Just when you think you’ve got a song all figured out, you stumble upon some interview from 10 years ago and suddenly the way you hear that song is changed forever. That’s kind of the beauty of most art — nothing is quite what it seems. At least not always.
Here is a list of song meanings that might surprise you. Take a look below.
LCD Soundsystem “All My Friends”
In 2007, James Murphy explained to Mojo that “All My Friends” was his attempt at competing with Joy Division’s “Transmission.” He explained that the song is “purposefully trying to chase a feeling that I got from [Joy Division’s] ‘Transmission.'”
“Because it’s the same thing the whole way through, and without any kind of embarrassing rockist gesture. It starts off so gentle, and becomes so fucking overwhelming. By the time he’s going, ‘Dance, dance, dance to the radio,’ your head’s exploding. And I wanted to see if I could make a song without people playing together. Just do it all myself by doing it in layers.”
Beastie Boys “Fight For Your Right”
Ironically, “Fight for Your Right” was actually written to mock stereotypical party anthems and party-goer attitudes.
“The only thing that upsets me is that we might have reinforced certain values of some people in our audience when our own values were actually totally different,” said Mike D on the song. “There were tons of guys singing along to ‘Fight for Your Right’ who were oblivious to the fact it was a total goof on them.”
Dan Mangan “Tina’s Glorious Comeback”
Some may assume Mangan’s references to “we’re” in “Tina’s Glorious Comeback” are directed at a person, but in 2009 Mangan explained to Exclaim! that the song was written for Vancouver.
“[…] the lyric ‘we’re not us anymore, we’re not us,’ I mean, you could be talking about a relationship with a friend or a lover but it’s me and Vancouver as the royal ‘we.’ Me and Vancouver are not us anymore.” Mangan went on to say that he’s not trying to be “pessimistic” about Vancouver — he’s just saying that his relationship with the city is different than it was when he was growing up there.
“No matter what, it’s always going to feel like it’s not like it was.”
Sloan “The Other Man”
Chris Murphy once revealed that “The Other Man” was inspired by a love triangle he was involved with between him, Feist, and Broken Social Scene’s Andrew Whiteman. Apparently Feist was simultaneously dating the two artists at the time.
Phantogram “You Don’t Get Me High Anymore”
Some might imagine this song is a metaphor for a lover or some other human embodiment of a high, but according to Sarah Barthel, the song is “less about drug use and more about trying to find that happiness that was once easy to find.”
“When life was more simple and less complicated; growing up and dealing with tragedy, relationships, friendships, every day tasks that were once easier,” Barthel told Genius.
Train “Drops of Jupiter”
Many assume that “Drops of Jupiter” is about a love interest, but Pat Monahan explained that he actually wrote the song after his mom died. In 2015, Monahan told Buzzfeed that the song follows his mom’s journey after death.
“It’s a story about my mother coming back after like swimming through the planets and finding her way through the universe, and coming back to tell me that heaven was overrated and [to] love this life, you know? That’s what that was about.”
Bastille “Good Grief”
At first listen, “Good Grief” is a fun and high energy track that might inspire a Sunday morning sing along, but if you pay close attention to the lyrics, you’ll notice that it’s a very dark and sad song.
In an interview with NME, Dan Smith explained that the song is actually about loss and dealing with grief.
“I wanted to write about how bizarre grief and loss are – the layers of depression, shock and euphoria, how mad that process can be. I hope it will make people feel good.”
Smith also explained that he wanted to capture the feelings that come with attending a funeral.
“It could be a massive celebration of someone, or hugely sad. There could be moments of euphoria and people getting pissed and collapsing on the floor.”
The Smashing Pumpkins “Today”
This might not be news to big Smashing Pumpkins fans, but this song made the list because many misinterpret it for being a positive song, to the point that it’s a common first dance song at weddings.
Billy Corgan explained that he “was really suicidal” during the making of this song and “thought it was funny to write a song that said today is the greatest day of your life because it can’t get any worse.”
“Airbag” is about a car crash that Thom Yorke and his girlfriend were in in 1987. Yorke walked away unscathed, while his girlfriend suffered from minor injuries as a result of whiplash.
“Has an airbag saved my life? Nah… but I tell you something, every time you have a near accident, instead of just sighing and carrying on, you should pull over, get out of the car and run down the street screaming ‘I’m BACK! I’m ALIVE! My life has started again today!’ In fact, you should do that every time you get out of a car. We’re just riding on those things – we’re not really in control of them,” said Yorke on the experience.
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