Monkey Destruction Switch

Lyrics where you prefer your own incorrect interpretation

9 posts in this topic

Songs. Most of us are familiar with the concept. Generally speaking, they consist of music and words, and those words generally have some meaning. However, a fun fact is that sometimes there isn't an exact correspondence between the meaning intended by the songwriter and the meaning derived or assumed by the listener. Sometimes, that can be both a good and annoying thing when you interpret the lyrics as having a more interesting or otherwise enjoyable meaning than they were intended to have. This is good at first because it increases your enjoyment of the song, and then it's annoying when you realize the error of your ways and it's possible you may never be able to go back to truly "believing" the wrong interpretation you prefer.

The example I have to offer today is...interesting. It proves I'm a religious dork and yet is also...religiously embarrassing, as you will see. It's from a Petra song, This Means War!

"Son of the morning--highest of all
You had so much going till you took the fall
Had a place in the glory but you wanted it all
Impossible odds but you had the gall
It seemed so unlikely that you would rebel
Such a worthy opponent that you knew so well
But you went down fighting when you heard the bell
Took a third of all heaven when you went to hell"

When I heard this, I rather loved it though I was also a bit confused since it seemed to skirt the edges of heresy, even if it was only due to using poetic language. Nonetheless, it seemed like both a creative & inventive and profound description of Christ's humiliation and self-sacrifice, describing His descent from heaven to become a man and His eventual descent to hell when He was crucified (according to some theological interpretations). The first two lines described His exalted place as divine that He had since before the creation of the world, while the third describes how, despite having "everything", he "wanted it all" - meaning, he wanted the even greater glory that would come from saving the humanity that he loved, that being considered more important than maintaining his current glorious state. That's a pretty amazing way to look at it, that mankind would be such a prize to Christ that he would be willing to sacrifice it all. The 5th line didn't really make any sense, so I wasn't really sure what to make of it. Meanwhile, the final line refers to the fact that one person of the Holy Trinity, the Son Jesus Christ, went to hell (again, according to some theological interpretations, Christ entered hell after being crucified). Yes, it's a little strange to refer to a member of the trinity as being "a third" of God, but I chalked that up to poetic language.

I thought it was awesome to find such unique and inventive ways to describe the profound truths of Christ's humiliation, though it felt a little odd and unusual at the same time since, like I alluded to, the unusual descriptions of certain things would not be considered literally accurate theology, and most mainstream Christian works aren't willing to take risks like that. Still, overall it was very intriguing and very refreshing, since these are what Christians believe to be some of the most profound truths of the universe, but they are usually spoken of in a more cliched way. This "alternate take" was very compelling.

..............And then I realized these lyrics are actually talking about Satan. WHOOOOOPS.

The first clue was probably realizing that the later verse 2 of the song was obviously talking to Satan, then remembering there was somewhere in the Bible where it was stated a third of the angels rebelled with Satan (that being the true meaning of the last line). And the previously inexplicable fifth line now makes sense. I realize that so many other things I assumed referred to Christ can also refer to Satan - Satan is called the "morning star", which is what the "son of the morning" in the first line really means.

UGGGHHH! Now not only am I embarrassed to have confused the Devil with my God, but I'm robbed of a very original and compelling way to describe Christ's incarnation and death that I absolutely loved even though it also seemed pretty strange. Great!

Hope that overly religious example didn't turn you off from this topic. I just...needed to vent about this, I guess. xD

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Posted (edited)

(Time-stamped to relevant moment):

 

SETTIN' THE STAGE FOR A HERO'S BUTT RAAAAAAAAAGE

EDIT: As Tara's post suggests I simplified and misinterpreted the topic's intent to make this joke, my apologies.

Edited by JezMM
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The Lyrics:

"I will travel across the land
Searching far and wide
Each Pokemon to understand
The power that's inside"

What I thought they were/ What they should be:

I will travel across the land
Searching far and wide
Teach Pokemon to understand
The power that's inside"

I always though it was "teach", because that actually makes sense. Like training your Pokémon to utilize their full potential. "Each" doesn't even really make sense.

