Have you ever listened to a song for years only to realize one day that you’re wrong about the meaning behind the lyrics?
For me, it can totally ruin the song.
“Achilles Last Stand” by Led Zeppelin was my battle song. I thought it was about Vikings sailing into battle. I would really get into it.
I was a warrior woman on that Viking boat. I stood near the bow with a sword in my hand and copper cuffs on each wrist. My eyes were narrowed, the ocean sprayed my face, the boat bobbed up and down over waves, and I experienced the greatest endorphin rush of my life. Sexy bearded men stood all around me, and they all had great legs. We were Vikings, and we were going to win.
Everything about this song screams battle song – the pulsating bass, the drums, even the title. The last stand.
At some point, I read an article which revealed the song’s true origin. The title of the song was inspired by a car wreck. Robert Plant busted his foot in a car wreck, and the title is a clever play on that incident. Awww, how cute.
The actual content of the song is about vacationing in Morocco. Or something. Whatever the case may be, I can no longer hear this song without thinking about Plant’s damn foot. All I can see is Plant’s foot wrapped in bandages while a bunch of long-hairs with sunglasses relax around an outdoor pool. This is decidedly less glamorous than my fantasy. But I can’t go back! The damage is done.
This also happened when I read the lyrics to “Rhinoceros” by The Smashing Pumpkins. There’s a lyric which I always thought was “Open your eyes to these monster lies”.
OPEN YOUR EYES TO THESE MONSTER LIES.
Just look at that lyric! The power! As it turns out, the “monster” part is wrong. For me, that was the most important part. Monster is defined as “huge” in this context. There are HUGE lies all around us. Open your friggin’ eyes, people! These lies surrounding us are monstrous! This “monster” element made the lyric incredibly powerful. It added to the depth of the overall sound.
The actual lyric is, “Open your eyes to these must I lie”. What?! What the hell does that even mean? Some lyric websites say “mustard lies”, which is far worse. It’s almost offensive. “Monster Lies” is much better. It improves the whole character of the lyric.
It’s amazing how people can interpret song meanings and lyrics. I recently looked up the lyrics to “Soot and Stars”, another Pumpkin song. To me, this song is about loss and transition. It’s poetic and sorrowful.
What do other people think this song means?
This is the first comment about “Soot and Stars” at songmeanings.com:
“This song is obviously about Star Wars. It describes the feelings of Darth Vader after all has happened and is said and done”.
I laughed out loud for about 10 seconds when I read that. I would have choked if I was eating. I am fairly certain that the guy was being satirical. But, it proves the point – people can interpret songs and other works in surprisingly diverse ways.
It actually wouldn’t surprise me if someone really believed, with all his heart, that these lyrics are about Star Wars. Yes, that man contemplating his career and life choices is Darth Vader.
“Pssssh. Duhhh, how can you not tell? That’s what makes it so poetic and sorrowful.”