Questions tagged [song-lyrics]

Questions about the literary meaning or significance of the lyrics of a song or the literary devices used in them. Should be used with either the song-writer or the band in lieu of the author tag.

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16
votes
4answers
3k views

Explanation of the line 'But you don't really care for music, do you' in “Hallelujah”

In the first verse of Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah", there are these lines: Now, I've heard there was a secret chord That David played and it pleased the Lord But you don't really care for music,...
15
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2answers
40k views

What is the “Neon god” in “The Sound of Silence” by Simon and Garfunkel?

In Simon and Garfunkel's song The Sound of Silence1, there is the following passage in lyrics: And the people bowed and prayed To the neon god they made What is this neon god? Obviously, they ...
15
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1answer
3k views

Who is the speaker in Leonard Cohen's song, “Avalanche”?

I understand that some of Cohen's songs have religious context, so when I heard the lyrics of this song that stated, "You strike my side by accident," I thought it could be symbolism of Jesus being ...
14
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3answers
8k views

Why is the king 'baffled' in “Hallelujah”?

At the end of the first verse of "Hallelujah"... It goes like this The fourth, the fifth The minor fall, the major lift The baffled king composing Hallelujah I take it the king is referring ...
12
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0answers
164 views

When was young Cosette's bedtime?

While the song "Come to Me" was probably not intended as a treatise on astronomical timekeeping or 19th-century French child-rearing, some of Fantine's lines (taken at face value) fit together for a ...
10
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3answers
900 views

What are the 'holy' and 'broken' Hallelujahs?

The third verse of "Hallelujah" by Leonard Cohen goes like this: You say I took the name in vain I don't even know the name But if I did well really what's it to you There's a blaze of light ...
9
votes
3answers
2k views

How does the line 'your faith was strong but you needed proof' match the rest of the verse in “Hallelujah”?

The second verse of "Hallelujah" by Leonard Cohen goes like: Your faith was strong but you needed proof You saw her bathing on the roof Her beauty and the moonlight overthrew you She tied you ...
8
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1answer
495 views

What does Nuvoletta's disappearance signify in Finnegans Wake?

I am studying Samuel Barber's art song "Nuvoletta", whose text is adapted from James Joyce's Finnegans Wake. I have not studied Finnegans Wake. The music is very beautiful. As I understand it, ...
8
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0answers
672 views

In “Bullet the Blue Sky”, what is the symbolism of Jacob and the angel?

U2's song "Bullet the Blue Sky" was inspired by Bono's trip to El Salvadore in 1986, and America's role on the Salvadoran Civil War. As Bono said in an interview, And it upset me as a person who ...
7
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5answers
23k views

What is the significance of the words of the prophets being written on the subway wall?

The fifth verse of "The Sound of Silence" runs thusly: And the people bowed and prayed To the neon god they made And the sign flashed out its warning In the words that it was forming And ...
7
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2answers
4k views

What is the Myth of Fingerprints?

In Paul Simon's album Graceland there is a song All Around the World. This song has a repeating theme in the verses: This is always some variation of: There was no doubt about it, It was the myth of ...
7
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1answer
150 views

Is “Here we come a-wassailing” supposed to be sung at Christmas?

Here we come a-wassailing is a traditional Christmas tune but it has almost no mention of the traditional Christmas subjects. The only one I can see in the entire version printed in Wikipedia is in a ...
7
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3answers
466 views

Does Rush's “Tom Sawyer” promote an anti-religious view?

Rush's Tom Sawyer includes the following line: No, his mind is not for rent To any God or government Always hopeful yet discontent He knows changes aren't permanent But change is Is this ...
7
votes
1answer
656 views

Is the song “Mabel Grey” by Brown Bird an allusion to a real ship?

The song Mabel Grey, by Brown Bird contains peculiar lyrics. The lyrics are awfully specific about what happened to this ship, which is a common pattern I see when a song is referent to a real-life ...
7
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1answer
942 views

In “Close Every Door”, why does 'for I know I shall find' change to the plural the second time?

In perhaps the most famous song of the Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, "Close Every Door", we see these lyrics: Close every door to me Keep those I love from me Children of Israel ...
6
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2answers
1k views

Why is the Star of the County Down referred to as Colleen?

While listening to the Irish Rovers version of the traditional Irish song "Star of the County Down", I noticed an apparent discrepancy in her name: Near Banbridge town, in the County Down ...
6
votes
1answer
119 views

In the song “Ja is Playing Jazz” (Джа играет джаз), who is Ja?

