beyond lyrics
November 18, 2004 4:41 PM   Subscribe

Song meanings is a site where you can read the lyrics to a song and then post your thoughts on what the song means.
posted by bargle (57 comments total)
I have been enjoying reading through the comments on songs and would appreciate it if anyone has links to similar sites. Most of what I have found has been band-specific.
posted by bargle at 4:43 PM on November 18, 2004

Wonderful site. Thanks for sharing.
Now I know it's not "Hold me closer, Tony Danza".
posted by newswing at 5:01 PM on November 18, 2004

newswing: amiright has misheard lyrics (there's song parodies too)
posted by ALongDecember at 5:09 PM on November 18, 2004

ALongDecember: That reminds me about how I haven't been to in ages. It's still there -- another good place for misheard lyrics.
posted by brad! at 5:13 PM on November 18, 2004

fun! and i always wondered about After the Goldrush
posted by amberglow at 5:27 PM on November 18, 2004

Good. But didn't answer my two big song lyric questions. And I'm too lazy to sign up there so I'll ask here instead. Anybody have any good theories about the following?

* Dylan|Sad Eyed Lady of the Lowlands|"My warehouse eyes, My Arabian drums???"

* Talking Heads|Life During Wartime|I think it's about drug dealers, my wife thinks it's about actual guerillas or something...
posted by prettyboyfloyd at 5:39 PM on November 18, 2004

Songfacts is another good site for general song interpretation and trivia.
posted by Faint of Butt at 5:46 PM on November 18, 2004

For truly extensive & obsessive analysis, see David Dodd's Annotated Grateful Dead Lyrics.
posted by muckster at 6:00 PM on November 18, 2004

For the first time, I get to write:

[This is good]

Prettyboyfloyd: David Byrne interprets Life During Wartime pretty literally. It's about life during wartime. He's said that he came up with the idea for the song after watching a movie in which a bunch of revolutionaries were deciding what to have for dinner. Amused by the mundanity of their conversation, he wondered what life during wartime would really be like.

I saw him play it live in Montreal a couple of days after September 11, 2001. "It only seems appropriate to play this song," he said.
posted by painquale at 6:42 PM on November 18, 2004

OK, I only checked out two songs on the site (Alison and Watching the Detectives, both by Elvis Costello) and all the comments were stupid and juvenile, and missed the point of the songs entirely. This site would be a great idea if the discussions involved fewer twelve-year-olds.
posted by rocket88 at 6:49 PM on November 18, 2004

as a lyricist/vocalist i find this rather interesting (in a somewhat but not quite negative way). granted, i understand that art is interpretive in nature and that any individual experiencing a given work of expression is generally left to make their own decisions in regards to what a song means to *them*, but at the same time, it is rather difficult for me to allow someone else to determine what a given lyric, or entire song for that matter, is about without additionally ascertaining what the creator of that song was trying to say.

the main issue for me is situations where an individual or group asserts that a given work means something and then proceeds to use that assertion to forward some agenda (for example, the song "one" by metallica being hailed as a song that "glorifies suicide" by the religious right).

so while i fully support people drawing their own conclusions and making their own interpretations, i truly appreciate it when someone takes the time to actually find out if i as the author intended the song to be interpreted by each individual, or intended the song to have a specific meaning or intended to promote a specific agenda. at the very least, thinking about what the artist intended and then building personally on that.

anyway, just my opinion. probably doesn't make much sense. :)
posted by cvoid at 7:03 PM on November 18, 2004

This site was very popular for a while when people starting putting lyrics on the web, but then was shut down for a long time. Good to see it's back. It also used to be really slow...that, it seems, hasn't changed much (although it's a little better).

