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View Full Version : The "explain what this song means, please" thread. All songs welcome.


OpalCat
04-17-2008, 01:25 PM
I'll start off. Suzanne Vega has a song called "Blood Sings" that is just beautiful. But I really don't understand what it's about. It has some imagery that obviously means something but I'm at a loss to what it is.

http://azlyrics.com/lyrics/suzannevega/bloodsings.html

All I can glean from the lyrics is some vague sense of the loss of innocence or perhaps the unfairness of the world... or something? Anybody?

And what songs mystify you, that the rest of the board might be able to shed light on?

Wee Bairn
04-17-2008, 02:36 PM
If you just want members interpretations, please disregard the following, but Suzanne Vega's own various comments on the song can be found here (http://vega.net/rustedpipe/blood_sings.htm).

jali
04-17-2008, 02:43 PM
MacArthur's Park - I was a kid when I first heard this and I've thought it had to do with a love affair gone wrong. The relationship was fragile and will never be fixed.

Tell me what it really means, please.

Zeldar
04-17-2008, 02:48 PM
MacArthur's Park - I was a kid when I first heard this and I've thought it had to do with a love affair gone wrong. The relationship was fragile and will never be fixed.

Tell me what it really means, please.

It's about an ugly cake, as best I can figure.

Risha
04-17-2008, 03:30 PM
I've considered starting this very thread, but was too embarrassed to admit that I'm still the same idiot who couldn't pick up on any of the symbolism in Lord of the Flies. Of course, now I can't think of most of the songs that have been puzzling me.

Please explain Rage Against The Machine's "Killing In the Name Of" to me. Or the Thrill Kill Kult's "Hour of Zero" (http://post.queensu.ca/~fletchra/TKK/Lyrics/luna.html) (which I believe is midnight(?), but the rest eludes me). Or Pearl Jam's "Alive". Or especially Smog's "Cold Blooded Old Times" (http://stlyrics.com/lyrics/highfidelity/coldbloodedoldtimes.htm). All songs that I love but I have no idea what they're talking about.

Kalibakthegreat
04-17-2008, 03:37 PM
songmeanings.net

Dung Beetle
04-17-2008, 03:44 PM
http://mtv.com/music/artist/ozark_mountain_daredevils/2138465/lyrics.jhtml]Jackie ( [url) Blue, by Ozark Mountain Daredevils.[/url] Well, it's evidently about this chick Jackie, but I can't tell from the lyrics whether the singer admires her, pities her, distrusts her, or what. Also, is the singer male or female, and what is the nature of their relationship? Every time I start to form a theory, some other lyric blows it out of the water.

Annie-Xmas
04-17-2008, 03:48 PM
American Pie (https://academicpursuits.us/classics/a3_398b.html)

ShibbOleth
04-17-2008, 04:04 PM
Panic at the Disco have a song called "Nine in the Afternoon". I'm still trying to figure out when/where that occurs? Maybe at the Arctic Circle?

carnivorousplant
04-17-2008, 04:11 PM
Robert Johnson's Hellhound On My Trail.

"If today was Christmas Eve
and tomorrow was Christmas Day"

Are particularly confusing lines to this little White boy.

CaerieD
04-17-2008, 04:14 PM
Panic at the Disco have a song called "Nine in the Afternoon". I'm still trying to figure out when/where that occurs? Maybe at the Arctic Circle?

My theory was that it was about being really, really high.

Either than or it's frickin' nonsense.

Tool of the Conspiracy
04-17-2008, 04:57 PM
Pearl Jam's "Alive"
I once read an interview where Eddie Vedder explained it. It's not pleasant, and parts of it are autobiographical.
A woman reveals to her teenage son that his biological father wasn't "Dad", it was a recently-deceased friend of the family, who she had an affair with. In the middle verse, the woman attempts to seduce her son, who's looking more and more like his biological father as he matures... and he's still alive. "The look" that he remembers isn't the look on either face, it's him looking at her crotch.

kaylasdad99
04-17-2008, 05:10 PM
Big Yellow Taxi. Throughout the song, Joni is complaining about the footprint modern man is leaving on the planet.

Until the last verse, when her husband walks out on her. What is the message there? Don't let your concern for social activism consume your attention to the point where you don't take care of your relationships?

Or what, exactly?

koeeoaddi
04-17-2008, 06:28 PM
Big Yellow Taxi. Throughout the song, Joni is complaining about the footprint modern man is leaving on the planet.

Until the last verse, when her husband walks out on her. What is the message there? Don't let your concern for social activism consume your attention to the point where you don't take care of your relationships?

