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Dave Matthews Band – Two Step Lyrics 12 years ago
Extra intro verse live at Folsom Field (not sure about some words):

It's not easy so it's
Trying to stay true enough well
But you and me I tell you true enough, I'm true as I can be
But from inside it's
Stumbling down drunken roads I
Find myself more and more mistaking
Myself for someone else

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Lazarus – Ocean (Burn the Highway) Lyrics 13 years ago
This is a person dealing with the first night or two after losing a lover. It might be to death, since there seems to be a purity of emotion that one doesn't tend to get in a breakup. However, the third verse seems to show some regret at "wanting to see your tears." The first verse also points to him staying when the other leaves, with the oceans and the weight of the land keeping him here. He is starting to miss the small, concrete things - phone calls, notes on the door, sleeping next to someone, holding hands. At the same time he's coming out of shock, feeling the sadness and loss and the big feelings "without our hearts we are fearful and weak."

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Lazarus – Hero Lyrics 13 years ago
This album seems to be dealing with a death of a loved one, coming to terms with what can and cannot be said. Feeling resentment and guilt over that resentment. I think the "hero" here is a parent, and I like how each verse intermingles positive and negative feelings.

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R.E.M. – Country Feedback Lyrics 13 years ago
At the beginning of a live performance on Youtube he speaks an extra verse at the beginning. I'm not sure about all the words, but it goes something like this:

<...> measures brings illuminating... vision into knowing what their men expect from southern women
It the wolf that knows which root to dig to eat and save itself
It's the octopus that crawled back from the sea
Instinct... got it.
Feeling... feeling it.

Sounds like someone who is more surviving a breakup than going through it.

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Beck – The Golden Age Lyrics 14 years ago
This song reminds me of driving cross-country after college. After waking up at 5am in Yellowstone, I drove through the park, saw sunset in southeast Idaho, and then drove through the night on the Loneliest Road (US 50) through Nevada to Lake Tahoe. This song reminds me of that night.

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Live – Ghost Lyrics 15 years ago
Seems like the best explanation is that it's about falling for a woman ("boy loses rib"... pretty straightforward).

However, just like any reall woman, it's not the one that you've always dreamed about ("everybody has a ghost") because that one can never really be real. So then you cry "where did I go wrong?" even though, obviously, no match or person is perfect.

It also seems to examine the alternatives to the woman in your life - "trading some ether for a chance under the bridge", and "eyeing up the whores under the bridge."

And for those of you in SoCal (I'm not a hater, I'm just saying), it also talks about people who just modify the reality for their pleasure through plastic surgery ("The scalpel dives into the skin"), and how some people are able to just shut it off and believe in physical ideals and be happy, since we're all going to die some day ("I'll take the myth, you take the blood/It's all the same to the world dreamer/It's all the same in the end.")

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Willie Nelson – Pancho And Lefty Lyrics 15 years ago
All right, here goes. This is about the legendary Mexican outlaw Pancho Villa. His sidekick was Lefty. He was brash, but no one could catch him for years.

Apparently, there were some suspicious circumstances surrounding his death. Lefty was not with him (nobody heard his dyin words) at the time he died. In fact, Lefty had come upon some money and split for Ohio on the same day. The implication clearly being, he ratted out Pancho. Of course, he just "did what he had to do" - the federales must've caught Lefty and told him it was him or Pancho.

Of course, no one involved ever laid out this connection publicly. They just said they could've gotten him any day, because they couldn't say that it was Lefty who tipped them off.

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Live – Freaks Lyrics 16 years ago
I gotta say, this song is Live at its best: spiritual without being preachy; doesn't take itself too seriously but still gets a point across.

This song was on Secret Samahdi, so it was before Ed went all bornagain. It seems like its about trust in relationships in the face of sex. Either the other person can stand by his woman ("Will you render her asunder with what she really needs"), or he can ruin her ("Will you call her a freak?"). What its saying is, hey, if I'm gonna get into this with you, are you going to strike out at the first sign of trouble ("Like Peter on the hill at dawn")? It really gets gritty too, all those selfish fears you feel as a man letting yourself get into a relationship ("You know your sperm is weak","You know they're gonna come for you and drag your silly name into the mud"), and also all the nasty stuff you can throw back - ("How she picked you out of a lineup", "Will you run and tell the papers?").

