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Mariah's avatar

Song lyrics thread: What line or short verse from a song is very powerful to you? What song's meaning eludes you?

Asked by Mariah (19268 points ) August 6th, 2011

Post lines of song lyrics that speak to you or bring about strong emotion!

Post lines of song lyrics that you don’t understand!
Help other jellies analyze the meaning of these lyrics!

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21 Answers

Mariah's avatar

My “powerful” song lyric is from Simon and Garfunkel’s “The Sound of Silence.” The line is, “And the sign said ‘the words of the prophets are written on the subway walls.’” I don’t know why it gets to me so much. The power and emotion behind their voices during that line is just wonderful. And my interpretation of the line is very meaningful. I think it’s referring to graffiti, which is stereotypically written by troubled or underprivileged youth. The idea that these kids are “the prophets” implies that their situation actually puts them in a better place to understand the world around them. They have a very realistic viewpoint that probably has come about by having to grow up too fast. They are profoundly aware of what’s important and what problems exist in today’s world that need solving.

A song whose meaning I’ve been puzzling over lately is “Old China” by my favorite band, Gomez. The lyrics are:

Our first and last remaining took off late Sunday night
And disappeared beyond the places the city lights touch
And wherever you go the earth just opens up

We’ll never know if the situation makes sense at all
The black box is no explanation; there’s nothing but white noise
And wherever you go the earth just opens up
And wherever I go the earth just opens up
You’ll never win your arguments with me

So all concerned were barely conscious when lights came on
Did we land or were we shot down? Did Jesus or Judas turn up?
And wherever you go the earth just opens up
And wherever I go the earth just opens up
You’ll never win your arguments with me

It’s obviously about a plane crash, but I’m so curious as to what is meant by “our first and last remaining” and what on earth the narrator is arguing about. Any theories?

TexasDude's avatar

In a Sweater Poorly Knit by mewithoutYou is my favorite song, lyrically, and I have a pretty firm grasp of what it means.

Lyrics:

In a sweater poorly knit, and an unsuspecting smile
Little Moses drifts downstream in the Nile
A fumbling reply—an awkward, rigid laugh
I’m carried helpless by my floating basket raft

Your flavor in my mind swings back and forth between sweeter than any wine, and bitter as mustard greens
Light and dark as honeydew and pumpernickle bread

The trap I set for you seems to have caught my leg instead

As you plow some other field and try and forget my name, see what harvest yields, and, supposing I’d do the same
I planted rows of peas, but by the first week of july—they should have come up to my knees but they were maybe ankle high

Take the fingers from your flute to weave your colored yarns, and boil down your fruit to preserves in mason jars

But now books are overdue and the goats are underfed… the trap I set for you seems to have caught my leg instead

You’re a door-without-a-key, a field-without-a-fence
You made a holy fool of me, and I’ve thanked you ever since
If she comes circling back, we’ll end where we’d begun
Like two pennies on the train track the train crushed into one

Or if I’m a crown without a king, if I’m a broken, open seed
If I come without a thing, I come with all I need
No boat out in the blue, no place to rest your head
The trap I set for you seems to have caught my leg instead

I

do

not

exist

only

YOU

exist

————

Pretty much every line in this song is hard-hitting to me, but I especially like the refrain “the trap I set for you seems to have caught my leg instead.” I also enjoy “when she comes circling back, we’ll end where we begun, like two pennies on the train track the train crushed into one.”

The members of mewithoutYou are Christians that were raised in a Sufi and Jewish household, so they have studied Christian, Islamic, and Jewish mysticism rather extensively, and with that in mind, I think this song is about trying to comprehend the idea of God. “The trap I set for you seems to have caught my leg instead” refers to that moment when you think you have God figured out, and you wind up being incredibly wrong. “You’re a door without a key, a field without a fence” refers to how the idea of God is both mysterious, and wild and untameable. The song also seems to have references to a failed relationship, particularly in the “go and plow some other field and try and forget my name…” lyrics. It is documented that the lyricist of mewithoutYou went through a really shitty relationship (haven’t we all?) and his religion matured dramatically during this time, which is what this song could chronicle.

