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So Many Songs Have Been Misinterpreted Over The Years

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So Many Songs Have Been Misinterpreted Over The Years

A lot of songs out there have multiple meanings for different people, however the writer of the lyrics is the only one who knows the true meaning.

Not long back James Blunt revealed that his hit sing 'You're Beautiful' has a very dark message to it.

Everyone believes it's that romantic song. The song where a guy sees a girl on the underground (subway, if you're American, and metro, if you're European) and falls in love with her instantly.

"She smiled at me on the subway/she was with another man/but I won't lose no sleep on that/cos I've got a plan." Instantly turned off if it's on a radio, belted out at the top of your lungs if you're pissed.


"These people are fucked up," Blunt recently told The Huffington Post. "You get labelled with these things like, 'Oh, James Blunt. Isn't he just a soft romantic?' Well, fuck that. No, I'm not."

Then he got down to explaining just what the song is about...

"It's about a guy who's high as a fucking kite on drugs in the subway stalking someone else's girlfriend when that guy is there in front of him.

"He should be locked up or put in prison for being some kind of perv," he said.


Credit: PA

Well, that's quite a revelation. But Blunt's cult classic isn't the only song that's been misinterpreted.

The La's, a band known for being as Scouse as they come, rock n roll, inspiring 90s Britpop bands, and oh, of course, the hit that everyone assumes is a love song, 'There She Goes'.


The opening riff is instantly recognisable, and everyone will always attempt to match Lee Mavers high pitched singing as he recites the chorus.

However, the song is believed to not be about a girl, but in fact about heroin.

Mavers was held in high regard by many musicians for his writing and melodies, but was a self proclaimed perfectionist. Even after the self titled debut album from The La's was released, he didn't like it. In fact, he described it as 'crap', and that was the beginning of the end of a man who became a recluse, distancing himself from just about everything.

At the time, it was rumoured he was fuelled by alcoholism and heroin, and that lyrics like "And I just can't contain/This feelin' that remains" and "There she blows/There she blows again/Pulsing through my vein" and "No-one else could heal my pain."


The rumours were strong, and when addressing them, bassist John Power said: "I don't know. Truth is, I don't wanna know. Drugs and madness go hand in hand. People who you've known all your life... they're steady, then they're not. But you can't ponder, 'cause it kills you, la."

The La's perform in their beloved city of Liverpool.



Bloody hell, Bryan Adams' 'Summer of 69', what a banger, eh? No, literally, what a banger.

The Canadian had a plethora of hits, but this is his most recognisable, but it's not just about being nostalgic and wishing your adolescent years back.

Adams was born in 1959, so would have been ten in '69. This voids most of the lyrics of any genuine meaning, but that's okay, because he has previously said that the song is a metaphor for sex. Specifically sex in the summertime.

"A lot of people think it's about the year, but actually it's more about making love in the summertime," he told CBS News. "It's using '69 as a sexual reference."

Credit: PA

You may have sung 'Like A Virgin' by Madonna at an 80s night, or at your auntie's birthday party. It usually gets an immature laugh, as it's thought that the song is actually about a virgin.

In fact, the song was penned by Billy Steinberg who never intended it to be performed by a female. It was about his own relationship perils.

"I was saying that I may not really be a virgin - I've been battered romantically and emotionally like many people - but I'm starting a new relationship and it just feels so good," Billy told the Los Angeles Times. "It's healing all the wounds and making me feel like I've never done this before, because it's so much deeper and more profound than anything I've ever felt."

In the opening scene of Quentin Tarantino's film Reservoir Dogs, Mr. Brown and Mr. Blonde have a conversation about the track, with the former claiming it's about a girl digs chaps with a lengthy manhood, whereas the latter says it's about a girl who's vulnerable.

Following the release of the film, Madonna signed a CD for Tarantino, saying "Quentin, it's about love, not dick".