Sometimes I also think there's a birth of Jesus angle to it. Like, if Jesus were born today, out of supposed immaculate conception ("Without the usual cost of labor"), would you call him a God or a freak?

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Led Zeppelin – No Quarter Lyrics 16 years ago
I heard that this song is about a diptheria epidemic in Nome, Alaska during the dead of winter in 1925. A dogsled team was dispatched from Seward (ice-free port) to Nome with antitoxin, and covered the distance of nearly 700 miles in 5 1/2 days.

Whether the lyrics fit or not you can judge for yourself.

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Gnarls Barkley – Crazy Lyrics 16 years ago
Sounds like a father talking to his teenage son to me, with that mix of anger and pride.

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Pink Floyd – Wot's... Uh the Deal? Lyrics 16 years ago
Sounds like one of those saga songs from pf, but shorter than echoes and shine on. Slow progression from desperate but hopeful youth to jaded and ignored old man.

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Jethro Tull – Thick as a Brick (Parts 1 & 2) Lyrics 20 years ago
Remarkable -- every time I'm astounded. Restraint is the deepest quality of the song. It's not like the classical model of slow buildup to climax and denouement. No, every word is key and there are four or five different musical themes that denote miniature climaxes.

The poetry is astounding in its severity and also in its restraint; it is the most scathing of rock social commentaries yet it only sinks in over the period of 45 minutes; it doesn't "blow it's load" in the first stanza. The music is at times slow, and there is really no defining lead in the song except for the flute at the beginning, but it can be forgiven this weakness in that it is solid throughout. If one thinks of it as the score for a play rather than the background of a Rock song, it follows the story very well. There are also a bunch of solos that give buildup, introduction, and conclusion to the various poetic stanzas.

How Tull pulled off a 45-minute song that rocks all the way is unknowable. It's like Pink Floyd's "Dogs" times 3; it's what every jam band tries to accomplish but they're too lazy. This may be the least known of the dozen or so true rock anthems, but it doesn't take away from its brilliance.

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Live – White, Discussion Lyrics 20 years ago
This is such a great angle to take for a critique of politics -- instead of insulting the easy target (politicians), Live goes straight for the ones who accept their medium of empty phrases and political correctness (the people). It seems like they're trying to say, stop arguing everything into stalemate and start doing something! Please! Thought not a great song, a great message.

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Live – Face and Ghost (The Children's Song) Lyrics 20 years ago
This song sound like a mild trip ("Got a deathgrip on this vision","It's like never ending mirrors playing tricks on my eyes"), but I think it's about growing up, kicking and screaming the whole way.

It may be brought on by a first love, seeing how it can be both wonderful and destructive ("It's the face of one ravaged by love/It's both dead and alive"), and wanting to just go back to where it was simple ("can you hear that children's song? Can you take me to that place?"). But, "In spite of my confusion, up above all my pain", he's being thrown forward ("Here we go again").

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U2 – Ultraviolet (Light My Way) Lyrics 20 years ago
The hidden lyrical gem of Achtung Baby. This song has always been a big motivator for me when trying to define love. It's something to strive for -- entrusting yourself to someone else, baring your inexperience in the hopes of finding a guiding light. It speaks to the truest trust, because before allowing someone to help you out of your weaknesses, you must first let her see your weaknesses.

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U2 – The Unforgettable Fire Lyrics 20 years ago
This is definitely about a one night stand. The song starts with a date ("Carnival, wheels fly and colors spin/Through alchohol, red wine that punctures the skin").

The singer is asking pretty blankly for casual sex ("So sad to besiege your love so head on"). He asks her to "stay tonight", but with the warning that he neither wants anything else ("If the mountain should crumble ... not a tear, no not I"), nor should she start falling for him (" Save your love, save it all/Don't push me too far"). It's an honest, if unromantic, song. I think it captures unobscenely but also unflatteringly the desire for the meaningless hookup that we all have from time to time. The honesty is good.

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U2 – Red Hill Mining Town Lyrics 20 years ago
This song ranks right up there with Springsteen's "Born to Run" and Live's "Pillar of Davidson" as a poignant commentary of the beauty of an uncelebrated life. The song is about a blue collar family ("The seam is split/The coal face cracked"). The protagonist is a poor miner, perhaps an alcoholic ("The glass is cut/The bottle run dry").

