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R.E.M. – E-Bow The Letter Lyrics 11 days ago
This is, with "Mulholland Drive," one of two songs on the album about fame, fame that Stipe had achieved and that his friend River Phoenix gained and lost along with his life.

Remarkably, when River Phoenix died on the sidewalk outside The Viper Room, the band inside (named "P" and featuring Johnny Depp) was playing a song titled, "Michael Stipe."

These lyrics are detailed and tragic, confessing to River Phoenix that fame is not a positive, and that in all the sex and drugs, it has brought them no joy, only alienation. "Will you live to 83?" For Phoenix, the answer was tragically, no, only 23.

This song is a gift. Hearing the throbbing E Bow and Patti Smith's mournful chorus, you sense Stipe and Phoenix both, in a dark place both literally and figuratively, staring into the darkness and seeing nothing of value. What young person hasn't dreamt of fame, success, and riches? Listen to this song and then, perhaps, rethink what you want.

Elliott Smith – Miss Misery Lyrics 11 days ago
The lyrics here differ from the ones accessible via Google and LyricsFind which go:

I'll fake it through the day
With some help from johnny walker red
Send the poison rain down the drain
To put bad thoughts in my head
Two tickets torn in half
And a lot of nothing to do
Do you miss me, miss misery
Like you say you do?
A man in the park
Read the lines in my hand
Told me I'm strong
Hardly ever wrong I said, "man, you're mean"
You had plans for both of us
That involved a trip out of town
To a place I've seen in a magazine
That you left lying around
I don't have you with me but
I keep a good attitude
Do you miss me, miss misery
Like you say you do?
I know you'd rather see me gone
Than to see me the way that I am
But I am in the life anyway
Next door the tv's flashing
Blue frames on the wall
It's a comedy of errors, you see
It's about taking a fall
To vanish into oblivion
Is easy to do
And I try to be but you know me
I come back when you want me to
Do you miss me miss misery
Like you say you do?

Spandau Ballet – True Lyrics 11 days ago
The dreaminess of the music conveys the quality of a love song that we don't see in the lyrics. A close listen may detect an initial contradiction that the lyrics talk about some truth and "this much" which "is true" without explicitly saying what that is, but it is certainly the reality of the moment, the situation, shared between the singer and the partner in his love. It's so intense as to be overwhelming and so he has trouble writing the lines of the song, and uses a "pill" to calm himself. There's otherwise not much detail here - the intensity of newfound love isn't easy to put into words, so we have a lilting melody, soft vocals, and words that repeat, sweetly, around that simple message.

Spandau Ballet – True Lyrics 11 days ago
Nothing so spectacular or horrible.

"Friend and writer Robert Elms suggested they change their name to Spandau Ballet, a phrase which he told them he had seen written on a wall on a weekend trip to Berlin."

Spandau Ballet – True Lyrics 11 days ago
One of the band members saw the name on a poster in West Berlin and liked how it sounded. It probably refers literally to ballet, literally in Spandau, no war.

CZMauser's comment is certainly incorrect. Among other things, Dachau did not use gas chambers.

Dire Straits – One World Lyrics 21 days ago
Some pure blues in the lyrics: The musician is broke, not playing well, unsettled in his personal relationships, society and the whole world are downers. Eighties guitar-driven blues, and it works for me. What a great encapsulation of maladjustment: "Somehow your motives are impure. Somehow I can't find a cure." If there is a cure, the soaring and passionate guitar riffs in this song is it.

U2 – Red Light Lyrics 22 days ago
Angst to the angst power. A man is in love with a woman who is, in his view, self-destructing (and the title, "red light," indicates that prostitution may be part of this) and he succeeds neither in saving her nor winning her love. A world of pain.

Donald Fagen – New Frontier Lyrics 1 month ago
Tuesday Weld turned 17 in 1960. I hope nobody was picking up women in the Fifties because they looked like Tuesday Weld.

It is overwhelmingly clear that "New Frontier" is a reference to the Kennedy Presidency, not the Fifties.

INXS – Mediate Lyrics 1 month ago
Although an Australian would normally think of temperatures in Celsius, I have always supposed that "at 98 we all rotate" was simply a reference to human body temperature, which is 98.6°F. Using Fahrenheit and dropping the "point six" is necessary to make it rhyme. And, as such, the line is saying: We all share a basic human commonality.

There's not a lot of coherence to the lyrics. Forcing the rhyme in each phrase means that many lines come across as fragments, capturing some aspect, perhaps, of human life, but having not much more in common.

Andrew Bird – Scythian Empire Lyrics 3 months ago
This song, written at the height of the post Iraq War insurgency, clearly opens with scenes of explosive violence in Iraq. "Black tar rains and hellfire" may refer to the burning of the Kuwaiti oil fields during the Gulf War, but the following lines, indicating the destruction of clothing and attache cases suggests a car bomb aimed at American occupiers.

The rest of the song discusses ancient civilizations and empires, long since gone, long since defeated by other forces, and the suggestion is that the American era is an "exiting empire" just as the others were before.

12 years later, the headlines don't much resemble the ones of 2007, but the song is beautifully haunting for, at least, the time it was written in.

