Listen Up! The Hidden Meanings of Songs

Ever wonder what some of your favorite songs are really about? Most aren't as simple or innocent as they seem.

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Every Breath You Take – The Police This is another song that isn’t as romantic as it seems. This song is frequently used at weddings and other romantic occasions; however, it is about a voyeuristic man who is obsessed with a woman and resorts to stalking her.
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Puff the Magic Dragon – Peter, Paul and Mary Some say it’s about a boy and his magical dragon named Puff. Others say, however, that this song makes references to the illicit narcotic marijuana. However, Peter Yarrow, the writer of this song, denies this rumor. He says it's about losing your innocence.
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Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds – the Beatles The trippy imagery was in part inspired by John Lennon’s drug use, particularly those of the hallucinogenic variety, but the idea for the song came from a drawing by Lennon’s son of a girl named Lucy in his class.
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Brown Eyed Girl - Van Morrison Originally titled Brown Skinned Girl, this song is about an African-American woman with whom Morrison was infatuated. Morrison was forced to change the title because of institutional racism in the late ‘60s in the music business.
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Magic Man – Heart This song is said to be about Nancy Wilson, rhythm guitarist for the band heart. The story behind this song suggests that Wilson became a follower of cult leader and murderer Charles Manson for a time and this song is about her experiences with him and her difficulty in breaking away from his cult.
I Don’t Like Mondays – Boomtown Rats This song is about 16-year-old Brenda Spencer, who on Monday morning, January 29, 1979, started shooting at a crowd of children arriving at an Elementary School in Cleveland. Spencer killed two men and wounded eight students and a police officer. When asked by a reporter what drove her to commit this heinous act, Spencer replied, “I don’t like Mondays.”
Imagine – John Lennon This song is about Karl Marx’s theories on communism, which Lennon was known for studying. The song makes reference to a world without possessions, without God and without heaven and hell, all of which are communist ideas.
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Afternoon Delight - Starland Vocal Band A man goes home from work during his lunch break for a quickie.
Comfortably Numb - Pink Floyd Roger Waters wrote this song about an experience he had performing a live show in 1977 in Philadelphia. Waters was injected with tranquilizers by a doctor to treat his hepatitis before the show and had trouble lifting his arms because his body was numb.
Big Balls – AC/DC The lyrics to this song aren’t as sexually suggestive as one would think. The double entendre big balls literally refer to a ball, as in a large dance party. So get your mind out of the gutter, they’re just singing about a good old-fashioned hoedown.
In the Air Tonight – Phil Collins The urban legend surrounding this song says that it is about a man who saw another person drowning and did nothing to save him and Collins was a witness to the whole thing. Collins has since gone on to debunk this myth, saying he wrote this song about his ex-wife in the midst of their bitter divorce.
Wonderful Tonight – Eric Clapton Clapton originally wrote this song with sarcastic intentions as a way of poking fun at his wife for taking so long while getting ready for a party. She kept modeling different outfits for him asking if she looked alright and impatiently he responded with “Yes, you look wonderful tonight,” in order to speed her up.
Mandy – Barry Manilow This is not a love song in the traditional sense and isn’t about a woman. Manilow actually wrote this song about his dog, Mandy.
You Oughta Know – Alanis Morisette This song is about Dave Coulier, best know for his role as Uncle Joey on TV’s Full House, with whom she had a romantic relationship. The two had a messy break-up, and this song is in response to that.
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OPP – Naughty By Nature The title of this song is extremely sexually explicit, which is why it was abridged to OPP. The first two letters stand for Other People’s, the third letter stands for an objectionable term referring to a part of the female anatomy.
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