Every once and a while I'll be listening to a song I've heard a bajillion-and-one times before and for some reason, this instance is where it finally clicks what the hell the song is about. Sometimes it's only slightly awkward. Like that scene in Arrested Development where various blood-related characters wind up singing "Afternoon Delight" to one another.
Um...yeah. "Sky rockets" in flight.
('Sky rocket' is clearly what we like to call a penis).
My Favorite "AH, SO THAT'S WHAT IT'S ABOUT" moments in song:
1. "Lola" by The Kinks
It took me like a decade (and several not so subtle hints from friends) that The Kink's "Lola" is about a young man falling for a transvestite, or transgendered person. All I'd remembered about the lyrics was the bit about tasting like cherry cola. Somehow I'd completely ignored the whole "looked like a woman but talked like a man" bit. For like ten years.
2. "House of the Rising Sun" by The Animals
Another oldie yet goodie that I'd somehow never figured that it was about a freakin' brothel. Somehow I completely ignored the "it's been the ruin of many a poor boy," and just thought it was an interesting place in New Orleans (Naw'lins?).
3. "John Wayne Gacy, Jr." by Sufjan Stevens
Despite the fact that the name of the song pretty much blatantly states what this is about, somehow every time this came on the iPod as part of Steven's Illinoise album, I'd only really paid attention to the "John Wayne" part. Which is even more ridiculous considering that I watched the TV series "Most Evil" more than once, which chronicled the life and psychology of Gacy and a variety of other horrifying serial killers. It should've tipped me off when I heard the lyrics "he dressed up like a clown for them." Ew.
4. "The Rake's Song" by The Decemberists
Holy shit. It's about a playa' offing his kids after his wife dies in childbirth. And here I had just thought it was about a guy who liked to womanize a bit. But finally when it clicked it's like I heard: "Charlotte, died after feeding her foxglove/Dawn was easy, she was drowned in the bath." Holy shit, man. It gets progressively worse from there.
5. "Brick" by Ben Folds Five
Ben Folds flat out said this was about abortion. Even when I read him saying that, I was like "Really?" I had a semi-argument with a good friend that went like this:
Amiga: "It's about abortion."
Me: "No way."
Amiga: "Seriously. 'It's not me/you're dying for'?"
Me: I thought it was a breakup song.
Amiga: Yeah, they break up after the abortion.
Me: How did I miss that?
Amiga: See the 1 through 4 above.
So, my lovely starlings, what are some songs where you didn't know what they meant?
Double points if you ever karaoke'd them.
Triple score if you ever karaoke'd them with a family member.
Tally the scores in comments.