Regarding a song that I can’t decipher as well, there is this song by the Cure.

gasman's avatar

Don’t it always seem to go,
That you don’t know what you’ve got
‘Til it’s gone

—Joni Mitchell, Big Yellow Taxi

Cruiser's avatar

“Come away with me and we’ll kiss
On a mountaintop
Come away with me
And I’ll never stop loving you”

rebbel's avatar

My funny Valentine
Sweet comic Valentine
You make me smile with my heart
Your looks are laughable
Unphotographable
Yet you’re my favourite work of art

tom_g's avatar

from Modest Mouse, “Lives”:

It’s hard to remember, it’s hard to remember
we’re alive for the first time
It’s hard to remember, it’s hard to remember
we’re alive for the last time
It’s hard to remember, it’s hard to remember
to live before you die
It’s hard to remember, it’s hard to remember
that our lives are such a short time

MilkyWay's avatar

From Erik Hassle’s song Hurtful, this line which is really simple but gets me every time:
You don’t know what you got, till you’re missin it a lot.

sophiesword's avatar

fear is only in our minds but it’s taking over all the time – evanescence

incendiary_dan's avatar

From Indiana Handshake‘s “Sharks Eat Cancer”:

Align with me. Combine with me.
Let’s get some open air.
Teach. Redefine me.
Turn cloudy weather fair.
The stakes are high.
The world may disappear.
But not as long as I’m here.
As long as I’m here alive a light will shine on clear.

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

Imagine no possessions.
I wonder if you can.
No need for greed or hunger;
A brotherhood of man.
Imagine all the people,
Sharing all the world.

You may say that I’m a dreamer,
But I’m not the only one.
I hope someday you’ll join us,
And the world will live as one.
– From John Lennon’s Imagine

linguaphile's avatar

Too many. I collect lyrics for that reason, but some of my favorite lyricists are Indigo Girls, Prince and Sarah MacLachlan.

The part that came to mind today is Indigo Girl’s Closer to Fine—so often the song just has been reflective of moments in my life since college and comes up to becomes relevant again. I’ve always liked things that show a play of light and dark (chiaroscuro, etc) and the song talks about that with this line:
“The darkness has a hunger that’s insatiable, the lightness has a call that’s hard to hear.” I also like “The less I seek my source for some definitive, the closer I am to fine” part—telling myself to reeee-laaax and roll with it.

Sarah’s Elsewhere always gets me- I think the lyrics are very self-explanatory.
... I’ve got To live my life the way I feel is right for me
Might not be right for you but it’s right for me…
I believe… I believe
This is heaven to no one else but me
And I’ll defend it as long as
I can be left here to linger in silence
If I choose to
Would you try to understand…

I think Prince has some of the best love lyrics- one of my many favorites is from “Adore”:
If God one day struck me blind
Your beauty I’d still see
Love is to weak to define
Just what you mean to me.

And the song that has gotten me through a lot of crap—Bob Marley’s I Know
Many a time I sit and wonder why
This race so – so very hard to run,
Then I say to my soul: take courage,
Battle to be won,
Like a ship that’s tossed and driven,
Battered by the angry sea, yea-eah!
Say the tide of time was raging;
Don’t let the fury fall on me, no, no!

Seelix's avatar

Two of the most poignant and touching songs I’ve ever heard are both written from a cat’s point of view (silly, I know, but just read them – or, better yet, listen). Both are pretty heartbreaking. John K. is not only a gifted songwriter and musician; he’s a poet Canada can be proud of.

Plea From a Cat Named Virtute by The Weakerthans
Why don’t you ever want to play? I’m tired of this piece of string. You sleep as much as I do now, and you don’t eat much of anything. I don’t know who you’re talking to – I made a search through every room, but all I found was dust that moved in shadows of the afternoon. And listen, about those bitter songs you sing? They’re not helping anything. They won’t make you strong. So, we should open up the house. Invite the tabby two doors down. You could ask your sister, if she doesn’t bring her Basset Hound. Ask the things you shouldn’t miss: tape-hiss and the Modern Man, The Cold War and Card Catalogues, to come and join us if they can, for girly drinks and parlour games. We’ll pass around the easy lie of absolutely no regrets, and later maybe you could try to let your losses dangle off the sharp edge of a century, and talk about the weather, or how the weather used to be. And I’ll cater with all the birds that I can kill. Let their tiny feathers fill disappointment. Lie down; lick the sorrow from your skin. Scratch the terror and begin to believe you’re strong. All you ever want to do is drink and watch TV, and frankly that thing doesn’t really interest me. I swear I’m going to bite you hard and taste your tinny blood if you don’t stop the self-defeating lies you’ve been repeating since the day you brought me home. I know you’re strong.