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6 hours ago, Person said:

The Lyrics:

"I will travel across the land
Searching far and wide
Each Pokemon to understand
The power that's inside"

What I thought they were/ What they should be:

I will travel across the land
Searching far and wide
Teach Pokemon to understand
The power that's inside"

I always though it was "teach", because that actually makes sense. Like training your Pokémon to utilize their full potential. "Each" doesn't even really make sense.

i always heard "takes pokémon to understand." makes even less sense.

BlueSky and Stasis like this

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I think you guys are confusing "misinterpreting the lyrics" with "mishearing the lyrics."  XP - MDS may correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe she specifically meant lyrics whose meaning you misunderstood, not whose lyrics you heard incorrectly!

Anyway, I'm hard-pressed to think of song lyrics that I actually prefer my own interpretation to.  Usually, I'll think a song is about something, but when I understand what it is really about, it helps me appreciate the emotional depth even more.  However, there have been times where my own interpretation of the song was... well, much more optimistic than the song wanted you to believe.  This most often applies to Japanese music, as the language barrier often hinders a full understanding of the metaphorical context of the songs.  So I don't prefer my own interpretation per se, so much as I was much more blissfully ignorant at the time, and that's what I'll focus on because some of these songs are a lot harder to listen to understanding now what they really mean.

Also, I'm a weeb.  So sorry for excess J-Pop.

My first example is "Last Song," a song from Gackt's "Crescent" album.  I understood this song was about a divorce.  But I considered the song, while very emotional, to be very profound.  I was only paying attention to the parts where Gackt said things like, "Even if you love another, I want to always bloom in your heart."  I thought that was sweet, beautiful even.  I thought this was "true love."  But I didn't pay attention to the much more glaringly obvious meaning of the song.

"Unable to understand each other, I hurt you so many times 
Even then you were always gentle 
I'll never be able to keep our promise 
Carved in the ring you gave me on a whim 
"I still remember..." "

To an English speaker (and possibly to a Japanese speaker as well) this just sounds like him saying "I'm sorry for the things that I did to hurt you" and perhaps that's what the song wanted us to think.  But it becomes clear through the music video, where the floor is littered with toppled furniture and broken glass, flashbacks are seen of pushing and fighting.  "Hurt" is not supposed to just mean do wrong by in the context of this song.  This was an abusive relationship, physically and emotionally.  The fact that he still loves her isn't a beautiful, unwavering love, it's a sign of his inability to cope, having to come to terms with his own wrongdoings.

(Worth a note is that I've seen this particular verse translated as "We hurt each other so many times, and then you were so gentle."  I don't think that's the correct translation because there's nothing that indicates plurality in the original Japanese text, but that could also be a matter of dialect)

It was so much more blissful to the think of this as an end to a truly loving relationship.  Not that I think the end of a relationship is by any means "good."  But when my mindset was simpler, this song was also much more simple.  Looking at the video now, seeing the couple fighting, seeing Gackt sitting alone in an empty room of broken glass, turned over furniture, and torn wallpaper, it's really hard to watch.  It's still absolutely beautiful, still an absolutely gorgeous song and video, and I appreciate every ounce of sentiment that went into it.  But I was probably happier believing it was just a beautiful ballad about the end of a relationship, as opposed to the complex and unnerving subject it turned out to be.

(EDIT - After rewatching the video, my memories may have exaggerated it a bit and it's probably not as bad as I thought it was.  So maybe my re-interpretation was also a misinterpretation and AAAAAAGH!)

As a non-Japanese example, the British pop band Pulp is one of those bands that capitalizes on songs that are fun as long as you don't think about the meaning of the lyrics.  Their most well known song as far as I'm aware, "Common People" is a fun little song (seriously the song has an infectiously upbeat melody, so you would be forgiven for thinking the song wasn't as serious as the lyrics make it out to be) about a sheltered rich girl wanting to live the poor life.  Basically, cringeworthy in the same way that a rich white person wanting to be a "gangsta" is sort of cringeworthy, which is what I interpreted it as for the longest time.  But when you actually read the lyrics for what they are ("If you called your dad you could stop it all"), it's a pretty poignant look at the social division between classes (as it pertains to the UK, at least).  That we do have people that romanticize a way of life that most people don't have a choice to endure and thus higher income people aren't always so helpful when it comes to helping people less fortunate than them.  Other songs by them touch upon subjects of sexual consent, date rape, the devaluation of aging women, and they're pretty much on point on a lot of their subject matter... but they sing most of their songs with such gusto and high spirits, that it's easy to not see it as that.

