.

I wonder if there are any other songs that compare divorce court to kids' recitals? Sloan found some odd parallels here.

Whitehorse – Out Like a Lion Lyrics 6 years ago
I am so enchanted with this song, but I'm still trying to parse it after four or five years. Here is all I've got so far:

In-like-lamb/out-like-lion obviously refers to March, and seemingly means someone presenting as innocent in the beginning, and then later revealing themselves to be some kind ferocious.

The Mary Rose was a navy warship during the reign of Henry VIII, which sunk in battle. More in-like-a-lion and out-like-a-lamb, that -- am I wrong?

The rest of the lyrics, I'm still unwrapping. It sounds like a postmortem of a relationship at a particular time of year.

Fiona Apple – Limp Lyrics 6 years ago
I googled "songs about gaslighting" and this one was at the top of the results. I'd never made the connection, and I first heard it about 15 years ago.

In particular, I think of "negging" -- where wannabe PUAs insult a woman to break her, and then put the moves on her. It's like smacking someone around and then offering to kiss it better, and the moment you realize it's happening to you, it is infuriating!

Rufus Wainwright – Out of the Game Lyrics 6 years ago
This one makes me think of older people in the entertainment industry (though maybe never "famous") watching younger people try to take their world by storm.

You see them throwing themselves at scam-artist managers and casting-couch sleazebags and you just want to shake them by the shoulders, but you're also a little jealous of all that optimism they still have.

Melissa Mcclelland – A Girl Can Dream Lyrics 6 years ago
The verses are all about an ambitious goal: treating her partner better, but the "a girl can dream" refrain is really interesting to me. It might mean she knows she's not likely to succeed at cleaning up her act. It might mean HE doesn't have faith that she will. And it might mean dreaming is all she can do about her old "dark" ways, which she misses.

Joe Jackson – Is She Really Going Out With Him? Lyrics 6 years ago
So many of these interps ignore the entire point of the song!

No, it's not about good-looking guys getting all the love. It's about ugly buffoons seemingly dating out of their league, and wondering what their gorgeous girlfriends see in them.

If you've ever watched King of Queens, you get it. :)

Barenaked Ladies – Everything Old Is New Again Lyrics 6 years ago
This song is for those two people who keep crawling back to each other only to break each other's hearts again. "Everything old is new again" means the nostalgia keeps blinding them to how ill-suited they are -- to each other, maybe even to relationships as a whole.

"Everything under the sun" is a clever play on scripture -- Ecclesiastes 1:9 says "That which has been is what will be, That which is done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun." Their "fresh starts" will always be doomed to the same failures as before, because for all their enthusiasm neither of them can ever make the necessary changes. They're caught in a codependent feedback loop, a two-way addiction.

Cibo Matto – The Candy Man Lyrics 6 years ago
Somehow, this is only exactly as creepy as the original.

Sloan – Raspberry Lyrics 6 years ago
This one's about a romantic prospect turned stalker.

Judy Garland – Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas Lyrics 6 years ago
I love this sombre version so much more than the more popular, cheered-up version.

The Bangles – Make A Play For Her Now Lyrics 6 years ago
Watching the Don Juan who broke your heart move on to his next conquest.

Aimee Mann – How Am I Different? Lyrics 6 years ago
Knowing Aimee Mann's struggles with management and record labels, I could see this as a breakdown of her wariness of them, dressed up as a cautious love song. Entertainers of all stripes have to watch out for unscrupulous people and businesses who prey on our ambitions. In the end, it's very similar to a smooth-operating Don Juan, wooing a wallflower.

Joel Trueblood – No Need to Cry Lyrics 6 years ago
Brian Connelly sounds his Shadowy-Men best on this track. The guitar licks are a balmy breeze, Neko's voice is soft brushed cotton, and everything else is poetry. When the drums come rattling in under the words "years have been lost," it's as if you can hear the passage of time, sped up along that highway the subject is "tied to." And the refrain of "there's no need to cry" is about as unconvincing as it gets, maybe even since John Waite's "Missing You."