The concept is smart...but as noted above, the level of discourse leaves something to be desired.
posted by rooftop secrets at 7:06 PM on November 18, 2004

Nice link. I just lost an hour of my life in the r.e.m. section.
posted by yoga at 7:10 PM on November 18, 2004

Thanks a lot painquale, my wife will be just thrilled to hear this ;-[
posted by prettyboyfloyd at 7:13 PM on November 18, 2004

The only Richard Thompson song on there is "1952 Vincent Black Lightning" and if you need help figuring out what it's about then reading an explanation may be beyond your abilities. Won't someone tell me what's happening in Calvary Cross? (I mean, I can see the forest, but those are some mighty odd trees.)
posted by kenko at 7:17 PM on November 18, 2004

what rocket88 said. not to mention people TALKING LIKE THIS WEEKS AFTER CAPS LOCK DAY HAS COME AND GONE!!!
posted by kozad at 7:23 PM on November 18, 2004

I guess it depends what you're looking at...comments on the more emo-ish songs (the weakerthans) (go winnipeg!), had somewhat mature comments, if not lock-myself-in-my-room-and-cry type comments.
posted by genevieve at 7:34 PM on November 18, 2004

Get off the car
Kick his chain, Kick his pride
Get him soaked hit run
Lift up your toes
In my mouth
And we can make love
And we can go(x5)

It's funny to read people trying to decipher Cocteau Twins lyrics.
posted by fungible at 7:35 PM on November 18, 2004

I've wanted to hear other people's interpretations of this song for so long. Yay.
posted by Jerub at 7:37 PM on November 18, 2004

Minutes (hours!) wasted and yet no actual knowledge gained. Some interesting speculation, however, sandwiched between the "this song ruled!" and other inane comments. You'd probably be better off watching VH1's True Spin, unless you're looking for a reason to lose your faith in our nation's collective intelligence.
posted by wallaby at 7:56 PM on November 18, 2004

It's patently hilarious to see people try to interpret the Pixies. Merely in the act of trying, they are admitting that they don't get the Pixies.
posted by Tommy Gnosis at 7:56 PM on November 18, 2004

cvoid, that's always the case with any creative endeavor, and it can be a really valuable eyeopener. Conveying meaning and emotion and any sort of "content" is always dependent on a match between many many variables, some of which invariably won't be received the way we intend. (or, you could think of it as pushing the baby bird out of the nest, and whatever happens, happens.) : >
posted by amberglow at 8:08 PM on November 18, 2004

Thanks, bargle.

The idea is very basic, very democratic, and generates a predictable amount of chaff. But sometimes even that can get amusing - like the commenters who assume "Bohemian Rhapsody" was written in the 90s, for Wayne's World, and offer the insight that Freddie Mercury is writing about his AIDS diagnosis. (not to be confused with tommygnosis)
posted by soyjoy at 8:13 PM on November 18, 2004

posted by bonaldi at 8:14 PM on November 18, 2004

Thanks for the link, I wasted a good bit of time there. But I'm disappointed I didn't find a satisfactory explanation for David Bowie's "Life on Mars." I'll just keep listening.
posted by marxchivist at 8:16 PM on November 18, 2004

Spoiled Children, as interpreted by idiots who don't realize that Sebadoh III came out many, many years before the movie "Kids".

Some of this is interesting, but a lot of it does seem--as someone up above said--like it was written by twelve year olds. Anyway, thanks for the link; I'll keep reading it, but it needs a lot more people working on "lesser-known" artists.
posted by interrobang at 8:27 PM on November 18, 2004


I agree, this is a lovely idea for a site, slightly ruined by the levels of lumpen idiocy on display. It reminds me of something really nice Belle & Sebastian did on their Jeepster site a few years back, where in addition to the discography having the usual tracklisting, lyrics and guitar tabs, fans could submit little stories about memories they had of each song. It was quite staggeringly twee, of course, but in a good way. It's not on the site any more, though, since they moved on to Rough Trade.

This site is not as good. But hey - there's some fun to be had, still.
posted by flashboy at 8:41 PM on November 18, 2004

Don't know about you
But I am un chien andalusia
posted by Bighappyfunhouse at 8:57 PM on November 18, 2004

Totally unsatisfactory job of unravelling the hidden meanings behind Cat Scratch Fever. Very disappointing: D+

Otherwise, this is a great site for getting some junior high schoolerer interpretations on some classic rock tunes. Worthwhile, I suppose, if you teach 8th grade english, and you aspire to be the "cool" teacher.
posted by Tommy Gnosis at 9:04 PM on November 18, 2004

Oh. My. God.

