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December 20, 2019 1:48 pm  #1


Have You Ever Heard A Song & Have No Idea What It's About?

Most tunes in the oldies sphere are pretty clear. But there are a few that I really like but have no idea what they're supposed to mean. Israelites by Desmond Dekker and the Aces is one. A number one song but not only is it tough to make out what he's saying, even if you do consult the lyrics, you still have no idea. (This is one of those tunes, by the way, I hated as a kid. But listening to it again years later, it's now one of my all time favorite oldies.)

One song that has clear lyrics but makes absolutely no sense to me is the great "Daydream Believer" by the Monkees. What the hell is that song about? It's been decades and I've never been able to figure it out. Even though songwriter John Stewart talks about it at length in the video below, there's no real explanation. Which just makes the lyric, "Oh what can it mean?" all that much more ironic. I ask myself that every time it comes on! 


 

 

December 20, 2019 2:12 pm  #2


Re: Have You Ever Heard A Song & Have No Idea What It's About?

While I enjoy the recording, America's "A Horse With No Name"  fits into this category.  I've gone in several directions listening to it, depending on my mood.

 

December 20, 2019 3:29 pm  #3


Re: Have You Ever Heard A Song & Have No Idea What It's About?

Not sure I agree, but here's how some interpret Daydream Believer

Song Lyrics Interpretation

As for "A Horse With No Name" this seems pretty far-fetched.

     Thread Starter
 

December 20, 2019 3:54 pm  #4


Re: Have You Ever Heard A Song & Have No Idea What It's About?

Another of those songs is "Macarthur Park".  There have been so many different interpretations of the lyrics to this song.   
When Jimmy Webb was asked about all these various perceptions people had about his song, he replied, "My fallback position after all these years is I will tell you that I've told deliberately false stories to people.  I've also tried to tell the truth, which is that it's just a song about a girlfriend of mine, Susie Horton, and this place on Wilshire Boulevard where we used to have lunch, which is called MacArthur Park. And the truth is that everything in the song was visible. There's nothing in it that's fabricated. The old men playing checkers by the trees, the cake that was left out in the rain, all of the things that are talked about in the song are things I actually saw. And so it's a kind of musical collage of this whole love affair that kind of went down in MacArthur Park.
His wife, Laura Savini, added "When people see he's my husband," she says, "that's always the first question I get: 'What's "MacArthur Park" mean?' And I always say it's an abstract painting, an impressionist painting. It's art, but in a musical form. You make it what you want it to be. Jimmy plays it down, but it's a heartbreaking song when you listen to just him sing it and you hear all the words without all the orchestrations. It blows your mind -- oh, my God, all the pain in that song."

 

December 20, 2019 4:00 pm  #5


Re: Have You Ever Heard A Song & Have No Idea What It's About?

My mother's name was Jean ... we both liked Daydream Believer, and sometimes I'd have a bit of fun with the "Cheer up sleepy Jean" line if the song came on after she had just gotten up. However, neither of us had any idea what the lyrics were really about. So I guess they were meaningful to us, but in a rather meaningless way. https://cdn.boardhost.com/emoticons/happy.png

 

December 20, 2019 4:10 pm  #6


Re: Have You Ever Heard A Song & Have No Idea What It's About?

Jim Southern wrote:

While I enjoy the recording, America's "A Horse With No Name"  fits into this category.  I've gone in several directions listening to it, depending on my mood.

We could probably do an America subthread here ...
"But Oz never did give nothing to the Tin Man
That he didn't, didn't already have
And cause never was the reason for the evening
Or the tropic of Sir Galahad
So please believe in me
When I say I'm spinning 'round, 'round, 'round, 'round
Smoke glass stain'd bright colors
Image going down, down, down, down
Soapsud green like bubbles ..."
What really gets me is that they also thought that those lyrics were worth repeating again in full, and then again in part one more time. 

 

December 20, 2019 4:22 pm  #7


Re: Have You Ever Heard A Song & Have No Idea What It's About?

And the granddaddy of them all might be "American Pie".  There have been so many in-depth analyses of Don McLean's masterpiece, line by line interpretations by intellectuals and pseudo intellectuals, entire web sites dedicated to discovering the true meaning of the song..

McLean said he would clarify all this after he sold the lyrics at auction (they sold for $1.2 million in 2015), but I have yet to see anything that reveals the definitive meaning of "American Pie".

 

December 21, 2019 9:36 am  #8


Re: Have You Ever Heard A Song & Have No Idea What It's About?

Lorne wrote:

Jim Southern wrote:

While I enjoy the recording, America's "A Horse With No Name"  fits into this category.  I've gone in several directions listening to it, depending on my mood.

