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King Crimson – Lament Lyrics 8 days ago
Great sad song about the regrets of a washed up rock star. All of it is tinged with that subtle melancholy feeling of having had talent but having blown it somehow. These lyrics are there in the middle of the long, jamming instrumental codas of the Starless and Bible Black album, and the second half of the song is a little hard to hear in the way it's delivered, but the prog poetic sensibility is first class.

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John Prine – The Late John Garfield Blues Lyrics 6 months ago
John Garfield was a big movie star in the old school sense, and he died at the age of 39. Like the funerals of Rudolf Valentino and Princess Diana, the funeral was a big cultural event where people expressed huge sadness over an early death. So the late John Garfield Blues are the kind of blues that you feel in relation to something ending way too soon, leaving you with a sense that there could have been much more but now it has all ended suddenly and you are left alone.

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John Prine – The Late John Garfield Blues Lyrics 6 months ago
John Garfield was a big movie star in the old school sense, and he died at the age of 39. Like the funerals of Rudolf Valentino and Princess Diana, the funeral was a big cultural event where people expressed huge sadness over an early death. So the late John Garfield Blues are the kind of blues that you feel in relation to something ending way too soon, leaving you with a sense that there could have been much more but now it has all ended suddenly and you are left alone.

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Matt Costa – Never Looking Back Lyrics 11 months ago
A song written by someone who has been let down by people he trusted. He's trying to work through feelings of betrayal and abandonment.

He's sorting through what he's learned from the experience. Talking about the idea that it's just impossible to build foundations on sandy ground gives him some perspective. People just are what they are.

There are some unresolved feelings of bitterness that are coming through, but he's moving on. Somewhere is a future where he can start over with new horizons to explore.

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Bright Eyes – Cleanse Song Lyrics 1 year ago
All about the thoughts and perceptions that run through his mind as he is kicking drugs and detoxing. It's a combination of coming face to face with bad, dark dreams, and visions of life from the pure higher perspective of eternity. There are even visions of past lives and predestined moments of life, the "meetings of chance" that are really planned in a dimension not remembered. And then finally, reincarnation. It sounds something like a vision from the afterlife as described in the Tibetan Book of the Dead.

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Bright Eyes – Middleman Lyrics 1 year ago
"Soul Singer In a Session Band", two songs before on the same album, is about the mostly phony commercial nature of popular music. This song is a sort of admission by Conor Oberst that he has made a few artistic compromises himself in the name of success.

The line, "Now every dream gets whittled down just like every fool gets wise
You will never reap of any seed deprived of sunlight" kind of sums it up. Young artists are often purists who absolutely refuse to shape what they do to an audience because it feels like compromising what they most believe in. But an older, wiser artist understands that compromises need to be made, or success never is achieved. The dream of artistic purity has to be whittled down somewhat, or no one ever gets to hear your work, and you want your work to see the light of day, not stay hidden in the darkness of obscurity. It seems foolish to keep your work from getting sunlight. If you feel that your work has some value in changing the world even in some little way, like a seed that is planted, it gives you some satisfaction to see it out there.

"So I keep my footlights shining bright just like I keep my exits wide" is in the same spirit. He knows that he has to perform for an audience and take into account what they want to hear to have a musical career. But, on the other hand, he can always exit from the stage and get away from that kind of influence to be alone with his own thoughts and inspiration. He's learned how to rein things in, instead of dealing in absolutes and extremes. And of course the "Middle Path" is one of the wise ideals of Buddhism, which Conor seems to have a clear admiration for. Compromising may make artists feel like they are selling out when they are young, but getting a little older and more mature helps you see the real truth that the whole world exists in "gray areas", and you come to be at peace with it.

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Conor Oberst – Milk Thistle Lyrics 1 year ago
A song about the feelings around a overdose that almost led to death. At first, he is asking the milk thistle herb that has been used to neutralize the toxicity to bring him back. He wants to live. He realizes that he will die some day, but he wants to "go slow" like most people do, dying as part of a natural process, instead of suddenly like that.

He isn't begging for his life because he's scared. Part of him realizes that he must be drawn to death somehow since he overdosed, and yet he's changed his mind. By saying "If I go to heaven I'll be bored as hell", he's saying that he realizes that going to the afterlife may not be the solution. Maybe there will be problems even there. Maybe he will be bored.

