Misinterpreted Lyrics- The Octopus’s Gardner (10/21)

The theme of today’s show is Misinterpreted lyrics. Here’s the playlist:

– Bennie and the Jets (1973) Elton John. This song was written in reaction to the rise of Glam Rock in the 1970s, it’s about a fictional band characterized by outrageous costumes, elements of sci-fi, and a futuristic aura.

– Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds (1967) The Beatles. This song is based off of a picture that John Lennon’s son drew of his friend Lucy with stars all around her. The song caused some controversy when people realized the title spells out “LSD” and assumed it was promoting drug use. The imagery in the lyrics is said to be inspired by Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland.

– Venus In Furs (1967) The Velvet Underground.  This song was based on Leopold von Sacher-Masoch’s (from whose name derives the word “masochism”) novella which is about a man who wanted to be enslaved by his lover who wears a lot of fur.

– Purple Haze (1967) Jimi Hendrix. Many people assume this song is about drugs, though Hendrix says it was based of off a dream he had in which he was walking under the sea.

– Blister In The Sun (1983) Violent Femmes. Most people think this song is about drugs and/or sex. Others claim its about one of the band member getting made fun of for having small hands and “blister in the sun” refers to his humiliation.

– Here Comes Your Man (1989) The Pixies.  A lot of people think this song is about a drug deal (“your man” referring to the dealer). But in an interview, band member, Frank Black, said it was about hobos riding on a train and dying in an earthquake (“your man” referring to the earthquake and their impending death).

– Under The Bridge (1991) The Red Hot Chili Peppers. This song was written shortly after the death of Slovak, the lead guitarist. Singer, Kiedis, talks about the loneliness he felt and his days as a heroin addict.

– Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots Part 1 (2002) The Flaming Lips. Apparently, one of the band members heard a song by The Boredoms (a 80s Japanese rock band) in which he thought it sounded like the singer, Yoshimi, was screaming and fighting. Some interpret it as a battle of material things and unemotional people, others think its about a friend fighting cancer.

– Somebody Told Me (2004) The Killers. The general consensus is that it’s about a guy getting shot down in a sketchy bar.

– Paper Planes (2008) M.I.A. This song caused some controversy as some people thought it promoted violence, drugs, and criminality. M.I.A. defended it, saying she intended to make fun of the Western World’s corruption and obsession with money, as well as the racial stereotypes of immigrants.


Suggestions for other songs with ambiguous and/or interesting lyrics:

– Gold On The Ceiling- The Black Keys

– Skeleton Song- Kate Nash

– Tiny Glowing Screens Part 2 -Watsky

– Babel- Mumford and Sons

– Bobbing for Apples- Regina Spektor

– Mykonos- The Fleet Foxes

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