The Fixx – Secret separation Lyrics 11 months ago
Outside of any other context, the lyrics seem to be a declaration from one lover to another that, although they have not separated in reality, their relationship has been over for quite some time (hence, a secret from others) and that it's time for them to separate and find new partners.

Steve Miller Band – The Joker Lyrics 11 months ago
The second stanza (repeated later) sums it up: Other people say that he is not a good boyfriend, but he's reminding his girlfriend that he is. He is not hard working or ambitious or even faithful, but he shows her a good time.

Everything else in the song elaborates on that point.

Dire Straits – Skateaway Lyrics 1 year ago
The overall intention is really clear.

A couple of interesting points:
There are two references to her being like a bullfighter/toreador. This is a role where someone faces a physically superior force and overcomes it with agility and evasion.
There is a reference to rollerball. That is a fictional sport from the 1975 movie of the same name, and in that, also, someone uses agility to dodge threats. That was fairly recent when this song was written.

There are numerous other quick allusions to threats to her, and that she overcomes them… "no fear alone at night," "taxi drivers," "big truck."

Overall, the tone is of cities being threatening environments but the roller girl, like the heroes of the bullring and Rollerball, rises above it, and therefore "has her whole world in the city." Knopfler audibly laughs with glee. She's a hero for her times.

The Who – Happy Jack Lyrics 1 year ago
Going back to my teen years, I imagined that Happy Jack was a human skull that kids found on a beach, down where the "water's lapping" and they messed around with it, but as skulls always seem to be smiling, "They couldn't prevent Jack from being happy."

However, if the band is on record as saying that there was a real Jack, then that's certainly more compelling.

The Wailers – Get Up, Stand Up Lyrics 1 year ago
This is officially a song that is 3 minutes and 15 seconds long, but it's really a song that's 15 seconds long played consecutively 13 times. Dentist-drill levels of monotony.

Ian Matthews – Shake It Lyrics 1 year ago
I think all the 'em's in the lyrics should be 'im's, short for "him," not "them."

A very attractive young student is going to get into a car with a boy and tease him but "stop him in the nick of time." The singer suggests that she take things further because it won't last very long and it'll give him something to dream of later. Sounds more rapey nowadays than it did in the Seventies. The album was titled "Stealin' Home" which has overtones that are very rapey, but with deniable plausibility.

This was later used in the movie "Little Darlings" which is squarely about teens' first sexual experiences, but the song was released two years before the movie.

Rupert Holmes – Escape (The Piña Colada Song) Lyrics 1 year ago
I'm not sure how old the people were who've commented previously, but no matter how long new people come along and get to know this song, part of its history will be that it was a phenomenon in 1979. Unlike many songs, it's a song with a story, and unlike almost all songs, the story has a twist. It was inescapable in 1979, like many pop songs have been, but it put a timeless topic on everyone's mind for a while, and that's something very few songs have done.

It's also a song that almost everyone knows by a line rather than its primary title, "Escape." Look at the items in the personal ad: It expresses contempt for two things that were trendy in 1979 (health food and yoga) and a liking for four things that are exciting but weren't part of this couple's typical day. It doesn't request a partner of any type or look besides an appreciation for excitement.

So both of the two people in this couple are tired of themselves and what they have become as much as they are tired of the other one. They both sought escape, and presumably found it. The message is that they were not stuck with an unappealing partner, but stuck in a more boring life than they desired. And they found out that they had a willing partner in excitement and presumably, they went on to enjoy that. And the parable is that many of us may be trapped in boring lives with a solution close at hand. Hopefully more than a few people put that lesson to good use in their own life. That's what put this song and its simple story into everyone's mind for a few weeks at the end of the Seventies.

The Clash – The Magnificent Seven Lyrics 1 year ago
@[FreePablo:23505] This song's release was almost simultaneous with Blondie's "Rapture." It was an idea whose time had come.

U2 – Trip Through Your Wires Lyrics 1 year ago
On about my 5000th time listening to this song, it finally clicked with me that trip+wire -> tripwire.

I'd previous been stuck on the interpretation that "trip" referred to an intense experience and "wire" as a conduit for energy. But the much stronger association between those words is "tripwire" – something not seen that causes one to fall upon colliding with it.

The desire kindled in the singer by this new temptation / lover causes him to lose his direction. Is the temptation something that makes him stronger or weaker? Is she an angel or devil? He's not sure. But he is certainly falling, in one way or another, as he trips through her wires.

Simon and Garfunkel – The Sound of Silence Lyrics 1 year ago
There have been 300 comments before this, and many good points, a few quite off base.

There's been hardly any mention of the direct and definite structural ancestor of this song: Exodus 32. The phrase "god they made" should set off alarm bells to that passage about the Golden Calf. Moses is on Mt. Sinai receiving the Ten Commandments from the God who actually delivered the people out of bondage, and Moses returns to find that the people have created a golden idol in the shape of a calf to thank it for their salvation. Moses is so angry he destroys the tablets bearing the commandments as well as the idol of the Golden Calf. (Note: the first two commandments are rules broken by the Golden Calf.) Growing up in the Jewish faith, Simon and Garfunkel were certainly aware of that story about a false god that people had made and the prophet who tried to turn them away from it back to the true path. (And, no, there's no Jesus in this song. This is Moses, from the book of Exodus.)

