Lyrics you wonder about

Some of the most memorable song lyrics are the ones that suggest a deeper meaning yet remain… enigmatic.

What are the songs you love whose lyrics you find intriguingly cryptic?

Of course Bob Dylan is kind of the poster child for cryptic lyrics, but actually I get a lot of sense from some of his famous cryptic songs. Many are also just great lyrical wordplay, like for instance “Tombstone Blues”. But the song where I’m totally lost is “Gates Of Eden”. Could never make heads or tails of it, but I like the imagery, especially “The motorcycle black Madonna, two-wheeled gypsy queen”.

ETA: in the end, it really doesn’t matter. It’s a great song anyway. Not every great lyric does have to make sense or have some deeper meaning.

For sure. I’m still pondering a ton of his lyrics, including:

Yes, to dance beneath the diamond sky with one hand waving free,
Silhouetted by the sea, circled by the circus sands,
With all memory and fate driven deep beneath the waves,
Let me forget about today until tomorrow.

Now your dancing child with his Chinese suit
He spoke to me, I took his flute
No, I wasn’t very cute to him, was I?
But I did it because he lied
And because he took you for a ride
And because time was on his side
And because I
Want you

Sundown, yellow moon
I replay the past
I know every scene by heart
They all went by so fast

Good examples, @Qadgop_the_Mercotan. But as I said, does it really matter? Isn’t that all great imagery nonetheless? It sure does evoke multi-faceted images and allusions even without knowing what it’s really about, especially in the case of “Mr. Tambourine Man”, one of Dylan’s lyrical masterpieces. It’s the stuff you get Nobels for.

I just love to ponder it. Listening to that stuff just puts me in the moment, and part of what makes it a perfect moment is me pondering it. Not so much for what he meant, as for what it means to me.

Ah, I see, and I totally concur.

Especially now that I’m an old fart. That whole “I replay the past”, etc. just has the ability to invoke such powerful feelings. And he wrote that as a young man! Damn . . .

Actually, these lyrics allegedly are about Brian Jones. The hint being “and because time was on his side”, “Time Is On My Side” being a song famously covered by the Stones, and the flute, hinting at the multi-instrumental Jones.

My namesake, “The Wind” by Cat Stevens:

I listen to the wind, to the wind of my soul
Where I’ll end up, well, I think only God really knows
I’ve sat upon the setting sun
But never, never, never, never
I never wanted water once
No never, never, never

I listen to my words but they fall far below
I let my music take me where my heart wants to go
I swam upon the Devil’s lake
But never, never, never, never
I’ll never make the same mistake
No, never, never, never

A Whiter Shade of Pale is about images and poetry, but no narrative.

The Cars in general either have really simple concept lyrics, like Shake it Up, or they stray into a “what am I missing” category, like this excerpt from Good Times Roll

If the illusion is real
Let them give you a ride
If they got thunder appeal
Let them be on your side

Let them leave you up in the air
Let them brush your rock and roll hair
Let the good times roll
Won’t you let the good times roll, oh
Let the good times roll

That’s cryptic?

I found that song more memorable and evocative in that instance.

For true ‘cryptic’ lyrics, I long pondered what the Beatles were implying when they sang “Take the back right turn”. I imagined paths not taken, or forging ahead down rarely traversed roads, or taking one’s turn back in righteousness.

Turned out I was just listening to a song about a paperback writer. :astonished:

Smelly tongues looked just as they felt.

What? What? I must know! :stuck_out_tongue:

Yellow matter custard
Dripping from a dead dog’s eye

That one always makes me ponder.

I always think of the famous (cow)eye slitting scene from Luis Bunuel’s “Un Chien Andalou” when hearing that line.

Teaser and the Firecat…what an album! As I recall barely longer than 30 minutes but solid.

From “Make Me Smile” by Chicago:

Children play in the park they don’t know
I’m alone in the dark even though
Time and time again I see your face
Smilin’ inside…

What purpose do the first two lines serve? Sounds like a perv waiting to grab kids. Then the song’s really about being in love with someone.

Pretty obvious to me. Children play, blissfully unaware that there is suffering in the world. Nearby, in fact.

Mention of children does not always equal perversion, ya know.


Michael Stipe is the poster child here I’d say. From Gardening at Night:

We ankled up the garbage sound

Your guess is as good as mine.

So true, especially in the early albums when he was writing for the sound and not the meaning. But wouldn’t everything be much more attractive inside the moral kiosk?

Scratch the scandals in the twilight
Trying to shock but instead
Idle hands all orient to her
Pass a magic pillow under head

It’s so much more attractive
Inside the moral kiosk