While listening to Splean's last album Ключ к шифру (The Key to the Cipher) again, I've wondered about a particular line from the song "Джа играет джаз" ("Ja is Playing Jazz"): Сегодня Джа играет ...
6
votes
1answer
227 views

How does this song lyric “Simple and Clean” scan?

From the English version of "Simple and Clean" by Utada Hikaru: When you walk away You don't hear me say Please, O baby, don't go Simple and clean is the way that you're making me feel ...
6
votes
1answer
309 views

What's the symbolism in The Twelve Days of Christmas?

The popular Christmas song "The Twelve Days of Christmas" has many different versions, but they're usually something along the lines of the following (final verse, which includes all the others): ...
6
votes
1answer
145 views

Is “and if I'm flying solo” a pun in “Defying Gravity”?

In the song "Defying Gravity", part of the musical Wicked, there's this section: So if you care to find me Look to the western sky As someone told me lately "Everyone deserves the ...
5
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3answers
7k views

“I've seen your flag on the marble arch”

From Leonard Cohen's "Halleluj'ah": Baby, I've been here before -- I know this room, I've walked this floor: I used to live alone before I knew you. I've seen your flag on the ...
5
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3answers
587 views

What is the nature of the friendship in Don Henley's “My Thanksgiving”?

The first verse My Thanksgiving by Don Henley (from Inside Job) reads as follows: A lot of things have happened Since the last time we spoke Some of them are funny Some of 'em ain't no joke ...
5
votes
3answers
878 views

Does this phrase deliberately sound like “blackjack”?

The third verse and chorus of "Do It Again" by Steely Dan is as follows: Now you swear and kick and beg us that you're not a gamblin' man; Then you find you're back in Vegas with a handle in your ...
5
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1answer
199 views

What does “steal my crown” mean in Kacey Musgraves's Butterflies?

I was enjoying a song "Butterflies" by Kacey Musgraves and in the lyrics there is "Stealing my heart 'stead of stealing my crown". What does "steal my crown" mean? I am ...
5
votes
1answer
98 views

Why is the folk song Cutty Wren included in Arnold Wesker's play Chips With Everything?

Arnold Wesker's play Chips with Everything is an examination of class attitudes in Britain through the window of the armed forces. In one scene a group of conscripts sing the peculiar English folk ...
5
votes
1answer
76 views

Meaning of “rose” and “bleu” in Alain Bashung's “Résidents de la république ”

Alain Bashung's song “Résidents de la république” (part of the album Bleu pétrole, 2008) contains the following lines: Résidents, résidents de la république Où le rose a des reflets bleus The ...
5
votes
0answers
252 views

Meaning of “trente-six à soixante-huit chandelles” in Jean Ferrat's Ma France

The French singer-songwriter Jean Ferrat (1930 – 2010) wrote a number of controversial songs. One of his most beautiful songs, Ma France (1969), was banned from the radio for two years. It's last ...
5
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0answers
3k views

Why is the introduction different for the video and streaming versions of Lamar's Humble?

The video version of Kendrick Lamar's single Humble begins with the following three lines: Wicked or weakness You gotta see this Waaaaay (yeah, yeah!) However, the version of the song on ...
5
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0answers
60 views

Did Timrod inspire Dylan before 'Modern Times'?

Bob Dylan's album Modern Times has many passages famously inspired by (some say plagiarised from) the poetry of Henry Timrod. Do any of Dylan's earlier works also clearly reflect the influence of ...
4
votes
1answer
321 views

Name of this lyrical device comparing oneself to something that's described by the same word, but in another sense of the word?

Warning: The examples contain some offensive words, but I believe that is not against the rules here? Lately I've been listening a lot to a certain hip-hop album, in which almost every track uses a ...
4
votes
1answer
106 views

What was the “cyclops' smoky band” to which Ewan MacColl's father belonged?

Ewan MacColl's song "My Old Man" contains the lyrics: My old man was a good old man Skilled in the moulding trade In the stinking heat of the iron foundry My old man was made Down on his ...
4
votes
1answer
199 views

Who classified Rabindranath Tagore's lyrics into the six standard categories?

The standard edition of Rabindranath Tagore's song lyrics, গীতবিতান / giitabitaan, "A Canopy of Songs", classifies the lyrics under six headings: পূজা / puujaa, "Worship" স্বদেশ / ...
4
votes
2answers
102 views

What does “I'm with the Switzerland wolves we bout to spit some jewels” mean?

In Snowgoons "Get Off the Ground" (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yih_bMc5B7o) there's the following line: I'm with the Switzerland wolves we bout to spit some jewels What does that mean?
4
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3answers
13k views

The meaning of the line “and from your lips she drew the Hallelujah” in “Hallelujah”

"Hallelujah" contains a mix of Biblical themes. The first stanza mentions (King) David by name, and the first three lines of the second seem to refer to one of King David's stories (II Samuel 11). The ...
4
votes
1answer
2k views

What's the meaning of a pink carnation, as mentioned in these songs?