In "Sound of Silence," the narrator takes the place of Moses. He is certain that the people have lost their way and are being guided by something false. In "Sound of Silence," this is a "neon" god – like the calf, it shines. In 1963, many places in many cities, perhaps none more representative than Times Square, were full of mass media, advertisements for appliances, liquor, entertainment, travel, etc. Native New Yorkers, Simon and Garfunkel saw daily how the city had ceased to be (on old cobblestone) a community of people interacting face to face and had become a huge advertisement for itself, numb crowds indifferent to one another as they marched along the sidewalk blinded by this vast, shining display of advertisement and commercialism – a neon god they made.

The word of the people had almost totally been snuffed out, but it could still be seen. Where? Graffiti. Where is graffiti written? Subway walls and tenement halls.

The narrator of "Sound of Silence," like Moses asking people to turn away from false idols back to God, is asking the people to turn back, away from this neon god of commercialism and asking them to buy and turn back towards themselves, to expression that had almost totally been eliminated, and even then, in the form of graffiti, it was there to read, but not to hear. The voice of the people had become a sound… of silence.

People guessing that this song has something to do with Vietnam – it doesn't quite match the timeline. This song was begun in 1963 and recorded in March 1964, a year before the first U.S. combat troops in Vietnam and months before the first large protests. This song was still quite popular then, and doubtlessly expressed something that the protesters liked, but they were, if anything, inspired by it, not the other way around.

The song was also borrowed for the film "The Graduate," which came later, and made use of the song years after its original release. The central character, Benjamin, is isolated from other people and often separated from them by silence, but the song and the original novel were not connected to one another, and the decision to pair the song with this work came after the fact.

In many ways, "Sound of Silence" was ahead of its time, and therefore became an appropriate anthem for the youth movement and protest movements that followed later in the decade. Perhaps in some ways, the late Sixties took the silence that Simon and Garfunkel had sung about and replaced it, for a while, with some noise.

Echo and the Bunnymen – Bombers Bay Lyrics 1 year ago
Ian McCullough himself said that it's about beauty in the face of war, but also qualified that with, "I don't know what it's about."

There are some literary and historical call-outs:
"Road to Mandalay" is present in the opening of a 1890 poem by Rudyard Kipling about the British occupation of and wars in Burma.
"Pack Up Your Troubles in Your Old Kit-Bag" is a 1915 British WWI marching song.
"Bombers Bay" refers to the bomb bay of a plane; the UK had many bombing campaigns in World War Two, including one very unsuccessful one targeting Berlin.
Madrid last saw action by British forces during the Peninsula Campaign of the Napoleonic Wars.

A consistent theme here is the heroism of the British troops in various wars from 1808 to 1945. It certainly is beautiful, in lyrics and melody. For whatever McCullough finds vague about it, there is a recurring fond celebration of British forces throughout the years.

Echo and the Bunnymen – Bombers Bay Lyrics 1 year ago
@[Bulgaroktonos:22934] That seems basically right, although Madrid and "pack up your troubles" don't match WW2. It may be about the British experience in all the wars of the 20th century. It may be about some literary work of which I'm not aware about all those wars ~1915-1945.

The Police – Contact Lyrics 1 year ago
Raincoat as a metaphor for condom is perfect except for the message of the rest of the song, which expresses – in almost every line – doubt about whether or not the woman shares his positive feelings. So, I always heard it as a triple meaning, a raincoat being the emotional strength to shield himself from sadness if he comes over and is rejected.

Multiple meanings are also in the line, "I've got contacts in my book and in my eyes." The book is an address book, and contacts are the people listed in it. The contacts in his eyes are corrective lenses, and this suggests his lack of potency and vitality.

Contact also has a third sense – meaningful contact. He is able to call the people in his address book, but is there something meaningful with any of them? Or the one who left him the note. Is there real contact?

All told, the narrator is a very unsure and insecure man, and he uses the mere existence of names in his address book as proof that he is liked. But when faced with a potential romantic opportunity, he is unsure if the potential is real.

I always found the word "touchdown" interesting. It's a term from American football; the band is one third American, but it seems like Sting might veto the term if that were the intended sense. Another sense is the landing of a spacecraft, and this sense gibes with another song on the album, "Walking on the Moon." In both senses, it indicates completion, success, and contact. If there is contact, will he need a raincoat in the one sense (condom) or the other (shielding from sadness)?

The Police – Synchronicity I Lyrics 1 year ago
For the most part, the songs on the first side of the album Synchronicity are about global, societal forces, and the songs on the second side are about damaged romantic relationships. We could quibble about whether that holds true for all of them or not – Murder by Numbers seems like it belongs on the other side – but it generally holds true, and Synchronicity I, as the first and (besides the roman numeral) title track lays out the overarching theme.