Boy – Little Numbers Lyrics 7 years ago
This song is about finally exchanging phone numbers with someone you've been sweet on for a while. The world is suddenly full of delicious possibility ("spring is making promises") and eagerness to get to know them better ("I wonder which color you'd like"). Then there's the utter torture of waiting for the phone to ring -- "to release me from the longest afternoon."

Gin Blossoms – Pieces Of The Night Lyrics 7 years ago
12th Night refers to the last "night" of Christmas (which is, in liturgy, a 12-day holiday -- remember the carol?). The events in this song have nothing to do with a "twelfth date" or with Shakespeare -- they're happening on the night of January 5th, a bleak, dreary time of year.

I agree it's about getting drunk, hoping to connect with someone, feeling invisible, and failing. The second-person the song is Hopkins addressing himself. "What did you expect, Aphrodite on a barstool? You thought you'd be satisfied being a cult sensation; you just weren't smart enough to know how hard it would be." He only remembers pieces of the night on purpose, because of the drinking, but he hates himself for it.

Barenaked Ladies – Same Thing Lyrics 7 years ago
The original liner notes to "Born on a Pirate Ship" have the lyrics as "not for the Third World War," contrary to how Ed sings it on the album. (Superstition, perhaps?)

Sloan – The Life Of A Working Girl Lyrics 7 years ago
This song is about Chris Murphy's relationship with Feist -- and how it couldn't survive her rise to international stardom.

Patrick Pentland also said Murph would sometimes deliberately write something barebones and stripped-down like this to perform solo live, "So the rest of us can get a beer."

Spin Doctors – How Could You Want Him (When You Know You Could Have Me) Lyrics 7 years ago
A universal theme: I'd SWEAR you were meant to be with me. Why on earth are you with that person instead?

I really love all the religious imagery woven into the lyrics -- angels, seraphim, cherubim, St. Christopher. It almost implies a spiritual connection between the narrator and the object of his affection -- one that he doesn't think she shares with her actual partner.

There are a million torch songs with a smarmy martyr complex, a la "I want my beloved to be happy." There are a million worse ones, whining "How come you only want jerks when I'm such a Nice Guy?" This one actually strikes the balance somehow, and lets us believe that there's some actual love lost -- that this broken heart is actually worth regretting.

The Blow – True Affection Lyrics 7 years ago
"Out of your league" can mean two people who can't be together in practical terms (long distance, both already involved with someone else, or some other essential disqualifier). It can also mean that rare mutual attraction where both parties feel they're on the lucky end of the deal. I think in this song it's both -- so many lyrics refer to a magical sort of connection, but there are also references to a gap that can't rightly be closed.

This song is so clinical, and so crushing, all at once.

The Bangles – September Girls Lyrics 7 years ago
@[Bluewaves:5742] Your post made me smile, imagining the Bangles' cover as an answer to the original Big Star version. Both the September Gurl and the December Boy had the same feelings of heartache when all was said and done.

Barenaked Ladies – This Is Where It Ends Lyrics 7 years ago
This song is about our broken brains, the way we use our mental-health diagnoses to excuse the bad things we do, and the substances (licit and otherwise) that we use to cope with the problem (or bury it).

The chorus and the bridge suggest it's also about the effect mental health inevitably has on a relationship. To the depressed person, the neurotypical partner seems like a wide-eyed idealist ("she wants to live in a movie"); to the neurotypical partner, the depressed one seems like a leaden anvil ("I can't be bothered doing it myself...").

Sloan – Suppose They Close The Door Lyrics 7 years ago
I think the unofficial story goes that Chris Murphy and Andrew Scott had each written half a song, and then Frankensteined them together, just like Randy Bachman and Burton Cummings did with "No Sugar Tonight/New Mother Nature."

I can't be sure, but if I had to guess, the parts with hard music and relatively soft lyrics are Andrew's, and the bits with happy-cutesy music and dark twisted lyrics are Murph's. It gives the whole song a great "Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde" sort of feel!

