There’s nothing like realizing that you are wrong about a song meaning or lyric. In some cases, it can 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. I had copper cuffs on each wrist and a horned helmet on my head. 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. There were sexy bearded men 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. Then I read an article that said the song is about a car wreck. Robert Plant busted his foot in a car wreck, and the title is a clever play on that incident. Later, I read that only the title is a play on words. The actual content of the song is about vacationing in Morroco. Whatever the case may be, I can no longer hear this song without thinking about Plant’s damned foot. Ugh. The vision of Robert Plant’s broken foot is decidedly less exciting than Vikings. But I can’t see anything else now when I hear the song.
This also happened with the song “Rhinoceros” by The Smashing Pumpkins. It has 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 eyes, people! These lies surrounding us are monstrous! This “monster” element made the lyric really 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 the lyric is “mustard lies”, which is even worse. It’s almost offensive. “Monster Lies” is much better. It improves the whole character of the lyric.
It’s amazing how differently 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 about this song? 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. If I had been drinking anything, I would have choked. The commentator was being satirical. But, it proves the point – people can interpret songs and other works in surprisingly diverse ways.
It 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. “Pssh. Duhhh, how can you not tell? That’s what makes it poetic and sorrowful.”