It reads almost like the outline for a lecture on the topic. Synchronicity (the topic) is something one might encounter in college, and this was Sting bringing an intellectual topic to the young masses and even popular radio. Kudos to him for doing so.

For however deep the topic is, the lyrics, however, dance lightly around it. The vocabulary is respectably heavy but the text is telegraphic, often composed of sentence fragments that suggest an aspect of synchronicity but don't explain it. "Subatomic laws" is one line, remarkably nerdy for pop music, but there's no verb. "Subatomic laws"… what? Well, this and most if not all of the sentence fragments peppering the lyrics can be tied into a discussion of synchronicity, but it's not the lyrics of the song that will do the discussing; the song introduces the topic and teases some interesting ideas about it, but it's an exercise left to the reader to find out more.

It's remarkable looking back on it, that the biggest hit album of a year would have a title track tossing around Latin phrases and refer to the works of Jung and (like the Police's previous album) Koestler. May every generation get such a rich experience from their popular music.

The Police – Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic Lyrics 1 year ago
Put these lyrics to different music and you'd have a hell of a blues song, downbeat and defeated. Losing one's nerve, the rain metaphor – a thousand rainy days! He's spent three years wanting to act on this but hasn't. He wants to marry her but hasn't even asked her on a date. Tragic.

But the song The Police actually recorded is full of energy and optimism. It's enough to get us to forget about the inaction and get caught up in how he sees the girl, and it's all wonder and magic. His doubt and uncertainty becomes background and background becomes prologue, and the bouncy tune makes you certain that sooner or later, he's going to pick up the phone.

The Beatles – I Am the Walrus Lyrics 1 year ago
As many have noted, Lennon wrote this attempting to defy anyone who interpreted the meanings of his songs. In particular, some university had a class in which his songs were analyzed and he wanted to write this completely meaningless song to vex that effort.

However much Lennon may have intended to make this song devoid of any central meaning, there is a tone to it which is very distinct and repeated throughout, and it reiterates his purpose in writing it: Lennon felt that institutions are inherently flawed and repress the people beneath them.

So, "I Am The Walrus" repeatedly provides examples of authority trampling people beneath it, and lyrics in which Lennon belittle the authority.

"Corporation t-shirt" – An institution juxtaposed with informality.

"you've been a naughty boy, you let your face grow long" – Beards were considered undignified, a convention that the Beatles respected early in their career, but around the time of Magical Mystery Tour, Lennon rebelled against by growing his out.

"pornographic priestess" – An institution juxtaposed with obscenity.

"you've been a naughty girl, You let your knickers down" – Society judges promiscuity, particularly on the part of women. Lennon, obviously, did not agree.

If you ask a person to generate a lot of nonsense text, they won't make something truly random, and will inevitably bias it towards their own interests and beliefs. Lennon wrote a song here with no central meaning, but he repeatedly criticizes repression in the society around him. And, in doing that, it conveys a message as much as any song that intentionally has a central meaning.

Don Henley – Who Owns This Place? Lyrics 1 year ago
In life, you will wish to succeed, but success is harder than you think. Experience will repeatedly humble you. After you have been humbled enough times, you will ask "Who owns this place?" (Who actually does have power in this world?) There's no answer in the song, as to whether it's god, mortals, or no one at all.

This is from the Color of Money soundtrack and might be considered loosely the message that the older pool player tries to convey to the young hotshot.

Paul Simon – The Late Great Johnny Ace Lyrics 1 year ago
This is strictly autobiographical – this is Paul Simon talking about himself, not a bit of fiction to it.

Paul Simon explains how three times in his life were linked together, with the first two thematically linked to the third.

Johnny Ace (a stage name, of course) was someone Simon didn't know that well, but noted with sadness and got to know a bit after his death.

The Beatles (and Stones) were more Simon's time, and obviously great inspirations to him.

The third event, in 1980, is what Simon really wanted to comment upon – how he felt when he heard the news about John Lennon's death. The two earlier passages are the setup for it. In this case, unlike the 1954 case, Simon cared very deeply about the deceased, and his death was untimely and shocking. Now, a capable and celebrated musician himself, Simon's response was to go to a bar – obviously anywhere he arrived would welcome him – and play music to console himself and honor Lennon. And he feels that the stage name of the older musician, "Johnny Ace," is appropriate for Lennon, in the sense of an ace, as in cards, being the highest ranking member of a set.

That's the payoff of the song, to give John Lennon that name, the affectionate "Johnny" instead of his given name, and "Ace" to proclaim his greatness. The first portion of the song warmly remembers the man who had that as his stage name, but at the end of the song, it's Lennon who is remembered by Simon as the late, great Johnny Ace.

Dire Straits – The Man's Too Strong Lyrics 1 year ago
There are a lot of guesses about a specific identity to the narrator and/or "The man." It can't be one person. I always thought it was clear that it was a personification of violent ideas and violent behavior… rather close to the idea of Ares / Mars in Greco-Roman mythology. The number of deeds he admits to and the various timelines that are implied couldn't possibly be one person in one lifetime. Drummer boys and burning books alone – to pick just two – are from entirely different centuries. Never known peace? Nobody's life in the century of burning books was surrounded entirely by war and never at peace. Silver and diamonds as currency – those are long since past. Nobody has ever done all of these things. Any specific person you guess will fail to match at least one of the attributes in the lyrics.