Rufus Wainwright – The Tower of Learning Lyrics 7 years ago
Someone you love so deeply and instantly can devastate you just as suddenly and completely.

Feist – The Circle Married The Line Lyrics 7 years ago
@[driftingdreamer:5207] No idea if I'm right about this, but I always figured it was a pun on Feist's first name, Leslie. "Lee" also means sheltered from wind/rain, so "less than lee" would have to mean windward, or exposed.

Sarah Harmer – You Were Here Lyrics 7 years ago
I particularly adore the image of her wishing the gas station lights would snuff out so she could walk home "by moonlight, alone." I was on a similar walk last night, wishing for a little darkness, a little privacy.

My mother died last year; Dad and I both had someone we best liked to talk about it with, someone who understood better than anyone what we were going through. This month my friend moved away, and his died, and now the holes in our hearts are hollowed out again, glazed over so nothing new seems to stick there. It's strange how well these lyrics can suit any sort of loss, any kind of mourning.

The Bangles – Glitter Years Lyrics 7 years ago
I always imagined this song being about a self-destructive gay guy friend -- charming and flamboyant and reckless, with something like a death wish from feeling unloved by his own family.

My high-school years were the Turn of the Millennium, not the '70s, but I still had friends coping with their pain in that fashion. I'm glad my Denny lived to find some love and stability.

The Bangles – He's Got A Secret Lyrics 7 years ago
The narrator is warning a woman that her man is cheating on her. To me, it seems there's a hint that the narrator IS the other woman, or at least knows her: "Don't look at me, 'cause I'll never tell."

Paula Abdul – Alright Tonight Lyrics 7 years ago
This was written by John Hiatt, of all people.

The liner notes to "Spellbound" include one final half-verse, not heard in the recording:

"For the price of one golden beast,
One man could starve half to death
While another could feast.
Love is the perfect host,
In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost."

Aimee Mann – Long Shot Lyrics 7 years ago
The guitar riff between the verses sounds just like the intro to "Up The Junction" by Squeeze. I think it had to be deliberate!

Joel Plaskett – Deny, Deny, Deny Lyrics 7 years ago
Joel drops a lot of hints in this song that the romance ending isn't a licit one. It comes down "like the Berlin Wall," and the "undercover lover" writes him a "bad cheque." The theme of "three" throughout the album bleeds in here too, suggesting a love triangle.

The Bangles – Dover Beach Lyrics 7 years ago
jubjub and MamboMan, I think your insights are spot-on. This is one of those bittersweet "star-crossed lovers" odes. The one thing they want most is to be together, and they can't be. The poetry references (title included) seem like shared niche interests or little inside jokes -- the kind of things that can make another person seem like your soulmate.

The Bangles – Bell Jar Lyrics 7 years ago
Sounds like it's about the life and death of Sylvia Plath, gifted author of "The Bell Jar" who ended up committing suicide.

This song even has a sort of manic/depressive feel, swinging back and forth between speedy/dynamic and slow/melancholy.

The Gigolo Aunts – Everyone Can Fly Lyrics 7 years ago
What a perfect "coming of age" song! I think it encapsulates the realization we have in mid-adulthood: most of our wildest childhood dreams will never come true, and then realizing how much magic is still possible in the time we have left. It's about losing that youthful naivete but keeping your optimism.

Sloan – Before I Do Lyrics 7 years ago
Andrew Scott said this song was about the death of his father. It comes through in lines like "the pearly gate now closes with you inside," and "I'm usually in mourning in the afternoon and night" (an almost Chris Murphy-level pun).

This, from the horse's mouth: ""The inspiration was my dad, who died. But that's just an excuse to write a little story. It's fiction inspired by true life. The story is the Current Affair or Hard Copy episode on the album." -Scott

Source here:

Death Cab for Cutie – Black Sun Lyrics 7 years ago
@[gk10:1826] I've lurked on this site for years. Finally I've registered, because I've finally read an interpretation that was impossible to resist responding to.

I think you nailed it; it's every hunch I had about the meaning of this song, in far greater depth than my hunches could reach. I look forward to more of your insights.

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