Or what, exactly?
I think the failed relationship falls under the 'don't it always seem to go that you don't know what you've got till it's gone' rubric.

gallows fodder
04-17-2008, 11:48 PM
Elvis Costello's Kinder Murder (http://elviscostello.info/lyrics/by.html#kinder_murder) has always puzzled me. I get the general idea -- soldier rapes a girl and she becomes pregnant -- but I'm unsure of what the "kinder murder" is. Is it an abortion? Because, if so, then what does this verse refer to? The child went missing and the photo fit his face
Dishonoured Jimmy just read about the case
He said that he was just taking up space
What child? Is this verse just there to illustrate Jimmy's rotten character? Does the second "he" in the third line refer to the child or to Jimmy?

Is the "kinder murder" the rape? Alluding to a fate worse than death, yet one that leaves the victim alive?

And then what's going on in the last verse: Jimmy took his best friend's keys from the pile on the table in a flash
He was dreaming of the pigskin seats and the walnut dash
The knickers in her handbag and the one false eyelash
Is he committing suicide and these are his last thoughts? (It's the "in a flash" that makes me think this way. Although Costello's phrasing when he sings makes it unclear whether "in a flash" connects with the first line or the second line.)

Throw me a bone here, people.

CaerieD
04-18-2008, 01:51 AM
gallows fodder - This is the first exposure I've ever had to the song so I'm just flailing around in the dark here, but is it "Kinder Murder" as in a kind act or as the German noun Kinder, meaning children? Could there be a play on words going on that might explain some of it?

Crocodiles And Boulevards
04-18-2008, 02:04 AM
Elvis Costello's Kinder Murder (http://elviscostello.info/lyrics/by.html#kinder_murder) has always puzzled me. I get the general idea -- soldier rapes a girl and she becomes pregnant -- but I'm unsure of what the "kinder murder" is. Is it an abortion? Because, if so, then what does this verse refer to?
What child? Is this verse just there to illustrate Jimmy's rotten character? Does the second "he" in the third line refer to the child or to Jimmy?

Is the "kinder murder" the rape? Alluding to a fate worse than death, yet one that leaves the victim alive?

And then what's going on in the last verse:
Is he committing suicide and these are his last thoughts? (It's the "in a flash" that makes me think this way. Although Costello's phrasing when he sings makes it unclear whether "in a flash" connects with the first line or the second line.)

Throw me a bone here, people.

Do you think the "child" could have been the teenage girl? I agree that Jimmy gets her to have an abortion, which is the "kinder murder" in the first part of the song, but it could also be referring to the abrupt missing status of the girl.

In that case, the "photo" could be a suspect photo put out by the police. Jimmy, who was staying with his best friend, takes his pal's car and scrams.

Askance
04-18-2008, 02:18 AM
I've puzzled over this one too. I think "kinder murder" is a play on "a kind'a murder", ie "a kind of murder".

Here's my take on it: the child is the girl who got raped, and she's gone missing because she's been murdered by the others in the guilty soldier's regiment to protect their regimental honour. The photo that fit his face was an identikit-type image that someone recognised. Dishonoured Jimmy is the rapist; the first he knew about the murder is when he read it in the papers, and realises what's been done in his name and by whom. He takes his friend's car and kills himself (as he's just taking up space, ie has no future), perhaps by driving off the road. The knickers in the handbag and the one false eyelash I think were clues to the rape found by the police, that might have led them to him.

So while he didn't kill her, it's his fault - so he murdered her, kinda. I think the German Kinder idea is interesting, but a stretch given how differently the two are pronounced.

What I've always wanted to know is, was it based on real events?

Horatio Hellpop
04-18-2008, 03:35 AM
MacArthur's Park - I was a kid when I first heard this and I've thought it had to do with a love affair gone wrong. The relationship was fragile and will never be fixed.

Tell me what it really means, please.

According to Richard Harris, the cake was a wedding cake. They were close enough to the wedding day when they broke up that they actually had a cake delivered.

Horatio Hellpop
04-18-2008, 03:56 AM
http://mtv.com/music/artist/ozark_mountain_daredevils/2138465/lyrics.jhtml]Jackie ( [url) Blue, by Ozark Mountain Daredevils.[/url] Well, it's evidently about this chick Jackie, but I can't tell from the lyrics whether the singer admires her, pities her, distrusts her, or what. Also, is the singer male or female, and what is the nature of their relationship? Every time I start to form a theory, some other lyric blows it out of the water.