Is it the Devil, Satan, or evil in general? No, this is much more specific. He's not tempting people to do all sorts of wrong – this is war, the use of violence by large groups and nations. Sometimes "he" is doing large things with armies, sometimes stealing like a thief – things that armies have done throughout the centuries.

Obviously, the lyricist (Knopfler) is critical of this fictional warrior's activities, but will war ever end, and 'fade away"? No, the human inclination for war is too big, and too strong. That's the song's message. This song's narrator will never, unfortunately, fade away. It's too strong.

Dire Straits – Your Latest Trick Lyrics 1 year ago
Prostitutes, like taxis, closing-down bars, and garbage trucks, are the background setting for the events in the song, but there's no indication that the addressee is a prostitute (nor a taxi, etc.).

A musician has had his heart broken by someone he loved; she is not a prostitute, but he likens her to one (see below). And he feels part of the late-night city where nobody is really getting what they want. Everything is dirty, everything for pay.

There are numerous ambiguous terms with one musical meaning and one other: "monster mash" (a novelty song from 1962 and the way the garbage trucks consume trash), bars (portions of a song and drinking establishments), keys (what open a lock, and the key in which a song is played). As a musician, he sees things in terms of music. Also, the double meanings set up the significance of the more important one in the title.

She robs him of his heart (with insolence) not of his money (the literal keys she could have used, but didn't, to break into his home).

And so, broken-hearted, he does liken her to a prostitute, with the ambiguous term in the title. He "hands it to her" (gives her credit for her success in leading him on) and her latest "trick" (her behavior that fooled him, as well as the next man she will be with – by calling him a "trick", he's calling her a whore).

Perhaps unimportant, but I always felt that this was about New York, not London. There's a reference to a Bowery bum, and that's a street in New York, although it's only in a simile. Perhaps the city doesn't matter, but the late closing hour for bars in New York separates the night folk and the rest of the world more completely than in London, making it a little more desperate, and a bit more prone to making those who end the night feeling lost.

Harvey Danger – Carlotta Valdez Lyrics 2 years ago
As others have noted, a breakdown of key scenes in the film Vertigo.

Legion of Honor art museum – Where your portrait hangs.
Jump into the San Francisco Bay – Fort Point under the Golden Gate Bridge.
Muir Woods – Where the redwoods grow.
Mission San Juan Bautista - The mission stairs.

"I will make you her." - When Jimmy Stewart encounters Kim Novak after her staged death, he believes she's a different woman, but tries to dress her like the "dead" woman, both played by Kim Novak.

And a brilliant pun: "He isn't really falling for this, is he?" - The Jimmy Stewart character falls for a deception, and he is also terrified of heights, almost falling on multiple suspenseful occasions.

Kim Carnes – Bette Davis Eyes Lyrics 2 years ago
A striking thing here upon which nobody has commented is that the song, a hit in 1981, refers to movie stars who were born around 1908… they were all at least seventy years old when the song was a hit and in their sixties when it was written. "A spy" is another unlikely comparison in 1981… more of a movie trope from earlier decades. To remember these stars in their prime, a listener would had to have been at least 50. But it was very popular, and it enhanced the mystique of the woman it was describing, that she couldn't be compared to anyone more contemporary. And the woman who is being described is not old… she's precocious.

This was a landmark song in describing a woman who uses her sexuality for her own power, without shaming her or reducing her to an object of pleasure like the promiscuous women in the lyrics of Seventies/Eighties hard rock sung by men. "Pure as New York snow" though she may be, she's the one driving the action in every line, and the men who are involved are the objects to her. Musically, this was at the junction of rock and lounge music, but in glamorizing a woman who was classically attractive and in control, it helped prime culture for the arrival, a couple of years later, of Madonna.

Pink Floyd – Goodbye Blue Sky Lyrics 2 years ago
Roger Waters says that The Wall is about "remembering one's childhood and then getting ready to set off into the rest of one's life." As a child he witnessed bombings of London, and the movie clearly patterns the bombers on the German eagle design, nothing Soviet. The city being bombed is London, and the bombs come from masses of airplanes, not ICBMs. This all makes it very clear: It is about the German bombing of London in WW2, not a hypothetical nuclear bombing one might have feared later. Not bombs in combat that could have killed his father. German bombs, in large numbers, from airplanes, on London.

But there is relevance of those later fears. The childhood experience made him vulnerable to fearing more bombings: The song "Mother" asks "Mother, will they drop the bomb?" "The bomb" refers to the atomic bomb, and this is a fear that lingers on after his childhood experience has ended.

The 1979 album and movie, of course, had relevance to the audience in the form of the fear of nuclear war, which began to appear as a theme in more and more popular music in the early Eighties, and The Wall was ahead of the curve on this. But Waters was primed for that fear because of his childhood experience, which is what the movie illustrates.

