Songs from your youth ... which you didn't understand until you were an adult

I grew up in “the church”. A Christian church. And my church had “that guy”. The adult, anti-rock crusader. He was just on FIRE, warning us kids about the evils of rock and roll and all of the bad messages it was sending. Because we were going to hear those messages, and head off into sin.

Except, we all thought this guy was hilarious. WTF was he talking about? We weren’t hearing these evil “messages” from the songs we liked. STFU, dude. (Except this was the 1980s, and “WTF” and “STFU” hadn’t been invented yet.)

Then I got old.

And I started actually listening to/reading the lyrics of those songs I loved in my youth. And I suddenly understood what “that guy” was freaking out about.

I actually posted my thoughts about one song, a few years ago. Not gonna search for the post, because I can sum it up like so:

"Holy crap, I’ve heard The Eagles’ song, “Life in the Fast Lane” hundreds of times over the last 30+ years, but I suddenly realized, after hearing it on the radio this morning … IT’S ABOUT A COCAINE BENDER!

Tonight, as I approach 49-1/2 years old, I decided to pull up some Heart videos on YouTube. Specifically:

Magic Man

Now, that song came out when I was 10 years old. I was maybe 11-12 when I first heard it. Being a musician now, as I was then, holy crap, there’s something about the music itself. That is dick-hardening music.

But reading the lyrics, as an adult …

That song is a first-person story about a young, teenaged girl, told from the girl’s point of view, being seduced by an older guy, possibly an adult. And that adult is possibly using drugs to influence her. And the poor girl thinks it’s true love.

Now I understand “that guy”.

You are now “that guy”.


Oh no I’m not :smiley:

I listen to music now that would still horrify my parents. I now simply understand their concern :stuck_out_tongue:

The thing is, Life In the Fast Lane may BE about a cocaine bender, but it isn’t obvious. It also isn’t singing the praises of a cocaine bender. It’s actually making it look bad.

Now Magic Man, on the other hand, yea. That’s the wrong message to give teenage girls!

When “Afternoon Delight” by the Starland Vocal Band came out, I was a little kid and thought it was about going out for ice cream after school or something like that.

I forget what it was called, but that "song’ that featured a woamn moaning and groaning in orgasm puzzled me…until i found out about sex.

RE Magic Man - I saw a tv special about Heart, maybe on VH-1, where Ann Wilson tells the history behind it. It’s about her relationship with either the producer or one of her band mates (she dated both). Her mother was also interviewed and she claimed to not recall the situation, or at least not the part about crying on the phone and telling her daughter to “come on home”. What a great song.

I was completely puzzled by “I’m the son of Hickory Holler’s Tramp” It didn’t help that being in the UK I had no idea that “tramp” was slang for a prostitute and didn’t mean a hobo. Consequently I thought the titular tramp referred to the stranger knocking at the door :), the absent father returning at odd intervals to visit his wife and kids.

I thought it was about spaceships. At that age, I made very little distinction between skyrockets, Neil Armstrong-type rockets, and spaceships like on Star Trek. And to back it up, the music even has those sort of vroom-vroom sounds after the skyrockets line. So I figured it was a song about spaceships. I don’t think I even knew the actual title, I just thought of it as “The Skyrocket Song.”

Then it faded from popularity, and I didn’t think about it again until I was an adult and happened to hear it somewhere. What a shocker!

My sister got to go see The Beatles. I got to wait in the car with my dad. So, I cajoled my parents into letting me go see Gary Puckett and The Union Gap when they came to town a few years later. Did the fourth-grade me really get those songs? Nope.

The song “Big Shot” by Billy Joel has the line
“With the Dom Perignon in your hand and the spoon up your nose”

As a under the age of 10 kid, I just thought the spoon part meant she was stuck up.
Then as an adult I learned how cocaine is used

Woodstock, the Matthews Southern Comfort version specifically. It’s much more “spacey” than CSN or Joni Mitchell’s versions.

As a sci fi fan, I took the lines:

We are stardust
We are golden
and we’ve got to get ourselves back to the garden

as being told by an alien traveler visiting us, but saying he had to leave for home. Maybe he was trapped because his ship crashed?

On a slightly different note, Alanis Morisette’s song “Thank U” came out the year I graduated from high school. I listened to it a lot around that time, and thought it was a great song.

Fast forward seventeen years. I’m now thirtysomething, and listened to it for the first time in maybe fifteen years yesterday. Hit me like a sledgehammer to the gut. How *about *unabashedly bawling your eyes out? Because I did.

Hah! Yes, when I was a naive teen I had an image of someone with a teaspoon shoved up their nose. :smiley:

I said I am HOH and one night my oldest sister for some insane idea wanted to say a prayer before bed and I said “In rotten heaven” ! My sister was shock!
I thought that was want people were saying all along ! LOL! Yeah there was

a lot things I didn’t understand and this still happen today but most of the time
it’s very funny when this does happen.

I thought how nice it was that the singer had a model rocketry hobby. Didn’t get the other meaning until I saw “Anchorman”.

“Waist Deep In The Big Muddy” made a lot more sense when someone told me it was about an American soldier who drowned because his commanding officer ordered him to try and cross a river, despite the fact the soldier was loaded with a full field pack, and neither of them knew how deep the river was.

So many songs are about sex or fapping that I thought were about dancing.

“She Bop”. Didn’t get that one until my roommate told me when I was in my 20’s. Me: “What? No, it’s about dancing.” Him: “Lol. No it’s not.” Cyndi Lauper even mentioned it at the concert I saw - she said her mom was like “Really, Cyndi? *Down there??” *

“Dancing With Myself”. I thought it was about a guy who liked to go out dancing by himself.

“Wake Me Up Before You Go Go” - I thought it was about this guy who took a nap and wanted his significant other to wake him up before she (before I knew George Michael is gay) went out dancing so he could go with her.

The first two I can see, but I’m not getting the same interpretation for the Wham song(?)

I read or heard somewhere that it was saying “wake him up” before she takes care of herself, if you catch my drift. “I don’t want to miss it when you hit that high” = the big self-obtained O. Could be wrong, but I giggle now when I hear it.