Misunderstood lyrics can be quite a bit of fun at times – you're singing relative nonsense along to a popular song whose tune you like, and although you're half-aware you got it wrong, you think how silly your version was when you learn the actual lyrics and then have a good laugh on your own account.
However, there's also those times when you're running for president, and the song you're campaigning to is actually criticizing one of your biggest political screw-ups, or the times you find out that, as a devout Christian, your favorite song about the love of God is actually about drugless tripping. Today, we're going to talk about those times. As always, if you've got any further examples (both personal or historical) that you'd like to share, please do so in the comments below. Now let's begin.
Okay, sure, the old tirade about hippies and communists being the same thing is worn and tired, and although not necessarily true, it's clear to everyone why some of our (great) grandparents used to think that. However, the one case where our elders could have been right is John Lennon's iconic "Imagine".
From the get-go, it's clear that the song flirts with the same principles that some of the more romantic concepts of communism do (or at least think they do), but the iconic musician has openly stated that "Imagine" was...:
"…virtually the Communist Manifesto, even though I am not particularly a communist and I do not belong to any movement…. But because it is sugarcoated, it is accepted."
It's clear that John Lennon was no communist (one look at his real estates at the time alone'd be proof enough), so the song's perhaps best considered as what it says on the label – an idealized vision of humanity's future. But even then, it tends to rub a lot of people the wrong way.
In addition to being an amazing band filled with great talent across the board, Creed is responsible for two great miracles in rock history. The first is, of course, bringing Mark Tremonti (and subsequently Alter Bridge) to the music world, and the second is leading both Christians and the generally areligious broader rock community to admiring the same amazing music (sorry, Stryper).
However, although Creed was very openly a Christian rock band, the Christian part of their fanbase must have been surprised to find that "Higher" isn't exactly about the saving grace of faith; it's about lucid dreaming.
For those of you that don't know about it, lucid dreaming is a state of dreaming mind where one is fully aware they're dreaming and in total control of the dream sequence, usually induced by simple techniques.
Frontman Scott Stapp himself stated that he wrote a song after getting rid of a recurring nightmare in which he was being hunted and murdered by an armed man after learning to control his dreams by lucid dreaming.
"Every Breath You Take" must be one hell of a love song since it's responsible for one whopping third of Sting's publishing income, right? And indeed, the heart-melting music, coupled with Sting's mellow voice and the lyrics which, at a shallow glance, sound like a tale of timeless and inseparable love seem to tick all the right boxes. However, even the main chorus – "Every breath you take, Every move you make, Every bond you break, Every step you take, I'll be watching you" – makes one feel if a tiny bit uneasy, when one thinks about it.
If you've felt the same way, then apparently you got the point. Sting wrote the song with the idea that the lyrics come from a control freak lover or a stalker. He said:
I was in my early teens when this one came out, and for me it instantly became one of those songs that gets permanently stuck in your head which you whistle or hum at random points in life. And although I knew the lyrics (the chorus, at least), I've always taken it to be about getting up back on your feet, newfound vigour, and, well, all the things that Uncle Freud would say a gun is a metaphor for, and with such cheerful tune to it, I'm sure I'm not the only person who thought so.
Well, turns out the song is about a kid getting back on their feet, but the gun part isn't a metaphor, and now I'm writing clickbait to pay for my shrink sessions. That's life, I guess.
If you pay the tiniest bit of attention to the lyrics of Bruce Springsteen's 1984 mega-hit aside from the main chorus, the bitterly cynical anti-Vietnam war message it carries is pretty clear. However, when it comes to such popular songs, people (yours truly included, as we've seen) don't, and that's why I'm even writing this article.
In fact, "Born in the U.S.A" is probably the best example of misunderstood songs there is – East Germans sung the chorus emphatically to show their disgust with the SSSR and their love for the American way of life, Ronal Raegan himself used it on the campaign trail, and Chrysler offered $7 million to Bruce to use the song in an ad. Bruce refused the offer, though.
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