Certainly a later audience might liken this to their own, different, experience of 9/11, but it really highlights how much smaller 9/11 was… German bombs killed about 40,000 UK civilians out of a population of 48 million. This is almost a hundred times as big as 9/11 in terms of percentage of the population killed, and the Blitz had that many again injured.

"Brave New World" of course alludes to the novel of that same name, not "1984," but the comparison isn't that deep: The phrase is ironic in both cases, but in "Goodbye, Blue Sky" it is ironic because war and devastation greeted hopes of peace and prosperity; in "Brave New World," a peaceful society is horrible in far quieter ways.

There was no way to hear this in the Eighties and not think of nuclear war, which is a wonderful thing that art can do, to enrich your experience of another situation, but it is clearly autobiographical, and refers first and foremost to the bombing of London that Waters experienced first-hand.

Gorillaz – Dracula Lyrics 2 years ago
Maybe nobody has actually seen the Bugs Bunny cartoon?

Bugs spends the night in a vampire's home. The vampire is eager to get Bugs to go to sleep, so he can make him his victim. That's why he encourages sleep with, "Rest is good for the blood." (Of course, the blood is what he wants to consume.)

Later in the cartoon, he attacks, revealing himself with the line, "I am a vampire!" (Bugs answers, "I'm an umpire.")

The (very few) lyrics to the song describe people who are not literally vampires, but who stay up late and party. Most people are in bed (toe the line = adhere to norms and expectations) but the rest of the people are out of reach (beyond normal expectations). The people staying up very late will "never" (not any time soon) sleep again. And so they're like vampires. And so these very short lyrics whimsically compare those hard-partying people to Dracula.

The use of the Bugs Bunny sound samples should be the first clue that this is purely whimsical, not making a serious point about anything.

It doesn't particularly say how they're partying, or what they might be consuming… the lyrics only have 24 words. Details are sparing.

Pete Townshend – White City Fighting Lyrics 2 years ago
White City is the name of a specific area in London, and a particular housing development within that. The lyrics are narrated by a man who is now doing quite well for himself but had a rougher, violent youth in White City, and he considers the contrast between his past and present as well as the ironic name of a place where reality was quite dark.

Pete Townshend is not actually from there, and the album as a whole was conceived as a novel telling the story of a fictional man; the lyrics describe a portion of that character's past and present.

U2 – God Part II Lyrics 2 years ago
This is obviously a follow-up to John Lennon's song "God" which lists fifteen things that he doesn't believe in, particularly a variety of religious, political, and musical figures and movements.

It furthermore follows and refers to a scathing biography of Lennon written by Albert Goldman, that goes beyond criticism and onto polemic, asserting that Lennon and Yoko Ono were bad in almost every conceivable way.

This is also the second song on "Rattle and Hum" in which the band explicitly aligns themselves with The Beatles, with the spoken intro to a "Helter Skelter" cover saying that Charles Manson stole that song from The Beatles (he interpreted it as a prophecy of racial war)… "we're stealin' it back."

U2 – Silver And Gold Lyrics 2 years ago
In the Eighties, South Africa was under the racially oppressive system of apartheid. Bishop Tutu, as the lyrics indicate, asked for the major Western nations to impose economic sanctions on his own country as a way to force a change. In 1986, the US Congress passed a bill imposing such sanctions. Ronald Reagan vetoed the bill, but the Senate overrode his veto. The lyrics here express frustration that the West acted with such hesitation to do the right thing.

"Silver and Gold" are precious metals and are used as a symbol of all economic power. "A prize fighter in a corner is told, 'Hit where it hurts – silver and gold'" summarizes the entire dynamic: Tutu tells the "prize fighter" (the major Western nations) to "hit where it hurts" (impose sanctions). A truly beautiful line, expressing the power of the West, the frustration that they remain "in a corner" (refusing to act), and the sure solution that their action could produce.

The Apartheid era ultimately ended with the first multiracial elections in 1994.

U2 – The Refugee Lyrics 2 years ago
The general scenario is very clear – a girl in a war-torn country is, at her mother's behest, looking forward to escaping her misery by immigrating to America.

Something interesting happens with the way song uses time… first it refers to morning, later to evening. Time is passing, bringing her no closer to her destination. The day passes, and still she waits, and as of the last line, her passage to America is still in the future. Maybe it will never arrive.

I've always thought of "her man" as a possible romantic partner, but that's not entirely clear – she's waiting for her father to return, and in Irish slang, "your man" has a broader meaning than in American English. Perhaps it's her father, or some future romance.

It's interesting to see U2's ongoing interest in America and how it evolves in their lyrics. Here, as quite young men, they see it as a place of hope. Later, it becomes familiar to them, and more real, more nuanced as a source of hope, isolation, international strife, and more. But here, early on, is their fresh impression, as a place where Irish suffering during The Troubles might escape.

The B-52's – 53 Miles West Of Venus Lyrics 2 years ago
It's hard to break this one down. About the only thing one can say is that the one line in the song aspires to outer space travel (as do many B-52s songs), but is inherently nonsensical – whether you're talking about celestial coordinates or a map of the planet Venus, there is no sense to the phrase "53 miles west of Venus"; an object in the sky can be degrees west of Venus in sky coordinates, but relative to the planet Venus, west would be a direction on its surface, where every point is Venus. Leaving Venus would mean going "up" not "west."