 

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I remember the Common People example specifically because of Lindsay Ellis' use of it to compare the message of that to the drive of one of the "protagonists" in Rent to be a very misguided and selfish one (which the musical and film just completely glances over). 

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This brings to my mind the stuff I once read from somewhere around the Internet about how "The Riddle"'s lyrics have no meaning whatsoever and before that was said some people tried to figure the "hidden message" out or something. It was actually kind of interesting considering Nik Kershaw has these songs with somewhat heavy themes (like "Roses").

Though I feel if there's a meaning it would be something about the songwriter being frustrated for bosses not taking him seriously considering the lyrics and wanting him to do some "selling" stuff instead (like those aren't even good enough songs, they're nice to listen to actually, "hard" words can work with good background pretty well actually), I could see that going well with the same kind of feeling I get from the lyrics of "Radio Musicola", though I'm pretty certain that might not be the case, it actually makes the song kind of more interesting to listen to.

And now I started to think about "Gone to Pieces" and it makes even more sense... Gee I got my own headcanon in right here!!! :D

Hope this was still well enough in on-topic. :blushing: I suppose I got a bit carried away.

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One of my favorite bands is Avenged Sevenfold, who play a lot of metal songs. And one of the songs I used to really like was Critical Acclaim.

(Volume warning: Song has a lot of loud guitars and drumbeats as well as some screaming)

When I first heard this song, I interpreted it to be somebody accepting themselves for who they are, even if they know that their family and/or country will not. This is because they're tired of contributing to the hypocrisy and self-righteousness that was used to exploit them and made them hate themselves just for not falling into line. This got from lines like:

Quote

(Shh! Be quiet, you might piss somebody off)
Like me, motherfucker, you've been at it for too long
While you feed off others insecurities
You stand in front of me and bite the hand that feeds

Quote

I've had enough, it's time for something real
I don't respect the words you're speaking
Gone too far, a clone

Quote

So, how does it feel to know that
Someone's kid in the heart of America has blood on their hands
Fighting to defend your rights so you can maintain the lifestyle
That insults his family's existence?

The last quote in particular was significant because it showed that the person in question realized that there are others who were in their situation and are also fighting to survive. Yet they would still defend their own family in spite of all the hate thrown at them while they were fighting for their right to exist. Hence spitting in the face of hatred by maintaining their heart and insulting their goal to make them the next in a long line of clones. This gives the narrator more drive to act.

This individual also finds the drive to fight for themselves, and starts off being confrontational and violent in their protests to express their anger and frustration.

Quote

(Broken glass, your fake reflection)

Quote

Well, where I'm from we have a special salute
We aim high in the air towards all those pompous assholes
Who spend their days pointing fingers
(Fuck you!)

However, the narrator realizes the unintentional consequences of their confrontational and violent attitude-- namely that they've become the exact kind of hypocrite he despises. One of those who overlooks the truth and is willing to make up excuses for their own poor deeds, one who is self righteous and claims to care yet doesn't act as such, and therefore becomes a contributor to hurtful behavior that they were trying to defy.

Quote

Excuse the obscene, ignore the untrue
Depictions we see, try and get through
And many mistakes can hurt
I'm not the last but I sure ain't the first

Quote

Self-righteousness is wearing thin
(Lies inside your head, your best friend)
Heart bleeds but not for fellow men
(Broken glass, your fake reflection)

However, the narrator gathers their resolve, grows from this experiences and manages to develop into a more peaceful protester. This is shown by echoing their original intent without the violence.

Quote

I've had enough, it's time for something real
I don't respect the words you're speaking
Gone too far, a clone

And one of the things I really liked was that the message could be applicable to many people. The narrator could be a gay man struggling against an unaccepting church, a woman in Saudi Arabia who is tired of being tied down, a trans man fighting for his gender identity to be accepted, or any other range of possibilities. Either way, it seemed to be describing a long emotional and personal journey in 5 minutes, something that requires a lot of talent and which was really inspiring-- even those who are violent protestors can learn from their mistakes and become better people.

And then it turns out that wasn't what the song was about at all.