Virtute the Cat Explains Her Departure by The Weakerthans
It had something to do with the rain leaching loamy dirt, and the way the back lane came alive – half moon whispered, “go.” For a while I heard you missing steps in the street, and your anger, pleading in an uncertain key, singing the sound that you found for me. When the winter took the tips of my ears, I found this noisy home full of pigeons and places to hide, and when the voices die I emerge to watch abandoned machines waiting for their men to return. I remember the way I would wait for you to arrive with kibble and a box full of beer. How I’d scratch the empties, desperate to hear you make the sound that you found for me. How after scrapping with the ferals and the tabby, I’d let you brush my matted fur. How I’d knead into your chest while you were sleeping. Shallow breathing made me purr. But now I can’t remember the sound that you found for me.

AshLeigh's avatar

“Because of you I forgot the smart ways to lie.
Because of you I’m running out of reasons to cry.”

“Underneath your clothes there’s an endless story.
There’s the man I chose.
And all the things I deserve, for being such a good girl, honey.”

-Underneath your clothes, by Shakira.

I can’t remember exactly how this one goes, but:
“Like a backwards story, this princess rescued me.”
“If it’s change you need, I’ll change for you.
(something something) I’ll come unglued.
I just wanna have you in these arms forever.”

- A Selfish Forever, by My Bother.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Bob Seger. Ship of Fools ”...he stood there like some idol. And he listened like some temple”
I don’t know why I like it. It’s just the way he sings it, I guess.

beckk's avatar

I’ve got a lot to say if you will let me.
It’s always hard when you’re around me,
But here right now there’s interest in your eyes.
So hear me out, and hear this the first time.

Angels and Airwaves, Breathe

linguaphile's avatar

I just saw this on a wall in a bar in Whitefish, MT and have been ruminating on it…

You see, the devil haunts a hungry man,
If you don’t wanna join him, you got to beat him.
I ain’t sayin’ I beat the devil, but I drank his beer for nothing.
Then I stole his song.

And you still can hear me singin’ to the people who don’t listen,
To the things that I am sayin’, prayin’ someone’s gonna hear.
And I guess I’ll die explaining how the things that they complain about,
Are things they could be changin’, hopin’ someone’s gonna care.

I was born a lonely singer, and I’m bound to die the same,
But I’ve got to feed the hunger in my soul.
And if I never have a nickle, I won’t ever die ashamed.
‘Cos I don’t believe that no-one wants to know.

MacBatman31's avatar

“Let it Be” by the Beatles
“Remedy” by Jason Mraz
and this from Bob Marley:
“I’d rather die fighting for freedom, be a slave all the days of my lives.”

AshLeigh's avatar

I was way off on the lyrics to My brothers song.

“If you and me weren’t meant to be, I’d make believe you’d never leave.
And you would be in these arms forever.
If I had to change, I’d change for you. Despite the screws that came unloose.
I’m made for you, and what we have’s forever.”
“Like a backwards fairy tale this princess rescued me.”

Mamradpivo's avatar

“Staying up for days in the Chelsea Hotel, writing Sad Eyed Lady of the Lowlands for you”

No idea why this line from Bob Dylan’s ‘Sara’ is so powerful for me, I’ve never even stayed at the Chelsea Hotel. But it speaks of an incalculable loss that hits me every single time.

disenchanted_poisongirl's avatar

Cause we are all a bunch of animals
That never paid attention in school.
So tell me all about your problems
I was killing before killing was cool.
You’re so cool, You’re so cool, So cool!
(“Kill All Your Friends” by My Chemical Romance. Don’t ask me why, I just love it.)

and

It was the roar of the crowd
That gave me heartache to sing.
It was a lie when they smiled
And said, “you won’t feel a thing”
And as we ran from the cops
We laughed so hard it would sting.
(“Disenchanted”. MCR again.)

or

I just wanted you to know
That the world is ugly,
But you’re beautiful to me. (“The World Is Ugly”. yeah it’s by My Chem. like all the other ones)

and these lyrics too

As lead rains, will pass on through our phantoms
Forever, forever
Like scarecrows that fuel this flame, we’re burning
Forever, and ever
Know how much I want to show you you’re the only one
Like a bed of roses, there’s a dozen reasons in this gun
(“Demolition Lovers”. By MCR too. I know, I love them.)

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