Aqualung – Jethro Tull

“Aqualung” by British rock band Jethro Tull tells a story of human perception and the diverse perspectives that people have of others as well as themselves. The song was inspired by a picture of a homeless man that the wife of Ian Anderson, the multi-instrumentalist lead singer of Jethro Tull, took, thus awakening Anderson’s muse. The song discusses the conflicting emotions and uncertainty when judging a person, or in the case of the song, the character of “Aqualung”, the homeless man. Anderson may also have intended the song to be critical of the person who is judging Aqualung. Continue reading

Waiting For the Sun – The Doors

The Doors’ song “Waiting for the Sun” is a hauntingly beautiful composition, with its deeply profound lyrics and its fluid slide guitar riffs. It was released on the album Morrison Hotel in 1970 and is one of several of the Doors’ slower, more eerie tracks on the album, others including “Blue Sunday” and “Indian Summer”. Apart from being the charismatic lead singer for the Doors, Jim Morrison was a poet and studied comparative literature and theatre at UCLA, resulting in songs with dark, surreal lyrics, often with abstract concepts. Continue reading

Sunday Bloody Sunday – U2

The brilliant protest song “Sunday Bloody Sunday” is one of the songs that put the legendary Irish rockers, U2, on the map. It is considered to be one of the all-time greatest protest songs by music aficionados and is ranked number 272 on Rolling Stone’s “The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time”. The song is essentially mimicking the chaotic atmosphere of a conflict zone with its militaristic drums, “edgy” (pardon the pun) guitar riffs, and graphic lyrics describing the violence in great detail. While the specific instance depicted in the song is Bloody Sunday, the infamous shooting that took the lives of thirteen young men, that took place in Derry, Northern Ireland in 1972, “Sunday Bloody Sunday” has become an anthem for those of all nationalities living in conflict zones across the globe. Structure and intricacies set aside, the meaning behind “Sunday Bloody Sunday” can be summed up in a simple yet eloquent question: “Why must we fight?”

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Mr. Tambourine Man – Bob Dylan

The legendary Bob Dylan’s “Mr. Tambourine Man” has been a favorite of people across the globe – from concert halls to campfires – since its release in 1965. It has been covered by many credible artists, with the Byrd’s version being the most famous. Dylan utilizes poetic metaphors and abstract imagery to portray his message: the source of inspiration. Because the song’s metaphors are pretty recondite, I’m mainly going to focus on interpreting the lyrics rather than delving into its background or Dylan’s inspirations for the song. Continue reading

Tom Sawyer – Rush

Rush’s “Tom Sawyer is a song that uses metaphors and the obvious Twain literary allusion to portray themes of rebellion and individualism, making it the perfect choice for my first song interpretation (we’ll be focusing mostly on lyrics for this one). The song was originally a poem written by Pye Dubois, known as “Louis the Lawyer” in 1981. Upon showing it to Rush members Geddy Lee, Neil Peart, and Alex Lifeson, they knew a song was in the making and began to adapt Dubois’s poem to music. The lyrics can still be read as a free-verse poem with a rhyme scheme. Continue reading