One song, five words of spacey nonsense.

The B-52's – Trism Lyrics 2 years ago
@[thatsnomoon:21070] Given the context, I'd thought that it might be a fictional car make/model, but looking at the lyrics closely, it seems that Stella Corona is the name of the girl in the song and trism is some sort of (science) fictional teleportation.

Stella is Italian for star and Corona is Latin for crown, so there's a vague suggestion of a celestial princess here. Stella is a female given name that seems apt for the beehive hairdo era the B-52s liked to lampoon. But yes, both also have a meaning in astronomy, and both also beers.

Hank Williams Jr. – A Country Boy Can Survive Lyrics 2 years ago
I love the spirit of self reliance that runs through 3/4 of the song… the parts that denigrate New York are negative and drag down the rest of it. The murder rate in states like Mississippi and Alabama is distinctly higher than in New York. Why? Most murders are committed by someone the victim knows. Sure, you're not apt to be mugged in a rural area, but your chances of being killed by a spouse are higher than the chances of someone in New York being killed by a mugger.

I admire the heck out of people who can step out their door and into the woods and do all kinds of things to sustain themselves. There's no need to run down New York to build that up. 99 times out of 100, a city boy can survive, too.

Don Henley – All She Wants To Do Is Dance Lyrics 2 years ago
The region is Central America – this was written in 1983, when bumper stickers said, "No US war in Central America," seven years before Iraq invaded Kuwait, and the talk of "rebels" and drug deals and American intervention – that's all Central America, or arguably certain locations in South America, but not the Middle East, not Vietnam, not Iran. The use of "Yankee" / "yanqui" is another clue, and the video shows Spanish writing and has Spanish subtitles at the end.

The lyrics do something interesting – they are all third person until the last stanza, when they become first person. Whoever the singer is, he's a part of all this. "The last plane out" implies a change of government; if he's unwelcome under the new government, then the rebels won, so he must have been on the side of the government or at least antagonized the rebels while playing both sides.

And what's going on is a game of arms deals, drug deals, and soldiers of fortune. That's all very clear – the topic is not a mystery here.

Except for the title character – who is "she"? Some people are suggesting a metaphor, but I don't think so. I think she's a literal woman, attractive to the narrator. She frequents the bars and discos where the people arranging the various criminal deals meet. And if he ever finds occasion to go back to this country, he'll expect to have a good time. Could she be a metaphor for the whole corrupt situation? Sure, why not, but sometimes a muchacha is just a muchacha.

The Doors – Break on Through (To the Other Side) Lyrics 2 years ago
The title of the band is a different expression of the same idea, and it came from a quotation by William Blake, later the title of a book about mind-expanding drug use by Aldous Huxley:

"If the doors of perception were cleansed everything would appear to man as it is, infinite."

This is an idea that Morrison was obsessed with, that there is a pathway to become truly enlightened, to see and feel fully, things that ordinary people and ordinary experience do not permit. He believed this of music, and he believed it of life, that reaching towards an alternate, more complete form of experience was the ultimate reward.

Is this song about "drugs"? That's an oversimplification. For Morrison, breaking through was about every kind of experience – this song alludes to drugs, but also to sex, to sleep deprivation, to nonstop activity, to wild risk-taking. All of those more intense ways of living were part of the quest to break through to another side. Crossing a barrier to a purer and more intense reality is the metaphor that the band name the "Doors" was chosen to suggest, and Morrison's brief and wild life was devoted to that cause.

Many Doors songs contain a transition from a slower, softer beginning, a slow build up, to a climax. This mimes the transition that Morrison felt that people should seek. "Break on Through," however, starts fast and ends fast. The opening lines, implying a long spell of sleeplessness, introduce us to a persona who is living wildly, chasing the other side. Maybe Morrison found the other side, and maybe we can hear that in his music.

The Doors – The Unknown Soldier Lyrics 2 years ago
The Vietnam War was called "The Living Room War" because, for the first time, families could sit down and watch footage of the war showing events almost as they were happening. This is the specific context of

"Breakfast where the news is read. / Television, children fed…"

A family is reading about the war in the newspaper during breakfast and watching the war on TV and so children are "fed" the images of war and bloodshed in their own homes (perhaps as they literally eat meals simultaneously).

"The Unknown Soldier"'s original sense is an American soldier who died in World War I (later, other unknown soldiers were chosen from other wars) and whose remains are memorialized in Washington as a symbol for all of the unknown, and unheralded, casualties of America's wars.

Missing from these lyrics: When the drill call "Present arms!" ends, we hear a round of gunshots, sounding like a firing squad. The soldiers who are ready for war are mown down by gunfire at a moment that new soldier join the military.

When the song concludes, at an increasing tempo, with the words, "It's all over / war is over," the implication is that the war is over FOR the unknown soldier, who is dead. The war is not actually over, and more soldiers will die.