Several songs mention pink carnations. "A White Sport Coat (and a Pink Carnation)" by Marty Robbins A white sport coat and a pink carnation I'm all dressed up for the dance A white sport coat ...
4
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1answer
1k views

Why are the U2 CDs named after “Songs of Innocence” and “Songs of Experience” by William Blake?

U2 has an album named "Songs of Innocence" and a second, more recent album named "Songs of Experience". These appear to at least be named after the William Blake poetry. What is the relationship ...
4
votes
1answer
180 views

What is the meaning of “Won't Tell” by Babes in Toyland?

Babes In Toyland has long been one of my favorite rock bands for the raw power of the music and vocals, but I've always felt as though there is a complexity to the lyrics of "Won't Tell", compared to, ...
4
votes
1answer
753 views

On the use of the word “thief” in Imagine Dragons' “Thief”

The chorus of Imagine Dragons' "Thief" (from the deluxe version of the album Smoke + Mirrors), written by Clare Reynolds and Natalie Maree Dunn, goes like this: So take me back When I believed ...
4
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0answers
28 views

In what way would windows appease or calm us?

Alain Bashung's song Sur un trapèze, with lyrics by Gaëtan Roussel (see the Wikipedia article about the album Bleu pétrole, released in 2008), begins with the following lines (emphasis and links ...
4
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0answers
57 views

Is “Africa” by Toto focused on the woman referred to in the beginning of the song, or on Africa itself?

The song "Africa" by Toto is at least nominally about the narrator's relationship with a woman: I hear the drums echoing tonight But she hears only whispers of some quiet conversation She's ...
4
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0answers
548 views

What does “Rebirth of Slick” mean when it quotes “On the Subway”?

Digable Planets' Rebirth of Slick (Cool Like That) ("Reachin' (A New Refutation of Time and Space)," 1993, track 06, released as a single in 1992) (genius.com link) quotes the "blink blink" passages ...
4
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0answers
74 views

What's all the blinking about?

On the Subway ("The Last Poets," 1970, track 02) (genius.com link) concludes with shouting the word "blink" a lot, and I'm not sure what it means. On the surface level, I figure it might be ...
4
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0answers
51 views

Is “Listen Nations” referring to any incident in particular?

"Listen Nations" is one of the songs on the album Miami Meets Toronto, in which the Miami Boys Choir and the Toronto Boys Choir (both started by Yerachmiel Begun) sing together. The song is about the ...
4
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0answers
205 views

What's the meaning of “a knife in your throat held after dark” in the Silly Walk Song?

The so-called Silly Walk Song by the Monty Python troupe (lyrics and video here, lyrics in text form here) is mostly a lament of the tedium and futility of a life of money-induced drudgery. But there ...
4
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0answers
614 views

Understanding Kendrick's reference to Tetris in “Humble”

In Kendrick Lamar's new single "Humble", he references the game Tetris: Pull up on your block, then break it down: we playin' Tetris A.M. to the P.M., P.M. to the A.M., funk I'm not quite sure ...
3
votes
8answers
11k views

What does Jack do again in the Steely Dan song?

"Do it again" by Steely Dan starts with the following verse: In the mornin' you go gunnin' for the man who stole your water And you fire till he is done in but they catch you at the border And ...
3
votes
1answer
157 views

Is Don Henley equating himself with upper-middle-class suburbia in “The Boys of Summer”?

The Boys of Summer by Don Henley contains the following lyrics: Out on the road today, I saw a DEADHEAD sticker on a Cadillac A little voice inside my head said, "Don't look back. You can never ...
3
votes
2answers
1k views

What is the meaning of the Gaelic lines in the song “Tír na nÓg”?

The song "Tír na nÓg", like many of the Celtic Woman songs, is partly in English and partly in Irish Gaelic. Unlike many of those Celtic Woman songs, this one doesn't seem to be based on a ...
3
votes
1answer
129 views

What's the meaning of the line “9 Parts of Desire” in this song?

There is a partially Hindi (there is only a couple of lines in Hindi; rest is in English) song titled as "9 Parts of Desire". Here is the YouTube link to that song. https://www.youtube.com/...
3
votes
1answer
298 views

Why did Bob Dylan choose Highway 61 for “Highway 61 Revisited”?

Highway 61 is an actual highway that goes north from New Orleans and ends up in Minnesota. Why did Dylan choose this particular highway, and how does it affect how we understand the song lyrics?