These songs mean what? You wont believe the Lyrics to These Hit songs you have heard hundreds of times
These songs whose meanings we completely miss because we either don’t listen to lyrics properly or we just take the song at face value, ignoring any origins or intent of the artist. Or we just don’t even realize what the lyrics really are. Then, one day, your world breaks down. The real meanings of these popular songs will shock you.
Many an unsuspecting singer chooses “Brown Sugar” for karaoke and balks at the lyrics as they appear on the screen. Somehow (we don’t know how) they typically understand what this song is about, even though the story is right in the lyrics. It’s used in some daytime TV commercials and places all around in this fun, light-hearted manner when it is quite literally a song about slave rape.
This song isn’t a love tribute to a beloved African American woman and it is most definitely not something about the sweetener that brings us all chocolate chip cookies. This song is about white plantation owners raping their African slaves.
Gold coast slave ship bound for cotton fields
Sold in a market down in New Orleans
Scarred old slaver knows he’s doing alright
Hear him with the women just around midnight.
Ah, brown sugar how come you taste so good?
Brown sugar, just like a young girl should
Tutti Frutti – Little Richard
You probably heard this song a lot as a kid and didn’t think much of it. Well, give this record a spin and really listen to the lyrics – you’ll realize that the song is all kinds of rough. Not only is it about some guy getting it on with multiple girls – Sue and Daisy – they both “know what to do” (so they’re very experienced), and they all drive him crazy.
Also, the repeated hook of “Tutti frutti, aw rooty” was not the original lyrics of the song, before it got picked up to be recorded. When performing live, Little Richard sang the following:
Tutti Frutti, good booty / If it don’t fit, don’t force it / You can grease it, make it easy.
The lyrics were then changed in studio to “Tutti Frutti, all rooty” (all rooty was slang at the time for “alright”) so that the rest of the song didn’t make sense, making it more marketable. Yes, that’s right. The song you most likely danced to like an idiot when you were three and didn’t know better was really… much more adult.
We all probably know that “My Sharona” is about sex or trying to get laid, but how about sex with underaged girl? Maybe not. In the tradition of “Young Girl” by Gary Puckett and the Union Gap, the song is about a man’s serial lust for a girls several years his junior.
In this case, the song is inspired by Doug Fieger, the band’s lead singer, and his relationship with Sharona Alperin, who he met when he was 25 and she was 16. They dated for four years and she appears on the single’s cover. While Fieger says he wrote the song from the perspective of a teenage boy, the lyrics are quite raunchy and rather uncouth in kinder circles:
Such a dirty mind, always get it up
For the touch of the younger kind…
When you gonna give it to me
Give it to me
It’s just a matter of time Sharona
Born in the USA – Bruce Springsteen
Only The Boss could make an anti-war song sound like a jingoistic rock anthem that most people use as a pro-America anthem. The song narrative follows a working class American who gets into some trouble at home, so he goes to Vietnam to fight in the war. When he returns, he is unable to find work and is shunned by the community at large, kind of like in real life.
Springsteen’s lyrics and message were so cleverly masked, that Ronald Reagan’s staff tried to get the song to be the official song for his re-election campaign (which is exactly how well they did their research), but The Boss politely declined, as he did not support Ronald Reagan at all.
Probably best known for the repetitive chanting of “I want my MTV” by Sting, the song is often believed to be an anthem for the MTV generation. “I want my MTV” even became a tagline, and slogan for the generation of people who grew up believing in music videos and the MTV phenomenon.
But the four and half minute song is, in fact, a criticism of the music scene of the 80s – especially glam metal which was in its hey-day. In fact, bassist Nikki Sixx claims the song is specifically about his band, Motley Crue.
Told from the perspective of a blue collar worker, the song contains lyrics that discredit and dismiss the musicians and their ability such as “See the little f*ggot [a word which is used liberally and with absolutely no hesitation throughout the song, and, according to the songwriter is actually part of the ‘point’ of the character who sings the song] with the earring and the make-up” and comments on how their music “ain’t working.” Still, he laments their ability to get “money for nothing, and their chicks for free.”
In the end, he decides that maybe he should learn how to play guitar.
Misconstrued by eBay and many others as an anthem for consumerism (thanks no doubt in part to the music video), “Semi-Charmed Life” is actually about a drug users dark descent into crystal meth use and the sexual acts he performs while trying to find that “something else.”
I was taking sips of it through my nose […]
Doing crystal meth, will lift you up until you break
You’re the priestess, I must confess
Those little red panties they pass the test
Slide up around the belly, face down on the mattress
Of course, it’s no wonder that many of us either don’t know or don’t catch the song’s lyrical content. In addition to the upbeat sound and the references of lewd activities coming at you a mile a minute, the song was also drastically edited to be a playable single for TV and the radio.
The original song is 3:07 minutes long, but when edited for the radio, nearly a whole minute was taken out to make it playable, and the words “crystal meth” are often covered up by use of backmasking (you know, just like all the references to Satan in Led Zepplin songs supposedly are).