Morrison is, characteristically, subverting the establishment view here. Our response to the unknown soldier should not be one of pride for his sacrifice, but rather sympathy for his loss and an overwhelming desire to prevent this from happening. Thus, while the original memorialized Unknown Soldier responds to war and loss with positive sentiment, Morrison sees it as a horrible eventuality to prevent. Not incidentally, Morrison's father was an admiral in the US Navy, and this song is part of a generational rebellion against the generation before.

The ideas in this song are quite similar to those in Dalton Trumbo's "Johnny Got His Gun," whose title ALSO uses language previously used to glorify war in a work that emphasizes the horror of war by examining the case of one tragic casualty. (Though in Trumbo's work, perhaps more horribly, the casualty is alive but catastrophically disabled.)

Phoebe Snow – Poetry Man Lyrics 2 years ago
A beautiful song about two people in love. The lyrics are mainly very straightforward… except:

The lines near the end have a meaning that Phoebe Snow's mother caught right away, but many listeners probably don't: The man in this relationship is married to someone else. I myself originally interpreted the lyrics with this meaning: "Home's that place that men in general goes to at the end of each day to see their wives… and I hope that one day soon we are man and wife." In actuality, Phoebe was having an affair with a married man and meant: "Home's that place that you, the man I'm talking about, goes to see the wife who doesn't know about me. And I'd rather you stay and spend more time with me instead."

It's easy enough to hear it either way, but the second one was the message, and Phoebe's mother took it, correctly, as a confession.

The Pretenders – Time the Avenger Lyrics 2 years ago
A successful businessman with a wife and kids has an affair with a stranger and this leads to his ruin – at least, he loses his marriage. He loses his composure ("I wonder where your manners went"). As he sees this outcome on the way, he drinks to try to forget and ignore the problem, but he ends up leaving his home with just a briefcase full of possessions.

Paul Davis – 65 Love Affair Lyrics 2 years ago
This song is a period piece – a hit in 1982, but about, as the title says, 1965. Paul Davis turned 17 that year, and that's about right for the high school setting of the lyrics. It's all pretty straightforward – a man later in his life (Davis was 33 when the song was recorded) remembers, fondly, how his life was in 1965, and how he would gladly return to it, if he could, but he didn't appreciate it enough at the time.

"Doo Wah Diddy" was a hit in 1964, so this is a song channeling another song, and the slow rhythm made it sound appropriately anachronistic in 1982, when bands like Duran Duran were taking over the airplay. This was a song that MTV watchers' parents listened to and it reminded them of their youth.

I'm not entirely sure what "bad with your pom poms" means… dancing sexily, like a tease, or clumsy and inadvertently endearing? Otherwise, the song is almost entirely transparent. But as much as it tries to be a period piece, citing the specifics of the mid-60s, there's nothing too much in the setup that couldn't have applied in the Forties or today.

Buckwheat Boyz – Peanut Butter Jelly Time Lyrics 2 years ago
The lyrics alone don't do justice to the singer's extraordinary enthusiasm.

There are two elements to the lyrics: Peanut butter and jelly – something light and pleasant, purely for enjoyment. And the unpredictable, illogical flow of associations, which are also light and pleasant, purely for enjoyment. That's the only commonality throughout the song: The singer is having a great time, and any listener who has a pulse does, too.

Bananarama – Robert De Niro's Waiting Lyrics 2 years ago
@[losttango:19720] The band certainly does say that, but right before that, they say, "The lyrics were much darker than you’d imagine." Huh? If you hear/read a set of lyrics and understand them, then they aren't darker than you'd imagine – they're exactly what you imagine.

So what they're saying is that they had an inspiration or an intention but that someone who hears the lyrics can't imagine that inspiration just from hearing them. Which is, I think, the correct understanding of this song as well as many others: There was an original inspiration/intention which was hidden (probably in this case because it would be a shock), so you can find out the backstory by asking the band or reading an interview but not from the song alone. And when they say that they're darker than you'd imagine, they're admitting that the intention isn't clear to the listener.

Jesus Jones – Right Here, Right Now Lyrics 2 years ago
zoster and nylentone have it absolutely right. This isn't a timeless song about any good thing. It's about one very specific thing. This song came out in 1991 and reflects the joy and astonishment for those of us who "were alive and waited" for this. On numerous occasions from 1956 to 1988, there were signs of the Eastern Bloc becoming more democratic, and they were always crushed by purges, arrests, and/or tanks.

Then when it finally happened, it happened so fast it was unbelievable. After some gradual signs of change in Poland and Hungary early in 1989, everything accelerated in the final weeks of the year. The Berlin Wall was opened on November 9 and by Christmas the Communist regimes of Eastern Europe were virtually wiped off the map without a war. Virtually all of these changes happened in the final few weeks of 1989, hence the line about the decade ending.

Bob Dylan sang about revolution but he didn't (in his heyday) have THIS to sing about. The band can hardly pack enough joy into the lyrics that the world was changed so much and so suddenly for the better and that they (and many of us) got to see it happen. It was like winning a war without the war.

The posted lyrics have some significant glitches.
A woman on the radio talks (not "talked")
Bob Dylan didn't have this to sing about (no "you" at the end)
I saw the decade end (not "in")

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