In a seemingly meaningless existence, the only thing that matters to him, his love, is being driven away by his weaknesses ("Love slowly stripped away/Love has seen its better day"). He's left "Hanging on" to the only thing he's lived for, and realizing that he can't live without her ("I can lose myself/You I can't live without").

It's sad, but it illuminates how powerful love can be, especially in the absence of anything else.

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U2 – All I Want Is You Lyrics 20 years ago
It is a love song, sure, but everyone writes love songs. It tells of the intensity of desire and lust, the desire to be everything to someone, when really these promises are unfulfillable. So, it comes to the question of whether we can love within our limitations, or whether it will all end when our own human weaknesses are exposed.

It's about love, but a fragile love, a love where the 'promises we make' are too grand to support. The narrator hear's all these promises from his lover, and they all sound wonderful, but they're unnecessary. He only wants her, everything else is a distraction.

That's all well and good, but The Edge and the violin are really what brings this song from mediocre to great. The musical leads parallel the story, through miniature peaks and lulls, to the stirring climax after Bono shouts "You --- all I want is you ... ", as if the person is confronting the demons and choosing between love and lust, then into the gentle but restrained denouement, which seems to signify a comfortable satisfaction with intense feeling restrained below the surface.

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U2 – Heartland Lyrics 20 years ago
It's amazing how an Irish band can capture America better than any American band. Or more accurately, they capture the myth of America, the open spaces ("Deserts dry, of cool green valleys/Gold and silver mines, and the shining cities") and beautiful frontiers ("66 the highway speaks"); the romantic version of the South ("The Delta sun burns bright and violent/Mississippi and the cotton wool heat"). The thrill of the open highway ("Freeway like a river cuts through this land/Into the side of love"); and the optimism for the future ("In the towers of steel, belief goes on and on"). And the music ... a fantastic beat, a mystical opening hook, and a penatrating baseline. This song is pretty close to flawless.

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U2 – Elvis Presley And America Lyrics 20 years ago
Most incomprehensible lyrics ever. So why is it so great? I don't know. It's been my favorite U2 song since I heard it, but I still can't figure out any semblance of meaning for it. The best I can figure is by the song title and various scraps - it's the love-hate relationship between teacher and student, or child and fallen hero; a tie of respect and admiration that is strained over and over, but is only strengthened by the pain.

The song's best quality is its smoothness. No other song I know of uses the flow of music and song like a twisting summer breeze in quite this way (Think Led Zeppelin's "Kashmir" or Dire Straits' "Brothers in Arms" for this category). The song just melts into your brain like an epic poem, and the words are just soothing chants that you're not meant to understand, with the occasionally perceptible utterance of a spine-tingling phrase like "Ah, don't talk to me" or "You're through with me, but I know that you'll be back for more" or "Your heart is left out from the side." And they're all whispered in Bono's most introspective of voices, and you know it's personal for him, and that makes it so touching. It's as if each sentence is a self-spoken prayer overheard in a deserted church.

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Led Zeppelin – Kashmir Lyrics 20 years ago
This song may be about elves or Africa, whatever. This song probably captures the sense of wonder better than any other song, ever. This would be a good one to listen to while tripping, with all the otherworldly imagery. And there is also an underlying sense of purpose, ("I will return again"), the feeling that one gets when they've found the right place for them to be.

Very original theme, very original music, and both lyrics and music flow throughout the song like the Saharan sand blasted the score into tablets of stone and dropped them in Jimmy Page's lap. Like they were written by a "Pilot on the storm who leaves no trace, like thoughts inside a dream."

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R.E.M. – Find The River Lyrics 20 years ago
How are there not more comments for this, the most beautiful of songs? The imagery here is pretty vivid, it always reminds me of running through summer fields and floating down country rivers; lines like "I have got to find the river/Bergamot and vetiver/Run through my head and fall away" bring me back to summers spent in the country.