On the other hand, he still feels like the world is crowded, and he knows that there is only one way out. He will die someday anyway, no matter what, which is a melancholy kind of thought.

So he thinks of the death process, as described in Near Death Experiences, where he goes through a tunnel toward the light. But he keeps going up and down and feels like he is "nowhere bound." He's ambivalent. He doesn't know if he really wants to go.

The section about Lazarus is also about ambivalence. Some people are highly depressed after being brought back from an NDE experience of the afterlife. They want to go back to the light, because it seems so much better than this world.

When he says, "If you let me slide, I'll do my best to make things right, it''s like he finally realizes that he has some unfinished business in this world. He wants to redeem his life and set things straight before he departs. So he is resolved to live. But the ambivalent feelings about death remain, just the same. Death is still at his heels, and in his mind.

A brilliant song full of depth and raw honesty. Conor Oberst has to rank with the greatest songwriters of all time.

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Bright Eyes – Four Winds Lyrics 1 year ago
This is a kind of modern day version of Yeats' "The Second Coming, which is referenced in the "slouching toward Bethlehem" line.

Like that poem, it takes a look at modern civilization and culture and sees an immanent collapse. Yeats, in his 1919 poem says, "Things fall apart. The centre cannot hold".

Great Satan is obviously the United States, as Iran called it following the revolution of 1979, and many other in the world see us. The whore of Babylon is from the Biblical Book of Revelation, and could symbolize a number of things, just like many things in Revelation. Seeing the U.S. as the whore of Babylon is a shot at the greed and moral degeneracy that predominates in modern American society.

It's interesting that Yeats and his original poem were politically conservative. Yeats was an antidemocratic nationalist and even arguably a proto-fascist who feared the collapse of society due to public immorality and the public disrespect and disregard for social conventions such as religion. Conor, on the other hand, is obviously very liberal, and sees the evils of political and religious nationalism and traditional religions. He obviously is against people trying to maintain tribalism, sectarianism, caste and the class system. His view of tradition is the opposite of Yeats. He even advocates burning the Bible, the Torah, and Qu'ran to get closer to the truth. His idea of moral degeneracy is something more like the genocide perpetrated against Native Americans by the U.S.,and the kind of arrogance that the people who believe in "American Exceptionalism" display.

That probably has a lot to due with his being able to make peace with the seeming immanent collapse of American society. Unlike Yeats, who speaks with a deep dislike and a kind of fear of the people who destroy traditional mores and bring society down, Conor seems to feel like there is a kind of cosmic justice in seeing it all go down. America, in collapsing, is reaping what it has sown.

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Bright Eyes – Soul Singer in a Session Band Lyrics 1 year ago
All about how the voices of, real, authentic musical artists get drowned out and pushed aside in the phony world of popular music where it's all about what sells, or else all about what people self-consciously think is stylish.

The line about postmodernism can be taken in that context. The Power of Myth is about the importance of meaning in culture. Postmodernism basically says that real meaning doesn't exist, so everything in culture is just basically all about style. I get the idea that Conor finds that perspective to be superficial and phony, a kind of poser philosophy.

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Bright Eyes – If the Brakeman Turns My Way Lyrics 1 year ago
Obviously a song about cocaine addiction and all of the feelings of panic and shame and confusion around being addicted and trying to fight it, but also a kind of examination of his abilities as a artist. "All this automatic writing I have tried to understand, from a psychadelic angel who was tugging on my hand" means that he understands that he has this great talent, but he doesn't really even understand where it comes from. He feels inspired when he creates music, but feels like it's coming from somewhere else, and it's almost like he can't really take credit for it. Other artists have felt like that and written about it. They see the public applause but they have a problem really believing in it. People tell them how awesomely talented they are, but they feel deep down like their talent is almost an accident. And they have these addiction issues, which make them feel only worse about themselves, and it all makes it that much harder to kick drugs and "level out".

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Elton John – Border Song Lyrics 1 year ago
This is the lament of a man who goes to the South during the 60's, probably to march against segregation, but feels overwhelmed by the negativity he sees in the form of racism. The "spectre" is the image of the KKK, and the ghostly white sheets that they wear.

The "Holy Moses" exclamation is a reference to Martin Luther King, who was thought of as a modern day Moses, leading his people to freedom. In his famous final public speech, King himself embraced this role, and remarked that, like Moses in the Bible, he might well die just before his people got to the Promised Land.

