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More Misunderstood Songs

John Rentoul

bob marley no woman no cry1 300x300 More Misunderstood SongsAfter posting last week’s Top 10 here, “Songs that mean the opposite of what most people think they mean”, I had some late nominations.

Stella Creasy: “In the Summertime”, by Mungo Jerry, as it’s about drink driving and date rape.

Tania Ziegler: “‏Young Girl”, by Gary Puckett and the Union Gap, about underage sex with older man.

James Chapman: “I Don’t Like Mondays”, The Boomtown Rats, which is about a school shooting, not start of the working week.

Rob Warm and Patrick Hennessy: “No Woman No Cry”, Bob Marley. Many think it means you only cry if you’re in love; actually it’s telling a woman not to be upset. David Aaronovitch ‏added: In my sometimes love-lorn early 20s I thought it meant, “I haven’t got a woman and I’m trying not to cry.” Sarah Churchwell said: ‏When I first heard it I thought it was “No Woman No Crime”. But that’s getting in to another list, of misheard lyrics.

Rob Davies: “‏Jerusalem”, words by William Blake, music by Hubert Parry, has to be the daddy of all of these. I’m not so sure. Nobody knows what the obscurantist poem means, so most people cannot think it means the opposite. All we know is that is it is the official anthem of Questions To Which The Answer Is No.

“Rainy Day Women #12 & 35″, Bob Dylan: “Everybody must get stoned.” Hippy anthem that was actually about how boring stoners are. Thanks to Truly S in the comments.

Ian Peacock: “99 Red Balloons”, Nena. The song ends with them drifting across a post-nuclear-war world. I didn’t know that it was a protest song, but apparently lots of people do. (I also had that objection to “I Believe in Father Christmas”, #7 on the published list: lots of people knew perfectly well that it was a protest against commercialisation.)

William French: ‏“Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds” (it really isn’t about drugs), and “Perfect Day” (it is).

Labour History Group: “On The Good Ship Lollipop,” ‏Shirley Temple: the ship is actually an aircraft, a Douglas DC-2.

Clive Davis: “I Will Always Love You” is a wedding reception favourite even though it’s about a break-up.

Finally, Malcolm Redfellow has a nice note about “Born to Run”, by Bruce Springsteen, which was easily the most often nominated for this Top 10. He refers to Concurrent Resolution no 121 of the New Jersey Assembly, 17 April 1980:

This Legislature declares Born to Run as the unofficial rock theme of our State’s youth.

Pity no one had listened to the lyric:

Baby this town rips the bones from your back,
It’s a death trap, it’s a suicide rap.
We gotta get out while we’re young,
‘Coz tramps like us, baby, we were born to run.

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  • Ciaran Goggins

    Creasy is a (cont p.52).

  • S&A

    ‘Stop the Cavalry’ by Jona Lewie is an anti-war song, but keeps getting played at Christmastime because of the ‘Wish I was home for Christmas’ line.


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