The song is, of course, about trying to grow up so fast ("Hey there little speedyhead"), only to look back as an old man and be overwhelmed by the beautiful memories. It's about trying in vain to communicate to the young what lies ahead, when "There is nothing left to throw of ginger, lemon, indigo, coriander stem, rose of hay ... all of this is coming your way." But, alas, the words fall on deaf ears, the young man's "strength and courage overrides the privileged and weary eyes of river poet search naivete."

This is said to be a very personal song for Michael Stipe, and it shows through in his voice and the cryptic, quickfire nature of his words. Everything comes together in this song to make it REM's best.

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Counting Crows – Mrs. Potter's Lullaby Lyrics 20 years ago
It's a song about pining. Cute. It's Adam Duritz talking to himself about his lovelife and all its dead ends with the thin guise of actually telling it all to an actress he probably never even personally met.

It's got a lot of similar themes to other CC songs -- the "lovesick rejections," the "idiot walking a tightrope of fortune and fame," etc. etc. The underlying theme is, if I'm so rich and famous and loved, why can't I hold down a meaningful relationship. He feels like he's play acting a part bigger than him, and he's in over his head ("You can see a million miles tonight, but you can't get very far", and "We stand up in the palace like it's the last of the great pioneer town bars.")

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Counting Crows – Catapult Lyrics 20 years ago
Duritz Does Confusion again! Amazing. I listened to this song smack in the middle of my teenage years, and it was just one of those things that spoke to me. No idealism, no easy answers, not even an identifiable problem.

It's all about insecurities - "There's little things about me that would sing in the silence of so much rejection." He's obviously been rejected, and the worst part is, he can't figure out quite why ("All of a sudden she disappears, just yesterday she was here"). And through it all, he hears all these romantic stories about What Should Be ("I wanna be the last thing that you hear when you're falling asleep"); and wonders why the hell he can't feel that way. It's about the futility of trying to get someone else to know and love you when you don't even know or love yourself yet.

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Counting Crows – Anna Begins Lyrics 20 years ago
Adam Duritz and the band are perhaps the best out there at capturing the most underlying of all emotions: helpless, forlorn confusion. I agree with most of these interpretations too a point, but I think they go too far.

The problem isn't inability to admit love or consummate love or commit; it's flat out inability to identify love. Who hasn't had the feeling of, well, I think I love her, but am I *in* love with her? Have I ever been in love before? Would I know love if it ran me over with a truck? Will I ever love? Am I capable?

"Seems like I should say, 'Oh well, as long as this is love', But it's not all that easy ... ". "Every time she sneezes I think it's love". This is one confused mofo.

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Counting Crows – Recovering The Satellites Lyrics 20 years ago
This song seems to have quite a few drug references ("When are you gonna come down","Your mother recognizes all your desperate displays"). But personally finding the whole drug thing horribly overdone, I like to give it the benefit of the doubt and say that it is much more general.

To me, it's all about the very hard choices one faces growing up. The decisions between "Drifting violently away" and "Coming home to this faithless town," neither of which look all that attractive. There's the sadness through a friend's eyes, watching the other progress from the rebellious dream of "being the wildest people they ever hoped to see," to the consequences of "Falling from the sky," to the defeated realization that "We only stay in orbit for a moment of time" and "Everybody really knows for sure ... That you're gonna come down."

It's the usual Adam Duritz defeatism peeking through, but the story takes the listener for a great ride, and the music is so raw that I absolutely love it. Instead of depressing you from part one like other songs of their's ('Round Here', 'Daylight Fading'), this one is at least mature enough to take us through different facets of the journey there.

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Dire Straits – Brothers In Arms Lyrics 20 years ago
Chills. That's one word to describe this song. For a long time, I avoided reading the lyrics, afraid it would cheapen the song somehow, but they only strengthen it's message.

This one is definitely a Cold War song. It brings up images of the life of pawns. The protagonist could be a fighter in Afghanistan when the Soviets attacked, or a Muslim in Boznia, or a Jew in Warsaw.

It speaks of losing everything ("These mist-covered mountains are a home now for me/But my home is the lowlands, and it always will be"). Lots of songs speak of losing everything. This one transcends it all by showing that, although "Every man has to die," in this case by the foolish acts of forces far too powerful for him to be anything but helpless, that man lives on in his Brothers in Arms. "Through these fields of destruction/Baptisms of Fire," his friends saw the hopelessness of the situation and "did not desert me," and just the knowledge that "Someday you'll return to your valleys and farms" is enough to grant a dying man solace.