Context. In the early 70s, after the success of "Delta Dawn," there were a whole bunch of songs about insane, spooky misfit women who dabbled in drugs or the occult or both, like "Leave Me Alone," "Angie Baby" and "Witchy Woman." They were monstrously popular and for a while a lot of artists jumped on the bandwagon. "Jackie Blue" is just another. Move along, nothing to see here...

gallows fodder
04-19-2008, 06:54 PM
I've puzzled over this one too. I think "kinder murder" is a play on "a kind'a murder", ie "a kind of murder".

Here's my take on it: the child is the girl who got raped, and she's gone missing because she's been murdered by the others in the guilty soldier's regiment to protect their regimental honour. The photo that fit his face was an identikit-type image that someone recognised. Dishonoured Jimmy is the rapist; the first he knew about the murder is when he read it in the papers, and realises what's been done in his name and by whom. He takes his friend's car and kills himself (as he's just taking up space, ie has no future), perhaps by driving off the road. The knickers in the handbag and the one false eyelash I think were clues to the rape found by the police, that might have led them to him.

By Jove, I think you've got it! It all makes sense now.

DSYoungEsq
04-19-2008, 08:25 PM
American Pie (https://academicpursuits.us/classics/a3_398b.html)
Don McLean speaks out about the meaning of American Pie

lobotomyboy63
04-19-2008, 09:06 PM
I think the failed relationship falls under the 'don't it always seem to go that you don't know what you've got till it's gone' rubric.

I agree, but from whose POV? I.e. did Joni fail to appreciate the guy enough or vice-versa? I'm betting on the latter. E.g. she sings "Hey farmer farmer, put away the DDT now; give me spots on apples, but leave me the birds and the bees."

The guy probably found some trivial thing he didn't like about her and left. But she's wiser than he is. She knows better than to pave paradise to put up a parking lot.

Maybe he'll figure it out later, but it will be too late.

Spice Weasel
04-19-2008, 09:20 PM
I'm dyin' to know what Miss Murder (http://azlyrics.com/lyrics/afi/missmurder.html) by AFI is about.

It seems to have something to do with god forsaking man, but then who the hell is Miss Murder?

Hey Miss Murder can I
Make beauty stay if I,
Take my life?

The stars that pierce the sky;
He left them all behind.
We’re left to wonder why
He left us all behind.

Extra squid kisses for anyone who can solve this mystery.

p.s. Isn't ''my old man'' an expression for ''father'' not ''husband''? I always heard the song Big Yellow Taxi from the point of view of a little kid.

bouv
04-19-2008, 10:16 PM
My theory was that it was about being really, really high.

Either than or it's frickin' nonsense.

I just figured that since they are young, and probably stay out all night drinking and doing drugs, that they woke up that day at one or two, so 9 PM is like their afternoon.

Contrapuntal
04-19-2008, 10:24 PM
Robert Johnson's Hellhound On My Trail.

"If today was Christmas Eve
and tomorrow was Christmas Day"

Are particularly confusing lines to this little White boy.If today was Christmas Eve wouldn't tomorrow have to be Christmas Day?

The whole stanza goes like this : If today was Christmas Eve
and tomorrow was Christmas Day

If today was Christmas Eve

and tomorrow was Christmas Day
spoken: Aow, wouldn't we have a time, baby?

All I would need my little sweet rider just

to pass the time away, huh huh
to pass the time away

It sounds to me like he is just fantasizing about spending time with his "little sweet rider," and what a perfect time that would be.

lobotomyboy63
04-19-2008, 10:34 PM
p.s. Isn't ''my old man'' an expression for ''father'' not ''husband''? I always heard the song Big Yellow Taxi from the point of view of a little kid.

According to Wikipedia...

Old man or Old Man may informally mean:

Father
Husband
Boyfriend
Captain of a merchant ship or a Warship
"Old Man" of La Chapelle-au-Saints, a skeleton
Joe "Old Man" Paruta famous member of the Gambino Crime Family.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Old_man

The Them
04-19-2008, 10:51 PM
Krokodil beat me to it. (Darn you! *Shakes fist*)
Jackie Blue is a description of a chick nearly to the bughouse, and a lyrical interpretation of what they THINK might be going on in her head. Whether or not this had anything to do with any personal experiences of the songwriter(s) - your guess good as mine. As Krokodil mentioned, it seems to have been a popular subject at the time, perhaps influenced by Pink Floyd's "Shine On, You Crazy Diamond" which really was a tale about someone they really did know.
Larry Lee has a high singing voice, so yeah, it's a guy singing.
More than you could possibly care about. (http://songfacts.com/detail.php?id=3481)
No, I have never found this song cool & enchanting. Why do you ask?

Lust4Life
04-19-2008, 11:08 PM
The Last time by Keene.