I suddenly feel quite old.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:39 PM on November 18, 2004

As the kids say these days, [this is good].

Some real gems hidden in there, such as this one about "Migraine" by Puddle of Mudd:

how they got their band name was with an unfortunate happening with a truck driver in arizona, the truck driver raped them really hard and fast, and by the end of the night they were laying in their own PUDDLE OF MUDD with TWO d's. speaking of this song "migraine" this song gives me a fucking migraine and im gonna go Overdose on tylonal and hopefully i'll die before i have to hear this gay ass song on the radio

I've actually never heard this song, and I'm not sure if I could tell Puddle of Mudd from Linkin Park or Staind, but still I think this about says it all.
posted by gompa at 9:44 PM on November 18, 2004

On the other hand, gompa, PrinceValium's and five fresh fish's links show that a lot of these "interpretations" are nothing more than people saying stuff like "i love this song does anyone know what its about? [sic]"

I could be a great site, but the comments are clearly not moderated by someone who is paying attention to whether the comment is actually an interpretation of the song or just someone saying something inane about it.
posted by interrobang at 9:53 PM on November 18, 2004

Metafilter: This site would be a great idea if the discussions involved fewer twelve-year-olds.
posted by spock at 9:56 PM on November 18, 2004

After reading the entries for a few of my favorite songs, I've come to the conclusion that I don't want to know the meaning that other people find in these songs. I know what I get out of them, and finding out that other people get completely different things out of the songs only seems to tarnish what I thought were great songs.

Oh, and I just want to scream at 90% of the posters on this song who seem to think it's a bittersweet look back at good times that are over or crap like that. ("DID YOU EVEN READ THE TITLE??! IT'S NOT BITTERSWEET, IT'S JUST INCREDIBLY BITTER!!") At least a few posters understand that.

Not to mention the sadly predictable debate about whether this song is about pot. (Hint: it's not.)

I'll offer a really weird mental connection of my own, though: I can't hear the second verse of Pink Floyd's "Wish You Were Here" without thinking of the Museum Fremen in God Emperor of Dune. It fits them to a T.

Did they get you to trade
Your heroes for ghosts?
Hot ashes for trees?
Hot air for a cool breeze?
Did you exchange
A walk-on part in the war
For a lead role in a cage?

posted by DevilsAdvocate at 10:13 PM on November 18, 2004

In my link, they argue endlessly that AIDS was known and feared by Freddie in 1975. And are really angry that they're being told that AIDS wasn't even a rumour in the homosexual underground. And simply can not conceive how Bo. Rhap. was absolutely a spoof of the entire Rock Opera genre. Because, of course, they're not even remotely aware that everyone who was anyone was writing overblown, overwrought symphonies, musicals, operas. So it can't be silly: it must be About Death.
posted by five fresh fish at 11:09 PM on November 18, 2004

For songs I truly love, I'd much prefer not to have them explained. What magical, gossamer connections to my life I felt they had when I first listened to them and stamped them with my own personal meaning would be lost, and that would suck.

Still, neat site, and thanks for the link. Me, though, I'd rather see a site where people could tell stories about how songs touched them, and why they are important to them.

Hey, Matt! I got another MeFi subsite idea!
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 12:03 AM on November 19, 2004

Oops. Or what DevilsAdvocate said. Serves me right for not reading the whole thread first.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 12:04 AM on November 19, 2004

In fff's link, someone claims that AIDS was well known in America in 1950. Ummm.... yeah, sure...

It's actually kind of amusing to read what weird interpretations people have of songs, but I haven't seen anything here that would actually help you to understand the meaning of a song, if that's what you were looking for.
posted by klausness at 12:26 AM on November 19, 2004

Good songs have an ambiguity which allows them to be interpreted in many different ways. It's far more interesting that the site features people trying to subjectively unravel songs. This beats providing detailed answers to what the artist wanted the song to mean.