Nope, its actually a song about the US military and politicians. Namely how much the former deserves more appreciation and the latter completely sucks-- and how they're sick and tired of dealing with bleeding hearts and fake patriots who complain and blame all day and don't actually help the world become better (unlike the US military). Looking back on it, the real message was so obvious I can't believe I missed it. But I also like my original interpretation more. I feel like my original interpretation is about a person finding a way to confront their lack of acceptance without being aggressive and harming others, whereas the other interpretation seems to be encouraging acting confrontational and channeling anger into insults and hate until the hypocrisy and whining ends... which isn't at all good. Also, it seems really insistent that the US military is a wholly beneficial, helpful force-- and while I have a lot of respect for people of honor, its a heck of a lot more complicated than that as the US military has made many mistakes as well as had great successes, and the ideas that the US military as a whole does more harm than good and its so-called help isn't always that helpful aren't exactly unfounded.

So I suppose in short, my interpretation had nuance and a journey to pacifism, whereas the actual song interpretation is quite simplistic, making it seem like the band is criticizing strawmen and oversimplifying a complicated issue.

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3 hours ago, Mad Convoy said:

 

So I suppose in short, my interpretation had nuance and a journey to pacifism, whereas the actual song interpretation is quite simplistic, making it seem like the band is criticizing strawmen and oversimplifying a complicated issue.

Lol I relate to this. I guess it comes from trying to interpret whether a song wants to be taken at face value vs. a more metaphorical meaning .

My brief (minor) one I think about a lot is Soco Amaretto Lime by Brand New

I would estimate that I first heard this song when I was about 15-16 years old, it's at face value a song about going out, drinking, having fun and how fukken sick it is to be 18 years old and generally having a great time, as illustrated by the lyrics here.

Quote

You and me were kings over the
Parkway tonight
And tonight will go on forever

While we walk around this town
Like we own the streets
And stay awake through summer
Like we own the heat

Quote

I'm gonna stay eighteen forever
So we can stay like this forever

And we'll never miss a party
Cause we keep them going constantly
And we'll never have to listen

To anyone about anything
Cause it's all been done

And it's all been said
We're the coolest kids and
We take what we can get

 

I was first exposed to Brand New through the devil and god are raging inside me, a lyrically dense, obtuse, macabre album that people still argue about the meaning of and then worked my way backwards through their older material.

Soco Amaretto Lime on the other hand (note: a cocktail) is from their first album. Now with my mindset of the fact that the later stuff required a lot chin scratching to get to the bottom of, my original interpretation is that the song was meant to be ironic.

in the background of the refrain there's this bit....

Quote

 

 

My Interpretation was basically this: While you're young you feel like it's gonna last forever and you're the sickest man alive and you're always going to be awesome, but the reality is that when you get older you become the second person the song is talking about, starved for the fun you had when you were young, trying to forget that things will never be that sweet again, because you're not a king over the causeway, and we all get older, so in a way it's meant to be bitter sweet. my wrinkle to this is that the song ends with the sound of a record abruptly being ripped off halfway through the "just jealous" bit, basically symbolising, through audio how abruptly you go from being 18, young and in love to 25, writing about this song ona forum. I thought it was brilliant!

But one day I chanced upon an interview from like 04 with the band where the guy that wrote it says this

" yeah, i originally wrote that song for my friend Peter. (sic) But also, about the time i was writing it i had just started seeing my girlfriend. And as it turned out i remember alot of people giving her alot shit for wanting to be with me. But it was only cause they were being spiteful, and old, and envious. Cause they are just boring people. That's where the last lines in the song came from."

Which brings the meaning to actually be literally "Fuck you old people! we're gonna be young and in love forever!" which while not the worst message is to me a lot less interesting than the original. It really fucked me up, and had me feeling like "man the song was just about something as stupid as people not liking your new GF?????????? why did I like this so much?????????" So I went on after thinking cool song about being 18, but man was I dumb to read deeper into it than what it actually was.

An interesting wrinkle to this is now, since probably like 2-3 years ago, because they didn't do it when I saw them in 2010,  whenever they play this song the refrain at the end is different...

at 5:00, instead of " (You're) just jealous that (we're) young and in love"  he sings "I'm just jealous cuz you're young in and love" HAH! so my original, incorrect interpretation has, through the passage of time become correct. Suck it!

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