Is the guy going to commit suicide?
Is he going to stop seeing her or is he telling himself that he's going to stop seeing her but is lying to himself?

I tried googling to get an answer but no joy so anyone who DOES know the ri9ght answer will have my gratitude in spades.

phungi
04-20-2008, 10:13 AM
Or Pearl Jam's "Alive".
Alive is part of a series of songs that Vedder termed the "Mamasan Trilogy," which he wrote in sequence. You can read about the songs and his explanations on this site (http://fivehorizons.com/songs/dec99/index.shtml)...

Ca3799
04-20-2008, 11:15 AM
Leonard Cohens's "Halleluja"- OK- he fell in love and she cut his hair, bit why the flag? Bad love?

Snooooopy
04-20-2008, 02:06 PM
Leonard Cohens's "Halleluja"- OK- he fell in love and she cut his hair, bit why the flag? Bad love?

What's it to ya?

Ca3799
04-20-2008, 08:38 PM
What's it to ya?

Because the title to the thread is ' The "explain what this song means, please" thread. All songs welcome.'



Oh, wait a minute. You know, but won't tell.. :dubious: )

TWDuke
04-20-2008, 08:52 PM
Leonard Cohens's "Halleluja"- OK- he fell in love and she cut his hair, bit why the flag? Bad love?He seems to be addressing someone who thinks (or thought) love is analogous to warfare and she's the winner.I've seen your flag on the marble arch
love is not a victory march
it's a cold and it's a broken Hallelujah
Originally Posted by Snooooopy
What's it to ya?
--------------------
Because the title to the thread is ' The "explain what this song means, please" thread. All songs welcome.'Depending on what version of the song you're familiar with, you may not be aware that Sno...opy was quoting Cohen's lyrics.

BrainGlutton
04-20-2008, 09:12 PM
I love Simon & Garfunkel (and solo Simon), but at least half their songs puzzle me. Why did the Mama Pajama jump out of bed and run to the police station? You can call me Al, but what's that got to do some roly-poly little batface girl? Why indeed deny the obvious, child?

Neon Madman
04-20-2008, 10:36 PM
I always figured Disarm by the Smashing Pumpkins was about an STD...

"The Killer in Me is the Killer in You"

OpalCat
04-20-2008, 11:34 PM
What *is* it about? It's one of the ones I'd have mentioned in this thread if I remembered any time other than when I'm out driving somewhere...

Dung Beetle
04-21-2008, 08:39 AM
Context. In the early 70s, after the success of "Delta Dawn," there were a whole bunch of songs about insane, spooky misfit women who dabbled in drugs or the occult or both, like "Leave Me Alone," "Angie Baby" and "Witchy Woman." They were monstrously popular and for a while a lot of artists jumped on the bandwagon. "Jackie Blue" is just another. Move along, nothing to see here...
Sounds about right, I suppose... The Them, it's a relief just to know the sex of the singer. I'll be interested to re-interpret this song the next time I hear it!

Ca3799
04-22-2008, 06:38 AM
He seems to be addressing someone who thinks (or thought) love is analogous to warfare and she's the winner.Depending on what version of the song you're familiar with, you may not be aware that Sno...opy was quoting Cohen's lyrics.


Ah- missed that.

Thanks!

lobotomyboy63
04-22-2008, 07:05 AM
I love Simon & Garfunkel (and solo Simon), but at least half their songs puzzle me. Why did the Mama Pajama jump out of bed and run to the police station? You can call me Al, but what's that got to do some roly-poly little batface girl? Why indeed deny the obvious, child?

I think Mama Pajama went to bail her son out for smoking a J. I assumed the "radical priest" was Rastafarian. But I could be wrong.

Infovore
04-22-2008, 01:22 PM
Context. In the early 70s, after the success of "Delta Dawn," there were a whole bunch of songs about insane, spooky misfit women who dabbled in drugs or the occult or both, like "Leave Me Alone," "Angie Baby" and "Witchy Woman." They were monstrously popular and for a while a lot of artists jumped on the bandwagon. "Jackie Blue" is just another. Move along, nothing to see here...
Not to mention "Devil Woman" and "Dark Lady." :)

Infovore
04-22-2008, 01:24 PM
I think Mama Pajama went to bail her son out for smoking a J. I assumed the "radical priest" was Rastafarian. But I could be wrong.
For me, the weirdest Paul Simon song was "Mother and Child Reunion," which, according to Paul Simon, was inspired by a Chinese chicken-and-egg dish (http://snopes.com/music/songs/mother.asp) of the same name.

From the same page, regarding "Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard":

Q: What is it that the mama saw? The whole world wants to know.
A: I have no idea what it is.

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