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Jethro Tull – My God Lyrics 1 year ago
One of a several songs from the Aqualung album that criticize religious hypocrisy. This one is about how organized Christianity, instead of following the message and example of Jesus, makes Jesus into what they want him to be. They put him into a "golden cage", and practice rituals instead of doing the right thing in their lives. They use him to save themselves from guilt and escape from being accountable for their wrongdoing by saying that he can "save" them because he was a sacrifice who can get them off the hook for their sins. And they use him to create an image of social respectability for themselves. The whole thing is selfish, fake, false, and superficial. It represents everything that Jesus himself was against.

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Procol Harum – In Held Twas In I Lyrics 1 year ago
One of the great existential Procol Harum songs. They always reflect a deep belief in the wisdom of Eastern-style Spirituality, and yet, the singer is always somehow mired in "a morass of self-despair". A strange paradox. He should be liberated from darkness and suffering, and as the last two verses show, he understands full well how to be liberated, but he chooses suffering and despair anyway, knowing that it's self-indulgent. It's like a novel by Dostoevsky.

Still, the end, listened to in a certain way, can be powerfully inspiring. Because he's right. Life can seem incredibly difficult at certain times, but it really is "all so simple really if you just look to your soul". One of the most uplifting realizations that you can ever have in life. And the sound of the "Grand Finale", with the combination of Choir singing and the Robin Trower guitar solo, is awesome. Almost like an ascent into heaven.

If they somehow decide to save a few songs the way that they save paintings for posterity to be experienced by future generations as the great artistic achievements, this deserves to be one of them.

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Van Morrison – And It Stoned Me Lyrics 2 years ago
This song, as Van Morrison has said himself and others mention here, is about a childhood mystical or religious experience. Being "stoned" has nothing to do with drugs here. It's a state of mind or consciousness that came on suddenly, where he experienced what Aldous Huxley called a sense of "timeless peace." It's a state of pure perception where all distractions cease and the mind becomes completely clear.

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Jethro Tull – The Whistler Lyrics 2 years ago
This song, much like this whole album, has a theme of returning to the beauty of nature and the countryside of the British Isles and making a kind of mystical, spiritual inner connection. Finding "the speck of truth in each riddle" and holding "the first grain of love in our hands" is mystical poetry. It means connecting to God in a pantheistic way, through the present energy of what is right in front of us. Music and nature have a clear value and role to play in this experience. The ultimate nature of the experience is a kind of transcendence.

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Father John Misty – Total Entertainment Forever Lyrics 2 years ago
A commentary on how the modern world is addicted to constant entertainment and media stimulation. Much like Brave New World, where everyone forgets about everything serious of meaningful by having a "permanent party". The rise of virtual reality is the ultimate expression of the whole thing. People can pretend to be stars or simulate going to bed with Taylor Swift. Why even pretend to live a real life or worry about anything else? "Not bad for a race of demented monkeys" - no doubt. It's the full expression of a demented, monkey-like kind of existence.

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Alice Cooper – Ballad Of Dwight Fry Lyrics 2 years ago
Great song. Expresses inner darkness with tremendous sincerity and conviction. There are some probable threads of influence in songs like Procol Harum's In Held Twas I and The Move's Cherry Blossom Clinic (Revisited). You have to wonder if Lou Reed was influenced by this song when he wrote The Kids. Alice Cooper was one of the great influential rockers who wrote and performed songs meant to shock and disturb, and this one probably do it the best out of all of his. There's a certain boldness and courage in being willing to do stuff like this when it's real and believable.

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Portugal. The Man – Feel It Still Lyrics 2 years ago
The idea of being a rebel just for kicks relates to a desire to buck the system and fight the power with music like bands did back in 1966 - except the desire is blunted by the realization these times aren't like those times, and it's harder to believe that music is going to change anything. It feels like you might be speaking truth to power, but you might as well be doing it just for kicks, for all the difference it will really make. Still, he's trying to figure out how to "feel it still", to still care about trying to make some kind of positive difference, and balance that with the family and practical considerations of his baby daughter and thinking about her future. How to do what feels right in the midst of a changed and changing, complicated world...

