It ain’t easy being…a rock and roll legend. There’s so much pressure to be on top of your game all the time. You have to be your own boss while everyone around you is trying to undercut you and steal your creative babies.
Plus there are all the sides to the crazy diamond…the performing, the touring, and the writing…Heaven help us…the WRITING.
What’s worse is once you’ve written something, people can misunderstand what meaning you intended to convey with your musical genius. How can the audience get it so wrong?
Or did they?
Some songs may be misunderstood by the listeners, and others…well, the others are clearly misunderstood by the songwriter.
Take the song “The One I Love” by R.E.M. The band claims they wrote a song about stalking. The listener is supposed to catch on to the feeling of stalking by the line, “Fire.” The repeated line about “the one I love” is supposed to be taken as ambiguous. Hmmm, yeah, obviously. We all should have made that assumption. The band R.E.M. should’ve waited a few years for the Toadies to write “Possum Kingdom.” No question about that song. It’s creepy enough to not be misunderstood.
Another song about stalking is “Every Breath You Take” by the Police. Like “The One I Love” it sounds so pleasant it really is a love song. If the writer wanted it to be creepy they should have put in some creepy tones, offbeat moments or something to clue us all in, because otherwise it was the writer who misunderstood.
Now that I have you thinking of “Creep” by Radiohead, you probably already knew it’s a song about not fitting in anywhere. The writer thought he was writing a stalker song. And now you’re probably wondering why there are so many stalker songs. Fortunately, not all songs are about unwanted advances and spying.
Semisonic wrote a song they say is about birth. They called it “Closing Time” and though some of the lyrics support the idea of new life, they certainly bring to mind a bar or pub closing also. It works either way.
Third Eye Blind wrote a song which is upbeat and playful called “Semi-Charmed Life” which they claim is regarding meth use and addiction. We’ll have to take their word.
As far as misunderstandings go, the title “Psycho Killer” is one which could mean a killer of psychos or a psycho who kills. I challenge anyone to make sense of the lyrics either way. The Talking Heads may not know the meaning. How can you?
Lastly, because it may be the most original parody of all time, “Song 2” by Blur, was meant to be a parody of grunge. Really? Regardless of whether it has any of the elements of grunge, or not, the boys of Blur made an incredible song. Nothing changed after they told us what they meant for it to be.
Keep shredding, rockers. And leave the definitions for those of us with ears.