Pop Culture Savvy: Misunderstood

Savannah Sawyer

Being a musician means not only performing music but also composing it.

It’s difficult for musicians to deal with others warping the lyrics written from a personal experience and morphing it into something to relate to.

In some cases the lyrics you portray as a musician are not taken out of context and people relate to your situation.

On the other hand, some musicians aren’t so lucky. For those musicians with the misunderstood songs, I’m here to set the record straight once and for all.

1. “Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)” by Green Day

I can’t help but laugh when people use this as their graduation or wedding song. The song sounds like a reminiscence of a certain time in your life. One chapter’s ending but another will be starting soon. Some may be surprised to learn Billie Joe Armstrong penned the song after a tragic break-up. He wrote the song as basically a big screw you to his ex-girlfriend. The tone of the song is supposed to be sarcastic. “I hope you had the time of your life.”

2. “Rape Me” by Nirvana

When this song was first released it received a lot of criticism because the listeners didn’t understand what the meaning behind it was. Many thought Kurt Cobain was being insensitive toward a very sensitive subject. Cobain’s goal was actually the exact opposite; he was trying to raise awareness for rape victims and what they go through.

3. “Born In The U.S.A.” by Bruce Springsteen

“Born In The U.S.A” is possibly one of the top misinterpreted songs. You’ll hear this song plenty around the Fourth of July because of the assumption it’s patriotic. Politicians have even been known to use this song while campaigning. Any adoring Springsteen fan will shed light on the matter and show you the way. He wrote the song describing how America doesn’t play by the rules – we don’t fight fair. More specifically, he was singing about the Vietnam War and how it had a negative impact on the American citizens.

4. “Love Song” by Sara Bareilles

It seems all any song is about these days is love. Whether it’s the beginning of a relationship, the midst of a relationship or the ending of a relationship, it seems musicians just can’t think up other topics. Record labels want to capitalize on this so they have their artists write about the subject. Bareilles took it into her own hands. She was against writing something that she didn’t want to write about, a love song, so she wrote about just that. Her song, “Love Song,” which many interpret as her telling a lover that she doesn’t want to write about him, is really her telling off her record label. “I’m not going to write you a love song/because you asked for it/because you need it.”

5. “Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds” by The Beatles

The song, written by John Lennon, was widely interpreted to be about the drug LSD. The psychedelic lyrics didn’t help any. “Picture yourself in a boat on a river/With tangerine trees and marmalade skies.” Lennon claims the connection to the drug is ludicrous. The song was inspired by a drawing Lennon’s son, Sean, created for him.

Column by Savannah Sawyer, Assistant Features Editor.