The "I have no idea what the #$%^ this song means" thread

We all have a particular song that baffles us. Confuses us. Makes us wake up despairing in the night with the sort of existential ennui that is only too prevalent in arty French films.

I’ve got a couple; anyone else care to share? (NB: I’ve got tons of pop-up blockers, so I’m praying the links below are reasonably pop-up free. If not, I heartily apologize.)

  1. Kanye West’s “Through the Wire”, which is a moving song about West’s serious car accident that caused him to have his jaw wired shut. As a matter of fact, at the time the song was actually recorded, his jaw was still wired shut. The song is worth hearing just for the opening lines:

However, what I find really problematic are the following lines:

Um. What? I don’t understand. At all. Are Jamaicans particularly prone to blood clots? Is “Jamaican, man” used simply because it’s a fair-to-middling rhyme for “make a band”? I’m so confused!

  1. Rufus Wainwright’s “Greek Song”, which, incidentally, is one of the most beautiful songs I’ve ever heard. Don’t you just wish someone would tell you, “Your body heals my soul?”

I don’t know…I don’t get it, though. The opening lines are obviously a conversation between RW and a fellow during a Greek holiday. RW is being seductive (“you who were born with the sun above your shoulders”) and the fellow is being bisexual and aloof (“you turn me on, you turn me on, but so does she”). Then we get to

at which point we no longer intrude upon the privacy of these nice young fellows, and Rufus belts out the immortal lines,

I confess myself baffled. Any reasonable explanations?

This is a HUGE reach, but “claat” or “rass claat” is an insult in Jamaican patois. That’s my best guess. It’s pronounced the same way we’d pronounce “clot” in American English.

I’ve seen a bunch of dopers have made excellent and hilarious posts about the meaning of Gwen Stefani’s “Hollaback Girl,” which is either obscure or nonexistent.

Ditto Neil Diamond’s “I am I Said,” which features the immortal lyric

It’s a play on words. The word "bloodclot " is a Jamaican curse word. The word clot in Jamaican patois is similar to fuck in English. You may hear variations of this such a “bumba clot” or “rass clot”. The definition of clot is as follows:

Hope that clears that one up.

Oh, my (said she, blushing furiously).

Chalk that up to one of those things they just never taught you in school. Thanks for the input, brickbacon and Marley23!

Anyone care to tackle the pearls of China fading astride the volta or…whatever? :slight_smile:

Boost and Ensure are liquid diet supplements. Weight lifters drink them and they’re a popular jailhouse commodity. Sizzurp is probably syrup.

Blood clot is a Rastafarian insult. Supposedly black people are the real people God created and white people grew out of some blood clots that God threw out.

I can’t help you with yours, but two I’ve never really been able to decipher are Bob Mould’s “Brasilia Crossed With Trenton” andElvis Costello’s “Green Shirt”. Maybe somebody can analyze those for me, since I suck at that sort of thing.

I don’t understand Duran Duran’s New Moon On Monday. And the video only confused me more.

And clearly the ever-confusing:

If there’s a bustle in your hedgerow, don’t be alarmed now; it’s just a spring-clean for the May Queen…

Sorry - there probably should be a Wayne’s-World-like ban on referencing Stairway, but it is out there…

Blinded by the light/
Wrapped up like a deuce, you know the roller in the night…

I’ve listened to that sone 152,000 times and I still don’t understand it.

Neil Young:

I read an interview where Neil was asked what that meant. He basically said: “Good question, man. I know I must have had something in mind there, but I’m damned if I know what it was. That’s why I stopped doing the song live, I didn’t know what I was saying.”

So, this one’s even got the songwriter confused!

Depends on your version.

Whereas the original via

Of course, this is one of the most misheard lyrics ever (and commonly assumed to be about feminine hygiene).

Imagine yourself in a cheesy James Dean era “racing for pinks” movie (or American Graffiti). The young hoodlums with not much going for them in life are only into working on and racing their cars, which certainly include Deuce Coupes. Imagine one of these cars, the song’s “deuce”, is barreling down toward you, cut loose, revved up, and its headlights certainly blinding the holy heck out of you. I think that’s the intended image. The disenchanted youth of the song and their tricked out cars.

Wilco’s really bad about this.

From I Am Trying to Break Your Heart:
“Take off your band-aids, 'cause I don’t believe in touchdowns”

From Summerteeth:
“His heart’s in a bowl behind the bank”

Sly and the Family Stone’s “If You Want Me to Stay” is a pretty straightforward song, except for this line that has always baffled me:

“How could you ever allow
I guess I wonder how
How could you get out of pocket for fun”

What the hell does “get out of pocket for fun” mean? (I got the lyrics from the “Fresh” CD booklet, so presumably I’m not mishearing them).

Sinead Lohan’s “People and Tables”, most of it I can make out, but I haven’t the foggiest idea what kind of guy she’s waiting for:

oh for a man with no lock on his gate

oh for a man with no back to his chair

oh for a man with no stories to tell

What kind of man has lockless gates, backless chairs and is really boring?


hey! come to think of it, almost every Duran Duran song from around that time period is a jumble of cryptic lyrics.

The Reflex
Union of the Snake
I Take the Dice
Lonely In Your Nightmare

This is just a guess, but the line about “save the poison for a lover on your side” might possibly be a reference to the mythological Greek character Herakles (latin name = Hercules) who was commonly known to ancient Hellenics to be bisexual. Herakles’s wife was tricked into killing when a jealous centaur told her to sew him a tunic and preparing with a magical tonic that actually turned out to be acidic poison.

I don’t know about the backless chair but I’ve always believed that the lockless gate was a metaphor for a man with no defense mechanisms from prior relationships. The part about stories to tell means, I think, that she’s looking for a man that won’t tell her lies.

I’ve always been mystified by ‘The Sidewinder Sleeps Tonight’. I’ve come up with my own interpretation that’s nothing like any of the SongMeanings proffered explanations of the song.

Thank you, that actually makes a lot of sense! Now if we could just pin down that backless chair thing…

A real WAG: Maybe if he’s got a backless chair he’s sure of himself and self-confident (that he won’t fall off).