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Wilco – If I Ever Was A Child Lyrics 2 years ago
A confessional song about somebody who has some kind of deep pain and trauma, probably from his childhood, unhealed and buried in his psyche somewhere. He knows it's there and he knows it makes him emotionally cold and unable to connect, haunting him. He carries it with him through life, like a heavy burden that cripples him on an inner level. He has to keep things at a certain distance, so that the pain doesn't get to be so much that he can't take it anymore.

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Ozark Mountain Daredevils – It'll Shine When It Shines Lyrics 2 years ago
The message of this song is that you can go out thinking that you are going to control things, search for your gratifications, or somehow "manifest" your destiny, but that isn't the nature of life. Things move in cycles, in accordance with a deeper, natural pattern that you are never going to have ultimate control over. Every verse reflects the truth that life and nature move in cycles, not in some kind of line that can be forced. Let the sun shine when it shines, and accept a deeper wisdom that most people have no understanding of. Learn to wait, and you will achieve real peace. You may think that you will suffer rain and pain if you hesitate, but the truth is that the real misery comes from fighting against the natural way of things. You will never make the world be just what you want it to be, but you can be what you really are if you learn to wait and appreciate and embrace life for what it is on the deepest level. There's a kind of Eastern wisdom at the heart of this song, missing from the modern world, especially in Western society, where everyone thinks that ego gratification is the way to go. There are even people who promote that kind of thing in the modern world a kind of motivational philosophy, but that has more to do with what is wrong with life as it stands than what is right. Still, if you learn to wait, you can get beyond the insanity of the world as it is, and find a kind of peace that is free from all of it. One of the best songs ever written, vastly underrated and never remotely appreciated enough..

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Jimmy Eat World – Sweetness Lyrics 2 years ago
Everyone seems to think this song is either about drugs or a relationship. To me, it isn't really about either. I think "sweetness" is happiness or personal fulfillment. At first, he is "spinning free", so he feels basically some happiness through having freedom, but he also feels somehow numb. Then he wonders what it is that he needs to find happiness, asking "What do I need?". But he finds few answers, words don't have meaning, and he soon finds himself feeling like he is stumbling and crawling, because realizing that he has to search for happiness makes him realize that he is unhappy, and that makes him even more unhappy in itself. The dizzy dance of it all confuses him, but then he reaches a final realization. "The sweetness will not be concerned with me." Happiness is elusive because the world itself doesn't really care what he desires, and feeling a deep desire to find happiness is something that insures that you can never be happy. So that final insight feels like a kind of victory, because he feel like he has learned something essential about life.

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Ralph McTell – Streets Of London Lyrics 2 years ago
This song could be interpreted as a call for political awareness of the issue of homelessness, or a reminder to be grateful for what you have since there is always someone worse off, but it works very well on another level, as simply a depiction of the sadness and suffering that some areas of modern big cities are so full of. Ian Anderson, in much different kind of song that described a similar kind of setting, described it as "crowded emptiness". There are several very evocative poetic lines in this song, like "yesterday's paper telling yesterday's news" and "the rain cries a little pity". Several people have talked about why we should be kind to other people, as everyone is "fighting their battle". The world is full of suffering people, but they tend to learn how to hide it well in order to live and function in the everyday world. When you see the homeless, you see people in a whole different light.

The final verse has a kind of personal resonance for me. My grandfather was a WWII veteran, severely wounded in the Pacific Theater. He came back with a bunch of medals, but they didn't do much for him. And, although they got him to the hospital at the very end, he lived like the old man in the final verse after he returned from the war, homeless and mostly forgotten, right up until he died.

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Leonard Cohen – Democracy Lyrics 2 years ago
Most songs about politics, government, or the USA are either patriotic and overly optimistic to the point of blind sentimentality and how wonderful "government by the people" is, or else they are protest songs that are negative, pessimistic, and focus on the injustices and deep flaws in the system. This song obviously aims to see things in all of the shades of gray, not denying all of the darkness that is all around, but yet somehow trying to see the potential for good and the hope that still remains in the midst of all of the negativity. As a political system, democracy has largely failed to live up to all of the idealistic talk of the people who made it into the world's predominant political system. And yet, the thought here is that there is still hope for the future, and that total cynicism may be an easy perspective, but it is somehow not the true one or the best one.