Credit: Miramax Films

We all recognise 'Waterfalls' by TLC. It has two levels of popularity. Firstly, it's a belter, and secondly, because someone once tweeted the lyrics and said "don't go, Jason Waterfalls."

You wouldn't really expect anyone to actually care what the meaning of this song is, as it's simply a cult classic made to fade away, only to catch you by surprise when it comes on shuffle during a Spotify playlist.

However, those who might be huge TLC fans could have read into it as being a tune about staying true to your roots, remaining with family and friends, following paths you're used to, to avoid failure.

According to Bustle, it's about H.I.V., drug dealing, and other tragedies that kill predominantly young people.

Listen to it now, you'll get it.

Another song you'd never give two thoughts about, but would sing to your hearts contempt would by 'Down Under' by Men at Work. A tune.

You wouldn't think twice about it because the verses sound like the ramblings of a madman, making no sense whatsoever, and the chorus is all that matters.

It does have meaning though. "The chorus is really about the selling of Australia in many ways, the overdevelopment of the country," Colin Hay, the lead singer, told Song Facts. "It was a song about the loss of spirit in that country. It's really about the plundering of the country by greedy people. It is ultimately about celebrating the country, but not in a nationalistic way and not in a flag-waving sense. It's really more than that.

"It's ironic to me that so many people thought it was about a specific thing and that really wasn't the intention behind the song. If you listen to 'Born In The USA,' it's a similar song in that there's a lot of nuance missed because people like drinking beer and throwing their arms up in the air and feeling nationalistic.

"It's ultimately a song about celebration, but it's a matter of what you choose to celebrate about a country or a place. White people haven't been in Australia all that long, and it's truly an awesome place, but one of the most interesting and exciting things about the country is what was there before.

"The true heritage of a country often gets lost in the name of progress and development."

Long ago when John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Star ruled the world of music, all of their songs were scrutinised.

Lyrics would be put under the microscope in the attempt to dissect them and find deep meanings to them. Famously 'Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds' was thought to be about LSD.

The (L)ucy, (S)ky and (D)iamond were thought to represent the drug, as well as the insane lyrics such as "tangerine trees and marmalade skies" and "A girl with kaleidoscope eyes/Cellophane flowers of yellow and green/Towering over your head."

'I Am the Walrus' was Lennon and McCartney's way of poking fun of those searching for deeper meanings. They filled the track with jargon that quite literally meant nothing, in the hope that people would make assumptions about it.

"Sitting on a cornflake, waiting for the van to come/Corporation tee-shirt, stupid bloody Tuesday/Man, you've been a naughty boy, you let your face grow long" - Nothing, just mumbo-jumbo written in Lennon's back garden.

"Yellow matter custard, dripping from a dead dog's eye/Crabalocker fishwife, pornographic priestess/Boy, you've been a naughty girl you let your knickers down" - Again, nothing. The first line here is derived from a rhyme Lennon and his friend Peter Shotton used to sing, which went: "Yellow matter custard, green slop pie/All mixed together with a dead dog's eye/Slap it on a butty, ten foot thick/Then wash it all down with a cup of cold sick."

Remember Foster the People? Had that tune 'Pumped Up Kicks'? Whistle slow? Yeaaaaaah.

Nah - it's about a school shooting.

Mark Foster had recently read about the growing number of mental illness in teens, as well as gun violence between them.

He decided to try and get in the mind of the 'isolated, psychotic kid', which is obvious from the first verse.

"Robert's got a quick hand/He'll look around the room, he won't tell you his plan/He's got a rolled cigarette/Hanging out his mouth, he's a cowboy kid/Yeah, he found a six-shooter gun, in his dad's closet, in the box of fun things/I don't even know what, but he's coming for you, yeah, he's coming for you."

And of course, there are many other songs that have been misinterpreted. Honourable mentions such as The Police 'Every Breath You Take' and Dolly Parton's 'I Will Always Love You' prove this.

Can you think of any off the top of you head? Let us know.

Featured Image Credit: PA

Topics: James Blunt

Mark McGowan
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