One of the best parts about listening to music is connecting with an artist through their lyrics. Songwriters can come up with their lyrics from a countless number of inspirations (ex: falling in love, falling out of love, drugs, death, political problems). As listeners, we try to attribute their words to a meaning of our own.
Sometimes we are wrong.
The following are cases where music fans have misinterpreted song meanings.
“Every Breath You Take” by The Police
Misinterpretation: A heartfelt and genuine love song that is often played at wedding ceremonies.
What it’s actually about: According to Sting, the song was written during the collapse of his marriage. Sting admits that it does sound like a comforting love song, but he believes he was thinking about Big Brother-like surveillance and control when he wrote it. If you listen again, the lyrics possess strong themes associated with stalking.
“American Girl” by Tom Petty
Misinterpretation: A song about a girl from the University of Florida who jumped to her death from her dorm room.
What it’s actually about: Tom Petty has stated that the suicide story is an “urban legend”. The lyrics were written several years after he moved away from Florida. Petty was actually living in Encino, California and was inspired by the sounds of the freeway near his apartment.
“Closing Time” by Semisonic
Misinterpretation: A song written for the late-night bar crawlers who just need to go home.
What it’s actually about: The lead singer of Semisonic, Dan Wilson, stated, “They think it’s about being bounced from a bar, but it’s about being bounced from the womb.” The song is about childbirth and Wilson’s anticipation of fatherhood. Suddenly, this song has become quite sweet: “I know who I want to take me home.”
WATCH: Wilson explains more in the video below. (skip to 3:44)
“(You Gotta) Fight For Your Right (To Party)” by The Beastie Boys
Misinterpretation: A song often used as a party anthem.
What it’s actually about: The lyrics were actually written to mock “party” and “attitude” themed songs. The irony was lost to most of the song’s listeners. Mike D of The Beastie Boys explained, “There were tons of guys singing along to ‘Fight For Your Right’ who were oblivious to the fact it was a total goof on them.”
“Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” by The Beatles
Misinterpretation: Many listeners believe this song is about LSD.
What it’s actually about: John Lennon claimed that this song was inspired by a painting his son, Julian, created. John asserted that the words “lucy, “sky”, and “diamonds” are in no way a subliminal message to LSD.
We must admit, it is hard to listen to this song and not think that a hallucinogenic-like dream inspired it.