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Tracy Chapman – Fast Car Lyrics 20 years ago
"Fast car" is kind of a continuation of Bruce Springsteen's "Born to Run." It has all the clawing your way to a better life, but in this case the protagonist never makes it with her love; in fact she is dragged back down by him.

There is still an amazing amount of hope and will in the lyrics; and the lyrics themselve rank and easy five. If only music was stronger it would be one of those great radio songs that you hear once a week 20 years after it was released. The imagery is almost tear-jerking ("City lights lay out before us", "Speeds so fast felt like I was drunk"), and the idea of starting from nothing and just driving and working and denigrating yourself for a chance at being just above poverty, then losing in the end is just painful and inspiring at the same time.

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Van Morrison – These Dreams Of You Lyrics 20 years ago
Wow. The song about bitterness. Whenever I feel used I turn on this song and can alway identify with it.

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Dave Matthews Band – Two Step Lyrics 20 years ago
I first listened to this song in surround sound alone in a dark room. It took over my senses. I saw myself dancing around a bonfire in complete joy and freedom. While the true meaning may have to do with war, the underlying "Things we cannot change" theme brings with it a pragmatism that is easy to grasp in times of hardship. For me it accomplishes the whole "Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die" thing a whole lot better than Tripping Billies ever did.

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Dan Fogelberg – Leader of the Band Lyrics 20 years ago
Everyone sings about their mothers. But if I ever write a song, it will be about my father. Not that he was any less influential than my mother, or even that he deserves it less, but I often feel that my dreams are similar to the ones he never attained. If I ever acheive them myself my most intense hope will be that he understands that it's just as much his accomplishment.

It's the father's role to try and make his son better than him. It is the rare instance that both father and son agree that, despite different choices and opinions, this has happened. And when the son "makes it," the contentment the father feels must be amazing. This is a song about making it, and trying hard to tell Dad that it is his acheivement just as much as yours.

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U2 – Where The Streets Have No Name Lyrics 20 years ago
This song captures the sublime feeling of anyone who's stood alone atop a mountain, bathed in the setting sun and a cool breeze and a breathtaking view; and wished only for the opportunity to share it with someone special.

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Scorpions – Wind Of Change Lyrics 20 years ago
I can't believe no one has commented on this one yet. How do you capture a year in this song. Maybe it was just that I was coming of age at the time, but this one captures 1989, with all its magic and hope perfectly. It never ceases to "take me to the magic of the moment," so to speak.

It seems to me the story of westerner who has grown up throwing rocks against the Iron Curtain awaking one night while "Following the Moskva Down to Gorky Park" to realize that even the "Soldiers passing by" are just like him. "Like brothers." It was before the Russian Mafia, before the collapse of the Union and Chechnya, before September 11, when it seemed like maybe, just maybe, all the big troubles were about to be solved. Amazing.

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Peter Gabriel – Red Rain Lyrics 20 years ago
I can't decide if this is a social commentary about holocaust or a testimony of guilt. It seems to suggest a witness that never spoke, and has lived with the knowledge of a terrible deed ("I can't watch anymore","I cannot make a single sound as you scream"); then again it also seems that others carry the guilt (though that knowledge lends no solace) ("They tell you that this rain can sting, and look down").

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Bruce Springsteen – Thunder Road Lyrics 20 years ago
Bruce Springsteen brought honesty to Rock and Roll. Dropping pretenses of sex and drugs and death and despair, he went ahead with his song.

Even as a 21 year old college student, I can only sense the underlying value in this song. I can see a 40 year old divorcee hearing it one night on the radio and picking up his life. I can see a mother of 3 hearing it and realizing she is still beautiful.

It is a sad fact that most of popular literature and music is focused on youth -- either the wildness and freedom of being in it, or the confusion and sadness at losing it. And while Springsteen touches on it here, there is no doubt that the song is looking forward. He's trying to treat life as and up-and-down ride, not as some bell curve that we're all gonna be on the downside of someday. The hope and maturity of it is untouched by any other song in Rock history.

