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Have you ever noticed how strange lyrics (especially rock lyrics) can be sometimes?
Despite the fact that the rock genre is known mostly for being aggressive, loud, violent, controversial, etc. it’s also pretty mysterious when it comes to what the meanings of songs are. Seriously, your brain will fucking explode trying to make sense of lyrics by post-punk bands like The Fall, Pere Ubu, Television, Bauhaus, Wire, etc. and I don’t think the artists themselves take lyrics too seriously. A lot of bands are actually very uncomfortable talking about lyrics.
Still, I’ve always been really fascinated by weird or cryptic lyrics because I think it’s the artists’ way of revealing some secret truth about themselves or people in general without feeling awkward or embarrassed about exposing so much of themselves. Sometimes, I find that the only things weirder than the lyrics are my interpretations of them. Here are some of them:
Foo Fighters – My Hero:
This is sort of a horrible thing to say, but I think this song is about a Kurt Cobain fan who idealized the singer after Nirvana got huge but realized how weak and ordinary he was after he committed suicide and so stopped being a fan. Dave Grohl has said several times that the song is about some baseball player he admired and how it’s a tribute to him, but in my opinion it’s a pretty dark and cynical song about his real feelings on Cobain’s death. I always thought it was so strange that Grohl started the Foo Fighters just a year after his friend’s death and that it was so odd that his new band was so goofy and lighthearted, almost the complete opposite of Nirvana. To me, it almost kinda seemed like Grohl wasn’t all that affected by Cobain’s death. Of course, I could be totally wrong about all this.
Tool – Jimmy:
This song is, I think, about someone who strongly misses and yearns for the innocence of his childhood and somehow (this is the weird part) finds a physical personification of himself when he was 11 (the age which marked the beginning of his bad days) and goes back in time to his childhood days of happiness with his 11-year-old self’s help. Yeah, I’m crazy.
Faith No More – Everything’s Ruined
The album this song appears on, Angel Dust, is in my opinion one of the darkest and most twisted albums on the planet. It seriously freaks me out, and I fucking love it! It’s a fascinating look at a world of creeps, lowlifes, and heartbreaking bitterness, insanity, and cynicism. It really strikes me as an album the Joker would probably love as well. To me, this song is about a poor but hard working family/community who put all their hopes and dreams into a very smart kid who grew up to be filthy rich but extremely ungrateful. The kid ends up abandoning his family and never shares his money with them. I know that that probably wasn’t the most interesting interpretation, but the feelings I get whenever I hear this song and this album are just chilling. It’s highly recommended.
So what are some song lyrics you find strange and have your own idea of what they mean? There are soooooooooo many other songs I’d love to discuss by various artists, but that would take too much time.
FINALLY!! SOMEONE WHO UNDERSTANDS!! Seriuosly, thank you for giving the first real response to this thread. It's really disheartening every time I read or watch an album review and all they take about is the guitars, drums, vocals, etc and completely ignore the lyrics. Lyrics are way too interesting to be ignored, in my opinion, especially within alternative/indie rock. Thanks again.
No problem dude. I agree, even though I tend to dislike indie rock. One of the big reasons I like the music I listen to is the lyrical content. For great lyrics, if you're not familiar with them already, you should check out the band Primus. Their frontman, Les Claypool, is an amazing bassist, and writes awesome stories and stuff for their lyrics.
By the way, Artie Fufkin and SLAPJAW did also give proper responses to the thread before me, so I don't think I'm the first to give a real response to this thread, as you said.
Yeah, but SLAPJAW started by just posting the lyrics without an interpretation and I’m pretty sure Artie Fufkin’s post was meant to be a joke.
So anyway, yeah, I’ve definitely heard a lot about Primus, just haven’t heard anything by them yet, even though I’ve got 2 or 3 of their albums on my computer. I’ll be sure to check them out sometime soon. Also, you said you dislike indie rock, but I think bands like Beach House, The National, or The Pains of Being Pure At Heart may change your mind. No guarantees though.
Lyrics that tell a story are always great, but I think my favorite type of lyrics are the ones that convey emotions and situations in a really poetically vague/cryptic way, like post-OK Computer era Radiohead or pretty much anything by Sonic Youth or Pavement. If there’s a lot of cynicism and bitterness to those lyrics as well, then it’s only a plus. Mike Patton and Julian Casablancas are pretty much experts in the latter category. Political lyrics are the ones I try to stay away from the most, even though I am a punk fan. Not knockin’ them, they’re just not for me.
Although Artie Fufkin's post was a joke, he did kind of give a legitimate interpretation of the lyrics he posted. But I get your point. I also agree with you about cryptic lyrics. Another good place musically for those kind of lyrics is hard rock and metal. One of the things about those kinds of lyrics which I like is that no matter what the original meaning of the song was to the person who wrote it, the lyrics are open to your interpretation. And because of their ambiguity, they can be interpreted in tonnes of different ways.
Yeah, I'm also really into lyrics that are open to interpretation. With some songs I absolutely love, I actually try to avoid finding out what the artist had in mind when he/she was writing the lyrics, because more often than not, the subject of the song turns out to be really uninteresting.
I find most metal lyrics to be clever more than anything else: clever wordplay, puns, or just an overall clever and witty way of stringing certain words together. It's also a great sub-genre if you wanna sing about something really specific but don't wanna be too obvious about it. Most of all, though, metal lyrics are great at making you remember particular lines, like "You see us comin' and you ALTOGETHER RUN FOR COVER!!" from Pantera's Cowboys From Hell. The only metal band I can think of that almost always delivers my favorite kind of weird-ass poetry is probably The Deftones.