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Procol Harum – A Rum Tale Lyrics 2 years ago
Keith Reid is one of the greatest lyricists of all time, and this underrated song is the one he identified as his favorite in an interview. But then, nearly all of his songs are seriously underrated, aside from Whiter Shade of Pale, of course. This one has a lot of feeling in it. The lines "I'm buying a ticket for places unknown/ It's only a one way; I'm not coming home" is one that expresses perfectly that kind of feeling that is connected to seeing a toxic relationship for what it is and finally arriving at that place where you just want to be free, to fly away from it once and for all and not come back.

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Jethro Tull – Skating Away (On the Thin Ice of a New Day) Lyrics 3 years ago
As many have said already, there is a clear connection here with the album A Passion Play. There is also a degree of similarity with the previous Tull album Thick as a Brick. Both of those albums were meant to be a kind of avant garde rock and roll take on the epic poem. Thick as a Brick was even jokingly said to be an epic poem written by a child. Just as the epic poem Paradise Lost describes the fall of Satan from heaven, this song describes the fall of humanity from an original state of oneness with God, the Universal Mind, into this world. And the nature of having fallen into this world is alienation and a failure to somehow be "what you really want to be", on the deepest level. There is a desire to make and find peace and serve the greater good, but society and the world throw you off track and make you feel like you are lost in an empty wilderness, doing everything the wrong way. You end up so alienated that you feel as though everyone else is on the stage and you are the "only person sitting in the audience", a truly great line.

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Jethro Tull – Dr. Bogenbroom Lyrics 3 years ago
An extremely sardonic song, conveying a deep sense of disillusionment. The line about having "one foot in the graveyard and the other on the bus" is a familiar kind of Ian Anderson styling. He always liked to use familiar sayings, but put new twists on them in a kind of unexpected way. In this case, he is saying right from the beginning what the entire song gets across, which is that modern life in an urban big city is ugly and sordid, and it brings out the worst in people. The second verse communicates that in an unmistakable way, depicting the lust and fear that people seem so full of, with their "eyes upon each other and the locks upon their doors". The upshot of it all is that, in a setting like that, he feels like he is dying just like we are all dying. We are all just passing through.

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Jethro Tull – Wind-Up Lyrics 3 years ago
A brilliant dismissal of religious hypocrisy, the kind of religion where rituals and tradition couple with social conformity and the fear of death to take the place of real searching for truth and authentic goodness.

The line "How'd you dare to tell me that I'm my father's son when that was just an accident of birth?" is an argument for how stupid the idea is that we all have some kind of responsibility to carry on the religious tradition of our forbears and observe the same rules. rituals, laws, and traditions. We all could easily have been born into another tradition, and then we would be somehow obligated to observe a completely different "book of rules". But it we seek out a real vision of truth, God, and meaning without being tied down to all of the superficial nonsense and dogmatic conformity, we can become free from the stupidity. We may end up being excommunicated or we may be looked at as a fool or some kind of menace to society and its ways, but we will at least be free of all of the nonsense and have a chance to see the truth.

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The Rolling Stones – Angie Lyrics 3 years ago
A mostly simple song, but one that does an incredible job of communicating deep, all-encompassing alienation. It's a song that could only be sung by someone who had ceased to believe in anything, and now he has to get away from the last person he is connected to, because everything has gone up in smoke, and he has even run out of love in his soul, and doesn't even believe it exists in her anymore. You have to wonder if the question "Ain't it good to be alive?" is meant to be sarcastic and ironic. An incredibly eloquent communication of sadness and disillusionment.

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Elton John – Mona Lisas And Mad Hatters Lyrics 3 years ago
Interesting, in that this song is a challenge and a refutation of Ben E. King's "Rose in Spanish Harlem". The song is saying that the romantic image woven by that song and songs like it is B.S. New York is a tough, brutal town where you basically have to "go your way alone", and modern urban life is a "trash can dream" where you "stand at the edge while people run you through". There is darkness and disillusion all around, and the posers and the lunatics, the "Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters", are all around. There is saving grace in finding true friends, but the truth is that the town and most of the people in it are insane and living in a dream world. They wouldn't recognize the truth if they saw it. They can't even tell darkness from light, let alone live it.