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The Cure – Just Like Heaven Lyrics 20 years ago
It's the classic Men Are from Mars/Women Are from Venus. He loves her with all his heart, she is too blinded by insecurity to see and he is too lost in himself to show it. Bummer. Been there before.

The best part is the flow of the song, the way the lyrics are carried with the flow ("Dancing in the deepest oceans/Twisting in the water/Just like a dream"). It's a great technical blending of the two song elements that just catches your ear the first time you hear it, and makes you enjoy it forever.

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Live – Gas Hed Goes West Lyrics 20 years ago
This is one of the few songs that reaches me without having any idea what the lyrics mean. I've tried, though...

It has an air of undefeatable purpose ("For the love of all gods/Our gas hed marches on"), especially when the spirituality of the writers is taken into consideration. Every time I here it it procures a different image, but the most persistent is that of the tragic hero. The person searching, the angry son avenging a murdered father; the knight on a quest ("A star amongst his clan"). Yet it's also a contrast between the hero with a cause and the singular psychopathic urge for revenge. In places you think the crusade must be a good one ("When they lanced his skull/There was pus and light"), and yet you still see waste of life that results ("make your photographs black","It's the memory that dies")

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Queen – The Show Must Go On Lyrics 20 years ago
The song meaning is obvious, but this is just on of those songs that transcends the meaning of the words. Listening to to Freddie Mercury sing this one is beyond any other Queen song; he lifts it up from sappy to spiritual.

It carries the weight of Mozart's Requiem. Many writers sing about dying, but very few (Roy Orbison comes to mind) have a chance to write about it when they know it's coming. Mercury conquers death with this song ("Fairy tales of yesterday will grow but never die/I can fly my friend" "I'll face it with a grin/I'm never giving in"). The song was beautiful when I first heard it as a child; when I found out the circumstances it was truly haunting.

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Radiohead – Street Spirit (Fade Out) Lyrics 20 years ago
The song is meant to be the darkest thing writeable. Thom Yorke said it was about "fighting with the devil and losing every time." He has trouble playing it at concerts, because it's so draining to look into the eyes of a cheering audience when singing of total despair.

Whatever. I'm one of those cheering idiots. The song tries to be about death and dread and evil, but just starts coming through as a commentary on dead end life instead. I'm not sure if what Radiohead is trying to pull off is even possible with words, and I'm inclined to believe that if they can't do it no one can.

It's still an incredible song, still my favorite Radiohead song. Maybe it's the enigma of such a great song talking about such an aweful thing that makes me just unable to feel the meaning of it.

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Pink Floyd – The Final Cut Lyrics 20 years ago
This was my anthem in adolescence. As I get older, I realize it might be everyone's. The story relates just about every insecurity we face through life. It is a song about being jaded so badly that one can't even enjoy the most beautiful of moments ("Far from flying high in clear blue skies/I'm spiralling down to the hole in the ground where I hide").

Roger Waters lays out the whole thing for us, starting with a guilty child who "makes love to girls in magazines" and wonders, "could anybody love him." He builds up an array of defenses, described in vivid detail at the beginning of the second verse, "If you negotiate the minefield in the drive ... "

Finally, when faced with possible love later, he is so suspicious and distrustful that he is incapable of the feeling. He can "barely define the shape of this moment in time." He wonders, "If I show you my dark side, would you still hold me tonight?/If I open my heart to you and show you my weak side/What would you do?"

This song basically sums up the entire previous Wall album in a beautiful and haunting picture of loneliness.

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Jackson Browne – Running On Empty Lyrics 20 years ago
This is from the perspective of an entertainer, a rock star. Starting early in life with no plan and only a dream, he's followed that dream and now he's not so sure that there'll be anything left for him when it ends.

When he says, "If it takes all night, that'll be all right/If I can get you to smile before I leave," he's speaking to his audience. He still loves the life on the road, in fact he calls the road his own, he just doesn't have any control or foreknowlege of where it's all heading.

He's getting older, remembering all the relationships that could've been, and he's realizing the futility of chasing a dream of youth("running into the sun","running blind") when everyone around him seems to be moving past that ("running behind").

Very touching, sung with lots of emotion, definitely a song that was written by Jackson Browne for Jackson Browne, and as such its honesty and intensity shines through.

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