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Electric Avenue and other misinterpreted songs

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I heard Eddy Grant's "Electric Avenue," a bright and sunny song about rioting in protest of poverty, racism, and unemployment, last night and it made me want to write this topic.

What's your favorite example of songs that are constantly misused and misinterpreted?  This might as well be called the "Born in the USA" or "Pink Houses" topic, but I didn't want to get political and, honestly, those two are easy targets we should just get out of the way from the jump.

So what'cha got?

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Luckily, there's already a big summary of tone-deaf misuses in political campaigns, so I thought I'd just provide the link.

Favorite there is easily "Rudi Can't Fail".  Jesus, what would he play as entrance music these days?  "Hateful"?  "Clampdown"?  "The Four Horsemen"?

 

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Definitely Lust for Life, a song about Iggy Pop's heroin dealer, being used in commercials for cruises and shit.

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Rush, "Working Man," Wal-Mart.

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Here are my favorite songs that aren't love songs by any stretch of the imagination but idiots swear that they are love songs:

1. Every Breath You Take by The Police (about a stalker)

2. Crash Into Me by the DMB (about a voyeuristic pedophile)

3. The One I Love by REM (about abusive and manipulative relationships) 

4. Possession by Sarah McLachlan (Sarah took a letter written by her stalker and turned it into a hit song)

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1 hour ago, Zimbra said:

Definitely Lust for Life, a song about Iggy Pop's heroin dealer, being used in commercials for cruises and shit.

I had to break my friend's heart two years ago and tell her that Under The Bridge by the RHCP was about heroin abuse.

BUT IT'S SUCH A PRETTY SONG~!!

Kid Charlemagne by Steely Dan is allegedly about Walter Becker's (RIP) heroin dealer and how he started losing his celebrity clientele when famous people started doing cocaine.

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A song in a similar vein - creepy *if* misread, rather than flat-out creepy *and* misread - is "To Whom It May Concern" by the Civil Wars.  Because it's performed as a duet, you get the impression from the song that it's two people who are crushing on one another and just don't have the nerve to make a move.

Take the same song and have just one voice performing it, and, well, it turns into Michael Fassbender on the subway in Shame.

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Everybody Hurts gets trotted out as a depressing song but the lyrics are actually super hopeful.

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R.E.M. could probably own this thread if they wanted. Living in the south when "Losing My Religion" became a hit...fuck alllllllllllll those morons.

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8 minutes ago, J.T. said:

I had to break my friend's heart two years ago and tell her that Under The Bridge by the RHCP was about heroin abuse.

BUT IT'S SUCH A PRETTY SONG~!!

Kid Charlemagne by Steely Dan is allegedly about Walter Becker's heroin dealer and how he started losing his celebrity clientele when famous people started doing cocaine.

It's probably safe to assume that every RHCP song of that era is about heroin, fuckin', or both.

Kid Charlemagne is loosely based on Owlsley Stanley, an infamous LSD manufacturer in California in the 60s.

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This reminds me of when my company's previous CEO retired and we had a tribute video for him set to Green Day's "Good Riddance..." or as our magazine reported on it afterward, "the Green Day song best known as 'Time of Your Life.'"

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I was once castigated for using "Lost in the Supermarket" for an article titleabout Black Friday.

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'Claire' by Gilbert O'Sullivan is basically a serious version of 'Edge of the World' by Faith No More. Y'know, a song about paedophilia from the perspective of a paedophile. And everyone thinks it's this charming love song.

I knew someone who had to be talked out of having 'Band of Gold' by Freda Payne as the song for the first dance at her wedding. Which not only what it's about, but it was also the title of a TV show about Prostitution.

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10 hours ago, J.T. said:

Here are my favorite songs that aren't love songs by any stretch of the imagination but idiots swear that they are love songs:

1. Every Breath You Take by The Police (about a stalker)

2. Crash Into Me by the DMB (about a voyeuristic pedophile)

3. The One I Love by REM (about abusive and manipulative relationships) 

4. Possession by Sarah McLachlan (Sarah took a letter written by her stalker and turned it into a hit song)

If we are taking "nice tune but this is creepy horse shit" as applying in this thread, the all-timer is The Beatles - Run For Your Life, which honestly is so gross lyrically it should never be played anywhere, by anyone, for any reason. If someone sings along or dances to this trash, fuck them.

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The car commercial trying to sell you some generic sedan or whatever that uses Motorhead - Ace of Spades is certainly an offense.

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Suicide Solution by Ozzy was made infamous by the awful PMRC as a call for people to kill themselves (and of course Satan is involved, he gets blamed for EVERYTHING) when in fact it was the most anti drug song ever with the message that using drugs is like committing suicide.

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This thread begins, ends, and is centered by "You Are My Sunshine"

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A song that goes the other way where most people think it's about drugs but actually isn't is Lou Reed's Perfect Day.

Quote

Some commentators have further seen the lyrical subtext as displaying Reed's romanticized attitude towards a period of his own addiction to heroin. This popular understanding of the song as an ode to addiction led to its inclusion in the soundtrack for Trainspotting, a film about the lives of heroin addicts.[3] However, this interpretation, according to Reed himself, is "laughable." In an interview in 2000, Reed says that, "No. You're talking to the writer, the person who wrote it. No that's not true [that the song is about heroin use]. I don't object to that, particularly...whatever you think is perfect. But this guy's vision of a perfect day was the girl, sangria in the park, and then you go home; a perfect day, real simple. I meant just what I said."[4]

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14 hours ago, Death From Above said:

If we are taking "nice tune but this is creepy horse shit" as applying in this thread, the all-timer is The Beatles - Run For Your Life, which honestly is so gross lyrically it should never be played anywhere, by anyone, for any reason. If someone sings along or dances to this trash, fuck them.

Something dark and mean-spirited from the guys that gave you "Maxwell's Silver Hammer" and "Happiness is a Warm Gun"? Say it ain't so!

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18 hours ago, AxB said:

I knew someone who had to be talked out of having 'Band of Gold' by Freda Payne as the song for the first dance at her wedding. 

That song never made sense to me, and eventually I looked it up on wikipedia. Apparently, it's supposed to be about a virginal teenage girl who rushes into marriage, then gets cold feet about sex on her wedding night, pissing off her new husband. They cut the lyrics that explained that however, so instead it sounds like the husband is the one who can't/won't have sex, leading most people to assume it's either about closeted homosexuality or ED...

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This is more of a personal one but I once got into a surprisingly heated argument with a friend who was trying to tell me that Billy Joel's Only the Good Die Young was about Vietnam when it is clearly, explicitly about trying to bone a Catholic girl.

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I used to work with someone who had a cousin die really young and they played that song at his funeral. She was horrified when I explained it to her. Well, first she didn't believe me, then she listened closer and was horrified.

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14 hours ago, Swiftian said:

A song that goes the other way where most people think it's about drugs but actually isn't is Lou Reed's Perfect Day.

People: Lou Reed has subtext!

Lou Reed: No I don't. I wrote a song about Heroin. It was called "Heroin".

 

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15 hours ago, Brian Fowler said:

I used to work with someone who had a cousin die really young and they played that song at his funeral. She was horrified when I explained it to her. Well, first she didn't believe me, then she listened closer and was horrified.

That's the crux of the whole thing -- listening to the chorus, quite literally at that, and never paying attention to the lyrics.  Same the corny-ass Today Show plays Foreigner's "Cold As Ice" for winter weather forecasts.  

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I knew that Closing Time by Semisonic was not about a local bar, but I didn't know it was a story about the birth of his first child told from the alternating perspectives of his wife and their baby.

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