People Are Sharing The Song Lyrics They Completely Misunderstood, And Wow
Where were you when you found out 'Cotton Eye Joe' was about a syphilis infection?
When comedian Mark Watson realised that Foster The People’s ‘Pumped Up Kicks’ takes place in a school shooting, he asked his Twitter followers what songs they didn’t realise the meaning of until years down the track — chances are, you might not know either.
‘Pumped Up Kicks’ is pretty obvious once you listen to the lyrics (‘All the other kids with the pumped up kicks/You’d better run, better run, faster than my bullet’), but it’s a classic case of ‘upbeat indie-pop’ syndrome, much like how fans of the eras other big names (The Drums, Passion Pit) probably didn’t realise most of the songs were about depression. We hear what we want, or rather, don’t hear much at all — that much is evident in some of the replies.
There are some other classics, too; repeat answers in the Twitter thread revealed that people still don’t realise country standard ‘Cotton Eyed Joe’ is probably about contracting an eye infection from syphilis, or that it took them way, way too long to realise the Divinyl’s ‘I Touch Myself’ was about cranking the hog.
That last one’s understandable, since overtly sexual songs often fly over the heads of younger listeners. Similarly, comedian Jordan Raskopoulos didn’t realise Frankie Goes To Hollywood’s ‘Relax’ is about edging, resulting in the BBC banning it from radio at release.
Amanda Palmer said she completely misread Bruce Springsteen’s ‘Born In The USA’ as a pro-USA anthem; considering it’s been played at Republican conventions, she’s not the only one. She also didn’t realise Ben Folds’ ‘Brick’ is about his high school girlfriend getting an abortion.
i didn’t realize “brick” by ben folds was about abortion until waaaaay late. i also grew up thinking “born in the USA” was a rah-rah america song. 😳
— Amanda Palmer (@amandapalmer) June 27, 2019
Elsewhere, one wedding DJ shared that he was often requested to play Motown hit ‘Band Of Gold’ for the couple, a song which is about your marriage ending and being left with just a wedding ring — and pain.
Not my song, but when doing wedding discos many years ago, always got asked to play “band of gold” for the happy couple.
Obviously no one ever listened to the lyrics…..
— Les Twigg (@LesTwigg) June 27, 2019
Then there’s the sing-a-longs that should probably be left in the past, like The Rolling Stones’ ‘Brown Sugar’ — a song which, as writer Emily L. Hauser pointed out last week, isn’t about ‘nothing’ as Mick Jagger says. It’s about raping an enslaved woman being transported on a slave boat to the US. Cute!
On a lighter note, a bride-to-be wanted to have her first dance to Lily Allen’s ‘It’s Not Fair’, a song about a rubbish lay.
My lovely wife wanted “It’s not fair” by Lily Allen as our first dance at our wedding… I said no and laughed but she liked the song and kept pressing. In the end I had to sit her down and tell her that it’s all about really bad sex and her man’s poor performance in the bedroom!
— Edward Garrie (@EdwardGarrie) June 27, 2019