We could probably do an America subthread here ...
"But Oz never did give nothing to the Tin Man
That he didn't, didn't already have
And cause never was the reason for the evening
Or the tropic of Sir Galahad
So please believe in me
When I say I'm spinning 'round, 'round, 'round, 'round
Smoke glass stain'd bright colors
Image going down, down, down, down
Soapsud green like bubbles ..."
What really gets me is that they also thought that those lyrics were worth repeating again in full, and then again in part one more time. 

You beat me to this one.  I always hated this song and perhaps it's because of the weird lyrics.

 

December 21, 2019 9:38 am  #9


Re: Have You Ever Heard A Song & Have No Idea What It's About?

I'm going to add "Toast and Marmalade For Tea" by Tin Tin.  Always loved singing to it, but didn't know what I was singing about.  https://cdn.boardhost.com/emoticons/cute.png

 

December 21, 2019 11:59 am  #10


Re: Have You Ever Heard A Song & Have No Idea What It's About?

It's me Karen wrote:

You beat me to this one.  I always hated this song and perhaps it's because of the weird lyrics.

I feel the same way about it. It sounds as if they just randomly threw together lyrics that don't even rhyme properly, but couldn't be bothered to come up with enough to fill out the song and so they just kept repeating them instead. And it doesn't sound like they spent much time on the tune either. For me, it also didn't help that I had already thought that the lyrics to Ventura Highway weren't that great either, and of course there was the aforementioned A Horse With No Name as well. 

 

December 21, 2019 2:12 pm  #11


Re: Have You Ever Heard A Song & Have No Idea What It's About?

How about "Surf's Up" by the Beach Boys, lyrics by Van Dyke Parks..  What the heck does "columnated ruins domino" mean anyway?

 

December 21, 2019 2:47 pm  #12


Re: Have You Ever Heard A Song & Have No Idea What It's About?

Another song that I disliked almost as much as Tin Man, and for similar reasons, was Let 'Em In by Wings. I couldn't understand why on the one hand he mentioned Martin Luther and Phil and Don on the one hand, but a bunch of other people I had never heard of on the other. It actually made me wonder if Phil and Don wasn't a reference to the Everlys, since it didn't seem that any other musicians were named, and I even wondered if Martin Luther happened to also just be someone McCartney knew who had those names. But according to Wikipedia, the references were indeed to the Everlys and the theologian, whereas the others were to relatives -- except for Uncle Ernie, which was a reference to "the character Ringo Starr sang in the London Symphony Orchestra's recording of the Who's rock opera, Tommy." I kept wondering at the time if there was any deeper meaning to the song, or indeed whether it had any meaning at all, and even after looking at Wikipedia's explanation I still feel much the same way. It's surprising that he didn't throw in Oz, the Tin Man, and Sir Galahad while he was at it. https://cdn.boardhost.com/emoticons/happy.png

 

December 21, 2019 7:23 pm  #13


Re: Have You Ever Heard A Song & Have No Idea What It's About?

IIRC John Lennon deliberately put nonsensical lyrics to "I Am The Walrus" so that pretentious people who tried to find deep meaning in everything the Beatles did would look like idiots when they tried to explain them.

Last edited by aflem (December 21, 2019 7:24 pm)

     Thread Starter
 

December 22, 2019 5:20 am  #14


Re: Have You Ever Heard A Song & Have No Idea What It's About?

The grand daddy of all, Ballad Of A Thin Man,, even for Dylan that is so impossible to decipher.  Also Rick Nelson doing a Dylan on The Palace Guard, love the song, but as to what it all means..../

 

December 22, 2019 7:25 pm  #15


Re: Have You Ever Heard A Song & Have No Idea What It's About?

iirc? irritated insect racing club? speak plain, saves time... however, any good song should require you to use your imagination. at least, that's what livingston taylor told me years ago.

 

December 22, 2019 7:38 pm  #16


Re: Have You Ever Heard A Song & Have No Idea What It's About?

IIRC is a well known short form for "If I recall correctly." And yeah, I hate those Internet short forms, too. I was just being lazy. 

Last edited by aflem (December 22, 2019 7:38 pm)

     Thread Starter
 

December 22, 2019 10:39 pm  #17


Re: Have You Ever Heard A Song & Have No Idea What It's About?

Maybe we need a separate "Have You Ever Seen A Short Form & Have No Idea What It's About?" thread. https://cdn.boardhost.com/emoticons/happy.png

 

December 26, 2019 11:11 am  #18


Re: Have You Ever Heard A Song & Have No Idea What It's About?

just heard "Venus by Shocking Blue", what the hell are they saying. 

 

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