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Gordon Lightfoot – If You Could Read My Mind Lyrics 3 years ago
This is a man describing how he feels about being essentially trapped in a relationship that is already dead. That's why he is a ghost. The demise has already happened, and yet he feels like he is trapped in chains, condemned to haunt a wishing well. He wants to move on and be free, but he feels like she somehow won't let him go.

The image of the wishing well ties into the second verse. She had a wishful, idealized idea of what a romance should be, something out of cheap paperback novels like drugstores sell. She wanted him to be something else, and he obviously felt rejected by that and didn't think that he should have to change or be changed. She wanted to be the movie queen who transformed him and brought out "all if the good things" in him, but he felt like it was a fantasy, something that wasn't based on acceptance or the real world.

She was obviously hurt by the way things turned out, and now the feeling and the connection between them are gone, and he is trying to sort through what went wrong, the feeling and the disappointment. and what it meant in his life, and finally free himself.

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Jethro Tull – For Michael Collins, Jeffrey, And Me Lyrics 3 years ago
The moon landing, of course, was hugely celebrated and televised as an incredibly exciting "giant leap for mankind" But I believe that Ian Anderson is comparing his own feelings when he watched it to the feelings of Michael Collins, feeling excluded and "left behind" while Armstrong and Aldrin walked on the moon. He is specifically talking about his feelings of alienation, and being unable to share in the great shared excitement of the crowd, feeling like and outsider looking in on the whole thing with no ability to relate to it.

The reason that he feels so alienated is because he sees the contrast between all of the great hype of the moon landing and people celebrating it as some huge human achievement, and the darkness and drudgery of human life on earth. He references the moral nihilism, greed, and stupidity of the human crowd, which is in a self-congratulatory mood. But he sees them more as glorified apes and monkeys. They can put a man on the moon but they can't get this world or themselves in any kind of decent order.

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The Velvet Underground – I'm Set Free Lyrics 3 years ago
I think that the title of the song is meant to be ironic. At the time, songs about enlightenment and epiphanies were everywhere. After the Beatles had their association with the Maharishi, it seemed like everyone wanted to record songs along those lines. But Lou Reed always preferred to keep things dark and gritty. Peace and love and flower power were not for him. "Beginning to See the Light", the other song from this album in the same vein, is similar. At first glance, they seem uplifting. Then, when you take a closer look, you realize that the message is that the world is a dark place, the human psyche has some very dark and frightening aspects to it, and enlightenment is very elusive. When he says, "Let me tell you people what I found", he builds you up to anticipate some revelation. But what he found was seeing his "head laughing, rolling on the ground". It's a weird, disturbing image, not some kind of beautiful revelation. And of course the key phrase in the song is "I'm set free to find a new illusion". In other words, he doesn't find the truth, or any kind of enlightenment. He may at certain times reach a realization about his life and the truth and feel like he is set free, but all that it ever leads to is a new illusion. He isn't liberated from the darkness. He just trades in one illusion for another.

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Monster Magnet – Space Lord Lyrics 3 years ago
Dave Wyndorf has been quoted as saying how great a lyricist he believes Bob Dylan to be. I think this song is a kind of dylanesque hard rocker. Full of interesting images and wordplay but not meant to contain one consistent message or necessarily tell a story in a regular sense. Definitely a cool song though.

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Jethro Tull – Baker St. Muse Lyrics 3 years ago
This song and the whole Minstrel In the Gallery album were recorded during a time when Ian Anderson's first marriage was coming to an end, and the songs have a kind of wistful, somewhat melancholy feel to them. He takes a look at where he is and what he's become and this is a kind of poem about it all.

The setting involves Ian Anderson walking down Baker Street in London and describing what he sees and where he sees himself in all of it. It's a gritty, kind of ugly picture. He sees scenes of sordid sexual encounters, drunks throwing up, and various faceless people. The middle section, Crash-barrier Waltzer, is one of the very best lyrical descriptions of his career. It's a poetic depiction of an encounter between a drunk old woman and a policeman. He compares it to ballet pas-de-deux, much like Romeo and Juliet, where the old woman, much like Juliet in the play, has fallen asleep, although her "sleeping draught" is alcohol. The policeman, much like Romeo, is struck with "poisoned regret" at the sight of her, although his version of regret is self-righteous anger instead of the romantic heartbreak of the original Romeo. The line "no drunken bums allowed to sleep here in the crowded emptiness" is pure genius. He's saying the the urban streets are crowded with people, and yet somehow empty at the same time - empty of meaning and substance. Everything is empty.