That said, I think it's hilarious that anyone on Metafilter would call the interpretations "stupid and juvenile". Doesn't that describe a fair number of the daily comments generated here?
posted by quadog at 1:58 AM on November 19, 2004

Thanks! And Thank. God.: I always thought Rikki Don't Lose That Number was about a gay guy trying to reassure another guy (I though he was a kid; the poster thought he was a married guy) that his instincts were true. And none of my Danophile friends believes me. Excellent! (This is for you, Tim.)
posted by Turtles all the way down at 4:12 AM on November 19, 2004

i think i spk 4 everyone here wen i say this is mega

He certainly speaks for me.
posted by papercake at 6:05 AM on November 19, 2004

And just what is Ashes to Ashes about?

... sigh
posted by whatnot at 7:01 AM on November 19, 2004

Oh. My. God.
I suddenly feel quite old.

As does the point you're making.

I know, it's not a huge thing, but... how about reading the thread before posting your additional links?

(Pretty ironic for people discussing a lack of awareness of the past to come across as so unaware of the past, aint' it?)

posted by soyjoy at 7:50 AM on November 19, 2004

Looking over the Tom Waits section of this site, I don't get that good of an impression. There is not a whole lot posted about Tom's stuff and those that do get comment either get a obvious statement of what the song's about (ex: Romeo is Bleeding), remarks about how there should be more comments about this song, or the same entry doubleposted.

There's so much more that could be written (and has been on many other sites) that it's pretty weak that the section is so.. sparse.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 9:13 AM on November 19, 2004

How about you get away from my ass, soyjoy? I was fully aware that you'd posted a link to Bo.Rhap.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:15 AM on November 19, 2004

It's just common courtesy, FFF, to cite the person who first linked the thing you're commenting on, especially if you're esentially repeating their comment. You apparently don't want to avail yourself of that courtesy, which is fine, of course, but it won't stop me from pointing it out.
posted by soyjoy at 9:54 AM on November 19, 2004

Some funny stuff in the Grateful Dead section (e.g. Tons of Steel, "this song is great more people should like this great song")
posted by Gankmore at 11:28 AM on November 19, 2004

This has probably been posted before, but this reminded me of me of essays about favorite songs on McSweeney's which I found hilarious:
Essays About Favorite Songs Inspired by Nick Hornby's Songbook
My favorite is the essay about the Beta Band's "Inner Meet Me." Which actually isn't as much hilarious as good.
posted by mai at 12:40 PM on November 19, 2004


Courteous? WTF? Is this something Miss Manners has ruled upon? 'cause otherwise I think you're just having a snit. Lighten up. No harm came to you nor your reputation.
posted by five fresh fish at 1:43 PM on November 19, 2004

Courteous? WTF?

Says it all.
posted by soyjoy at 8:18 PM on November 19, 2004

Another page where I will waste lots of time...I love these kinds of things. Good find. : )
posted by SisterHavana at 11:21 PM on November 19, 2004

Soy, I think you need to get out and kill some meat, satisfy that passive-aggressive problem you're showing.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:59 AM on November 20, 2004

He's obviously going for something piscine, fff.
posted by kenko at 6:05 PM on November 20, 2004

Take. Your. Hands.
Off. My. Fish.
posted by five fresh fish at 6:49 PM on November 20, 2004

Soy, I think you need to get out and kill some meat

Wow - now I see why "fresh" is your middle name.

Take. Your. Hands.
Off. My. Fish.

Hey, is it my fault you were there when I was reaching down quonsar's pants?
posted by soyjoy at 7:22 PM on November 20, 2004

I newgrouped for this purpose, and the discussion of misheard lyrics, in 1994. Not too long after that, though, people fled Usenet permanently.

Glad to see someone's carrying the torch.
posted by ikkyu2 at 10:17 AM on November 21, 2004

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