The last portion is Ian Anderson summing up his life as an artist up to that point. The line about his having no time for time magazine or Rolling Stone may have something to do with the fact that Jethro Tull has been excluded from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. IA liked to express how he felt about the critics with obscene gestures at the time, and the feeling has been mutual with a lot of critics, even though songs like this one deserve a whole lot more critical acclaim than they have ever remotely received. The little boy standing on a burning log image is a kind of symbolic self-image in that same mold, with IA not being sure if Mother England likes him or wants to burn him.

Another fantastic line comes near the end, where IA says "If sometimes I sing to a cynical degree, it's just the nonsense that it seems." He's dismissing himself and his own importance in a great gesture of irony, laughing at himself and the world in general.

This is a tremendously thoughtful, evocative, and interesting kind of song that takes multiple listenings to really appreciate. That was one reason why a number of critics turned on Tull and Ian Anderson in the end, because they didn't want to have to think about what was being said in order to understand it, but I always thought that this song and the whole album were true genius, some of the best stuff ever written.

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Leonard Cohen – First We Take Manhattan Lyrics 3 years ago
A really interesting song, and one that might have a number of interpretations, but Leonard Cohen himself has explained it, if you check Wikipedia. His basic idea in writing the song is to compare himself to a peaceful kind of terrorist.

The idea behind his music, particularly the stuff he was recording at the time (1988), and later on his album "The Future" (1992), has often been to attack certain ways of thinking with his music. Most of all, he has always taken a stand against commercialism in music in favor of being a poet who refuses to pander to anyone just so he can be rich or popular in the way that so many modern entertainers do. It's the kind of stand that fits in with his general feelings against materialism and a lot of society's other empty values, like obsession with fashion and physical appearance and using drugs to stay thin.

There is something of an undercurrent of anger in this song and a number of others he has done over the years, and, in the same way he always has, he ties it back into stories and archetypes from the Bible. If you can say it without sounding pretentious, Leonard Cohen aims to be a modern day prophet, "guided by a signal from the heavens". And he succeeds in being one with songs like this.

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Cream – Anyone for Tennis? Lyrics 3 years ago
I think that this song is a kind of satirical description of the world of the late 1960's. The monk burning at the zoo is obviously a reference to the Buddhist monks who set themselves on fire to protest the Vietnam war, but there are also other things in here that reference things that happened during the time. "The Bentley Driving Guru" is Osho, who was also known as the Bhagwan Sree Rajneesh. He was the popular leader of an idealistic spiritual community at the time, and it became public knowledge that he owned a fleet of Bentley automobiles, which many people found to reflect religious corruption. It became public perception that he was cheating his followers out of their money so he could spend it on himself, and he was eventually deported from the US.

The overall tone of the song is deeply cynical. "The prophets" give out "messages of hope with jingle bells and fairy tales and blinding colliding scopes", which implies that even what the prophets of the day say is a lot of superficial stuff that means nothing, and in the end, they are "all the same underneath the pretty lies". The whole world is chaotic, but no one has any kind of vision of truth or sincerity. That's what the line "Anyone for tennis, wouldn't that be nice" implies. Everybody in the world seems to be focused on trivial nonsense and amusement, while the world plunges into darkness and "fate is setting up the chessboard while death rolls out the dice". Civilization may be in its "fading years", but the world will continue to go its selfish and superficial way, right to the end.

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Procol Harum – Barnyard Story Lyrics 3 years ago
This song, like many of Procol Harum's best, is about the existential feelings of an individual who has had a spiritual "peak experience" of the kind often described by seekers, where it was as if he came face to face with Truth and the Divine.

Once I stood upon Olympus, then the heavens opened wide
I beheld that flaming chariot and I saw the sacred bride

Now, the experience is past him and he has lost his way and can't get back to it. He feels like he is growing old with sorrow and growing fat with sin. Life seems hollow and empty to him now, because he once saw the face of perfection and now he has lost it. Everything seems empty, and he blames himself most of all.

Now and then, he gets a glimpse through the veil of that world he once saw, and his life seems truer and his thoughts seem pure. But mostly there is isn't much left for him, and he is left to wonder if death is really the answer for him, and he will be able to know and see the truth again once he is on the Other Side.

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